A pleasant distraction
Twitter took the wraps off a much-anticipated music service last month, which is supposed to make it easy for users to find new music and keep up with their favorite artists in the process. Users can listen to four types of songs: music that's popular on the network, songs from "emerging" artists, songs from the people your friends follow and, finally, music from the artists you follow. Of course, you can share the songs you're listening to in a tweet.
Tracks play courtesy of iTunes — you also can hook the app into your Spotify or Rdio account to tap their song databases. There are a couple of quibbles, however. For one, not every artist you follow may have an available track, though there is a wide variety available. Also, the app isn't available for Android devices, which makes it unavailable to most of the U.S. smartphone market.
While Twitter #Music is fun and good for a few moments of distraction, it doesn't offer quite enough to replace your favorite playlists or Internet radio service. Free, for iOS devices.
Apple users can sign in
Apple users get the chance to see what all the fuss over Google Now is about, thanks to an update from the company that brings Google's version of the personal assistant to the iPhone and iPad. The app plugs into users' Google accounts to offer personalized information — traffic status, nearby restaurants or packages you may be expecting — based on information pulled from your smartphone's location, Gmail account or Google Calendar. The app requires users to sign-in to their Google account, and to verify a good amount of data collection, which may turn some people off.
But with all the data collection enabled, Google Now offers a whole lot of useful information in one, neat package. The service is similar on Apple and Android devices, though the Android version has a few more types of information built into its service, such as the ability to include an airline boarding pass. Apple users also have to launch the Google Search app to use the service, whereas Android users (running Android Jelly Bean, 4.1 and up) can pin Now to their home screens using a widget. Free, for Android and iOS devices.