As such, the idea of an HTML5 player is to be something that will work on mobile devices without approval from companies who also have financial agreements with the record labels who oppose their service. The HTML5 player works in Safari on iOS, on browsers for Android 2.3 and later, including third-party browsers. While this HTML5 solution doesn’t allow for offline listening or continuous track playing, it allows for the easy streaming of music on mobile, all without needing an app. The HTML5 player, which is still in a beta form, is available from http://html5.grooveshark.com and is currently free to access.
Apple’s recent restrictions on apps offering external subscriptions and content are starting to hit, particularly as these apps are starting to remove external links to purchase content that isn’t offered through Apple’s services. However, there’s nothing that Apple can do about web apps – and that’s what Amazon is looking to exploit to improve their Kindle service on the iPad, with the Cloud Reader.
The Kindle Cloud Reader, powered by HTML5, allows Kindle users to read their books either directly in Safari for iPad (it isn’t available for iPhone and iPod touch yet), or by saving a bookmark to the home screen that will let it run as a full screen web app. From there, all the books that a user has purchased on Kindle will be readable, though some books are not yet optimized for the Cloud Reader. These books can either just be downloaded from the web, or can be downloaded to the device for offline reading, which can be done by long-pressing on any book in the library and selecting “Pin Book.”
The most important part of the Cloud Reader besides being able to exist outside of the Apple approval process, is that it has built-in Kindle Store access. Users can browse and buy books from within the Cloud Reader, and start reading them right away. Compare this to the current state of the Kindle app, where the ability to buy new books, and any consideration of book buying is non-existent. It’s like the presence of these books in the library is just a fortunate coincidence for the user. By pushing their Cloud Reader, Amazon can not only be platform-agnostic (though only Safari on iPad, Safari for Mac, and Google Chrome are officially supported, although it will be coming to other platforms in coming month), but can make it easier for them to sell Kindle books to users. Don’t be surprised if Nook and other e-reader services start launching similar HTML5 options in the near future.
do@ (pronounced do-at) is an impressive take on mobile search delivering you results from multiple sites that match the context of your search in a card like interface and does so very quickly. It is a worthy attempt at remedying mobile search pain and information overload.
At the heart of do@, and the key to its innovation, is a method to return results from many mobile friendly sites at once. Once you enter your search query, do@ returns a bunch of categories it thinks match the context of your query. Once you choose one, it will return results from the sites that match that category. Those results are returned as full mobile web apps, in a card like interface, not as a list of results. You can then scroll through those site cards and focus in on one that matchs your needs exactly. This allows each site to tailor those results, to match the context you have chosen. This what really sets do@ apart from searching in a normal search engine page.
For example, if you search for Radiohead on Google or Bing, or any other search engine, you’ll get a list of links back to pages that mention the band Radiohead. It’s what you’d expect because that’s what you’ve always gotten. But that lacks context. You might get reviews, comments on Twitter, and YouTube videos all blended in together. But search for Radiohead in do@, and you’ll get web apps back that can deliver rich results. You will get a tab for song downloads, lyrics, tour dates, videos, etc. And each card will be able to tailor the display of those results to match the context.
In an cloud sourcing type of feature, do@ also allows you to connect your search experience to your social graph. This allows your social connections to influence what sites you see results returned in first. If lots of your friends think that Sound Cloud is a great source for music searches, that site will move up in your list. You can, of course, always control this and set your favorite search sites to override this.
In my time with do@, I’ve come to realize that it could, if used effectively replace Safari as my starting point for the mobile web. It’s a slightly different way to think of how you get to data on the web, but once you make that change, it will save you loads of time by getting you to the results you want much quicker.
Amazon has launched their Cloud Player recently, offering 5GB of free cloud-based storage to users, with additional space available via subscription and 20GB available for free by an album download. Amazon allows for music on their Cloud drives to be played back by users either via a browser, or by way of an app. A platform notably missing from Cloud Player support has been iOS – the app launched on Android as an upgrade to the official Amazon MP3 app, but an iOS app has not been released. Why the Cloud Player has not had support for iOS yet is a good question. The most likely reason is because the Cloud Player is inextricably linked with Amazon’s competing Amazon MP3 Store, especially as purchases from the store are available on users’ Cloud Player accounts immediately. This likely means that there will never be an official iOS app version for the Cloud Player.
However, hope is not lost for iOS users looking to stream their music from Amazon’s cloud solution. Amazon has updated the web version of Cloud Player to support Mobile Safari. This support appears to be unofficial – when trying to launch the Cloud Player from an iOS device, a warning prompts that it is not supported on the user’s browser. However, the service loads properly, and allows for browsing of music, and it will play back without issue through Safari on iOS devices. As well, the Cloud Player supports iOS’ multitasking controls directly, so it is possible to play and pause while using other apps. Track skipping however appears to not be working, after testing on both an iPod touch 4G and iPad 1G, so there are still some restrictions with the player and multitasking, although tracks do auto-advance while in the browser.
While the native app experience for the Amazon Cloud Player is superior, especially on Android, this does at least present something of a solution for iOS users looking to use the service, if/until Amazon is able to get an app on the App Store for users to use. It is unlikely that it ever will show up, but considering that apps like Rdio exist, it could happen someday, and this might just be a start in that direction.
It’s pretty common knowledge now that Google and Apple aren’t getting along as much as they used to. In fact, when Google’s native ‘Voice’ application, which mainly allows users of Google’s far-reaching social network to send voice-like emails to anyone with an account, was kindarejected from the App Store, the world reacted.
Just like when Google’s native Latitude app was rejected though, the firm took no time over announcing its “slap you back in the face” course of action against Apple, publicly stating its plans to bring the service to both the Apple iPhone and it’s android based devices in the near future, via the web. But with no official release date, people (including myself) started to ask when it would happen.
Today, Google have announced its Google Voice web app now works on the iPhone. Using HTML5 the web app provides a clean, crisp and user iterative native-esque experience, providing easy access and Voice functionality you’re probably all now familiar if you’re lucky enough to have a Google Voice account. The web app centers around a virtual keypad just like you see in Phone.app, and works as expected. Although, with the app being totally web based, the necessary iPhone OS pop-up confirmations are still present. With the app, you can either dial Google Access numbers, or international numbers and pay Google’s low cost rates. Need to see who’s been sending you voicemails lately? Just switch to the inbox tab. Here, just like as you would if the app were native, you’ll see a list of voicemails, as well as the ability to view or play the message in full and call or text the original sender.
Need to send a message to one of your contacts? Tap compose, and the HTML5 powered web app will bring up the necessary compose tools for you. Maybe you want to easily access certain sections of the web app directly from your iPhone’s homescreen? As you would with other sites you can add a webclip icons which lead directly to these sections the usual way, from Mobile Safari.
Finally, Google Voice on the iPhone .. even if it is a web app. Yes, I’m looking at you Apple.