Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers announced that the service will start in January. Potential subscribers can reserve their usernames now over at BeatsMusic.com.
Beats Music comes to you through Beats Electronics, the headphones venture founded by Dr. Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine. In January, Beats named Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor as chief creative officer of its music-streaming service, code named Daisy. Reznor first confirmed working with the Beats crew in October 2012. In a New Yorker interview that December, he said the service would differ from existing streaming providers by adding “intelligent curation.”
Beats Music bought another streaming service, Mog, in summer 2012, and named Rogers as its head when he joined in January. The story of how Rogers got into the music business is the stuff of record-geek dreams: A fansite he made for the Beastie Boys earned him a call from the group’s manager in 1993 — and instead of getting a shutdown notice, Rogers eventually wound up as president of new media for Beasties imprint Grand Royal.
As Beats has gradually pushed back its streaming service’s launch, other rivals have made their way into the space. iTunes Radio from Apple, which at one point was reportedly in talks with Beats, rolled out in September. Google Play Music All Access arrived in May. Google’s own YouTube could soon follow with a paid subscription service of its own.
Streaming music is in the midst of a long and complicated debate over royalty payments. Spotify, after criticism, revealed earlier this week it pays rights holders between 0.6 cents and 0.84 cents per song stream. Pandora recently shifted gears in its efforts to lower its legally mandated royalty rates. How much Beats Music will pay out isn’t yet clear.
Still, Beats has some heavy hitters in its corner — and not just Reznor, Dre, Iovine, and, at least implicitly, the Beastie Boys. In March, the company revealed it had received a $60 million investment for the streaming service. Leading the investors was Access Industries, owner of Warner Music Group. And the reserve-your-username idea faintly but distinctly brings to mind the excitement of Google’s 2004 Gmail rollout, when the service was always in “beta” and invites were limited.
Rogers, explaining the delay in his blog post, included a 1979 video of Orson Welles. “It took Beethoven four years to write that symphony,” the great actor and director says. “Some things can’t be rushed.” Might not want to waste too much time thinking up your username, though.
While Samsung is still busy marketing its Galaxy Gear smartwatch around the globe, tech blogs have already started writing about a few hardware features that may come with the next generation Galaxy S smartphone – none of which Samsung would confirm, but one of them being an iris scanner.
This wouldn’t be the first time Samsung is testing the idea of linking human eyes with smartphone usage, as recent Galaxy smartphones come with software features that recognize a person’s eyes for adjusting the brightness of a phone screen or even for scrolling up and down a web page.
But a patent filing by Samsung with the U.S. authorities published earlier this month shows the company may be considering taking the technology one step further and use it for people authentication in Samsung devices.
Though the filing doesn’t go into specifics of how the technology can be applied in practice, it puts the technology in direct comparison with fingerprint recognition, which Apple Inc.’s new iPhone 5 came with earlier this year.
“The iris has unique patterns whose number is larger than that of the fingerprint…and…is being evaluated as a biometric identification technology more advanced than a fingerprint or retina scanning technology,” Samsung’s filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office said.
A Samsung spokeswoman declined to confirm whether the company is considering the application of iris-based authentication for its next flagship device. The document only says the technology may be embodied in many different forms including a computer, a tablet computer and a mobile device.
Also recently, U.S. patent authorities published a filing by Japan’s Sony Corp. that shows a wearable computing device in the form of a wig with sensors, while Google Inc. has filed a patent for an electronic tattoo that can be placed on a person’s neck.
Most consumer audio devices still use too many wires, though technologies to eliminate them have been around for a long time. Beats Electronics thinks it’s just a matter of hiding the complexity.
The maker of pricey gadgets, founded by music pioneers Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, are introducing a new version of its recently overhauled Studio line of noise-cancelling headphones that does away with the wires. It uses Bluetooth to sync to nearby smartphones, tablets and other devices, which serve up stereo sounds using the ubiquitous wireless technology.
Users can also use the device to take calls, skip songs and change the volume. There’s a built-in microphone that picks up user’s voice and mixes in that sound for a call, to reduce the impulse to speak loudly since the ear cups reduce such external sounds, says Tejinder Grewal, the company’s chief product officer.
The price is $379 compared to $299 for the wired version of the Studio headphones.
Beats is also using Bluetooth in new ways on an updated version of its Pill line of portable accessory speakers for mobile devices. One key attribute is the ability to sync not only with audio sources but with other Pills.
Tap one Pill against another and two devices will start playing the same song, letting users simply boost the volume or spread their music in multiple rooms in a home or office. Tap them together twice to have stereo separation, with one Pill playing the right sound channel and the other the left.
Beats is launching the new Pill–which keeps its $199 price tag–along with accessories that include a handlebar clip so bicycle riders can ride along to music.
Meanwhile, Pill is also getting a big brother, the Pill XL. It is hefty enough to come with a built-in handle but is still portable, with the power to provide a soundtrack to a backyard barbecue as well as a living room, as Grewal showed during a demonstration in San Francisco.
Beats has also added a feature to allow the batteries on its new Pills to recharge smartphones. The Pill XL “is three times the battery capacity of an iPhone 5s,” he says.
The streaming service has launched a visually richer interface designed to increase the already-high amount of time subscribers watch its content on their television sets.
Netflix has already changed the way many people think about watching television. Now the company wants to change the way people watch Netflix on their TV sets.
The streaming service has unveiled a new, visually richer interface for subscribers who watch Netflix on television. The new experience is designed to improve discovery and playback.
The Internet network also hopes its new design will lead to even more television viewing of its content, which already accounts for the majority of its five billion viewing hours last quarter.
“Our members collectively watch more than a billion hours of Netflix a month, most of that is on a TV,” Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said in a statement. “This is the biggest change to the Netflix experience on televisions in our history, making it even easier to find something great to watch on Netflix, bringing our members many more hours of Netflix enjoyment on their TVs.”
Starting now, subscribers who watch Netflix via various TV devices will see three large, automatically rotating images for every title they select (the first one’s provided by the content partner and the second and third are selected by Netflix), accompanied by a short, punchy synopsis about each TV show or movie. Viewers will also be able to easily access recommendation tools like awards won by a particular title, how a movie or TV show relates to what you’ve already watched and whether your Facebook friends have seen something you’re considering.
On the screen for each title, there’s a broader synopsis and TV shows feature an image for each episode as well as an episode synopsis and viewing progress bar so you can quickly see how far along you are. Netflix has also made search more visual and predictive and eliminated the red Netflix screen you see after pressing play, making playback smoother and faster. They also made the kids experience more visual, even adding a blue background to that section, so parents walking by can quickly tell that their kids are watching content that’s safe for children.
Bill Cosby is hoping to return to prime time.
He’s re-teamed with one of The Cosby Show producers Tom Werner to develop a family comedy that “would [satisfy] the people who have come to me in public places and said, ‘Can’t you put something on that I can watch?’”
Cosby insists the new series wouldn’t be a remake of The Cosby Show, but instead would feature older children and their relationships with their parents.
“I want to be able to deliver a wonderful show to [a] network,” said Cosby. “Because there is a viewership out there that wants to see comedy, and warmth, and love, and surprise, and cleverness, without going into the party attitude.
“They would like to see a married couple that acts like they love each other, warts and all, children who respect the parenting, and the comedy of people who make mistakes. Warmth and forgiveness. So I hope to get that opportunity, and I will deliver the best of Cosby, and that will be a series, I assume, that we could get enough people week after week after week to tune in to, to come along with us.”
Cosby is also working a reboot of his animated series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids with writer and producer Tom Straw on developing the project. “It’s got to be animated, every bit of it. Maybe except for yours truly saying, ‘I told you this is going to be funny, and if you pay attention, you just might learn something,’” Cosby said, quoting the line he used to introduce episodes of the original series.
“I’d like a network to say, ‘All right, we’re going to give you the money to do one show,’ just to lay it out. I’d like one shot, as I know what I’m envisioning. They’ve never seen anything like this on TV. The laughter, the stories,” said Cosby.
“I just want two things: I want a shot for Fat Albert, half-hour, because I’ve got the story. And [for] the other show, Tom Werner and I will work it so that this thing has the Cosby feel and the respect for the audience.”
Activision expects Ghosts to be most successful next-gen launch “by a wide margin”
Activision has sold-in $1 billion of Call of Duty: Ghosts to retail worldwide for its first day of release.
That’s according to the publisher, which also highlights the game’s number one ranking on Xbox Live, and the most pre-ordered release at US retailer GameStop.
Activision claims over 15,000 stores opened at midnight on Monday to sell the game across the globe, although it stopped short of revealing unit figures.
“Ghosts is an amazing game which ushers in the next generation of Call of Duty,” commented Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.
“This is the must have launch title for the next generation of consoles, and we expect Call of Duty: Ghosts to be the most successful launch title for the Xbox One and PS4 by a wide margin. In fact, according to GameStop, Call of Duty: Ghosts is their most pre-reserved next gen title.”