Archive for Android

PVSTAR+ for Android gives you YouTube in media player form

pvstarplus PVSTAR+ for Android gives you YouTube in media player form

Sure, the quality is awful and all that, but who here doesn’t ever go to YouTube to find music? I find myself doing it quite a bit, sometimes just to listen to some old pop songs for the laughs, but most often to listen to artists you don’t find anywhere else. Be it true cover songs or someone playing the Game of Thrones theme on a violin, YouTube is full of music you don’t get elsewhere, and I frankly prefer a lot of it to what comes out of the studios these days. Justin Bieber may have been discovered on YouTube, but I won’t hold that against it.

A very neat app for these situations is PVSTAR+ for Android. It allows you to create playlists of YouTube videos, and then play them using many of the same controls you get in a normal media player. It even supports background play, so you don’t have to keep the screen on. Using the app fully requires an internet connection, however there is a caching system in place for offline use. It’s not all there, unfortunately, as you have to play the videos for them to be cached, and even then I’ve had mixed results. The app also has a few quirks, like some videos simply failing to play without a good explanation, and the need to “catch up” when just switching back into the app from using background play/the screen being off (due to it switching video back on – there should be a delay on this in my opinion).

Despite a few issues, it does what it claims, and it does it pretty well. I’ve found myself using it more and more simply because of the convenience factor, as it’s much easier than downloading videos using video downloaders (which isn’t complicated, but takes time). The app is available in both a free ad-supported version and a $4.40 ad-free version.

pvstar qr 175x175 PVSTAR+ for Android gives you YouTube in media player form

Download: Google Play

MX Player’s Background Play feature lets you treat videos like audio [Android]

background play MX Players Background Play feature lets you treat videos like audio [Android]

A rather neat feature of iTunes is the role that music videos have. Instead of being separate entities hidden away in the video player, they’re listed with their respective audio counterparts in the music library, basically working like audio files with video album art. I’ve had people ask for an Android alternative, which I haven’t really been able to find. One app that comes close though is MX Player.

I say “comes close” because MX Player is a video play at its core, rather than an audio player with video capability. One of the features of MX Player however is Background Play, which allows you to put a video in the background without pausing it. That means that turning off the screen or hitting the home button doesn’t pause the video like it does on most players, it simply switches it to audio only mode. That way, you can be on the train watching music videos, and just hit the screen lock button when you get off and continue listening to only the audio.

It’s hardly an ideal solution, but it’s one I’ve actually used quite a bit. There are other uses for only listening to a video file as well, like having a video lecture you only really need to listen to, or perhaps you simply want to use a movie as a kind of audio book while doing something that keeps your attention elsewhere.

If you know of any similar apps for Android, especially one that’s an audio player with a music video feature similar to iTunes, let me know.

mx player qr MX Players Background Play feature lets you treat videos like audio [Android]

Download: Google Play


Sony unveils new Walkman players

sony f800 e470 Sony unveils new Walkman players

Sony has just unveiled its new lineup of Walkman players, which consists of four players. Three are variations of a more traditional style MP3 player, while the fourth is a new top model Android based media player.

Starting at the top, the F800 is the Android based player in the bunch. It features a 3.5-inch screen with an unknown resolution, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Google Play access. Powering the device is a Tegra 2 chip, which while dual core and all that, is still a 1.5 year old chip at this point. With a price of up to $300 for the 32GB model, you basically have to want the small size of the device in order to pick it over the $200-$250 tablets that are popping up all over the place.

If size is an issue, you might even want to drop Android powered devices altogether, and instead look at the three non-Android devices in Sony’s new lineup. Called the E470, E570, and S770BT series, the only thing that seems to separate the three is how they handle the headphones. The E470 is the most traditional, supporting just normal headphones. The E570 supports – and comes with - noise cancelling headphones, similar to many Sony players in the past. The S770BT is the Bluetooth model, and actually comes bundled with a Bluetooth receiver. They all share the same 2-inch QVGA screen and up to 36 hours of audio playback.

Mind you though that the information of these players, in true Sony tradition, varies depending on location. The US press release doesn’t mention the E570 and S770BT, while the EU press page doesn’t mention any other capacity than 8GB for the E470. I guess we’ll see what comes out where in the beginning of August.

[Sony EU via The Verge | Phandroid]

Sony’s Smart Wireless Headset pro combines MP3 player and wireless headset dongle

Smart Wireless Headset pro Sonys Smart Wireless Headset pro combines MP3 player and wireless headset dongle

Sony is one of the few companies still in the MP3 player game, and it’s trying its best to keep that part of the business afloat. With smartphones and tablets becoming more and more popular, making MP3 players into mobile device accessories might be the only way to save the product category in the years to come. That’s the idea behind the Smart Wireless Headset pro as well, and it bridges the two categories in a new and at least somewhat interesting way.

The Smart Wireless Headset pro is essentially an advanced Bluetooth A2DP adapter merged with an MP3 player. On its own it’s an 18 gram MP3 player that plays music off a microSDHC card for about 12 hours before the black and white OLED display goes dark. When connected to a Bluetooth device it’s a wireless dongle that allows you to cut at least part of the cord between your device and headphones. When connected to an Android device, it also gains a nifty SMS/email notification system on the built-in display and via text-to-speech. Finally, there’s an FM radio.

This is definitely a hybrid device, and by that I mean that its selling point is its ability to do several things, rather than do one thing well. There’s no mention of aptX codec support for the Bluetooth stream, which means it falls short of some other Bluetooth adapters for that functionality. MP3 and Wav as the only supported music formats, along with a ton of other missing MP3 player features, also makes this a poor straight out substitute for something like the Sansa Clip line. Finally, SMS and email notifications in the age of smart watches like the Pebble is a novelty at best.

Perhaps the biggest nail in this device’s coffin however is the price. $129 for a hybrid device really stretches things when you can get a Clip Zip, Jabra Clipper, and $56 towards a Pebble for the price of this jack of all trades, master of none. I think $59 or $69 is the absolute max that Sony should charge for something like this, and instead it’s charging those two prices combined. That’s Sony for your though, constantly coming up with at least half decent ideas whose obvious shortcomings are less of an issue than the Apple-esque price.

[Sony via Engadget]

VLC is coming to Android, really soon

vlc and VLC is coming to Android, really soonIt’s no secret that the VLC Media Player for Android has been in development for a long time, and now it seems official builds will finally be available to the public.

Same as VLC for Windows, OS X, and various Linux/Unix flavors, VLC for Android promises to play every audio and video format in every container… ever. For now hardware decoding is experimental, so one would need a fairly beefy device to do software decoding, especially for HD video formats. Contrary to its full-fledged-OS brethren, VLC for Android also features a media library and touch gesture controls, as expected from a portable application. Network video streaming is also supported, which comes in mighty handy when one wishes to have one’s whole movie collection in one’s hand.

My favorite Android video player, MX Player, just ditched DTS audio support due to licensing issues, and – to the best of my knowledge – no Android player so far supports newfangled Hi10P video. For these two issues alone I’m looking forward to VLC.

Until VLC arrives on the Google Play Store, here are official (unsupported) nightly builds, for the impatient.

UPDATE: VLC Mobile Team now officially made it to the Play Store.


How to auto-sync an MP3 player from an Android device using Tasker

So the Samsung Galaxy S III has an MP3 player as an accessory to let you take a smaller music player than your huge phone with you when you work out and things like that. Big whoop. In this article I’m going to show you how you can get any MSC enabled player to sync to practically any USB-host enabled Android device in a way that makes the S Pebble look like it’s not just the name that’s related to the stone age. With devices such as a the Sansa Clip series out there that are still amazing music players, this new role as an accessory to a smartphone/tablet might help the MP3 player market stay alive.

Continue reading…

JetAudio for Android is not what it used to be

jetaudio android no bbe JetAudio for Android is not what it used to be

There was some back and forth with the initial free version 1.0.1 of JetAudio on the Play Store – some people saw it in the store, others didn’t (not depending on hardware compatibility). We suspected it was some region-specific restriction Google or Cowon was pulling there.

It turns out, it might very well have been some legal issue between Cowon and BBE Sound Inc. instead. The updated free version 1.0.2 and the now available paid version of JetAudio do not feature BBE and BBE ViVA sound enhancements (read the article below for my gushing about how nice they sound). Being basically the main selling point of the application, this does come as a bit of a shock. There is no explanation about the removal on the Play Store, on Cowon’s JetAudio website, or anywhere else – BBE simply disappeared from the screenshots, and it isn’t mentioned in the changelogs either.

This is not the way to communicate, Cowon – we could really do with an explanation as to what is going on. As it is now, I would not be willing to pay EUR 1.50 for the player when it lacks its main feature over competing audio players. You should really fix your licensing issues (or whatever it is) with BBE and explain to your customers what is going on there.

[JetAudio Plus and JetAudio Basic on Google Play Store]

JetAudio Player rocks Android

jetaudio android JetAudio Player rocks Android

Good news for people who feel Cowon’s D3 and Z2 Android players being a bit overpriced and/or underpowered – now you can have their trademark BBE/Jetaudio sound enhancements on any old Android device.

JetAudio has been Cowon’s bundled Windows audio player/manager app for almost a decade now, and BBE recently released an audio player app for Apple’s iOS (which isn’t overly mature software yet). Fandroids, put on your smug faces – now you get the best of both worlds.

JetAudio for Android provides BBE and BBE ViVA sound tweaks to beef up any audio signal – some people (like me) tend to say they’re the best sounding ones of the bunch, surpassing competitors like DNSE, SRS, or X-Fi enhancements in audio quality. For bass boost there’s a button called ‘X-Bass’ on the player – not the usual BBE Mach3Bass, but it sounds basically the same. Furthermore there’s a 10-band EQ, a (nice sounding) stereo-enhancer/spatializer, a (crappy bathroom) reverb effect, and (horrible) automatic gain control, which messes up too quiet and too loud parts in audio tracks, as usual with these algorithms. Unfortunately JetAudio doesn’t seem to support Replaygain so far, which would be a much more sensible choice than AGC.

Besides the trademark sound enhancements, JetAudio is a quite extensive piece of software for an initial release. Next to tag browsing it features good old file/folder browsing, album art display works fine, the interface is intuitive enough, and people with swollen egos can post their bad taste in music directly to Facebook or Twitter from within the player (not sure if scrobbling is supported as well). Of course JetAudio claims to support gapless playback, like most other Android players – but same as all other players (except Rockbox and GoneMAD), it’s not really gapless and clicks between tracks. Its crossfade functionality works fine, though. For people with lopsided ears, there’s also audio pan/balance – I just wish that would be a global feature in the operating system, not app-dependent.

So far only a free version of JetAudio is available on the Market Play Store, with time-limited previews of some BBE sound enhancements. A full, paid version, should follow shortly.

[Google Play Store - thanks to NBT's Pocketables' Andreas for the tip!]

Cowon Z2 might finally reach Western shores

cowonz2 rel Cowon Z2 might finally reach Western shoresThere’s been quite some uncertainty and doubt regarding the international release date of the Plenue Z2, the successor to the D3, and Cowon’s second experiment with Google’s Android operating system. We’ve ranted about it as early as January.

This time it sure took Cowon a lot longer than usually to release a device outside of Korea, but it seems they’re almost there. According to Engadget, an “early May” release date should be possible. Apparently, the 16GB version of the Z2 will only come in white and will go for around $280, the 32GB version will only come in black and go for a slightly painful $320.

Those prices are quite a bit higher than, say, same-sized iPod Touch variants, and a lot more expensive than Samsung’s various Galaxy Players. But if you want BBE sound enhancements, many more tactile buttons than average Android devices offer, and a shnazzy S-AMOLED screen (hopefully a non-Pentile one), then you really don’t have a lot of alternatives. At least the Z2 should be snappy enough to be usable as an all-around Android device, contrary to its severely slow and laggy ancestor, the D3.

[via Engadget - thanks to Nathan for the tip]

Samsung’s new Galaxy Player differs by either 0.2 or 0.8 inches from its ancestors

sgs42 Samsungs new Galaxy Player differs by either 0.2 or 0.8 inches from its ancestorsIt’s called the Galaxy Player S Wifi 4.2, so its name should be a dead giveaway that it’s slightly larger than the 4.0 and slightly smaller than the 5.0. Also, it’s white/grey-ish instead of black.

Other than that, there really aren’t any big differences to spot between the various models. They all have the same 800 x 480 resolution (in an IPS variety on the 4.2, contrary to Samsung’s usual AMOLED screens), same 1 GHz processor speed, same Android 2.3 operating system, same codec support, same connectivity options, and so on. The new 4.2 still seems to lack HDMI output – an issue users have criticized as one of the biggest shortcomings of the 4.0 and 5.0, and a major drawback of an otherwise nicely specced PMP.

The 4.2 comes with 8 or 16 GB of internal memory, and of course a MicroSD slot to add some more. Its battery holds 1500 mAh, so let the speculations about its run time begin. No release date or street price have been announced yet.

Oh yeah, before I forget it – the 4.2 comes preloaded with some random game. This seems to be a big enough deal to mention it in the specs sheet of the press release.

[Samsung press release via Engadget]