Tag Archives: android@home

Google listens to Nexus Q critique, halts launch and plans a remake

The critique against Nexus Q has been unison. It has to few ways of playing music for its price tag. And even if it where half the price, who would want a audio player that only can play content from Googles online services? There are such things as mp3s, music services like Spotify and Internet radio out there that many would consider a base requirement for what the Nexus Q should be able to play.

Google has drawn the right conclusions from the critique and halts the product launch in order to add more features before it will launch again. No new release date has been presented and it will probably take a while to implement new features that will please the crowd.

Possible new features:

Ability to play different audio files (like mp3) from the local network.
Ability to transfer audio files to the device storage.
Support for Internet Radio.
Support for more online services. Hopefully Spotify.
Upgraded OS version to Jelly Bean. Because it will take a while before relaunch, an upgrade is necessary to avoid negative critique for an outdated OS version.
Ability to play a few video formats from the local network.

Everyone that has pre ordered Nexus Q from Google Play will get it for free, which is a nice gesture from Google to the brave few that has planned to fork up 299$ for it.

It should be pretty clear to Google what people want from the device by now so it is up to Google whether they want to be a serious contender for the multi-room audio (and video) throne or not.

Googles new multi-room streamer, Nexus Q

There has been rumours of a Google streamer since the Android@Home presentation last year and now it has finally arrived in the shape of Google Nexus Q.

The Google Nexus Q can play Music and Video. A song can be sent to multiple rooms at once or separate songs to separate rooms/zones. All controlled from you various Android devices. It has a 25W integrated amplifier (Sonos Connect:AMP style), a OMAP 4460 dual core CPU, NFC, Bluetooth, 16 gig RAM, HDMI and Optical out. So far so good.

Problem one is that it seems to be very focused on streaming content from various Google cloud sources, like Youtube and Google Music. No third party services like Spotify at launch. It is even unclear if it can stream music from local shares on the network.

Problem two is the price, 299$. Why would anybody pay a Sonos pricetag when it can only play a tiny fraction of what a Sonos can?

From a hardware perspective, you get quite a lot, if it would be a mobile phone. But from a multi-room perspective the hardware is irrelevant if the functionality is missing. Who cares what CPU Sonos uses as long as their system works like a charm? So the Nexus Q has much to prove before it can be taken as a serious multi-room alternative to Sonos and Squeezebox.

Hopefully an eco system will evolve around the Android@Home API that will bring a better multi-room experience. Android usually has that advantage in the long run.

New Multi-room contenders

The interest in smart music solutions is huge, wetter it be as part of a home automation system, a stand-alone wireless multi-room system or simply be able to stream from your phone to a set of speakers.

The mainstream market leaders, Sonos, Logitech Squeezebox and Apple AirPlay seems relatively unthreatened at the moment. But new solutions are constantly being planed and developed. So lets have a look at some of the new contenders.

Xbox Music and SmartGlass

When Windows 8 launches this autumn, Microsoft is also launching their renamed Music service (Previously Zune) and their new media sharing solution, SmartGlass. If you have an Xbox Music subscription (and Live gold for Xbox) you will be able to play that music across the Microsoft board (Windows 8, Xbox and Windows Phone 8). You probably cant play it on Android and iOS devices even though they can be used as remotes for playing the music on a Xbox. Xbox ability as a dedicated music zone player could be disputed on grouds like high noice (non slim versions) and high energy consumption. But IF the remoting and zone handling would be implemented nicely, they could have a chance.

Samsung Music Hub

Samsung launched Music Hub at the same time as their new flag ship phone, Galaxy S III. It has a big online catalog of music that can be streamed and a matching service for music already owned. So both a Spotify and iTunes match contender. But only supported by Samsung Galaxy S III for now. Samsung plans to incorporate Music Hub in their TVs, fridges, phones and so on. From a multi-room perspective, they need to implement a proper zone player that can be connected to existing setups or stand-alone. Playing music through fridges and TVs just don’t cut it in the long run, though fun complements.

Google Music

There has been reports that Google is working on devices for streaming media, including audio. They would presumably, connect to their already existing music streaming service, Google Music and have an open platform for others to contribute to.

Sony Music Unlimited and HomeShare

Music Unlimited is a subscription service (as Xbox Music, Spotify, Music Hub) that lets users stream music and also upload/match owned music a.la iTunes match. It is supported by a broad range of Sony products like phones, playstation and blu-ray players. They also have a new iPhone app. The downside of Sonys broad offering is that it lacks clarity, from a multi-room perspective.