YouTube Android app code hints at ‘Music Pass’ service w/ offline playback & no ads

YouTubeToday a new version of the YouTube app for Android started rolling out on Google Play. The update includes revamped search results with videos, playlists and channels grouped together, new tabs on channel pages, and other fixes and enhancements. The update might not be all that exciting, but new code in the app discovered by AndroidPolice points to some big new features potentially coming to the app in the future.

Several references to “Music Pass” in the app’s code have many speculating that YouTube could be gearing up to launch its rumored subscription based music focused streaming service. Back in October, Billboard reported that YouTube was developing a streaming service that would allow users to stream music videos along with regular audio tracks.

Some other clues from the code include references to “offline playback”, “no ads on millions of songs”, and the ability to play music in the background. We can only speculate that the no ads would be for some type of premium service, much like on Google Play Music, but it’s clear YouTube has at the very least offline streaming and background audio features in the works. It will be interesting to see how Google positions the YouTube service against its own Play Music streaming service.  Read more

Awesome Deal Alert: Motorola offers $150 Moto X discount on Cyber Monday

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As we’ve already begun the 48 day countdown to Black Friday, Motorola is already shifting attention to Cyber Monday. A Google+ posting indicates the company will discount their excellent Moto X by $150 for one-day off contract. That’s a $350 price tag this upcoming Monday and what is arguably one of the best device deals I’ve seen on an Android device in a long time.

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Black Friday roundup: nationwide retailers and Android smartphones and tablets

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We’ve already covered the Target, Walmart and Best Buy Black Fridays earlier this month as their Black Friday ads broke cover to the world. However, there are far more Android-related deals to be had on Black Friday and here are some of the most notable across the nations largest retailers. Don’t forget to sneak a peek at what T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have to offer as well.

Target: 

  • Galaxy S 4 on AT&T/Verizon for $39.99 Sprint for $49.99

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The Moto G is here, but is it really the “game-changing” device Motorola wants it to be?

There are a hundred different ways to tackle the question of what Motorola’s goals are for releasing a sub $200 smartphone into the wild. Motorola stated at their Moto G launch in Brazil that they wish to introduce a “premium experience at less than 1/3 the price of high-end phones.” In that regard and judging by the tech blogosphere first thoughts, Motorola has certainly accomplished what they set out to do.

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Rounding up the nationwide carriers Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day specials

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Keep it locked here for all the updates as new Android-related carrier deals are announced for Cyber Monday. More importantly, keep your homepage loaded with 9to5toys.com this holiday season for a look at all of the seasons best tech-related specials.

AT&T:

Thanksgiving day:

  • Samsung Galaxy S® 4 – $29.995
  • Samsung Galaxy S® III mini – FREE5
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega™– $49.995
  • Samsung Galaxy S®III – FREE5

Black Friday:

  • 50 percent off JAMBOX.
  • 75 percent off Grandoe touchscreen Gloves.
  • 60 percent off a JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker for Nokia, JBL PlayUp. Portable Wireless Speaker for Nokia and JBL OnBeat Micro Portable Speaker Dock with Lightning Connector.
  • $20 off on select XPAL cases.
  • 50 percent off a ZAGGkeys FLEX keyboard.
  • 25 percent off Martian Voice Command Smartwatches.
  • 50 percent off a Polaroid Bluetooth printer.
  • $249 for a BIG JAMBOX.
  • 10 percent off all JBL and Harman speakers. (Excludes items already discounted.)
  • One Black Friday deal extends through Dec. 31, online only. Customers can save and score a Samsung ATIV smart PC for FREE6 with a new two-year agreement with qualifying plans. Activation and upgrade fees apply.

Verizon:

Verizon’s full Black Friday ad has already been previewed here.

  • Motorola DROID MAX for $199
  • Galaxy S 4 for $99
  • HTC One for $99
  • DROID RAZR HD for $0
  • Motorola DROID Ultra for $99
  • Ellipsis 7″ tablet for $0
  • $150 savings on all Samsung tablets
  • Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 for $299

T-Mobile:

  • LG G2 on sale for $0 down with G2Promo
  • Galaxy S 4 is $48 off with GS4DEAL
  • Galaxy Note 3 is $48 off with SAVENOTE3
  • Nexus 5 is $30 off with 30NEXUS
  • Save $40 on the Galaxy S III ($18 monthly)
  • $0 down on the Sony Xperia Z ($19 monthly)
  • $0 down ($23 monthly) on the HTC One plus free urBeats earbud

Sprint:

  • Nov. 22-27: Customers who bring a line to Sprint from another carrier will get up to a $100 instant discount on the purchase of any phone with a new two-year service agreement. Customers who switch their number to Sprint and choose Sprint One Up to finance their smartphone with $0 down and 0 percent financing will receive a $100 Visa Prepaid Card.
  • Nov. 28-Dec. 2 (Retail stores are closed Thanksgiving, but customers can start early and shop online or Telesales): Customers can visit http://www.sprint.com/holiday or call 1-800-SPRINT1 to purchase Samsung Galaxy S® 4 mini for FREE (after a $50 mail in rebate via reward card) – a $99.99 savings with a new line or eligible upgrade and two-year service agreement. Customers who shop online or call on Thursday can also purchase LG G2 for $49.99 – a $150 savings with a new line or eligible upgrade and two-year service agreement. These offers will continue through Monday, Dec. 2, in Sprint retail stores across the country, online and Telesales (1-800-SPRINT1).

Best Buy offering Samsung Galaxy S4 in various colors for FREE on contract (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon)

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Ahead of some big Black Friday deals coming this week from Best Buy and just about every other retailer, the best deal to get your hands on a new Galaxy S4 on contract is already available. Starting today, Best Buy is offering the device on most major carriers for $0 on the usual two-year contract. If you already planned on signing up with the devil for two years to avoid the $600+ retail cost of the S4, you definitely won’t be able to find a better deal than this. Currently available for Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T, BestBuy has the S4 in Blue Arctic, Black, Purple, Red and White, and is also offering the rugged Galaxy S4 Active on AT&T in both blue and gray. The deal is available to new customers, but also for those adding a new device to an existing account or upgrading with a two-year contract extension. These devices usually run $199 – $249 on contract, so you’ll want to take advantage of this deal today while it lasts. Read more

How Google reconfigured the Nexus 4 to optimize KitKat for the world

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A new report courtesy of the folks at ReadWrite is shining light on the steps and process Google’s engineers undertook to optimize Android 4.4 KitKat before its introduction to the world.

As Google’s engineers believed they reached a “feature parity” point, they turned their attention to performance and optimization, something that began with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and “Project Butter.” The hope was that Android would be faster, more reliable and devoid of the crashes that plagued many Android users.

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Google releases “OK Google” Chrome extension for hands-free voice search on the desktop

Google announced today on Google+ that it’s releasing a new extension for Chrome that will enable hands-free activation of the voice search features it rolled out earlier this year. Google announced the conversational voice search features for Chrome back in May and has been updating it on various platforms since, but previously users had to actually click a microphone icon to activate voice search on the desktop.

Now, like on Android 4.4 devices and within the Google Now mobile apps, using the extension users will be able to simply say “OK Google” to initiate a search: Read more

Acer’s C720P 32GB Chromebook is touch-screen enabled, Haswell-powered, and $300 cheap

Acer has just announced its new C720P Chromebook, a touchscreen variant of the C720 model that it introduced earlier this month. The C720P will be available in early December from Amazon, Best Buy, and the Acer Store for $299.99.

This is Acer’s first touchscreen Chromebook and is capable of all the normal multi-touch features, such as pinch-to-zoom. As far as specs go, the device is packing an 11.6-inch LED “ComfyView” display with a 1366 x 768 resolution. Acer touts that the device will give up to 7 and a half hours of battery life and boot upon just 7 seconds, thanks in large part to the 32GB SSD. Powering the laptop is an Intel Celeron 2955U, which is based off of the Haswell architecture, as well as 2GB of DDR3 RAM. As you would expect, it supports 802.11a/b/g/n wifi as well.

Along the sides of the laptop, you’ll find USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI connection. The laptop weighs in at 2.98 pounds and is just .78 inches thick.

Finally, Google is offering 100GB of free cloud storage with Google Drive for 2 years and 12 free Gogo wifi passes to anyone who purchases the C720P.

At $299.99, the C720P is a very compelling option for users who want a touchscreen Chromebook and don’t want to shell out the money for a Pixel. I could very well see this being one of the most popular gifts this holiday season.

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Scroogled, Chromebook edition: Microsoft’s attack ads are somehow getting worse

The holidays have hit Microsoft land and along with your Scroogled paraphernalia, you now have the Chromebook attack ad. Microsoft plays up the “no offline access” card even though many of Chrome’s most useful features can be used without access to the internet. Anyway, you’ve got the Pawn Star dude saying you can’t get to LA on the cost of a trade in Chromebook. Considering that new ones typically cost between $200-$300 new, that part might actually be the truth.

If these ads rub you the wrong way, you aren’t alone. Microsoft isn’t showing much taste in this campaign.  Read more