Spotify just one upped their competition in a major way

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Today, Spotify announced the acquisition of Echo Nest, which is a “music intelligence” company that determines recommendations for listeners. The key here is that Echo Nest is used by many of Spotify’s competitors like Rdio.

Echo Nest will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Spotify and will honor any existing contracts. A Spotify rep told Engadget,

“In the few cases where The Echo Nest does work with direct competitors we will work with them to understand these relationships and determine the next business steps. The Echo Nest will meet all contractual obligations to all customers.”

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QuizUp quickly moves to Google Play

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Just a couple days ago we reported on QuizUp, the popular trivia game, making the move to the Android platform. At the time it appeared a public release would take place next week. However, beta testing must have gone extremely well as the title is now available in Google Play. The game lets you challenge friends online or take on random players from around the globe in a head-to-head trivia competition. QuizUp developers say there are over 400 topics available with new ones being added every week. Read more

Google Play celebrates second birthday with lots of deals

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After going through a couple iterations, Google finally decided to brand their version of an app store, along with music, movies, books and other stuff, as Google Play. It may be hard to believe, but that move to unify their online stores and implement a single brand occurred only two years ago. To help celebrate the anniversary of that change, Google is holding a “Happy Birthday” celebration with deals on a variety of goodies. Read more

Aviate Launcher updated with custom icon pack support

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Are you a fan of Aviate Launcher? You’ll be glad to find out that the developers behind Aviate Launcher recently released a new update which adds support for custom icon packs. This means that you can now use the same icon packs that you use with other launchers.

To enable custom icons, swipe left through Aviate to get access to the spaces menu and go to settings. Once you’ve opened the settings, you can tap on the “Set Icon Pack” button. You will then be brought to a menu where you can set an icon pack, download new packs, or go back to the default Android icons. It was reported on their blog that most icon packs that work with the popular launchers such as, Nova and Apex, should work fine with Aviate Launcher as well.

This is a major update for Aviate Launcher and if you haven’t grabbed the latest version yet, click on the download link after the break.

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Flipboard adds Google+ sign-in, CNN content, snaps up Zite for future improvements

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Flipboard has been busy and the results have surfaced over the past couple days as they announced their acquisition of Zite, a partnership with CNN, and even released an update to their app that adds better support for Google+ users. The purchase of Zite and the addition of CNN content to the app are likely linked to each other as Zite was formerly a part of CNN. Read more

Google Text-to-Speech 3.0 update brings high quality voices

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Another update from Google, joining an update to Google Play Music and Google Play Games, brings some enhancements to Google Text-to-Speech as it ratchets up to version 3.0. Perhaps the most significant change included in this latest release is support for high quality voices. The files are significantly larger for new voices with the female U.K. voice weighing in at 276MB. The larger files sizes do create some delays loading the voices and getting output in certain situations. Read more

Update to Google Play Music makes it possible to go offline with radio stations

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Google began rolling out an update to Google Play Music today that will be especially helpful to users who find themselves without any kind of connection to the Internet. Radio stations can now be pinned and can be listened to even if you are offline. Other items included in the update should make the interface a little easier to navigate. Read more

Motorola Touchless Control updated with the ability to read notifications

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Motorola just updated Touchless Control for the Moto X and DROIDs. Among bug fixes and improved accuracy, they added two new commands which do the same thing. You can say “What’s Up” or “Read Notifications” and you will hear the time and information about any new notifications that you have. From my limited time with the new update, it appears to only work with notifications that are present in the Active Display.

It’s fully launched for U.S. English, Spanish, and Italian. It’s in beta for other languages and regions.

If you have a Moto X or one of the new DROIDs, download the update now. Links after the break.

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Handwritten note-taking arrives in Evernote for Android

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Our favorite note-taking app for Android, Evernote, received a massive update today. Handwriting has arrived. The ability to take handwritten notes has long been a much requested feature for the client. “When we started working on a way to bring digital handwriting to Evernote for Android, we knew that our approach needed to extend the current Evernote experience rather than simply provide an alternate input method,” Evernote’s Andrew Sinkov wrote in a blog post today. “It took us a long to time to figure out exactly how to make this work.”

Inside any note, you can tap the pen icon to start writing freely. If you need more room, click on the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen. Also, you can choose different colors and levels of thickness for your script, and just tap on the checkmark to immediately return to typing, add an attachment, record audio, or drop an image into the note, all in one place. Check out a video and download link after the break.

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Looking for an alternative to Plex? MediaBrowser now works with Chromecast

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Ever since Google opened up the Google Cast SDK, we have seen a number of apps that allow you to stream your own content. Plex is probably the most popular and widely used one, but the fact that the Chromecast feature still comes at an extra cost has turned a few off. If you’re looking for an alternative, you might want to check out MediaBrowser. They just updated the Android app and desktop server with Chromecast support.

MediaBrowser works much like Plex in that you install the server software on your Windows desktop. Just like Plex, it will go through all your media and add rich metadata and cover art. You can then access your media from anywhere using your Android phone or tablet. MediaBrowser will handle all transcoding on the fly. You can also access your server from other devices like the Roku, and as of yesterday, you can cast your videos and music to the Chromecast.

The Android app costs $4.53 and the server software is free. There are no other charges to use the Chromecast function. Hit the break for screenshots and download links.

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