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Review: Spotify for webOS 24

by jackofspeed Wed, 17 Nov 2010 2:34 pm EST


PreCentral forum member jackofspeed submits this review of the Spotify webOS app and service, as he's from the UK and can use Spotify

Here in Europe (the land from whence this author hails), Spotify is kind of a big deal. When their webOS app became available last week, it was the end of a 12-month wait for those of us lucky enough to be able to get the Spotify service. To most of you though (i.e. the United States) it may be an unknown commodity, and this is as much a review of the service as it is the app.

A quick summary is in order: Spotify is a cloud-based music streaming service, not unlike Pandora, but with one key difference - you can choose exactly the music you want to play. It's as simple as that; if you want to listen to a specific artist’s new album, you just search for it and play it. What's more, if you don't mind a few adverts, it's free to do so! Alternatively, you can pay £4.99 a month for ad-free streaming to a computer at 160kbps, or £9.99 per month for ad-free streaming at 320kbps to a computer or mobile device.

The more expensive of these services also allows for offline storage of playlists (limited to around 3000 tracks) so playback can continue in the absence of a data connection. The service also supports collaboratively editable playlists, scrobbling, and social links via Facebook or as web links which can be used in any way you wish. Incorporation of local music into playlists is now supported as well, so the Spotify app can really act as a hub for all your music on your Pre or your desktop. Yes, you understood that correctly, Spotify does what iTunes does, but with a subscription service like Zune Pass built right in.

But what about webOS? Well the Spotify app supports all the features described above, provided you have a Premium subscription. You can build playlists on the phone or on the desktop app, and they sync through the cloud between devices in a totally transparent way. Got a good Spotify playlist already? Install the app and it's there, ready to go. You can hit play straightaway and it's off, playing your music pretty much instantly. This works flawlessly over Wi-Fi, and pretty much flawlessly over 3G GSM.


Weather app round up 1

by Nathan Mylott Sat, 13 Nov 2010 6:38 pm EST

In what is a sea of weather apps on webOS, Tasty Weather Toons is the beautiful mermaid enchantress. It displays the temperature and conditions right on your home screen for the easiest of at a glance information, along with a hand drawn gorgeous pin up girl tailor made to suit the current conditions.

The wallpapers change at set intervals throughout the day, updating the weather info and changing the pin up girl to match the time of day and conditions. If it is night time and cloudy for instance, the pin up girl will be surrounded by clouds and standing in front of the moon. There is a different girl assigned to each condition so you see something fresh at least a couple times a day. How up to date the weather information is and how often you see a change is up to you. You can set the update intervals anywhere from every 30 minutes to every 6 hours.

Currently there are 40 images and the developer is working on doubling that number. There are also plans for special images based on the holiday or other special sets. New images can be pushed to your device any time it updates the wallpaper, without you having to do a software update so you never know what you may see on your screen.

While anyone can throw together some swimsuit models or pull rainstorm images from Flickr, Tasty Weather Toons does it with class. All the images are hand drawn by an artist at Sinacism Graphics, Joshua Browder.

Browder painstakingly created all of the images on paper, in Illustrator and in Photoshop. They were all drawn by hand on paper first, then with a pen tablet in Illustrator, and finally hand painted in Photoshop. His work continues still and he does not plan on stopping. Appreciating his artwork really does make me enjoy the wallpapers much more than any photo of a model, and even makes me want to show off how cool my screen looks.

It would be nice if with the weather info, you could see something else like your next calendar event, an RSS feed, or simple reminder. You could create your own with Stickyman but it would not mesh with the aesthetic style of the Tasty Toon.

There is no shortage of wallpaper switcher apps in the App Catalog like Switcharoo, or wallpaper apps that include images of scantily clad hot women like MobPaper or Fantastic Wallpapers, or many others. There are also apps to put informative text on your wallpaper along with those changing wallpapers, such as Weatherman, Weather Window or the WordPegs apps. But none of them do it with quite the elegance, or sheer fun as Tasty Weather Toons.

One of the great memories in my life with cell phones is the first time I saw a color screen. I was ecstatic when I finally got a color screen phone of my own because it meant that finally I could have real pictures of swimsuit models taking over the data storage on my phone the way it had conquered my computer hard drive. This app allows me to do that and still have some added utility and cultural value. Get it in the official App Catalog for $2.99.


Quick Review: Feeder Beta 34

by Dieter Bohn Thu, 04 Nov 2010 1:21 pm EDT

I depend on (and love in a weird sort of way) Google Reader. Yes, it's part of my job to keep up on a lot of news, but it's also great for following your favorite sites. So I'm persnickety when it comes to using RSS on the go. It has to, in this order:

  1. Sync with Google Reader
  2. Be FAST, showing me new stories from my 200+ feeds in a matter of seconds
  3. Allow me to quickly view entire folders, not just individual feeds
  4. Make it easy to open the site up in a browser
  5. Make it easy to share over email and twitter
  6. Make it east to send to Instapaper
  7. Have a readable interface

The speed is the main thing. With that many feeds an app that fully syncs content for local storage before you can get to reading is just not tenable.

Enter the latest version of Feeder, now in a Beta form you can download and use for around 10 days, and should be updated in the App Catalog soon at $1.99. The latest beta, which you can see above, pretty much hits every single one of those requirements - hits them hard. Feeder is fast, responsive, able to share via Twitter and email, links to SpareTime and Relego for later reading, supports Google Starring and Sharing (if you use those features), and is, finally, fast.

Recommended, and kudos to Semicolon apps for some rapid updating and feature-inclusion that have made this my favorite RSS reader on webOS and possibly my favorite RSS reader on any platform. It gives iOS' Reeder and run for its money and blows away anything available on Android.



Review: Streetbrew 17

by Nathan Mylott Wed, 27 Oct 2010 6:29 am EDT

Streetbrew The location-based social check-in party is getting to be a bit crowded, but the new guy just walked in with some new kinds of brew and wants to be the life of the party. Newcomer Streetbrew offers location based gaming, chat, news and event announcements, and even cash rewards for creating locations.

Streetbrew does all the same things the popular location-based social check-in apps do (let's just call them LBC apps to save on the tongue tie factor). Of course you check-in where you are and your friends can be notified in case they want to join you. You can push those check-ins along with comments out to Twitter and Facebook. You can upload pictures at locations. You can claim territories and battle for turf on teams similar to another popular LBC app on iPhone. You can get notifications in your dashboard when your friends check-in. That's all old-hat in the new game of location-based social networking. Going beyond these standard features is where Streetbrew shines.


Managing your webOS 2.0 workspace 121

by Dieter Bohn Tue, 26 Oct 2010 1:53 pm EDT

If the webOS 2.0 review and a bevy of other videos wasn't enough to whet your appetite for webOS 2.0, here's one more. Above, I give a quick run-through of the workspace I've settled on with webOS 2.0. Stacking up cards that go together, like Memos/Tasks/Calendar and ordering them on your screen in a way that makes sense to you is one of those "I didn't know I wanted it until I used it for a few days" kinds of features - hopefully seeing one example of how it's useful day-to-day for one user (me) will help you think about how it will make a difference for you.


webOS 2.0 App Catalog and Software Manager [Video] 91

by Dieter Bohn Wed, 20 Oct 2010 7:44 pm EDT

Amid the many videos and other content we brought to you along with our webOS 2.0 review, there was at least one thing we whiffed on, as @PalmFlashCards gently reminded us: the all new App Catalog. Above, we humbly present a video showing the new interface and saner app search, sort, and discovery options. We also take a look at the all new Software Manager where you can get your updates, report problems, and review apps directly.

Thanks for the reminder, James!


webOS 2.0 vs webOS 1.4.5: Speed Tests (Including Overclocking) [Video] 89

by Dieter Bohn Tue, 19 Oct 2010 2:20 pm EDT

Just how much faster is webOS 2.0 on the 1GHz Palm Pre 2 compared to the Palm Pre Plus? We won't say it's twice as fast, but it's close. That's not the whole story, however, as many of you homebrewers out there are already running your Palm Pre and Pre Plus phones at 1GHz with overclocking.

Is stock webOS 2.0 on the Pre 2 any faster than an overclocked Palm Pre Plus? The answer is ....sometimes. Check out the video above to see what we mean.


webOS 2.0 Review 161

by Dieter Bohn Tue, 19 Oct 2010 2:20 pm EDT

webOS 2.0

webOS 2.0 is the most significant update to webOS since the release of the Palm Pre 2 (See a history of webOS updates here). We've previewed the features of webOS 2.0 already, but now we have a pre-production Palm Pre 2 in-hand and have a full review of HP webOS 2.0 for you - including Stacks for multitasking, Just Type for search and actions, Flash(!) for the web browser, and much much more.

Palm has announced the Palm Pre 2 is coming to SFR in France on Friday, Verizon in the "coming months," and also that they'll be releasing an unlocked, UMTS developer version of the Palm Pre 2. In other words, SFR customers in France will be able to experience webOS 2.0 first. Palm says that "the webOS 2.0 update will be delivered to existing customers in the coming months," but what that exact timeline will be is still unclear. Hopefully Palm's original goal of delivering webOS 2.0 before the end of the year will apply to existing devices as well as the Palm Pre 2.

While we can't review the hardware of the Palm Pre 2 (it is pre-production, after all), we have been putting webOS 2.0 through its paces for the past few days and have plenty to tell you about its performance, graceful touches, near misses, and glaring omissions. Can webOS 2.0 help keep HP and Palm competitive in the hyper-competitive smartphone landscape? Read on to find out!


webOS 2.0 vs webOS 1.4.5: Boot Time and Multitasking [Video] 58

by Dieter Bohn Tue, 19 Oct 2010 12:11 pm EDT

You may recall we managed to get 50 cards running on the Palm Pre Plus back in the day. Can webOS 2.0 on the Palm Pre 2 do the same? You betcha, and then some.

Plus, hold on to your hats, we also pit webOS 2.0 up against webOS 1.4.5 when it comes to boot time in what is sure to be the most facemelting one minute forty three seconds of your entire life.


Flash in webOS 2.0 [Video]; Update: No Hulu 34

by Dieter Bohn Tue, 19 Oct 2010 11:51 am EDT

webOS 2.0 brings another major feature we've been waiting (and waiting) for: Flash! Above, check out the details on how Flash works on webOS 2.0. It's been a long time coming.

Essentially, the way it works is that when you load a page, the Flash elements are identified as black gradient boxes with play buttons. You can turn Flash completely off or completely on - but the latter is crazy talk.

Once you tap on a Flash element you go into "Flash Mode," which means that all touch gestures and taps are ignored unless they're inside the Flash box. You can tell you're in Flash mode because there is a gray border around the Flash box and because the Refresh button on the lower-right changes to an X.

When in Flash mode, rotating the device either way causes the phone to automatically zoom into the Flash element. You can then interact with it by playing the game, hitting play, etc. You can tap that X in the lower-righthand corner to exit Flash Mode and continue to navigate the web page while Flash is still running.

So... How does it work? Actually, it works much better than I expected, which is perhaps not saying much. Once the video or game gets cached up, things seem to move along with nary a hitch. I don't know how if affects battery life (hint: probably severely if you overdo it), but I do know that I'm glad to say that it's here (or will be soon) and that's one fewer thing for webOS fans to have to wait for.

Update: Yeah, we should have thought to try Hulu.com. It loads up pages fine, but unfortunately when you are on an individual episode or clip it doesn't seem to give up the actual Flash element on webOS 2.0, it's just a black box. Not a surprise. Thanks for the reminder, commenters!