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By Jay Bonggolto
Spotify is letting you sort your 'Liked Songs' by mood or genre
by Jay Bonggolto
Spotify's way of compiling your favorite songs in a single location ("Liked Songs") is a bit jumbled at the moment. It mixes up ballad titles with rap songs, for example, making it less preferrable as a go-to destination on the app if you'd like to listen to some romantic music in a given moment.
Things are about to change, though. Spotify announced today that it is launching a new feature that will allow you to filter your Liked Songs by genre or mood. The new capability will give you the freedom to listen only to titles that match your vibe at the moment without suddenly switching to a different kind of mood.
With the genre and mood filters, you can sort your favorite songs by up to 15 different mood and genre categories. Note, however, that your Liked Songs library needs to have at least 30 titles in it for the filters to show up.
To enable the new filters, you can simply open "Your Library" and then go to your Liked Songs. After that, you can pick a filter that’s displayed across the top of the playlist header so all the titles under that mood or genre will show up. Of course, you can change your selection by tapping the x button beside the filter and then choosing another mood or genre.
These filters will update as you remove or add new songs to the library. Initially, these filters will be available in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa in the next few weeks. The feature will go live on Android and iOS for free and paid subscribers.
Google Arts & Culture learning gateway now available
by Paul Hill
To assist teachers and parents in educating kids at home, Google has today announced the availability of Learn with Google Arts & Culture, a dedicated gateway that brings together “stories, knowledge and treasures” from different cultural institutions around the world. The web giant said that the gateway is suited to online education which has taken off since lockdowns came into force around the world.
The gateway contains lots of activities, virtual tours to famous sites around the world, downloadable offline lessons, interactive videos and more. There is also a short section for teachers who may have found the gateway and want to learn how best to present the information on the website to their students.
The content available isn’t just historical paintings and other artworks, it includes lots of other cultural materials including topics such as History, Computing, Music, Literature, Chemistry, Biology & Natural History, and Geography. The content is interesting too in that it offers users something they just cannot get in a typical museum, for example, one of the videos brings to life the Rhomaleosaurus while the user pans around to see it swim by.
Google said that this learning gateway is just a first step and that it’ll be adding new lesson plans and materials which will be made available as more museums join the platform and share their repertoire of artefacts.
By Jay Bonggolto
TikTok announces music licensing deal with Universal Music Group
by Jay Bonggolto
TikTok is expanding its catalog of licensed music that's accessible to users. The service has announced an “expanded global alliance" with Universal Music Group (UMG) to let TikTok users create videos with music background from UMG's music library.
As part of the new agreement, recorded songs from artists at UMG’s labels and Universal Music Publishing Group's songwriters will be available on the TikTok app. That means users will now have access to more licensed music on top of TikTok's existing portfolio of music, which already comprises songs from Sony Music Entertainment.
Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music for TikTok, said in a statement that the new partnership is meant to extend support for artists and songwriters. He claimed that the platform has driven the creation of chart hits and that "licensing the world's biggest catalog of tracks will continue to inspire our community".
Aside from giving TikTok users access to songs they like as background music for their videos, UMG's recording artists and songwriters will also get paid for their songs. Both companies will also test new features including the ability to let users add clips from UMG's broad music library to their videos.
The new alliance marks the latest milestone in TikTok's effort to partner with companies that produce popular songs. Earlier this year, the service confirmed a deal with Warner Music Group that covered its recorded music division and the Warner Chappell publishing division (via Billboard).
By Jay Bonggolto
Opera GX now lets you stream music directly from its sidebar
by Jay Bonggolto
Opera launched Opera GX in June 2019 as a dedicated gaming browser for the desktop with all the key features of its regular version. However, it didn't have the Player feature onboard for music streaming.
That changes now as Opera GX adds support for that feature. Opera announced today that you can stream music through Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music directly from the Opera GX sidebar. The new integration unifies the music streaming experience in a single location on the browser without needing to switch between different streaming platforms.
Player also includes the ability to quickly access playback controls in different ways. You can either click on the Player icon in the sidebar to pull up its navigation panel or simply hover over it to view pop-out controls so you won't have to leave your current app or tab. In addition, you can use the standard keyboard buttons for playback to control your music streaming.
Opera GX's new integration marks the latest improvements to the browser. Late last year, it added support for Razer Chroma RGB Lighting Effects after previously gaining new themes and a junk file cleaner, among other features. Opera GX is available to download on Windows and macOS.
Microsoft announces new features for its mobile apps, including Outlook and Teams
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft has a ton of productivity-related announcements today, specifically focusing on mobile devices. The news includes the new Microsoft Lens branding for the app previously known as Office Lens, but also a ton of new features for other Microsoft apps.
For starters, Microsoft is announcing new capabilities for Cortana in the Outlook app. Soon, you'll be able to talk continuously to Cortana to schedule meetings, send emails, or search. In one go, you can start creating an event, and then make changes to the time, add participants, change the event name, and more using natural language. It can even interpret roles such as "my manager" to identify who the user is referring to. Cortana is also getting some improvements in Teams. For users in the U.S., the assistant will soon support natural language queries, but it's also becoming available in Australia, Canada, India, and the UK as previously announced.
Speaking of Teams, Microsoft is adding a new feature that's apparently powered by Microsoft Lens. You'll soon be able to record short videos from within Teams and then edit them by adding text, emoji, ink, or filters to it. This will be available in preview by the end of the quarter.
The Office mobile app is also getting a handful is improvements, starting with making it easier to find files using natural language, at least for those with work accounts on Android. It will also help users organize their scanned images and pictures automatically, and business users will soon be able to search for images based on the content of the image, not just the title. These features are coming to Android "in the coming weeks" and iOS will get them later. The Office mobile app is also getting improved PDF annotations with notes, shapes, and timestamps. Finally, the unified Office app is coming to iPad with multi-tasking support.
Microsoft also highlighted a ton of other smaller features for multiple apps. You'll soon be able to set mandatory sensitivity labels in Outlook for mobile devices, as well as send emoji reactions to emails, similar to how they work on social networks. The calendar section of the app will also show a weather forecast soon. Meanwhile, To Do on iOS is getting an update to add a new home screen widget at some point this month.