Amazon Music now tells you trivia and album info about songs with its X-Ray tool

If you’ve ever watched content on Amazon’s Prime Video platform, you must have noticed that tapping on the screen shows you some interesting information about the content under the General Trivia section, alongside information about the cast that is currently on the screen. This feature is called X-Ray, which originally arrived on the Kindle ebook reader and is extremely helpful. Amazon is now bringing the X-Ray feature from Prime Video to its music streaming platform – Amazon Music.

The X-Ray feature is now available globally in Amazon Music. I’ve tested it on multiple accounts here in India, and it works just fine. As for the information offered by the feature, you can find details such as the artist’s name, writer, producer, assistant engineer, artists behind each musical instrument, and a lot more. And of course, you will get to know interesting trivia about songs. For example, I got to know that Rob Zombie was the vocalist,  writer as well as producer of the hard rock song Dragula

Regarding the feature, Amazon told Engadget that X-Ray on Amazon Music will “offer a behind the scenes look at song information, artists, and albums with access to everything from fun trivia to song credits, related content, and more.” To see details about a track, just look for the X-Ray button at the bottom of the playback page, provided the requisite details are available. 

You can either tap on the X-Ray button at the bottom, or swipe up from anywhere on the playback page to see the details. When you perform either of the aforementioned actions, you’ll see a self-scrolling carousel of information just like the credits at the end of a movie. The feature is quite neat, and won’t be forced upon Amazon Music users, unlike Amazon Prime Video, where the whole trivia and information catalog appears on the left side of the screen as soon as you tap on the screen. 

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Apple revives MTV magic with a 24-hour music video channel called Apple Music TV

I clearly remember the days when MTV was the go-to channel for music lovers, thanks to its round-the-clock cycle of, well, music videos. While those MTV glory days are long gone, Apple is trying to capture some of that lost MTV magic by launching a new 24-hour music channel called Apple Music TV. Yes, it will play a curated selection of popular music videos all day and night. Plus, it will also serve as the debut platform for “exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests,” as per a Variety report.

Image: Brandon Russel / XDA-Developers

The Apple Music TV channel can be accessed in the Browse tab of the Apple Music and Apple TV apps. You can also access it on apple.co/AppleMusicTV on the web. However, the new 24-hour music channel is currently accessible to users in the US only, and there is no word on its expansion in other markets.

Apple Music TV reportedly premiered earlier today with a countdown of the top 100 most-streamed songs of all time on Apple Music in the US. “On Thursday (October 22), it will celebrate the upcoming release of Bruce Springsteen’s “Letter to You” album with an “all day Bruce takeover” featuring music-video blocks of his most popular videos, an interview with Zane Lowe, anchor of Apple Music’s radio station, and a special livestream fan event,” the report adds.

Additionally, Apple Music TV will also witness the exclusive premiere of Joji’s “777” and Saint Jhn’s “Gorgeous” this Friday. Similarly, each Friday will mark the premium of new videos on the channel. And oh, Apple Music TV will be free to users in the US. The channel reportedly doesn’t support background play as playback stopped when the Apple Music app is closed.

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Amazon Fire TV gets live TV streaming in India

Amazon is introducing a new feature for the Fire TV users in India. These users can now stream live TV in the country. It comes with all live TV channels offered by streaming apps. These options are present in one place that makes discovering live content easier. Amazon Fire TV live streaming feature is rolling out for existing users starting today. For new customers, the Live tab will be available within a few weeks after the device is activated.

The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Edition users in India are getting the ability to stream live content. It are getting a new Live tab. You no longer need to remember which channel belongs to which service provider. The e-commerce giant has initially partnered with SonyLIV, Voot, Discovery+, and NexG TV, whose channels will show up under the Live tab. 

Users can access live channels from Sony SAB HD, Colors HD, SET HD, Nick HD+, Dangal, DD National, News18 India, MTV Beats HD, SONY BBC Earth HD, Mastii TV Music, and Discovery. Amazon will soon integrate live content from Zee5 soon. It includes Zee TV, Zee Cinema, and Zee News.

The Amazon Fire TV live streaming feature will eliminate the need for a user to go to separate apps for watching TV channels. Instead, all of these will now be present under the Live tab.

Apart from the Live Tab, users are also receiving a a new On Now row on the Fire TV home screen. It will make it easier to browse, find, and access live content from your subscribed apps. It will highlight all programmes that are currently live on different channels.

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Spotify app now lets you search a song by its lyrics

Spotify has today introduced a new feature that will make it easier to discover that one song stuck in your head, but whose lyrics you only know partially, or just a line or two. Spotify has added a new search tool to its Android and iOS apps that will allow you to just type the lyrics in the search bar and find the song you’re looking for. The feature is now live, and so far in my limited testing, it has worked flawlessly for tracks from famous as well as relatively unknown artists. Just make sure that the words you put in the search box are in the correct order, and you’ll get the desired results. 

The addition of the new song search feature to the Spotify app was first announced by Spotify designer Lina and spotted by the folks over at 9to5Mac. In case you’re wondering, the ability to search a song by its lyrics works just fine on the desktop app well. Apple Music has had this feature for a while now, but it is good to see that Spotify has caught up by adding the convenient feature. As you might have already guessed by now, you no longer have to search the lyrics on the web to discover the song name and then switch apps to play it on Spotify. 

Separately, Spotify has introduced two new weekly charts that will tell you the top 50 most streamed songs and albums of the week globally. A fresh edition of the new weekly list will be released every Monday. Spotify has already published the first weekly list of the top 50 songs and albums streamed around the world in the week spanning September 25, 2020 to October 1, 2020. There’s also a US edition of the weekly top 50 songs and albums list streamed in the USA. These lists will be revealed every Monday via the freshly created Spotify Charts (@spotifycharts) Twitter handle. 

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Mac users will need T2 security chip to stream Netflix in 4K

With macOS Big Sur, Mac users will be able to stream Netflix in 4K HDR on their computer. However, there is a catch. To stream 4K content one needs a 4K-capable display, right? No. According to the latest development, you’ll need a Mac with T2 security chip to stream Netflix in 4K HDR with macOS Big Sur.

In a support document spotted by Apple Terminal (via 9to5Mac), Netflix was found stating that you’ll need a computer with a T2 Security chip to stream in 4K. This translates to a lot of Macs missing out on the upcoming feature. Theoretically, older iMacs and pre-2018 Mac laptops can play 4K content but they’ll miss out on streaming Netflix in 4K due to the lack of T2 security chip.

For reference, hese are the Macs the pack a T2 security chip: 2018 or later MacBook Pro, 2018 or later MacBook Air, 2018 Mac mini, 2019 Mac Pro, iMac Pro and 2020 iMac. You can further find out if your Mac has the required chip by following the steps Apple details on its website.

According to The Verge, the T2 security chip requirement could have something to do with its ability to process HEVC encoded videos. The iMac webpage (via Engadget) says the coprocessor can transcode HEVC video up to twice as fast as its previous generation T1 chip. Hence, if Netflix is encoding streams using HEVC then the requirement is justified.

Apart from the T2 security chip, to stream Netflix in 4K, you’ll need macOS Big Sur alongside Netflix’s $16 per month Premium subscription. Moreover, you’ll need to browse Netflix through Safari because other browsers will limit the stream to 720p on a Mac.

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Spotify makes it easier to create a collaborative playlist and check everyone’s contribution

Spotify is giving its Collaborative Playlist feature a meaningful upgrade that will not only ease the process of adding more people, but will also make it more convenient to check everyone’s contribution. The new features will soon be rolled out via an update. Talking about the new tools being added by Spotify, the first one is an Add User button in the playlist header that will make it easier to invite others to contribute on a Collaborative Playlist. 

Additionally, users will now be able to see everyone who is contributing to a playlist in a single place, thanks to a new list that displays user avatars in the playlist header. The third change, and probably the most useful one if you really care about your playlists, is that each track or episode that appears in a Collaborative Playlist will now show the avatar of the person who added it. This will make it easier to spot folks who make meaningful contributions and also those who are just creating a musical ruckus. 

How to create a Collaborative Playlist on Spotify?

  1. Open the Spotify app on your phone and tap on Your Library.
  2. Now, select Playlists and then tap on the playlist that you want to make accessible for collaboration.
  3. Once you open a playlist, tap on the Add user button you see in the header. Keep in mind that you can invite people to collaborate only on a playlist that you’ve created.
  4. Now, invite people who you think can make some valuable contributions to your playlist.

And if you want to take your music listening and sharing experience to the next level, you can try out Spotify’s Group Session feature will let you remotely host a listening party with up to five friends. You can listen to a podcast or enjoy a playlist remotely with friends via synced playback. But do keep in mind that the Group Session feature is available for Spotify Premium users only.

Source: Spotify

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Xbox Xcloud Game Streaming on the Surface Duo is Awesome

Today’s the day when Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Streaming is officially available. It appears in the updated “Game Pass” app on Android as a “Cloud” section next to the Console and PC sections. You can only browse games in the Console and PC sections (and install them remotely to your console or PC), but in the Cloud section, you can actually play them on your Android device!

I’ve been using the Xcloud game streaming service as a beta since it started, and at the beginning, it was very rough. Games would freeze or the display would freeze and the game would keep going on audio but you couldn’t see anything. It used to be very buggy and difficult to use.

Today is a completely different story. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Cloud Streaming is just about as smooth as playing Xbox games on a real Xbox!

Below is a little video to illustrate how smooth Xbox Cloud Streaming works on a Surface Duo. Loading games can still be pretty slow, and the touch controls that we saw in the beta are missing for now, but playing games is very good. Of course, we’re on a 5Ghz WiFi connection with about 85Mbps download speeds, so your mileage may vary.

Of course, this isn’t free. It requires a Game Pass Ultimate subscription which costs $15 per month. Game Pass is a subscription that’s kind of like Music Pass or Netflix except it’s for Xbox Games. That price sounds like way too much just to enable cloud streaming, but that $15/month includes a lot of other extras. You also get a huge library of Xbox games to install and play on any Xbox, and you get another selection of Windows 10 PC games to install and play on any of your gaming computers, and you get the Xbox Live Gold subscription which enables online multiplayer gaming as well as “Games with Gold” free games to keep every two weeks. You also get some 50-75% off discounts on buying Xbox games in the Microsoft Store and you get instant first day access to select new Xbox exclusive games as soon as they’re released. If you like Xbox and PC games, that $15/month becomes quite reasonable once you add up all the perks.

Sorry, Xbox Game Pass Cloud Streaming won’t work on Apple iOS devices because Apple says no.

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YouTube launches its own TikTok rival called YouTube Shorts in India

Everyone is jumping on the popularity of short videos these days, a domain popularized by TikTok. Instagram has Reels to go against TikTok, and now, YouTube has its own rival called YouTube Shorts. The Google-owned company is launching YouTube Shorts as a beta for the Indian market first, complete with a host of new creation tools. YouTube defines YouTube Shorts as a “new short-form video experience right on YouTube for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.” So, what’s the whole deal and what are the features it got? Let’s break it all down:

The key premise of YouTube Shorts is content creation. So, in order to make a clip, just tap the “Create” icon at the bottom of the YouTube homepage and select the “create a short” option to instantly record a short video in the mobile app. Or, you can tap on the “upload a video” option to pull up a pre-saved video from your phone’s internal storage. Talking about tools, users will get a multi-segment camera that will allow them to merge multiple clips together. There is also an option to add a song to the background by picking up music from YouTube’s vast library of content. And oh, the videos should be 15 seconds or less in duration.

shorts

YouTube Shorts also offers speed controls to let users speed up or slow down their clips for creative effects. And to save users the hassle, there is also a timer and countdown to let users capture short videos without having to hold their device in their hands. However, these are just some of the core features, and more tools for creators are coming with the coming months. YouTube is introducing a new space alongside the stories section where users can watch YouTube Shorts in a vertically scrollable format, similar to TikTok. YouTube says creators can already start making and sharing YouTube Shorts to gain an early edge. However, details about a wider availability are still under the wraps.

Source: YouTube Blog

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YouTube Music will now suggest new songs for your rad playlist

YouTube Music is getting a host of new features that will definitely make the inner melophile in you happy. The first one is assistive playlists, which as the name suggests, will help users with their playlist shenanigans. YouTube Music will use AI to study factors such as a playlist’s name, users’ listening history and songs currently sitting in that playlist to recommend new songs that will fit right in. While editing a playlist, YouTube Music will offer up to seven song suggestions that users can choose to add or discard.

Additionally, if you think that the song recommendations served to you are bland or not up to your taste, you can hit the refresh button to bring up a fresh set of suggested songs. Plus, there is also a Mixed for You section that has multiple playlists curated on the basis of your listening habits. Following are the categories you’ll find in this section:

  • Discover Mix: A playlist that is updated weekly and includes artists and songs you might like.
  • New release mix: It includes the latest songs from your favorite artists and other similar singers. 
  • Your mix: This continuously updated playlist contains your favorite songs and some cool recommendations thrown into the mix.
  • Liked song: All songs you’ve liked on YouTube Music so far will appear here.

Need a little inspiration from what your friends have in their playlists? YouTube Music users can now browse their friends’ public music playlists from their profile. All you have to do is click on the playlist creator’s username on the playlist page to get some inspiration and ideas from what others are listening to. This tool will come in handy when it comes to discovering new albums and artists from various genres. 

YouTube Music is also making it easier to collaborate with others and create a shared, community-driven playlist with friends and fellow users. Just tap the edit icon on a playlist, select Collaborate followed by Collaborators can add songs and videos. Once it’s done, you can now share the link to invite people who can add/remove songs from your shared playlist, sort it, and share it with others. 

Source: YouTube Music

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Apple launches two new radio stations and renames Beats 1 to Apple Music 1

Going after the live radio market with more vigor, Apple has today announced that the popular Beats 1 radio station will now be called Apple Music 1. Additionally, the company is launching two new radio stations called Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country that will be available to listeners in 165 countries starting today.

Aside from the existing shows from renowned artists, Apple Music 1 will also debut new shows from the likes of Lady Gaga, Nile Rodgers, J Balvin and Travis Scott among others. Talking about Apple Music Hits, the company says it will feature “the biggest songs fans know and love from the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s.” Plus, exclusive new shows from Backstreet Boys, Ciara, Alanis Morissette, Snoop Dogg, Meghan Trainor, Shania Twain, and more will debut on this channel.

Coming to Apple Music Country, the name says it all – it will be all about country music. This station will soon offer exclusive shows from top country music artists such as Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Morgan Evans, Florida Georgia Line, Pat Green, and Carrie Underwood to name a few. Both the new channels will be accessible on Apple Music from a wide range of devices as well as through Siri voice commands.

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Google search will now tell you where to watch an NBA game or movies airing live on TV

In the age of streaming, I often have to ask friends or do a Google search to find the channels on which I can watch a high-stake football fixture or cricket match live. To make things easier, Google will now help you find channels airing a live MLB and NBA game in the US. Now, searching for keywords such as “where to watch the Clippers game” or “how to watch the A’s game” will bring up the channel information right at top of the search results.

Where_2_Watch_Sports_GIF_NBA.gif

Additionally, if you search for an individual team, you will see information about live TV programming in a box labeled “Live on” on the search results page. The new feature currently covers cable and network channels, but it will soon include information from digital streaming platforms as well, and for more sports leagues other than just NBA and MLB.

Where 2 Watch Sports MLB.gif

Additionally, when you search for keywords such as “what to watch” or “good shows to watch”, you’ll see a carousel of channels below the red “On TV now” button. The carousel includes channels airing movies and TV shows from both streaming platforms as well as live TV format. The “On TV later” carousel below it will show TV shows and movies that are next in line for broadcast or streaming.

W2W_Live_TV.png

Source: Google Blog

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Netflix finally adds Hindi language support to woo the Indian audience

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Netflix is hard at work to win the Indian market, from making original shows with A-list stars to launching India-specific affordable membership plans, the company is trying it all. In a bid to further woo the Indian audience, Netflix has finally added Hindi language support to its desktop client as well as the mobile app. Here’s how the Netflix UI looks when the language is changed to Hindi:

Now, UI elements such as show description, the menu bar and the settings section can all be changed to Hindi language, making it easier for the Hindi speaking audience (over 300 million native speakers) to read about content in their first language. Moreover, irrespective of their current location, users across the globe can change the language to Hindi.

“Delivering a great Netflix experience is as important to us as creating great content. We believe the new user interface will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit members who prefer Hindi,” Monika Shergill, VP Content at Netflix India, was quoted as saying by TechCrunch.

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Snapchat’s new feature allows users to add licensed music to their Snaps

In a bid to consolidate its foothold in the face of competition from TikTok and Instagram, Snapchat has launched a new feature that will allow users to add licensed music to their videos. The test is currently being conducted in Australia and New Zealand, but a wider release is on the table as well (via TechCrunch).

The new feature will let Snapchat users add music to their videos, both before or after the capture, and choose songs from what Snap calls a diverse catalog of music. To license all that music and bring it before users, the company has joined hands with some big music labels that include Warner Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group and Merlin among others.

When users come across a Snap that has used licensed music as the background, they can swipe up on it to check details such as album art, artist name and song title. There will also be a “Play This Song” link that opens a Linkfire web view and prompts users to choose and listen to that song on their preferred music streaming platform which can be Spotify, Apple Music or SoundCloud among others.

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Apple is now the most valuable publicly traded company on the planet

Apple released its third quarter financial report for the fiscal year 2020 a day ago, posting a revenue of $59.7 billion (up 11% on a YoY basis) on top of strong hardware sales. Following the earnings reveal, Apple’s stock went up by 10.47% and it helped the company achieve a market valuation of a staggering $1.84 trillion (via CNBC), the highest market cap of any company in the world.

With that market cap, Apple toppled Saudi Aramco as the most valuable publicly traded company on the planet. State-owned Saudi Aramco – which has held the distinction of being the world’s most valuable publicly-owned company ever since its IPO – currently has a market value of $1.76 trillion as of the market’s closing on Friday.

Apple also announced a four-for-one stock split in its quarterly report, riding on top of a record-breaking quarter that shattered analyst predictions in the wake of the pandemic. The company’s June quarter witnessed double digit growth in the sale of both products as well as services across all markets.

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Netflix users can now control the playback speed on its Android app

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Netflix began testing the ability to control playback speed on its platform back in October last year. Today, Netflix has announced that users can now speed up or slow down the playback speed on its Android app. This new feature is rolling out to users starting today on the mobile app for Android, and will soon arrive on the iOS app and the web version as well.

Talking about the playback controls, users can choose between slower (0.5X or 0.75X) or faster (1.25X and 1.5X) options for video playback on their phone or tablet, and soon, on any screen of their choice. The playback control button appears in the bottom left corner of the screen while watching content.

Once users tap on it, a window will pop up that will let them choose between 0.5x, 0.75x, 1x (Normal), 1.25x and 1.5x playback speed options. However, the playback speed will revert back to normal every time users start watching a new movie or TV show, indicating that there might not be an option to set a default playback speed that applies to all content from the get-go.

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