Google Play Music For Free, Amazon Offers Echo To Everyone, & More… [tech News Digest]

Free Google Play Music, Amazon Echoes, Samsung hates Windows, Gmail enables Undo Send, Seinfeld lands on Hulu, and Lexus teases a real hoverboard.

Google Play Music Goes Free

Google has added a free, ad-supported tier to Google Play Music. This means anyone in the United States can now use the service for free, as long as they’re happy to be bound by certain restrictions. If they’re not happy then they can always upgrade to a paid subscription. As Google secretly wishes they would.

The free Google Play Music offers curated playlists and radio stations based on a particular artist or song. The playlists are curated by actual human beings, and based on moods, genres, decades, or activities, while the radio stations have more in common with Spotify Radio.

Using this tier means you will have to put up with adverts, be limited to six skips every hour, have no option to listen offline, no option to create your own playlists, and no option to pick and choose the song that will play next. But then it is free, so beggars can’t be choosers.

It’s unlikely that the timing of this is coincidental. Instead, Google is acting in advance of the launch of Apple Music, which is due to become available on June 30th. Taylor Swift may have forced Apple to pay musicians, but users are still being offered a three-month free trial.

Amazon Echo Available to All

Amazon Echo, the rather unique gadget that is part personal assistant, part Bluetooth speaker, is now available to all. When Amazon launched the Echo in November 2014 it was only made available by invitation, but now anyone with an Amazon account can purchase one.

While the Echo can be purchased today, the first flurry of orders won’t start shipping until July 14th. The price has also increased from the $99 being asked during the invitation phase to a final list price of $179. Still, those who desire this smart home device are likely to be happy to pay for the privilege.

Samsung Disables Windows Updates

Samsung is disabling Windows Update on some models of computers. Samsung’s own SW Update software actively disables Windows Update using an executable file named, “Disable_Windowsupdate.exe.” This essentially means that some people using Windows desktops and laptops manufactured by Samsung aren’t receiving the updates they should be receiving.

Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker discovered the issue, and documented his findings on his blog. Barker eventually reached out to Samsung, and a technical support rep explained, “When you enable Windows updates, it will install the Default Drivers for all the hardware no laptop which may or may not work. For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates.”

This may explain Samsung’s logic, but it doesn’t make it OK by any stretch of the imagination. As annoying as they are, Windows Update is absolutely essential to eradicate bugs and maintain security, so Samsung really should not be blocking their installation for any reason whatsoever.

How to Unsend That Gmail Email

Google has officially added the Undo Send feature to Gmail. This has been available as an experimental feature for six years now, but it has finally been added to the core service. Undo Send allows you to unsend that email you have just sent out, and you have between five and 30 seconds to change your mind.

It’s important to note that this feature doesn’t actually unsend a sent email. Instead, it adds a delay to the sending process, giving you up to 30 seconds from the time you hit “Send” to change your mind. Still, that 30 seconds could prove to be valuable thinking time, and save you from making a big mistake in terms of the content and/or recipients of an email.

To enable Undo Send, click the cog in the upper right-hand corner of Gmail and select “Settings”. You can then tick the relevant box and set the number of seconds you have to unsend that angry or ill-advised email. Do it. Do it now.

Seinfeld Now Available on Hulu

Say goodbye to your hopes of having a productive week, as all 180 episodes of Seinfeld are now available to watch on Hulu. The vast majority of which are fantastically funny.

With Hulu paying a reported $180 million for the privilege of streaming Seinfeld, the company obviously believes this show is still a draw for viewers. But can it possibly still be funny all these years later? I’m thinking Yes, but do let us know if it stands the test of time.

Lexus Teases a Real Hoverboard

And finally, Lexus, best known as a luxury car brand, claims it has created a working hoverboard like the one seen in Back to the Future II. At the time of writing Lexus has only released a short promo video which shows SLIDE sitting steaming away an inch above the tarmac.

Lexus is promising more details on the project over the coming weeks, but we already know SLIDE hovers using the repelling forces of magnets. Which strongly suggests the need for metal rails hidden underneath the tarmac. So, yes, it hovers, but Marty McFly wouldn’t be too impressed. [H/T Gizmodo]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Will you be using the free Google Play Music offering? Are you interested in the Amazon Echo? Are you likely to use the Undo Send feature incorporated into Gmail? Do you believe Lexus has developed a real hoverboard?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

John Ross Jersey