Rdio’s Big Redesign Tries to Turn Ad-Supported Listeners Into Paying Ones



Rdio, the streaming music service that isn’t Spotify or Beats or Google Play, has some of the best social discovery tools on the market—if you know where to look. Now, with a fresh redesign, Rdio hopes a new version of its mobile and Web apps will help everyone find those features and convert free ad-supported listeners into paying ones.

The entire service has been reconfigured to better promote its stations. It’s basically a Pandora-like experience where you can select a track, artist, playlist, or even another Rdio listener and generate a station based on your selection. They’re free, and ad-supported unless you’re a paying subscriber. Similar to Beats Music, Rdio also is coming out with human-curated stations that will be based on moods, activities and times of day; this might be something like a running mix, or a station full of tunes to listen to while you get it on.

You’ll encounter stations front and center when you log into Rdio now, where they are prominently displayed on a new “Home” screen. Previously, the app would display a “Heavy Rotation” screen when you first fired it up on mobile or the Web—basically what was spinning in your network, including the things your friends were listening to. That’s been replaced by Home, which Rdio thinks of as something akin like a personalized music magazine made up of “music stories.”

Rdio's new Home screen starts with the option to Keep Listening

Rdio’s new Home screen starts with the option to Keep Listening. Screenshot: WIRED

When you land in the app now, the first thing Home will do is offer to let you keep listening to whatever you left off with. As you scroll down, you’ll start to see other suggestions like “this week’s hottest new music,” which shows you new releases you might be interested in based on your previous listening activity. Then there’s “on the rise in your network,” or shows what’s trending with your friends. If there’s an artist you listen to a lot, Rdio will offer you the chance to “dig deeper” into that band or musician’s catalog, showing you albums and songs you haven’t listened to before. The more you interact with all this, the more you listen and play, the more Home adjusts to offer a personalized experience for you.

Part of this personalization push means trying to help people get more social. To that end, Rdio has an improved “find people to follow” feature that can pull in contacts from your address book, Facebook, and Twitter. Once you build out your network, you’ll start seeing comments your friends have left on songs and albums showing up in your home screen. You’ll see the stations they’re listening to, and dive-deep features like one that shows which albums or songs friends come back to again and again. One of the coolest features we’ve seen in Home is one that shows, in real time, what your friends are listening to right now—we’ve found it to be both a source of inspiration and hilarity.

A Now Playing option shows what your contacts are playing in real time.

A Now Playing option shows what your contacts are playing in real time. Screenshot: WIRED

The other big idea in this redesign is converting free users to paid ones. Rdio found that lots of people bail out during registration, or during opportunities to upsell. It’s pushing those features into the background just a bit to give you the option to listen more, and be a bit more subtle about subscribing. For example, while you won’t be prompted to sign up for an account if you just come to the site and start streaming a station, if you try to click on back after a song plays you’ll be told that’s only an option for paid accounts, and offered the chance to sign up.

I’ve been using the new version for a few days, and it’s just great. Rdio’s always had fantastic discovery features, but this new version brings them to the forefront in an accessible way. In doing so, Rdio also offers a full spectrum of new ways to enjoy your music—based on albums and playlists you curate, or simply by sitting back and letting the algorithms work for you. If you haven’t given it a shot lately, it’s worth another listen.

Allergic reaction to antibiotic residues in foods? You may have to watch what your fruits and veggies eat

People with food allergies always have to watch what they eat. Now, they may have to watch what their fruits and vegetables eat, as it seems it's possible to have an allergic reaction to antibiotic residues in food.

An article published in the September issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), examines the case of a 10 year-old girl who had an anaphylactic (severely allergic) reaction after eating blueberry pie. Although she had a medical history of asthma and seasonal allergies, and known anaphylaxis to penicillin and cow's milk, she wasn't known to be allergic to any of the ingredients in the pie.

After weeks of testing on both the young girl and a sample of the pie, the article authors decided that what had caused the reaction was a streptomycin-contaminated blueberry. Streptomycin, in addition to being a drug used to fight disease, is also used as a pesticide in fruit, to combat the growth of bacteria, fungi, and algae.

"As far as we know, this is the first report that links an allergic reaction to fruits treated with antibiotic pesticides," said allergist Anne Des Roches, MD,FRCP, lead study author. "Certain European countries ban the use of antibiotics for growing foods, but the United States and Canada still allow them for agricultural purposes."

The authors note that new regulations from the Food and Drug Administration may help to reduce antibiotic contaminants in food, which will help reduce antibiotic resistance and may also help reduce this type of event.

"This is a very rare allergic reaction," said allergist James Sublett, MD, ACAAI president-elect. "Nevertheless, it's something allergists need to be aware of and that emergency room personnel may need to know about in order to help determine where anaphylactic reactions may arise. Anyone who is at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction should always carry epinephrine. They also need to know how to use their epinephrine in an emergency situation."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

New treatment options for staph infections, inflammatory diseases

Two Kansas State University biochemists have discovered a family of proteins that could lead to better treatments for Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogenic bacterium that can cause more than 60,000 potentially life-threatening infections each year.

Brian Geisbrecht, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, and Kasra Ramyar, his research associate, are studying S. aureus, which is the cause of increasing common staph infections. Their work appears in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, or PNAS, in the article "Staphylococcus aureus secretes a unique class of neutrophil serine protease inhibitors."

While S. aureus is typically a harmless commensal organism found in the nose and skin of 30 percent of the human population, it can cause serious and deadly infections if it invades deeper tissues.

In their latest research, Geisbrecht, Ramyar and collaborators discovered that S. aureus secretes a family of proteins that prevent neutrophil serine proteases, or NSPs, from functioning -- an important finding for understanding how infections are established. Neutrophils -- the most abundant type of white blood cells -- help prevent serious infections from occurring.

"Neutrophils are like the fire department of the immune system," Geisbrecht said. "They are the first on the scene when a microbial infection tries to take hold."

Neutrophils directly attack pathogens and emit biochemical signals that recruit other inflammatory immune cells to the site of infection when they release NSPs from intracellular granules.

"To our knowledge, Staph is the first example of any bacterium that secretes protease inhibitors specifically to block an aspect of the host immune response that is essential for its removal from the body," Geisbrecht said.

The research also may lead to better treatments for inflammatory conditions, such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which are the result of dysregulated neutrophil activation in the lung.

Geisbrecht and Ramyar have closely researched neutrophils because they are the first cells to respond to infections. The biochemists' discovery that that S. aureus secretes a family of proteins -- called extracellular adherence proteins, or Eaps -- that block NSPs could eventually affect how staph infections are treated in the clinic.

"Understanding this interaction can not only help us design better therapies in the future, but may help make current treatment regimens work better," Geisbrecht said.

Because these Eap proteins prevent neutrophils from working properly, they are essential for S. aureus to establish an infection.

"Our bodies respond vigorously to being invaded by S. aureus, and in order to prevent the infection from spreading, we have an arsenal of soluble molecules and white blood cells," Ramyar said. "That is our immune system, and neutrophils are a vital part of that."

The latest discovery puts a new twist on the past decades of research, which include studies that were done without a detailed molecular insight into how Eap proteins function. Geisbrecht, Ramyar and collaborators are now trying to better understand how their recent findings may affect interpretation of previous research.

"Bacterial pathogens like staph wouldn't be making these proteins if they weren't important to the context of infection," Geisbrecht said. "The bacteria are trying to shut off the inflammatory response and we should be paying attention to how they're doing it."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Kansas State University . The original article was written by Jennifer Tidball. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Flying Dinosaurs: A New Book on the Dinosaur Bird Link [Greg Laden's Blog]


Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds by science writer John Pickrell is coming out in December. As you know I’ve written a lot about the bird-dinosaur thing (most recently, this: “Honey I Shrunk the Dinosaurs“) so of course this sounded very interesting to me. In a way, Pickrell’s book is a missing link, in that he writes a lot about the history of paleontology associated with the discovery, undiscovery, and rediscovery of the early bird record and the dinosaur link.

Birds have rewritten dinosaurs. Not all dinosaurs are directly related to birds, but a large number of them are, and the features we reconstruct for them were once based on lizards, because it was thought dinosaurs were big scary lizards. Now we know many dinosaurs were big scary birds. Feathers are today a bird thing, but back in olden times — very olden times — they were probably just the normal covering for this entire category of dinosaurs (though they may have been very different). Dinosaurs were once thought of as greyish lumbering terrifying beasts. We now see them as highly active, aerobically efficient, socially dynamic, sexy (as in they had a lot of secondary sexual characteristics such as bright colors) terrifying beasts.

Pickrell covers the history of changing thought on dinosaurs and the bird-dinosaur link. In a way , this book is about dinosaurs, focusing primarily on the bird kind. Or, it is a book about birds, focusing on their dinosaur-osity. Pickrell also goes into detail on the behavioral biology of dinosaurs reinterpreted in the context of birds.

Pickrell’s book is well written and accessible, and thus is an excellent companion to the more scholarly literature that I know you all follow.

John Pickrell is an award-winning science writer and the editor of Australian Geographic magazine. He has written for New Scientist, Science, Science News, and Cosmos, and won man awards.

Sony’s Powerful New Soundbar Simulates an Entire Surround Sound System

Sony HT-ST5 Sound Bar


Sony just revamped a huge chunk of its audio lineup, and its highest-end new offering is the 7.1-channel HT-ST5 sound bar. It blasts 380 watts of sound faceward using nine speakers divided into seven channels and a wirelessly synced subwoofer.

Even though the speakers are all lined up in a row, Sony claims the sound bar’s proprietary audio technology can make it sound like channels are coming from your sides and even behind you. Soundbars, of course, have been doing (or at least attempting) this for years by either bouncing sound off of walls or through fancy digital signal processing (DSP). I’m guessing Sony’s going with the latter based on the driver configuration.

The system supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio sources, and components can be connected to it via its three HDMI-in ports, two optical ports, or RCA inputs. It also supports 4K video passthrough via its HDMI-out port, and you can stream music directly to the system from any mobile app over Bluetooth.

For a high-end 7.1-channel sound system, it’s pretty affordable, but I’m curious to hear how well the simulated surround tech actually works. Come late September, the HT-ST5 will go for $1,000.

Sony NWZ-A17 Hi-Res Walkman


If you’d rather have music blasting directly into your ears, you might be more interested in another Sony portable-audio novelty coming later this month. The Walkman NWZ-A17 isn’t just an MP3 player, as it supports high-resolution 192KHz/24-bit audio formats like FLAC, AIFF, and WAV.

To accommodate those beefier file sizes, it has 64GB of storage on board and a microSD slot that accepts up to 128GB more. It’ll stream to speakers wirelessly via Bluetooth and get up to 50 hours per charge of its battery. It’s due by the end of September, priced at $300.

Defining the New Mobile — Moving Beyond the Device


Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Enterprise mobility has been a long sought after goal, and to date has seen success with wireless email and specialized vertical applications. For the average user though, email and web browsing defines their mobile experience. Enterprises have been holding back on mobilizing more of their apps based on a number of reasons: user experience, cost, security — to name a few. But as more companies deploy Mobile Device Management (MDM) and now Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) as part of their mobility architecture, this will drive the adoption of enterprise mobility beyond the initial stages that most organizations are today.

EMM is rapidly being adopted. According to Gartner, mobile is among the top three CIO spending priorities in 2014. A recent wave of activity — consolidation, acquisitions and IPOs — in the MDM and EMM space underscores the industry’s rapid maturation — and the new ways that organizations are now thinking about mobility. Like web browsers in the early days of the public web, MDM has moved from a category-defining solution to a utility feature of a larger, more integrated solution and the base of enterprise mobility platforms. To enable full mobile productivity, organizations now seek more complete offerings that let them flexibly leverage application and content management, secure email and productivity apps as well. On a strategic level, they now think about mobility in terms of mobile workspaces that provide access to apps, desktops, data and services anywhere, on any device, over any network — a trend with important implications for providers and customers alike.

The evolution of enterprise mobility maps to a shifting mindset among IT around mobile devices and applications. During the initial wave of enterprise mobility, IT tended to view the trend of BYOD, for example, as a problem. As consumer smartphones and tablets entered the workplace, and employees requested mobile access to corporate assets and email, IT was understandably concerned about security and manageability. The first enterprise mobility strategies were defensive in nature, allowing only a small handful of carefully managed apps for strictly limited use cases. Over time, IT had to respond effectively to a growing list of requests and requirements to prevent users from turning to unmanaged, less secure workarounds. The embrace of MDM reflected a fallback to a familiar model: IT would manage devices the same way as any other endpoint, such as a laptop or desktop computer. This did address many needs, but significant pain points remained. These challenges, and the solutions introduced to address them, have defined the current state of EMM.

Device Ownership and Privacy Complicate MDM

MDM can address many enterprise mobility use cases effectively — especially those centered on corporate devices — but questions of device ownership and privacy can limit its applicability. The blanket approach of managing the entire device as a whole can lead users to feel that IT is monitoring their personal activity as well as business usage. This can make users reluctant to use their mobile devices within the BYOD program, undermining its value.

Contractors, temp workers, partners and other third-party users pose problems for MDM as well. People might be willing to enroll their personal devices in MDM, but a contractor will be much less likely to be willing or able to enroll a personal device. IT needs a different way to provide the access to email, document sharing and specific apps these users require without requiring control of the entire device.

Focus Shifts From Managing Devices to Apps, Data and Connectivity

The diversity of enterprise mobility use cases is leading IT to take a more granular approach to management. Instead of managing devices as a whole, EMM tools allow IT to manage the mobile and SaaS apps and data they contain, as well as the transport between devices and the corporate network. In this manner, IT can apply policies selectively based on specific use cases and user personas, device ownership, vertical industry requirement, data recoverability requirements and other variables. MDM plays a role in this model, but only as one of a set of tools available to enable control and security.

Enterprise Mobility Has Gone Mainstream

Enterprise mobility has matured from basic, limited use cases, like mobile email to full mobile productivity and a broad spectrum of specialized use cases. Executives and salespeople take tablets with them in place of a laptop when they travel, and doctors use them to consult electronic medical records (EMRs) and clinical applications right from the patient’s bedside. Retail workers roam the floor providing on-the-spot inventory checks for customers, and take payments without having to return to the counter. Design and manufacturing professionals can even access high-end 3D graphics applications on their mobile devices to collaborate on complex CAD drawings. Companies today can measure both productivity and cost-savings by supporting enterprise mobility. The key to success here has been less around which platform or device to support, but identifying mobile use cases, data and creating more specialized services to get to the data that is needed, when it’s needed. It’s become all about the app (and the data inside).

It’s All About the Apps

This expansion of enterprise mobility is made possible by strategies and technologies to make any kind of app available on any kind of device. Today, mobile apps account for only about 8 percent of the applications in the enterprise; IT now needs to be able to empower people with Windows, web and SaaS applications on mobile devices as well. To be fully productive from wherever they are, users have to be able to access any type of application from their mobile workspace with equal simplicity — without even having to think about what type of application it is. A follow-me data capability is equally essential to ensure that people can access the same data wherever or on whatever device they work.

User Experience Is Paramount

In enterprise mobility as in any other part of IT, user acceptance is a major factor in the success of a technology. Vendors need to provide business-grade capabilities while offering the consumer-like experiences people are familiar with. A corporate email client can’t require people to adapt to a completely different look-and-feel from the iOS or Android they’ve been using, but it does need to offer essential business features, like the ability to add an attachment to a meeting invitation, or join a meeting right from its calendar listing.

Only a few years after its inception, enterprise mobility is now poised to fully realize its promise. By ensuring secure, on-demand access to applications, desktops, data and services anywhere, over any network, from any device — not just smartphones and tablets — organizations can empower mobile workers with the freedom and flexibility to choose how they work.

While the secure delivery of mobile workspaces relies on EMM, it also requires broader functionality for enterprise file sync and sharing, flexible application delivery, networking, and virtual windows application and desktop delivery. With the emergence of mobile workspaces, work has finally been transformed from a place where people go, to something they can do wherever and on whatever device they choose.

Phillip Redman, a former Gartner analyst, is an enterprise mobility evangelist at Citrix. Follow him at @XenMobile and @MobilePhillip.

Sony Updates Xperia Smartphones and Tablets, Launches Two New Wearables

BERLIN, Germany—Today at the IFA Berlin consumer electronics show, Sony Mobile unveiled a small fleet of products running Android: a pair of Xperia smartphones, an 8-inch Xperia tablet, an Android Wear smart watch, and a new activity-tracking wearable called the SmartBand Talk.

Sony has turned out excellent Android hardware under its Xperia product line for the last few years. The Xperia devices have always impressed with their build quality and their forward-looking features like ruggedizing and waterproofing. But they’ve failed to earn Sony a spot among the biggest names in Android devices—Samsung and HTC still command the most attention from consumers.

Among all the Xperia devices announced here today, the Z3 Tablet Compact is the most impressive device. The older Z2 tablet, which was already quite light, has been updated and is now slimmer and lighter, mostly thanks to the display having been reduced from 10.1 to 8 inches.

It’s remarkably sleek. The body is just 0.25 inches thick and weights 0.61 pounds. The display is still a trilumious LED panel with 1920 x 1200 resolution. Packed inside, you’ll find a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and a Qualcomm Adreno 330 GPU. A notably huge 4500mAh battery gives you 13 hours of HD video playback, according to Sony’s claims, and its aided by a “Stamina” mode that disables all the less-important background functions to squeeze for life out of the cell. There’s an 8.1-megapixel camera on the rear that can shoot up to 1080p video, while a 2.2-megapixel 720p camera can be found on front, just like the old models. The back of the tablet is made of an anti-scratch polycarbonate, and it comes in either black or white. It will hit shelves in the fall in both LTE and Wi-Fi-only versions. No pricing was announced today.

In addition to refreshing its Xperia tablet, Sony also updated its two top-tier Xperia smartphones. The Xperia Z3 is Sony’s flagship smartphone, a big-screen 5.2-incher, and the Xperia Z3 Compact is the more modestly sized 4.6-incher. Both have seen some improvements since the previous Z2 phones models. Most importantly, while the flagship Z2 was never available to U.S. customers (no stateside carriers picked it up), T-Mobile has announced it will sell the LTE-capable Xperia Z3 in the U.S. when it becomes available worldwide at the end of the year.

The Z3 phones improve on the already excellent Z2 devices by scraping away some girth and weight from the glass and aluminium cases. The Z3 is now 0.28 inches thick and 0.33 pounds, and the the Xperia Z3 Compact is 0.34 inches and 0.28 pounds. The front and rear are still glass, with translucent polycarbonate along the edges. The Z3′s 5.2-inch LED display has a resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels, and the Z3 Compact’s 4.6-inch LED runs at 1280 x 720 resolution. They also have different batteries: the Xperia Z3 features a huge 3000 mAh battery, while the smaller Z3 Compact has a still 2600 mAh battery.

Other than that, the two smartphones are stuffed with the very same components. A massive 20.7-megapixel camera on the back with Sony’s G 25-millimeter lens, the first smartphone lens to advertise a light sensitivity of 12800 ISO. Both phones can shoot 4K 2160p video at 30fps, and the 2.2-megapixel front camera to shoot 720p video at 30 fps. Inside the phones have the same CPU and RAM as Sony’s Xperia Tablet—a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor and 3GB of memory. The big version will come in black, white, and copper, while the smaller Compact also comes in “Silver Green.”

Both phones (and the tablet, for that matter) are waterproof and dustproof. Though Sony was very early to the waterproofing trend with its previous Xperia devices, the practice appears to be spreading to other manufacturers’ top-tier products now. It’s a good thing.

All the three devices can run PS4 Remote Play, a new feature that was formerly available only on PS Vita. The Remote Play feature lets users play most PS4 games on the Z3 devices via a wireless connection using a special Dualshock 4 controller with a Game Control Mount—you can hook the Xperia device onto the mount and move from the couch to keep playing your game as you walk around from the toilet (wash your hands!) to the kitchen to the bed.

Because these are Android devices, there are some unique tricks Sony has baked into the software. All of the Z3s have something called Multicamera, a trick that connects up to four different devices to shoot or record a scene from different angles on a split screen. There’s also a “High-Resolution Audio” setting for when you’re listening to MP3s or AACs. It supposedly boosts the audio quality of your files, and it works for songs in your library or even those in Sony’s Music Unlimited cloud-based service.

Step Over to the Wearables

Sony’s new SmartWatch 3 is the company’s first Android Wear product. Sony had previously said it would develop its own watch software, but the company has reconsidered and loaded the device up with Google’s Android-based operating system for wearables. The SmartWatch 3 has a built-in microphone, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and GPS sensor, as well as 4GB of storage to store music files and tracked data. The microphone means you get Google Now interactivity, and the storage for music files mean you can play back music over Bluetooth while you sweat all over the thing (yes, it’s waterproof). The face is a 1.6-inch (320×320 pixel) LCD display. The rest of the watch is mostly silicone, save for the metal clasp and the stainless steel back panel where you’ll find a microUSB charge port. There’s no dock for charging, an advantage over other Android Wear watches. The watch will be on sale soon for about $300 (230 euro) and the interchangeable straps come in four colors: black, white, pink, and bright green.

Finally, Sony showed off a new, updated wearable for what it calls “lifelogging.” Just like Sony’s first SmartBand unveiled at CES in January, the new SmartBand Talk tracks you daily physical activity—steps, distance, calories, and the like. This latest device has built-in accelerometer and altimeter to better feel your moves and to give you more accurate data in its LifeLog application. The “Talk” in SmartBand Talk comes from the built-in microphone and speaker, so you can take phone calls without reaching for your phone. For a display, you get an always-on 1.4-inche e-paper screen that shows notifications and (of course) the time. It will cost around $200 (160 euro) when it goes on sale this fall. Like other wearables, it has microUSB and Bluetooth capabilities.

Wireless Hard Drive Adds 2TB to Your Phone Without the Cloud


Western Digital

With cloud services in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, rest assured you can still expand a device’s storage without putting anything online, springing for the 4-petabyte model, or even using a microSD card. The WD My Passport Wireless is a portable storage hub that can connect to up to eight devices at a time, allowing you to offload and access data as well as stream video from the drive.

There’s no cloud-based access to your content, so you’ll need to be in close proximity in order to access or offload files to the drive. The My Passport shows up as a Wi-Fi access point for your phone, tablet, laptop, smart TV, or Wi-Fi camera.

Once connected, the files on the drive are accessible via the My Cloud app for iOS and Android or through the browser on a desktop or laptop. There’s also a USB 3.0 port on the drive if you want to connect physically.

There are a lot of wireless storage devices out there already, but the My Passport should be especially useful as an on-the-go storage device for photographers. There’s an SD card slot built in, and the drive automatically offloads any images it hasn’t already saved once a card is inserted.

Unlike most other storage devices, you’ll need to charge this one up. WD says the My Passport Wireless gets up to 6 hours per charge for non-stop video streaming or 20 hours of standby time. It’s a relatively cheap way to add a ton of non-cloud storage to any device: It’s available now as a 500GB drive for $130, a 1TB drive for $180, and a 2TB drive for $220.