Google launches All Access music subscription service for $9.99 a month

Google launches All Access music subscription service for $9.99 a month

Google on Wednesday rolled out a music service for smartphones and tablets powered by its free Android software, in a challenge to streaming radio firms such as Pandora and Spotify.
The launch of Google Play All Access came at the kickoff of a packed developers conference, which features a range of improvements to the Internet giant’s products, and saw a surprise appearance by chief executive Larry Page.

“We are here because we share a deep sense of optimism about the potential for technology to improve people lives,” said Page, taking the stage to applause a day after disclosing he had been diagnosed with partially paralyzed vocal cords.

“Everything I read about Google is us versus some other company or some stupid thing,” he continued.

“I don’t find that stuff interesting. Being negative is not how we make progress.”

Page appeared calm and confident on stage and spent a half-hour fielding questions from some of the 6,000 developers registered for the annual event.

Questions ranged from privacy and self-driving cars to Google Glass Internet-linked eyewear and the need for more women developers at a gathering that skewed heavily male.

Page spoke candidly about his childhood; his belief technology companies should be allies instead of enemies; and his disclosure about his medical condition on Tuesday.

“After I disclosed my voice issue and got so many great emails and such thoughtful advice, I realized that I should have talked about it sooner,” Page said.

“I wondered why people worried about keeping medical information private, and the answer is insurance,” he continued. “It makes no sense. We should change the rules around insurance so they have to insure people, that’s the whole point.”

Page capped an hours-long keynote presentation that updated ranks of software developers, along with more than a million people watching on YouTube and at viewing parties, about improvements to maps, Android, Chrome and more.

Google Play All Access combines the Internet giant’s music catalog with users’ personal collections in a radio station-style subscription service, according to Android engineering director Chris Yerga.

“Anything I am listening to in All Access I can easily turn into a radio station,” Yerga said while unveiling the service at the annual Google developers conference in San Francisco.

“It allows you to explore radio without rules.”

All Access launched in the United States with a monthly subscription fee of $10 and will roll out to additional countries “soon,” according to Yerga.

The California-based firm was offering discounts to those who sign up quickly for the service.

The number of Android smartphones and tablets activated more than doubled to 900 million in the past year, according to Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android and Chrome.

“That is an incredible achievement,” Pichai said. “We are incredibly humbled by where we have reached, but remember there are more than seven billion people on this planet so we have a long way to go.”

More than 48 billion applications have been downloaded to Android devices from the Google Play store and revenue being made by developers of those mini-programs has increased 2.5 times in the past year, according to vice president of Android product management Hugo Barra.

Google’s Android mobile operating system grabbed three out of four smartphones sold in the world in the first quarter of 2013, extending its gains over Apple and its iPhone, a survey showed.

Executive Vic Gundotra took the keynote stage to introduce major upgrades to the Google Plus social network that included move lively pages and automated tools that automatically bring out the best in uploaded photos.

Google also unveiled enhancement to its core strength, online search.

“Starting today, we will be anticipating your next questions,” Google’s Amit Singhal said while describing how the search engine is being revved to the point where it takes on the role of a smart personal assistant.

“You can pretty much ask Google the way you would ask a friend and be able to get answers from your own world.”

Google shares leapt to a new all-time high Wednesday, topping $900 for the first time, closing up 3.25 percent at $915.89.

EU pledges 520m euros for Mali reconstruction


The EU said Tuesday it will provide 520 million euros to help rebuild conflict-hit Mali, ahead of an international donors’ conference in Brussels on Wednesday from which Mali is hoping to secure around 2 billion euros of funding.

The European Union pledged Tuesday to provide 520 million euros ($674.8 million) over the next two years to help rebuild the west African country of Mali after months of conflict.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the announcement ahead of a major international donors’ conference in Brussels on Monday, in which Mali’s government will seek to raise funds to restore infrastructure and keep peace in the troubled country.

France launched a military intervention in Mali in January this year to oust Islamic militants who had taken control of large parts of the north of the state.

Even before France’s military action, international officials were concerned that the largely ungoverned north of Mali could act as a haven for terrorist groups plotting attacks not just in Africa but anywhere in the world.

Barroso said that the money pledged by the EU and any subsequent funds raised by Wednesday’s conference would help “establish a Mali that is stable, democratic and prosperous”.

Mali seeking 2 billion euros from international donors

Mali’s government has drawn up a comprehensive 4.3-billion-euro ($5.58-billion) rebuilding plan which includes re-establishing government institutions and the military, holding dialogues with rebels in the north, rebuilding roads and schools and reviving the economy.

Mali wants to raise nearly half of the funds – 2 billion euros – from the international community – a quarter of which has now been pledged by the EU.

“Mr Barroso announced a figure. I think that’s a good start,” Mali’s President Dioncounda Traore told reporters on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, in a week or in a month, it is clear that the international community, the European Union, will inject a lot more than that.”

Around 103 international delegations, including ten heads of state and government, are expected to attend the conference in Brussels, which has been organized by French President François Hollande, along with Barroso and Traore. Officials say 103 international delegations, including 10 heads of state and government, will attend.

Elections planned for July

President Traore also announced on Tuesday that Mali intends to hold its first presidential elections following the conflict on July 28th this year but that neither he nor any member of the transitional government would be a candidate for the presidency.

However, with the country still feeling the effects of the disruption caused by the recent conflict as well as facing significant security concerns, some have questioned if the date scheduled for the elections may be too early.

Although France has succeeded in pushing back the Islamists from the main urban centres of northern Mali into the mountains and desert, it has failed to stop rebels from waging a guerrilla war which has seen jihadists launch a series of suicide bombings across the north of the country.

Over a year of conflict has also resulted in the exodus of tens of thousands of refugees to the surrounding countries of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger.

Last month, France began withdrawing its 4,500 troops deployed in Mali with plans to hand over security duties to a UN peacekeeping mission.

Source: France 24



 Dear compatriots,

1.    It has become necessary for me to address you on the recent spate of terrorist activities and protracted security challenges in some parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states.  These unfortunate events have led to needless loss of lives and property of many innocent Nigerians including members of our security forces.

2.   The recent killing of security operatives by a cult group in Nasarawa state is particularly condemnable. I have directed that no effort or expense be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those who had a hand in the killing of the operatives.

3.   The activities of insurgents and terrorists have been reprehensible, causing fear among our citizens and a near-breakdown of law and order in parts of the country, especially the North. We have taken robust steps to unravel and address the root causes of these crises, but it would appear that there is a systematic effort by insurgents and terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective resolve.

4.  Since I returned to the country after cutting short my visit to South Africa and aborting a planned state visit to Namibia, I have received detailed briefings from our security agencies. These briefings indicate that what we are facing is not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity. Already, some northern parts of Borno state have been taken over by groups whose allegiance is to different flags and ideologies.

5.   These terrorists and insurgents seem determined to establish control and authority over parts of our beloved nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country. In many places, they have destroyed the Nigerian flag and other symbols of state authority and in their place, hoisted strange flags suggesting the exercise of alternative sovereignty.

6.  They have attacked government buildings and facilities. They have murdered innocent citizens and state officials. They have set houses ablaze, and taken women and children as hostages. These actions amount to a declaration of war and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten her territorial integrity. As a responsible government, we will not tolerate this.

7.  Previously, we adopted a multi-track approach to the resolution of this problem through actions which included persuasion, dialogue and widespread consultation with the political, religious and community leaders in the affected states.

8.  We exercised restraint to allow for all efforts by both State Governors and well-meaning Nigerians to stop the repeated cases of mindless violence.

9.  Yet, the insurgents and terrorists seek to prevent government from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to the people as they pursue their fanatical agenda of mayhem, mass murder, division and separatism.

10.  While the efforts at persuasion and dialogue will continue, let me reiterate that we have a sacred duty to ensure the security and well-being of all our people and protect the sovereign integrity of our country. Therefore, we shall, on no account, shy away from doing whatever becomes necessary to provide the fullest possible security for the citizens of this country in any part of the country they choose to reside.

11.  We have a duty to stand firm against those who threaten the sovereign integrity of the Nigerian state. Our will is strong, because our faith lies in the indivisibility of Nigeria.

12.  Following recent developments in the affected states, it has become necessary for Government to take extraordinary measures to restore normalcy. After wide consultations, and in exercise of the powers conferred on me by the provisions of Section 305, sub-section 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, I hereby declare a State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

13.   Accordingly, the Chief of Defence Staff has been directed to immediately deploy more troops to these states for more effective internal security operations. The troops and other security agencies involved in these operations have orders to take all necessary action, within the ambit of their rules of engagement, to put an end to the impunity of insurgents and terrorists.

14.  This will include the authority to arrest and detain suspects, the taking of possession and control of any building or structure used for terrorist purposes, the lock-down of any area of terrorist operation, the conduct of searches, and the apprehension of persons in illegal possession of weapons.

15. The details of this Proclamation will be transmitted to the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. But in the meantime, let me make it clear that within the purview of this Proclamation, the Governors and other political office holders in the affected states will continue to discharge their constitutional responsibilities.

16.  I urge the political leadership in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states to co-operate maximally with the Armed Forces and the Police to ensure that the exercise succeeds. We call on the citizenry to co-operate with our security agencies to ensure a return to normalcy within the shortest possible time.

17.  I am again approaching our neighbouring countries, through diplomatic channels, as done in the recent past, for their co-operation in apprehending any terrorist elements that may escape across the border.

18.  Nigerians are peace-loving people; these sad events perpetrated by those who do not wish our nation well have not changed the essential character of our people.

19. I want to reassure you all that those who are directly or indirectly encouraging any form of rebellion against the Nigerian state, and their collaborators; those insurgents and terrorists who take delight in killing our security operatives, whoever they may be, wherever they may go, we will hunt them down, we will fish them out, and we will bring them to justice. No matter what it takes, we will win this war against terror.

20. I am convinced that with your support and prayers, we shall overcome these challenges and together, we will restore every part of our country to the path of peace, growth and development.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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