Google iOS search now finds streaming movies, music and TV

Finding streaming content on your iPhone is getting easier. Google announced on Wednesday that the newest update to its search app on iOS devices will enable users to find TV shows, movies and songs on streaming services. That includes iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Video, Google Play, YouTube and Spotify.

The feature, which is already available on Android and the desktop, displays the icons of streaming services that currently offer the content you’re searching for. So, for example, if you look for Zootopia, the app will pop the “Knowledge Box” at the top of the search results. Below the screenshots, movie ratings and synopsis, you’ll now find links to Netflix, Hulu and wherever else it’s streaming. The same goes for music, though you’ll find links to Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora instead. The app will also show how much you’ll have to pay to rent or buy the content.

It’s not a huge addition, but a helpful one. As mobile culture moves from surfing the web to working within apps, this new feature will help users find what they’re looking for more efficiently, regardless of which service the content resides on.

Source: TechCrunch

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GarageBand on iOS is now a more capable music production suite

Apple’s GarageBand is a good place to get started with recording, but it’s useful for more advanced skill levels as well. The company just revealed an update to the iOS version of the app that gives the software a few more tools for tracking on the go. First, the powerful Alchemy synthesizer from Apple’s pro-grade Logic software is now available as an instrument in the mobile version of GarageBand. It includes over 150 patches capable of producing sounds for a range of genres.

Inside the app, Apple has tweaked the sound browser to make it easier to find the so-called Touch Instruments you want to use on a project. The company made the recording process easier as well, thanks to a new Multi-Take feature. Just like in a studio, you can use the tool to capture multiple takes before auditioning and switching between them to see which one works best.

There’s also an updated audio recorder that allows you to employ vocal effects with a single tap. A few of the widely used options are available here, including pitch correction, distortion and delay. More advanced users can expect some new audio processing tools as well. Those include a graphic EQ that handles sound adjustments with the swipe of a finger and the ability to use third-party Audio Unit plug-ins for even more options.

GarageBand for iOS version 2.2 is a free update for anyone with a new iOS device. If you’re still rocking an older iPhone or iPad, you can download the app from the App Store for $ 5.

GaragBand Video iPad (30 sec) Pro Res 422

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12 gifts for music nerds

Nerds come in many forms. Some build stuff, some like video games, and others sweat the tiny details of audio fidelity or salivate over vintage drum machines. That latter group can be difficult to shop for if you’re not initiated in the ways of the music nerd. But don’t worry. Whether the obsessive audio freak in your life is more into making music or listening to it, we’ve got you covered. For those that love composing sweet beats, there’s the TR-09 — a pretty solid remake of the classic 909 drum machine that was essential to creating ’80s and ’90s house and techno. There are also pocket synths for musicians on the go, like the Pocket Operator line from Teenage Engineering.

For those who get their kicks more from listening than creating, there are subscription services like VNYL that deliver fresh pressed records to your door. You’ll also need a solid turntable like Music Hall’s MMF-2.3 to listen to them on, of course. And, if your favorite audiophile also happens to be an iPhone owner there’s an obvious stocking stuffer: Belkin’s Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar. This brings back the headphone jack and lets you charge the phone at the same time!

For our full list of recommendations in all categories, don’t forget to stop by our main Holiday Gift Guide hub.

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Roli Blocks is an affordable, modular way to make electronic music

British music-gear company Roli is mostly known for its attempts at reimagining the piano. The full-size Seaboard and smaller Seaboard Rise may bear similarities to traditional keyboards, but their rubberized, touch-sensitive buttons let you modulate, pitch-bend and slide between notes in a way that’s far different from what you can do on a standard keyboard or synthesizer. However, price is a big barrier to entry — the Seaboard Rise starts at $ 800, while its full-size counterpart will set you back $ 2,000 or more.

But Roli has been working on a way to bring its unique music-creation tools down to a much lower price point, and it’s taking the wraps off those efforts today. Roli Blocks are a set of modular synth controllers that snap together and hook up to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth. They’re tiny and inexpensive: The main controller, called the Lightpad, is a small square (less than 4 inches to a side) that sells for $ 179. That’s significantly cheaper than Roli’s other products. And while you can’t play the Lightpad like a keyboard, the short time I spent playing with it and the other Roli Blocks convinced me that it’s still a powerful, flexible and fun music-making tool.

At a high level, the Lightpad is essentially a MIDI controller; it’s useless without hooking it up to an iOS device. But once you do that and install the free Roli Noise app (only for iOS at the moment, but coming to Android soon), you can tweak the Lightpad in myriad ways. In the app, you can pick from 128 different software instruments like synths, bass instruments, pianos, guitars, pan flutes, drum sets and so on. Roli says it’ll continue to release more free instrument updates, and it will also sell instruments created by professional musicians like Grimes, RZA and Steve Aoki. But most of the content you’ll use to make the Blocks system work is already there in the free app.

Once you pick a sound you’re interested in, the Lightpad…err… lights up in a 5×5 grid pattern, with each box representing a note in the chromatic scale. The fun starts when you press your finger down on the Lightpad’s silicon-covered surface. The whole surface is pressure sensitive, so the harder you bear down, the louder the initial tone will be. Holding your finger lets the note ring out, while different slides across the pad will let you tweak the sound in some major ways. If you slide horizontally, you’ll bend the note to whatever pitch your finger lands on. But if you move up and down, you’ll apply each instrument’s modulation effect. You can move your fingers slowly in short strokes to apply a subtle effect, for instance, or quickly move your finger across the Lightpad to really tweak out your chosen sound.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s the basic gist of the Lightpad, but there is of course a lot more you can do inside the app. You can pick your scale (say, D major vs. E minor) and it will light up the pad with only the notes that fit into your chosen scale. That makes it a lot easier for someone who doesn’t know much music theory to hit the “right” notes when making a composition.

And the app offers way more than just major and minor scales too. If you’re a fan of the mixolydian mode, that’s an option as well. You can still play “dark” spots on the pad outside of your chosen scale, but the lit-up points help you stay in line. You can also have arpeggiated patterns play when you tap a note.

But while you can technically perform live on the fly with the Blocks system, it also has a fully developed recording and looping system. You can record multiple patterns, assign them to different “blocks” on the Lightpad and trigger them at will. You can also start by recording a drumbeat, layering a lead line and bass over it, and record that entire segment as one piece in a longer composition. I didn’t get to play around with it too much, but in my brief demo it seemed like a fairly robust system.

And we haven’t even gotten into the modular nature of Blocks yet. Each component has magnetic conductors on its side, so you can take two Lightpads and slap them side by side and the system will automatically recognize that you’ve extended your canvas and set it up appropriately. Roli is also offering two other blocks alongside the Lightpad: the Live Block and Loop Block. (They cost $ 79 each.) The Loop Block gives you instant access to the system’s recording and playback features so you don’t have to jump back and forth between your iOS device and the Lightpad while recording a new creation.

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The Live Block is meant for, well, performing live; many of the features buried in the iOS app are exposed here. You can page up and down between software instruments, switch keys and scales, change tempos and effects and so on. While I was able to grasp how these additional blocks gave physical controls to features in the app, it’s a bit harder to say how useful they’d be to most users. There’s a definite learning curve here, though people who more proficient than I am at using sequencers and live electronic music gadgets might master it faster.

Even so, Roli Blocks piqued my interest. I’ve always wanted to get a small, electronic music-making setup but have never quite found what I was looking for. Playing the Lightpad felt intuitive to me, and the vast array of sounds and other variables built into the Roli Noise app make it a very flexible system, particularly at this price. I don’t know if the extra Live and Loop blocks are necessary just yet, but fortunately you don’t have to decide right away. In fact, the free iOS app includes a Lightpad-like view, so you can just start messing around there — and if you get hooked, you can buy the physical hardware controller. If you’d rather try this all out in person, Roli’s new gadgets will be available at Apple Stores this fall as well.

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