With Pandora Premium unleashed upon the suspecting public this week, the long-running music streaming service finally joined the on-demand listening party, after making its name as a radio-style service. Less expected was a big version bump for Google Earth, the fun-for-a-few-minutes 3D navigation app whose potential thunder has been mostly stolen by Google Maps for the last several years. Apple, YouTube, and popular indie game Lumino City also made a splash. Let's show you the highlights.
After years of running along as an Internet radio of sorts, Pandora added a Premium subscription tier this week that finally put it on the same footing as Spotify and Apple Music. That means you can listen to specific songs and albums ad-free, create playlists, and download everything for offline listening -- in addition to everything that Pandora could do before. Like its rivals, the premium version is ten bucks a month, with a 30-day free trial. Is there room at the on-demand music streaming table for another player? Check our full review for the lowdown.
Yeah, you heard that right. The Google Earth mobile app was stuck on version 8.0 for two and a half years, but it was only mostly dead. Version 9.0 adds a boatload of guided tours ranging from exotic birds presented by David Attenborough to a Street View that takes you inside La Closerie Des Lilas, the Parisian restaurant where Ernest Hemingway himself engaged in writerly shenanigans. The 3D imagery that put Google Earth on the map is also more detailed than before, yet it still rotates and zooms in and out like clockwork.
Your favorite place for cat-based tomfoolery and coverage of every gadget under the sun just got even more interesting, if you're into the whole live streaming thing. If your channel has 1,000 or more followers, you can now flip a switch and send live video from your phone to your adoring fans. Which also means that the qualifying channels that you're subscribed to might also be hitting you with a blizzard of live content of their own. We wonder, what happens when you stream a live stream? Of a live stream? Has science gone too far? Download it and find out yourself if you dare.
Apple's Clips (iOS)
Apple just calls it Clips, which doesn't say much about their new video recording app. We can say that it's a very intuitive experience, and it does cool things like recommending specific people to share your video with, based on who is in it (in addition to being able to throw it up on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and whatnot). It can also generate captions just from the sound of your voice. That's pretty sweet for people who don't want to do it manually, which is everyone. And if you guessed that we have a full review for this shiny object as well, you guessed right. Gold star for you!
This award-winning point-and-click adventure game dropped for iOS back in late 2014, and it's finally come to Android shores this week. In Lumino City, your kindly grandpa has apparently been kidnapped, and tracking him down requires solving increasingly tricky puzzles.
The game definitely benefits from a tablet-sized screen to find all the stuff that you can click on, but you'll meet some charming characters along the way, and the papercraft-style artwork has a colorful personality of its own. Plus, when you're ready to chuck your tablet out the window in frustration, the long delay between the iOS and Android versions mean that all your puzzle solutions are just a Google search away.