The service, clunkily called Google Play Music All Access, has been unveiled at Google I/O, where it was revealed that you’ll be able to do exactly the same thing as you can do with Spotify. Basically, you can ‘listen now’, search for artists and make mixes and the like.
Chris Yerga, Google’s engineering director, said: “This is radio without rules. It’s as ‘leanback’ as you want to, or as interactive as you want to.”
One crucial difference is that there’s no tie to Facebook, which may be something of a godsend for future users.
In the US, All Access will cost $9.99 a month after a 30-day free trial. Those who sign up before 30th June will get a reduced price of $7.99 per month.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, said: “Streaming is the fastest growing part of the £330m digital music sector in Britain… with more than a million paying subscribers already and millions more enjoying free and ad-supported music. The entry of a player with the reach of Google will persuade many more consumers to experience having millions of songs to play instantly on their phone, tablet or PC.”
Are you convinced enough to quit Spotify or Grooveshark?
Despite making £4.2bn in sales, Amazon are getting grants. And it just so happens that those grants amount to more than the amount of UK corporation tax they’re paying, which is bound to anger people as yet another huge company manages to sidestep their tax obligations.
Their corporation tax bill was £2.44m while the company received £2.5m from the Scottish Government to build a new distribution warehouse in glamorous Dunfermline.
“Amazon’s behaviour is not only unfair, it is anti-competitive, putting British businesses that do pay their proper tax at a disadvantage,” said Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“Paying £2.4m in tax on £4.2bn of sales is just a joke. What people will find particularly galling is that the amount Amazon is paying in tax is actually less than they are taking from UK taxpayers’ pockets in the form of government grants.”
Amazon manage this tax-diddle because all sales to British customers are put through a Luxembourg affiliate, Amazon EU Sarl. It is funded by fees it receives from Amazon EU and, as these just cover operating costs, there isn’t much for HMRC to tax. So, they’re not breaking the law.
Apple, Starbucks, Google and Microsoft are also doing similar schemes, which is flummoxing MPs who like moaning about it, but not solving it. Amazon are unrepentant, saying: “Amazon pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within.”
Samsung are making some pretty bold claims. They reckon that we’ll be able to download entire films to their phone or tablet in less than a second thanks to fifth-gen mobile broadband (or 5G if you prefer).
In a statement, the company said: “5G will be capable of providing a ubiquitous Gbps (gigabit per second) experience to subscribers anywhere and offers data transmission speeds of up to several tens of Gbps per base station.”
“The implementation of a high-speed 5G cellular network requires a broad band of frequencies, much like an increased water flow requires a wider pipe. While it was a recognized option, it has been long believed that the millimeter-wave bands had limitations in transmitting data over long distances due to its unfavorable propagation characteristics.”
“However, Samsung’s new adaptive array transceiver technology has proved itself as a successful solution. It transmits data in the millimeter-wave band at a frequency of 28 GHz at a speed of up to 1.056 Gbps to a distance of up to 2 kilometers.”
“Samsung plans to accelerate the research and development of 5G mobile communications technologies, including adaptive array transceiver at the millimeter-wave bands, to commercialize those technologies by 2020.”
In short: Torrents will be incredible by the time we get to 2020.
Apple’s much anticipated iRadio has hit a Sony-shaped stumbling block – the major label is umming and ahhing over the deal to sign up to the new music streaming service.
Sony reckons that if iRadio is a success on a par with iTunes, then it should be offering them a better deal. At the moment Apple is offering labels a royalty of 8p per 100 songs streamed, plus a share of ad revenue and a guaranteed fixed sum in case it all goes tits up and nobody listens to it. But Sony didn’t get where they are today by piddling around over 8p. So they’ve dug their heels in and are stroking their white cats and playing with their clacking silver desk balls and saying ‘Your move, Mr Apple’ (or whatever successful businesspeople get up to these days).
It’s a bit of a blow for Apple, who have reportedly already signed Warners and and were waiting for Sony to complete the deal. But if they don’t offer the label any more than the going rate (Pandora also pay 8p for 100 tracks) the music giant, – who manages all our ‘favourite’ acts like er… John Legend, Ke$ha and One Direction – ain’t going to budge.
So come on, Apple. If iRadio is going to launch this summer, they’re going to need some Jack Donaghy style negotiation and synergy – FAST.
Amazon invented the Kindle, allowing us to squint at books on trains. Now they’re developing two new smartphones – and one of them is 3D!
And it’s not 3D in the way that most objects are three-dimensional. It will also have a 3D screen, and no, you won’t have to wear glasses – and you’ll be able to move it with your EYES. *Paul Daniels face*
Apparently the Amazon labs are overrun with crazy crackpot techy activity like this, with news that they’re also developing a set top box and a device for streaming music.
Whether anyone will give a flying one about a 3D phone remains to be seen, (the technology has already been used with mixed results) but it seems that Amazon are not content with destroying, I mean revolutionizing, the bookselling industry, and want to move into mad futuristic gizmos and gadgetry, too.
Next, they’ll be putting a TIME MACHINE IN A DELOREAN.
Sometimes our brains tell us we’re OK, when in actual fact we’ve been sitting in our houses for three weeks, crying softly into a mug of cold Cup-A-Soup.
But now we’ll be able to tell when we’re deeply depressed, or just in a terrible frame of mind, thanks to researchers at Cambridge University, who are developing a mood-tracking app that does more than give you a sad face emoticon and tell you to do more exercise.
EmotionSense gathers information about where you are and what you’re doing, as well as how you’re feeling. The app spends about a week collecting data, including the times you use it, the places you go and how many texts, emails and calls you make. It then compares that information to the moods that you input, forming a more complete picture of your life.
‘People may say that they are feeling happy but they may have stopped communicating with friends, for example,’ said senior researcher Dr Neal Lathia.’This is all about building a bridge between the two sources of data.’
So if you’re phoning the Panda House Chinese takeaway every night, logging into Foxy Bingo and trawling around Uniformdating.com, then you’ll soon be able to gauge when you need to start a new course of antidepressants. Clever, eh?
New figures released by research firm IDC show that Apple are still doing pretty well in the tablet market, however, on closer inspection, they have a few things to worry about.
Samsung, the world’s second largest tablet maker is growing at a much faster rate than Apple. Apple are growing by 65%, which is great, but Samsung have grown by 282%, which is definitely a cause for concern for Apple. Asus grew by 350% percent and Amazon grew by 157%. Everyone, it seems, is hot on Apple’s tail.
IDC analyst Tom Mainelli said: ”One thing that I think is particularly notable about Apple is that they restarted the tablet market. Apple has been selling an awful lot of iPads in the U.S. since 2010.”
“Apple’s share is decreasing and they’re ceding share to companies willing to sell tablets for $199, $99, or $79. It was a major concession for them to go down to $329 for the iPad mini.”
“You’ll see Apple’s commercial shipments continue to grow,” Mainelli said, “and there are still a lot more regions in the world to conquer.”
So Apple won’t be too worried, but with Samsung gobbling up chunks of Apple’s market, it’ll be interesting to see what Apple do next in a bid to stay ahead of the pack.
Eye tracking technology is something marketing gurus get their coke spoons in a twist about on a regular basis. It’s so…Robocop! It’s so futuristic! You can like, see inside people’s BRAINS and sell them what they’re thinking about right now! (in my case, usually chips).
Until now, it’s been pretty duff, but now researchers at Lancaster University have developed an advertising system called ‘Sideways’, which zooms in on faces and eye movements while people are shopping. Then a video screen can show them ads related to what they were looking at as they shopped. More usefully, it can also allow people to use their eyes to control advertising on screens, or scroll through content. An eye swipe, if you will.
Senior researcher Andreas Bulling says it can monitor the eye movements of 14 people at a time using a camera positioned behind the screen. “The system detects the faces of people walking by and calculates where the eyes are relative to the eye corners.” He explained.
The creators hope it will be in use in shops within 5 years, but it’s hard to see how this will work for targeted ads. I don’t know about you, but I look at a lot of things I’m not particularly interested in every day, because I have EYES, and that’s what they do – they look at stuff. Pigeons. Dog poo. Tins of beans. So if this catches on, expect to see a lot of ads you don’t give a toss about.
Business as usual, then…
Do you have Outlook? Well, you can now make Skype calls directly from it, which is great news for the six people who actually still use Outlook.
“We all face those situations where it’s easier to jump on a call to talk something through. Sometimes that quick call can accomplish more than a long email reply,” Simon Longbottom, Skype’s senior director of product marketing, said in a blog post.
You’ll have to download an add-on to use Skype and connect with your Microsoft account, which is a pain but you’ll be able to merge your Skype and Outlook contacts, which may prove useful.
Of course, if you already have the Skype app, this is thunderously redundant.
All your photos of Facebook, Instagram and Flickr may feel like they belong to you, but they don’t. This isn’t the tale of nefarious smallprint from tech companies, saying they can sell your snaps, but rather, something our stupid government has passed.
Basically, they have now said that the images belong to everyone, so if you’re a professional or budding illustrator or photographer, a reform in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act basically pits you against anyone who wants them. In short, if there’s a spat over the use of an image, the one with the most money wins.
This Act changes UK copyright law, which means that commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is ‘missing’ is now shunted toward an ”extended collective licensing” scheme. Seeing as most big corps strip the info from photos, that means millions of your photographs are now fair game for whoever wants them.
“People can now use stuff without your permission,” says photo rights campaigner Paul Ellis. “To stop that you have to register your work in a registry – but registering stuff is an activity that costs you time and money. So what was your property by default will only remain yours if you take active steps, and absorb the costs, if it is formally registered to you as the owner.”
“There’s value in works, and if anybody can exploit them except the person who creates them, then value is transferred to the exploiter,” explains Ellis. “This is a massive value transfer out of the UK economy to US tech companies.”
Google’s rivals (the rest of the universe) have dropped a huge hint that they won’t be accepting Google’s offer to label their services in search listings. This is the latest in an attempt to settle the tediously long-running antitrust investigation by the European Commission over the internet behemoth’s market dominance.
Google’s offer was published on Thursday by EC competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, who not only has an exciting name, but has also given rival organisations a month to respond to the proposals.
Should they be accepted, Google will have to display results in a set format within the EC. However, this doesn’t seem likely and, if that’s the case, Almunia could be obliged to issue a formal “Statement of Objections” to Google’s conduct, which will end up in more fines and Google being forced to follow a legally binding code of conduct. ‘Don’t be evil’ indeed.
This is all to do with an investigation that has been running since 2010, when Foundem, Microsoft-owned Ciao, and the French legal search engine ejustice.fr filed a complaint. Further complaints have come from independent European consumer organisation BEUC (who count Which!!! as one of their members) and they’re collectively disappointed with the proposals, saying that this won’t come close to “eradicating the current anti-competitive behaviour in what is essentially a monopoly market”.
Google are, ostensibly, being accused of rigging search results and promoting their own services such as YouTube, Maps, Shopping and Local. Proposals state that Google should be at least listing links to at least three other companies’ sites. However, BEUC said the “labelling” proposal “may even shepherd consumes towards clicking on Google services [that would be] highlighted in a frame … Labelling an infringement of competition law doesn’t prevent it being an infringement.”
Shivaun Raff, co-founder of the UK vertical search company Foundem said: “The only foolproof way to tackle abusive practices is to end them. Ultimately, the only way to end Google’s search manipulation practices and restore a level-playing field is to ensure that Google holds all services, including its own, to exactly the same standards, using exactly the same crawling, indexing, ranking, display, and penalty algorithms.”
We’ve all enjoyed videos of people from the 80s and 90s explaining what modern gadgets are, and this video is no different. It stars the wonderfully named Komando and hosted Computer Tutor, which explained everything you needed to know about home computing.
Of course, because this is an old video about something that became ubiquitous in our lives, it all seems rather quaint now.
While the video is hugely quotable, the sign off “It’s not tough to use a computer. And nothing even blew up!” is tough to beat.
Scientists have launched a new keyboard which makes typing on touchscreens 34% faster, which means people can be over a third more annoying while tweeting through big event television as they all rush to make the same joke.
St Andrews University experts have developed a system called KALQ, which they reckon enables people to type 37 words-per-minute on all touchscreen pads, an improvement on the current 20-a-minute average.
Dr Per Ola Kristensson said the keyboard could become the most popular way to type, adding: ”We recruited a number of students from the university campus to try out our new keyboard where they could practise texting on a touchscreen device with the new layout.”
“At first the QWERTY layout was still being used quicker because that’s what the students were used to. But we found that after eight hours of practice … the new layout code was being used quicker. Students spent between 13 and 19 hours getting used to the system.”
“We wanted to minimise finger-travelling time, so we researched arrangements until we found this one. I helped develop the ‘sliding’ technology on touchscreens and I believe this will catch on just as well as that did.”
Doomed to fail.
The survey showed 87% of small firms experienced a security breach last year, which is up 10%. For large companies, 93% had also been targeted by ne’er-do-wells online.
The Information Security Breaches Survey, commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), found that some of these attacks had caused more than £1 million of damage.
As such, the Government wants to help and have set up a scheme with the Technology Strategy Board, which allows smaller firms to bid for up to £5,000 from a £500,000 pot to improve their cyber security by bringing in experts from outside their company. As well as this, BIS will publish guidance to help small firms make cyber security part of their everyday risk management.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Keeping electronic information safe and secure is vital to a business’s bottom line. Companies are more at risk than ever of having their cyber security compromised, in particular small businesses, and no sector is immune from attack. But there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the majority of incidents.”
“The package of support we are announcing today will help small businesses protect valuable assets like financial information, websites, equipment, software and intellectual property, driving growth and keeping UK businesses ahead in the global race.”
Next week: UK Government lose a laptop with small businesses private data on it.
Durex has just announced the launch of a new line of vibrating underwear for both men and women called Funderwear. Basically, the premise is this: You can ‘touch’ someone via the controls of an iPhone app.
This’ll be great for the likes of Jason Manford and Leslie Grantham who enjoy horsing around on webcams and the like.
Durex is calling these wired scads “the future of foreplay” and a way to “touch over the internet.” There’s undercrackers for fellas and a knickers and bra set for the ladies, designed by fashion designer, Billie Whitehouse.
The app shows you a map of your mate’s erogenous zones and allows you to control exactly where and how hard they feel the vibrations. Should we be worried? As a YouTube comment hysterically says, “What if hacker rapes you with this? =S”