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148Apps 2014 Holiday Shopping Guide for Creative Types

Posted by Rob Rich on December 10th, 2014

Welcome, one and all, to another 148Apps holiday shopping guide! Are you having trouble figuring out what to get for a distant relative, new neighbor, or estranged second cousin? Thankfully there are people like us putting together handy-dandy holiday shopping guides for you! Whether you’re looking for new hardware and accessories, or just something a bit less impersonal than an iTunes gift card, we’ve got you covered.

Other 148Apps Holiday Gift Guides: for [Health Nuts] [Socializers] [Gamers] [Power Users]

Today’s guide is for those creative types in your life. These are the people who like to draw, compose music, sculpt, or otherwise make things with their iOS devices. So long as they enjoy creating, and you’re in need of some gift ideas, you should check out our list below.

Spotify Connect Turns One, Now Supports New Devices

Posted by Ellis Spice on August 27th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

This time last year Spotify launched Connect: a feature that allows users to play their music through home speakers. It already works through 80 different speakers and home audio systems, and today it has been announced that more partners and devices are set to be added in the near future.

Bose, Panasonic, and Gramofon have partnered with Spotify for the Connect feature, meaning that some of their devices will soon work with the music service. For the first time a Smart TV will also able to connect with Spotify, with Phillips Smart TVs. Finally, multi-room set-ups are supported as well, meaning multiple users can listen to multiple pieces of music within the same household.

The Spotify app is available for free on the App Store now, although you will need a premium subscription of $9.99 a month in order to use Connect functionality.

Group Chat and More Comes to Soundwave in Latest Update

Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 17th, 2014
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Soundwave, the music discovery app that tracks the music you listen to on a variety of platforms (YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, etc...), is getting a major update today. The app is receiving a fresh, new design and includes a Music Messenger feature allowing users to connect with their friends. Users can search for songs on the app and share them, private group chat, make group playlists with friends, and connect with other users that have a common music interests.

You can check out Soundwave for free on the app store.

Cover Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Angela LaFollette on March 21st, 2014
Our rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar :: DISCOVERY SERVICE
Cover provides iPhone users with an appealing way to discover new, old, and upcoming releases of music, games, and movies with just a few taps on the screen.
Read The Full Review »

Spotify Launching its Freemium Service for iPad, and a Special "Shuffle" Service for iPhone

Posted by Rob Rich on December 11th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

TechCruch reports that Spotify is shaking things up a bit. The freemium streaming radio service will now be available in full for the iPad (i.e. it's the same thing you get on your desktop), while a whole new option is available for iPhone users.

The new iPhone-centric plan, dubbed "Spotify Shuffle," serves a similar purpose to other popular iPhone radio apps. However, while there are limited search and listen allotments for freemium Shuffle users, they'll still be able to access their pre-made playlists. Spotify Shuffle will also allow iPhone users a bit more playlist control; for example, it won't simply flood their playlist with songs that are "like" a specific artist.

The new Spotify update and service are both available now.

5 Years and Counting - The App Store Then and Now

Posted by Rob Rich on July 12th, 2013

Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That's a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it's not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple's new smartphone.

On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.

2008 - The Beginning of the Beginning

The App Store's first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.

Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn't make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn't as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.

At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that "mobile" didn't have to equal "mediocre." Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.

2009 - Moving Right Along

The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple's digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.

Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean "an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms." And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.

So many of the App Store's most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers' minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples' free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.

Spotify Blares Out New Update, Offers New Music Discovery Features

Posted by Andrew Stevens on July 2nd, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

The latest Spotify updates give you a different way to find new music to listen to with the new Discover option. Also, the updated iOS version features a brand-new Now Playing view that shows what's up next in the queue. Spotify also improves and fixes a number of other things, like search tabs, menu button locations, editable playlists on your iPhone, and more.

Start rocking out with these awesome new features!

How To: Free Up Space by Deleting Apps' Cache Files

Posted by Carter Dotson on June 10th, 2013

Ever notice that you’re running out of free space, and apps like Instagram, Spotify, and Vine are taking up a lot more space than they should be? Some apps like these take up over 500 MB of space for cached data, which can be a killer given the limited amount of storage space on most devices. As well, they don't engage in a best practice of making it possible in the app itself to delete cached space. When trying to install a large app, this can be a real problem.

It's time to take the power back, and your device's free space. I’m going to show you two ways to clear up this cached space: the brute force way, and the way that’s a bit more clever.

Method number one: Just delete and reinstall the app

This will delete all the data for the app. It’s easy enough. The downside? You have to redownload and reinstall the app, not to mention needing to login again. Any special preferences will be gone too. This is a solution. It's just not a very good one.

Method number two: delete the cache files using i-FunBox

The cache files stored by apps can be accessed by users with a little bit of savvy. Download an app like i-FunBox to access your device. Plug it in to your computer. Launch i-FunBox. Go to the “Applications” section of your device, and find the app whose cache data you want to delete.

Find the folder called Caches in the Library folder. Right-click on it and delete it.

This should work for most apps. See the results in the Usage section of Settings -> General:

See, with Spotify, deleting the Caches folder cleared up much of my recent cache usage, with the tracks that I saved for offline listening still in the app. You will notice that after using the app again, the Caches folder will be recreated, so this is non-destructive.

Some apps may use multiple or non-standard folders. The best way to discover where this cached data is hiding is to select all the files, copy them to your computer, and then poke through folders’ file sizes to see where large chunks of data are hiding. Then you can delete those folders safely.

In general, just deleting cached data is safe, because by definition it’s just temporary. As long as you don’t delete anything in the Preferences folder, you shouldn’t lose anything important. Feel free to back it up to be safe.

Not that you may need to do this whenever you need to free up some space as the cached data will add back up as you use the apps. Still, if you’re trying to install a large app, this can free up space without needing to delete apps themselves. So go ahead, install Infinity Blade II and keep it there!

Spotify, Rdio, or Rhapsody? Which One Is Better?

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on April 26th, 2013

Here's a confession: I haven't purchased a song from iTunes or Amazon or Google in a couple of years.

No, I haven't turned to piracy via Bittorrent, and neither have I started to use (shudder) YouTube to listen to new songs.

I've done what millions of other folks are doing these days, namely using streaming radio.

It started with Pandora, but my experience there quickly paled as I realized I could never really get the specific artists I wanted on the stations I created. Plus, I'm an old-school music snob. I believe in the album format, as a collection of songs that makes some sort of collective statement, even when it isn't a thematic album, per se.

Enter Rdio, Spotify, and Rhapsody. Each streaming music service has its proponents and detractors, and I'm no different. I'm an Rdio fan from the start, but keep trying out Spotify as more and more of the connections on my social networks seem to use it to share playlists. I figured I'd give Rhapsody a shot, too, since it basically does the same thing as the other two.

And there's the rub. Each service does the same thing: offers up unlimited on-demand music from modern recorded music over the internet, via a website, computer app, or iOS app. How then, are we to choose which service is best for us? Here's how I did it.

First of all, I'm sticking to the iOS experience. That means that each service costs about $10 a month to use. I use my iPhone in the car or on my bicycle to play music via LTE on the go. I also use my iPad 3 or iPad mini to send music to bluetooth speakers in my house. These are my default listening environments.

Therefore, I'm judging each service on how well it works as an iOS app, as a music catalogue, and as a sharing platform, because I love sharing and discovering new music via my friends and social network.


Heard it on the Rdio

Rdio has a fantastic collection of music, both old and new, and the universal app makes it super easy to see what new albums are out, what albums are trending within my network, and to search for music I want to hear. I have yet to not be able to find something I'm looking for via search, and I dig pulling up new albums by artists I know as well as by those I don't. Rdio is visually organized around albums, which makes sense to my old music-loving brain.

While many of my music-snob friends use the service, what Rdio doesn't have is a significant amount of the rank and file people on the service to meet my sharing/discovery needs. The playlist support is also rather hidden in the iOS app, at least, making finding new playlists a more difficult task than it should be.

Our Rdio Review :: Download Rdio (App Store)


Spotify The Difference

Here's the current darling of the social network scene, with a broad user base and a fantastic catalog of all sorts of music. The playlist support is second to none, and finding playlists to follow is super easy and surfaced at the top of the interface, at least in the iPad version of the app. The What's New tab has recommended albums, trending playlists, and New Releases all visible and easily accessed. This, plus the fact that many of my friends on Facebook and Twitter seem to share Spotify links more often than Rdio is what keeps me interested in the service.

However, what Spotify also has is a horrible iPhone app. I started using it on iOS via the smaller app, and almost gave up hope. It wasn't until I opened Spotify on my iPad that I saw any use in using the service on the go. Why a universal app can't work the same on both the iPhone and the iPad, I don't know.

Our Spotify Review :: Download Spotify (App Store)


Rhapsody In Blue

Now here's a service that has always seemed more corporate to me, with a big, pretty iOS interface and plenty of new artists and albums to listen to and discover. The main page is set up with New Releases, Popular Artists, and Featured albums. The genre support here is great; I can find classical, jazz, and world music as easily as I can rock or pop.

On the downside, playlists are a decidedly single affair, as I can make them, but I don't see anywhere to find them. There's also no connection to Facebook or Twitter, making sharing my music listening or discovering that of my friends rather difficult. The show stopper here, though, came when I tried to open up the app on my iPhone, originally having set it up on my iPad mini. I got a message saying, essentially, that I had reached my "Device Limit," and that only one device at a time is supported. I could switch devices if I liked, but only one at a time is authorized for the Rhapsody service. Game over, which is too bad because it's a very pretty app.

Download Rhapsody for iPad (App Store) :: Download Rhapsody for iPhone (App Store)


The Winner?

I'm still going to stick with Rdio, because it looks and works the same on my iPhone as it does my iPad. The people I'm connected to on the service are all folks with eclectic, intelligent taste in music, and I really get a lot more out of following them and their playlists on Rdio. I wish it had better ways to discover playlists, and makes browsing by genre a bigger part of the interface, but the service is still my personal favorite.

Spotify is a close second, mainly due to the trending playlist and larger-seeming user base, at least within my social scene. I wish it was less song oriented and more about the albums, but that's more my own bias than anything significant with the service. If sharing songs with other folks is important, Spotify is a great choice.

Rapsody, sadly, while pretty, has the limitation on devices, as well as a more corporate look and feel, plus the lack of modern social network support. If none of those things matter, it's a decent service for the same price as the other two.

Bottom line, whichever service meets the needs of its individual users is the "winner," but I find Rdio to be the best of all worlds, and will probably stick with it for the time being, especially while the Spotify iPhone app is so awful.

Top Image: CNN Money

Spotify Update Is Now Playing

Posted by Andrew Stevens on February 27th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Spotify, the radio app that gives users access to millions of songs, has received an update adding a new interface for users to swipe through. Also, it features a now playing bar that will show users what they're listening to and also allows the option to tap the bar for more information on the current song.

Complete list of updates from the App Store.

• New: Shiny new interface. You can navigate around the app with a new sidebar. Check it out by swiping left-to-right, or by pressing the ≣ button in the top left of the app.
• New: Now Playing bar. You’ll always see what you’re listening to along the bottom of Spotify. To switch tracks, just swipe along it. Tap or drag to see more information about the current track. Tap the cover art in the extended view to use AirPlay, and disable/enable shuffle and repeat.
• New: Track menu. Tap the … button on any track to see a redesigned context menu.
• Fixed: "Track only available online" issues. This would sometimes appear after start-up, or when you’d been offline for a little while. Not any more.
• Fixed: Lock screen will now always display the correct track.
• Fixed: Shuffle now switches off after you’ve used "Shuffle Play" on an album or playlist.

8tracks Radio Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on November 6th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MUSICAL VARIETY
8tracks Radio is a free to use radio app that allows users to listen to a wide selection of playlists, covering every musical interest imaginable.
Read The Full Review »

Got Spotify? Try Visualizing Your Music In A New Way With Sonarflow Spot

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on July 11th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

If you're a Spotify user, you know it's a great app and service that streams music to your iPhone, iPad, or computer. You also know that discovering new music is not as easy as it should be, and that's where Sonarflow Spot comes in.

The developers claim that Spotify Premium users can use Sonarflow Spot to explore music based on their starred and top tracks as well as with Spotify's own top lists. Think of it as a different way to explore music via Spotify, with a unique bubble-based visual organization. The devs hope to show you music that you'd never find using just Spotify.

Features include:
* One-touch access to Spotify's world of music
* Discover new bands and artists in Spotify
* Listen to music from Spotify directly in the app
* Watch band videos through YouTube
* Read artist biographies
* Star your favorite tracks
* Share music discoveries with your friends on Facebook and Twitter

Check Sonarflow Spot out today for the low price of FREE, and let us know what you think.

Radio Comes To Spotify iOS

Posted by Jennifer Allen on June 21st, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Regular users of the Spotify app have just been given yet another reason why the service is the best music product out there. Radio functionality has just been added in the latest update.

It's a feature that's been available for PC/Mac users for quite a while and allows users to create stations based on their favorite artists, albums or playlists, with only a single tap saving the track for future reference.

For those who want faster access, the Radio tab makes it possible to view and listen to other stations. Give a favored song a thumb up and it all goes towards Spotify's personalization system which recommends ideal stations for the user. It should ensure that there's never a time where you'll be stumped for what to listen to next.

The service is currently available for free in the US while other countries will require a premium subscription to access the functionality.

Get the update now and enjoy!

Spotify's App gets a Social Update

Posted by Lisa Caplan on June 4th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Spotify, one of the most popular on-demand social music services, updated their iOS app last week. There were a lot of fixes and a few tweaks, but the biggest news is that the app now uses push notifications.

Spotify is a great way to listen to almost any artist, song, or album you can think of, but one of the primary functions of the main desktop app is the social connectivity. You can follow friends from Facebook, subscribe to their playlists, and even send them music. Now the app is focusing its attention on this aspect by notifying users when a new friend joins, when a playlist you subscribe to has been altered or when someone signs up to listen to your mix.

Also added, a new user guide helps newcomers explore some of Spotify’s features as they translate to iOS, Retina display interface and album art, and better offline synching,

All these changes are welcome, but what’s still missing is Spotify’s genre and user-created radio stations, and their integrated third-party music discovery apps, things we hope to see in future updates.

NPR Updates Official Music App for the iPad

Posted by Brad Hilderbrand on February 17th, 2012

Today is a good day for fans of music like the indigenous folk rock music of southern Papua, New Guinea as NPR has launched an updated version of their music app for the iPad. The newly launched NPR Music is a one-stop listening shop for iPad users, providing free access to basically everything NPR has to offer. Users have access to extensive music collections from a variety of genres, all organized by category for easy perusal. Furthermore, you can check out news, signature NPR programming, listen to live events or even stream entire stations all with a couple taps and swipes.

In a move that will really please audiophiles, NPR Music allows you to save playlists for later offline listening, a free service which normally locked away as a "premium" features in apps like Spotify. We do however assume that at some point the app will bombard you with endless pledge drives until you find some way to insert $20 into your iPad. But isn't that a small price to pay the first time you whip out your iPad, load up your NPR app and completely blow the minds of your hipster friends?

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