It's been a surprisingly busy week for the end of summer, as Apple inked a deal to get the iPhone in China, Nokia turned to Linux for the powerful N900, and Research In Motion made moves to get a good browser on future BlackBerry devices. But there were also some other interesting mobile stories that may have slipped under your radar, and I'll go over them after the jump.Apple Lets Spotify Into App Store
If you haven't heard of Spotify, it's a free music-streaming service that lets you choose what songs you want to play, as well as organize playlists. Unlike Pandora or Slacker Radio, you can hear the exact song you want when you want (provided they have the license for it). Some people describe the service as what "iTunes would be like if Apple decided to give everything away for free." There's also a premium service that ditches the ads, and the company was hard at work making mobile versions for the iPhone, Android, and other platforms.
According to Paid Content, Apple has approved a mobile version of Spotify for the App Store. There are already tons of streaming-music apps in the App Store, but Spotify's program is different because it allows you cache a ton of songs for offline access. This essentially allows you to replace Apple's on-board music software in favor of Spotify, which is why it's a bit surprising to see it approved. Apple routinely doesn't allow apps like Google Voice because they "duplicate existing functionality," and the Spotify approval could be a sign they're easing up on some of the App Store restrictions.
Spotify is not yet available in the United States, but the company said it is working on licensing agreements to get the service launched soon.
Verizon Roadmap Gets Leaked
The team at Phone Arena got their hands on some screenshots that purportedly show off the future inventory chains for Verizon. The inventory reportedly shows off the BlackBerry Storm 2, Palm Pre, HTC Touch Pro 2, and Samsung's Omnia 2 and Convoy U640. What's interesting is that one of the manufacturer codes (P121) indicates that Big V could be getting another webOS device. It's not surprising to know they'll get the Pre early next year, but the second device could be the illustrious Palm Eos that's been churning through the rumor mill.
While previous reports had the Eos going to AT&T, it could be a nice mid-range device for Verizon. The Eos reportedly will be a sleek .4 inches thick, and it should pack 4 GB of memory, Bluetooth, 3G, GPS, and other goodies. I'll definitely be following up on this story, and it will be fun to watch if these leaks are real.
AdMob Buy AdWhirl
The mobile advertising specialist AdMob said Thursday it has acquired AdWhirl for an undisclosed amount. AdWhirl is best described as an advertising exchange network, as it allowed mobile developers to use AdMob's ad network, as well as switch to competitors like Mobclix or Quattro.
"Offering an open source solution will enable us to ensure advertisers and publishers a high-quality experience with mobile advertising and publishing, and introduce an open, transparent choice into the market which has not existed to date," AdMob said in a blog. "The open source solution will be available for all iPhone app developers and advertising networks, whether they currently work with AdMob directly or not."
TechCrunch has a great post on how this acquisition could bring up some serious trust issues with developers, as AdMob could potentially be biased toward its own network. AdMob's saying all the right things so far, but we'll see how this one shakes out.
Google Voice Sucks On The BlackBerry Storm
No real news item on this one, but I was trying to quickly make a call using Google Voice on my BlackBerry Storm and realized it's not a pleasant experience. If you saw Valley View TV, you'd know I've been testing out a bunch of different smartphones lately, and Google Voice has been a godsend because it makes it easier to only carry the test handset. But using the app on the Storm has been painful because it's not optimized for the touch-screen smartphone. The user interface is garbage, the touch sensitivity is wacky, and it's just bad times overall.
I've also used Google Voice for the BlackBerry Tour and Curve 8520, and both offer much better navigation, implementation, and UI. I know there are specific APIs to tap to make Storm apps pretty, and let's hope Google and RIM get on this quickly. The Android integration is much deeper and better, and it's not surprising given the roots of the calling service and the operating system. I don't know if the BlackBerry version will ever be as good as the Android one, but I do know the Storm version can at least be tweaked to be decent. I'll be paying a lot of attention to Motorola's Android announcement in a few weeks, and am already considering switching my primary device.
We have an interesting couple weeks coming up with the MotoDroid announce, and Apple will likely have some new iPods (and maybe some tablets) too. I also wouldn't be surprised to see some moves and announcements form RIM over the next month or so, so watch this space for the latest on smartphone goodness. Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected], or tweet me at @marinperez.