News and commentary on gadgets and technology: mobile phones, pda's, Tivo, Treo, digital cameras and photography and lots more gadget nirvana.
Pocket Tunes now plays music from Subscription-based services like Yahoo! Music

Pocket Tunes
is one of if not THE premier audio application for the PalmOS, and I've been using it since I bought my Treo 600 over a year ago. Normsoft, the company that makes it, comes out regularly with new releases with new features, all of which have so far been free of charge for me. Most of the updates I've seen have been more tweaking of features to make them work better. However, this morning, they have released a huge new feature that will enhance the utility of the Treo (and many other PalmOS devices) for many of us music fans.

According to their site:

  "Announcing Version 3.1!
millions of songs using Pocket Tunes Deluxe 3.1 along with music
subscription services such as Rhapsody To Go, Napster To Go, and Yahoo!
Music Unlimited."

"NEW in 3.1! Access millions of songs and audio books from popular online music stores.
Tunes Deluxe supports all music stores that use Microsoft's Janus
technology**. Look for stores with the PlaysForSure logo."

 I've written before about my experiences with Yahoo! Music. Just a couple of months ago, Yahoo! released a new subscription based service similar to Napster To Go and Rhapsody which allows users to listen to any of the 1 million albums in their library on demand on a PC and optionally download tracks onto a compatible portable device all for under $60 for an entire year – a price that seriously undercut the competition."

While I signed up right away and have enjoyed listening to a lot of music on my home and work computer, I did not have a compatible device. I have an iPod, but because Apple has it's own iTunes Music Store, it's unlikely that they would ever make their iPod compatible with a competing download service. It's much more likely that Apple will simply start up their own similar subscription-based service that will only be iPod-compatible. It's unfortunate that an open standard can't be developed so that all devices will work with all services. Already licensing issues mean that certain countries get access to certain albums while others don't, and of course certain services get access to labels that others don't. Why do you need to have two seperate devices and subscribe to three different services so that you can listen to three albums that are on different labels? Each label might as well start selling their own proprietary format, each of which you need a different player to listen to. It's ridiculous.

In any case, I have been looking at each new audio player that's been announced recently to see whether it would be compatible with Yahoo! Music. But for me the other requirement is that it will play audio books from Unfortunately up until now, the only other device that seemed to play both Audible files as well as Yahoo! Music files was the AudioVox SMT5600 SmartPhone. Since I already have a Treo, this wasn't a good choice. But my Treo will now allow me to listen to both of these types audio formats, as well as other MP3, WMA, and Ogg Vorbis files, and internet radio (streaming MP3) through PocketTunes, and Apple's preferred AAC (but not it's iTunes Music Store DRM Files) files via a different program (Aeroplayer), and RealAudio files with the Real's player that's included with the Treo 650. In other words, the Treo 650 (and other PalmOS devices) is, in large part due to companies like Normsoft, becoming more and more a convergence device for Audio (along with the many other areas of convergence).

Now that Audio is becoming is becoming such a major feature of this phone, it's really key to start beefing up the storage. I have a 1GB card, of which 300MB is already filled up with maps, images, etc. I know one can find 2GB cards, but compared to my 40GB iPod, even 2GB seems paltry, not to mention these cards come at a big premium. I am hoping that at least the next version of the Treo includes an internal 4GB hard drive like the LifeDrive, or better yet, one of the larger 6GB ones that are making it into many of the mini audio players these days.

posted Monday, 18 July 2005

peter Hurth made this comment,
Help! It might be assumed from your post that the new version of PocketTunes plays Audible files... this sounds too good to be true. There's nothing about that on Normsoft's website - they just have some vague references to "audio book" playback. So, is Audible playback supported? If so, how does one make it work? Again this isn't documented anywhere at the developer's site. Thanks!
comment added :: 18th July 2005, 19:05 GMT-05
Levi Wallach made this comment,
Oops, sorry Peter that I wasn't more clear. Pocket Tunes doesn't play Audible files, however you can dowlaod for free Audible's own software for playing audible files on PalmOS devices.
comment added :: 18th July 2005, 21:14 GMT-05 ::
Tom Besore made this comment,
I'm wondering if you have had a chance to test the Yahoo music service using Pocket Tunes? I am a newbie experimenting with certain download feeds into the Treo 650 and find it to be quite a hit or miss endeavor. I wonder how easily Yahoo Music and Pocket Tunes work together? ONE big negative with the Treo 650, of course, is that the phone does not work when the data connection is active, right? But what about streaming music from Yahoo into Pocket Tunes....does it really work? Any comments on your experience would be appreciated.
comment added :: 30th July 2005, 07:10 GMT-05
Levi Wallach made this comment,
Tom, first of all, you cannot stream music from Yahoo Music into Pocket Tunes. Yahoo! Music lets you download songs onto your computer from their service so that you can play it later on your computer, or transfer it to a device that is compatible with a type of Digital Rights Management(DRM) called "play for sure" - a type of windows media file licensing scheme. I had a few problems getting this to work initially, but Normsoft helped me through it and I've been able to download stuff since. But I haven't done much downloading or listening since the first day or two because I've been very busy. You may be confused because Pocket Tunes does do streaming, but only of MP3 streams (shoutcast). Yahoo! uses Windows Media files when it streams, and even so they are locked to your account, meaning that you can't just use any old program that plays Windows Media streams, you can only use Yahoo!'s own Yahoo! Music Engine.

As far as the 650's phone not "working" when the data connection is active, I think there's some confusion here. On current GSM (Tmobile, Cingular, AT&T) networks at least (not sure about how CDMA works - Verizon and Sprint - but it's probably the same), you cannot have a voice conversation and have data connectivity simultaneously. It has nothing to do with the phone. It is inherent in the network technology. But anyway, the basis for your concern (the misconception that you would stream the music and not download it and transfer) is unfounded, so it shouldn't matter much.

comment added :: 30th July 2005, 07:25 GMT-05 ::
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