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5 of the best music streaming apps

The big news from the tech world this week is that Apple is in advanced talks to buy Dr Dre-backed headphone maker Beats in a deal said to be worth up to $3.2 billion (£1.89 billion). This may seem like a lot for some headphones – no matter how cool they are – but what’s perhaps more interesting to Apple is the firm’s online streaming service, Beats Music.

While not yet available in the UK, it’s one of the latest entrants to an increasingly-crowded market – and one Apple has yet to really break into, despite having what you’d think would be the perfect launch platform in iTunes. So some analysts have suggested getting its hands on Beats’ technology is the main driver for the deal.

And it may need all the help it can get, as there’s a bewildering array of options out there for the keen music lover who wants to listen on the move. Whether you’re a fan of Beethoven, the Beatles or Beyonce, it’s easier than ever to find your favourite tracks. But how do you know which is the right one for you?

That’s why we’ve put together some of our top suggestions for music streaming on your mobile.

Spotify
The daddy of the sector, Spotify has been doing on-demand streaming longer than almost anyone, and has plenty of time to refine the concept. It’s got the biggest subscriber base, which means it can offer a huge library of more than 20 million tracks, an easy-to-use interface and strong social features. For £10 a month, you get unlimited access across all your devices – and this covers pretty much anything you can name, from your PC and smartphone to your car.

Google Play Music All Access
Ignore the mouthful of a name, Google’s entry into the streaming space offers all the refinement you’d expect from the web giant. It loses out slightly to Spotify on library size – a paltry 18 million – but it makes up for this by giving you the option to upload up to 20,000 of your own tracks, so you can listen to them anywhere. This locker is free, but for full access, including personalised recommendations and radio, it’ll also ask for £10 a month.

Deezer
For sheer size, France-based Deezer is hard to beat, with more than 30 million tracks available for streaming. It has the usual array of personalised radio stations and recommendations – and is currently offering its unlimited mobile app for just £4.99 a month – that’s 50 per cent off its normal price. For UK customers it also has special offers if you have an EE 4G contract.

Rdio
Perhaps Spotify’s closest rival in terms of library size, price and capabilities, Rdio suffers slightly from a lower bitrate for its tracks. But it more than makes up for this with a clean user interface, great options for sharing an account with family members and strong integration with social media, so you can always share you new favourite with your Facebook friends.

Last.fm
A little different from the services about, Last.fm won’t let you choose a specific track to play, but its personalised radio capabilities are sceond to none. As well as letting you choose stations by genre or artist, the software’s algorithm – known as ‘Scrobbler’ – learns your tastes in music from what you listen to on services such as iTunes and Spotify to build a full – and uncannily accurate – picture of your ideal playlist. Like Spotify, its had a few years to perfect its service, while a recent deal with its rival means users also have access to Spotify’s library as well.

Of course, you’ll want the best experience when listening to your favourite tracks on the go, so once you’ve made your decision about which service – or services – to plump for, don’t forget to check out our range of headphones to make sure you can enjoy it at the best quality.

Is social shopping bringing in the new era of ecommerce?

One of the great things about the huge rise of the digital age is the way we can now buy pointless things whenever and wherever we want. Have a sudden urge to buy some power tools at 3am? eBay’s got you covered. Want an obscure book about the history of basket weaving in the Middle Ages? Head on over to Amazon.

And even within the e-commerce landscape, things have changed hugely in recent years. Because going through a standard checkout process is just not easy or quick enough for some people, we’ve got one-click purchase options. If you don’t want to stay in and wait for a parcel delivery that may or may not show up on time, there’s click-and-collect. And if you’re on the high street wondering whether you can pick up that item cheaper online, scanning the barcode into your smartphone can now bring up price comparisons in an instant.

And shopaholics now have a new way to fill their homes with stuff thanks to a new idea from Amazon, which has just launched a way to shop straight from Twitter.

Is social shopping bringing in the new era of ecommerce?

How does it work?

The idea works by allowing users to add products they see on Twitter directly to their baskets through the social network. If you see a tweet that contains a link to a product on Amazon, you can reply to it directly with the hashtag #amazonbasket and the next time you go to Amazon’s website or mobile app, it’ll be in your cart, waiting for you to confirm the purchase.

One of the great things about this is it can help people find the products they want without ever leaving the Twitter app – perfect for when you’re on the move and don’t want to be flicking back and forth between programs. It also works with any Amazon product page, so no matter what you want, if you see a Twitter link to it, you can get it direct – and this includes Proporta’s range of products that are available on Amazon.

In a YouTube video introducing the feature, Amazon explained: “No more switching apps, passwords or trying to remember items you have seen. Save it to your cart and check it out later when it’s more convenient for you.”

A world of innovation

The idea is far from the only innovative solution Amazon has been looking at to make shopping simpler – and it’s not even the most radical. Earlier this year, it detailed plans to deliver items directly to customers through the use of flying drones. Many people assumed this was just a publicity stunt, but founder and chief executive of the firm Jeff Bezos insisted last month that the firm is serious about the plans.

Back on solid ground, however, more practical solutions have included the expansion of its Prime subscription – which guarantees users unlimited one-day delivery for an annual fee – and the introduction of Amazon Lockers at stores, shopping centres and stations throughout the UK – it’s like click and collect without the store.

Combining the keyboard and the high street

But Amazon aren’t the only ones looking to revolutionise the way we use tech in our shopping. If you’ve got an Android phone, for instance, a new update to the Google Now virtual assistant could help connect the world of online shopping much more closely with the high street.

By combining a record of your recent search history with the location data provided from your smartphone, the smart software promises to not only know what products you’ve been looking for – but also where you can pick them up.

So, for example, if you’ve been browsing through Proporta’s range of Samsung Galaxy S5 cases and happen to walk by a store of one of our retail partners – such as Dixons, Argos, Ted Baker and Barbour – you’ll get an alert on your phone letting you know they stock the product you’re after. This means its easy for you to pop in and get a feel for the case yourself.

These are just some of the great new ideas that are aiming to make shopping with your mobile easier and more user-friendly than ever. But remember to download that mobile banking app as well to keep an eye on your balance, as its now so simple to buy things, you might end up picking up a lot more than you planned.

SELFIE TREND

Whether we like it or not, there’s a phenomenon taking place that we all know about, and it’s been catapulted into the spotlight further this week as it has become the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. What are we talking about? The (dreaded) selfie.

What exactly is a “selfie”?

A selfie refers to a picture that someone has taken of themselves on their smartphone or camera. It usually involves a pose of some sort, with the duckface being favoured by many (an extreme pout).

Dubbed (by us) the modern day self-portrait, we think you can chart the rise of the selfie in direct correlation to the growth in social networks and smartphone technology.

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A history of the selfie

Around 11 years ago, Friendster was born (arguably the first social network). This was one of the first places where users could take and upload profile photos to be published online.

Soon after, in 2003, MySpace took its place, and from that moment the “selfie” began to emerge more and more as we were all encouraged to share every aspect of our lives with friends and family online.

But the decisive change came with the introduction of the front-facing camera on various smartphones, combined with the advent of Facebook a few years later.

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Selfie technique

Since then, it has become normal – and almost expected – to shamelessly hold your phone up high above your head and pout up to it in even the most mundane of situations.

Celebrities and “normos” alike can’t wait to take their best duckface and share it online, and it has become somewhat of an addiction in some cases.

Our solution for the Selfie Addict

If you are a fan of the selfie craze, Proporta has the ideal thing just for you… http://www.proporta.co.uk/customiser_index

Now, not only can you have your face on your screen, but your beautiful mug can also be all over your phone case. Simply upload your best duck face to our customiser and within a few clicks, your design will be ready.

Free Sports Armband with every flag case order

Free Sports Armband with Flag Cases

In an exciting year for sports, get inspired by showing your support with our large range of flag cases and accessories for smartphones, tablets and MP3 players. Plus, with every order of our flag cases made, you’ll receive a FREE sports armband worth £19.95 which allows you to listen to music while you exercise. All this with free shipping!

*Offer valid until 12th August 2012. While stocks last.

Please note, Sports Armband is compatible with iPhone 3G/3GS/4/4S, iPod touch 2G/4G, HTC Wildfire/Explorer and other smartphones/MP3 players measuring up to 115mm X 59mm X 9mm

Take our survey for a chance to win a £50 gift voucher

 

At Proporta, we always try our hardest to offer our customers the best selection of products with great customer service and good value. We’d be really grateful if you could tell us how you think we’re doing and how and where we can improve our service to you. Please don’t pull any punches – it’s how we learn. Please help us improve our service by filling out our survey – it should only take you around 10 minutes.

As a special “thank you” we’ll give you an exclusive promotion code worth 10% off your next order plus the chance to win a £50 Proporta gift voucher*.

Thanks very much for your time.

Take our survey

*The winner will be chosen at random on 31st August 2012.

Angry Birds to Open Theme Park

Angry Birds Theme Park

An Angry Birds theme park land is set to open this summer in Finland, the home country of the popular video game. Starting life on the iPhone as one of the most downloaded apps of all time, Angry Birds has since conquered other mobile operating systems as well as having versions online through Chrome and now Facebook.

To be called ‘Angry Birds Land’, it will be designed alongside Rovio, the Finnish developers who brought those pesky birds and evil green pigs to all our screens in December 2009.

Rides, games and ‘Magic Places’ are all on the cards of what we can expect in the Angry Birds theme park this year.

Here at Proporta, it’s made us all busy on Angry Birds again – just as well we’ve all got tough phone cases when we take our Angry Birds frustration too far.

Every Apple Product Ever Made…

Apple is one of the pioneers of the modern age, revolutionising modern mobile technology. Whether its the Apple iPad 2 or MacBook Air you cannot say that Apple haven’t changed the modern world.

When doing some research we came across this very fascinating diagram to show just how many products Apple has made and the evolution of their products over the years.

Hope you enjoy…

Siri, a month on… The good, the bad and the funny

Siri, a month on… The good, the bad and the funny

So, after a month of Siri plummeting into our lives with a much welcomed bump, we review just whether or not he (yes, we’ve decided he’s a he) has become a help or a hindrance in our day-to-day lives.

 

The good…

Generally, Siri makes life easier. I know this’ll probably shock many of you, but did you know that you used to have to go into a calendar and actually physically type in an invite using your fingers? Now you just need to lift your phone to your ear, tell Siri to do it and he’ll take care of the rest. Actually, this may sound pretty trivial and spark cries of “what’s the world coming to?” and you may indeed have a point, but it’s pretty frightening how quickly having to input all this manually becomes a chore once you realise that you don’t have to… And it’s not like you see people carrying around two yoghurt pots and a piece of string in their back pockets anymore do you?

 

   

The bad…

Although there’s bound to be an updated version on its way and this was given to us with a slight mutter of the word “Beta” under breath, Siri can be a bit of a pain in the wotsit sometimes and although for the main part he makes life easier, we’d be lying if we said you won’t have at least one moment when you want to wipe that little smile off his face and send him to the naughty step. Here are a few examples:  

 

   

And the funny…

But, all is forgiven when Siri gives us little gems such as the below:

     

 

 

 

Proporta Builds for BlackBerry

  

Aluminium Lined Leather Case for BlackBerry Torch 9810

  

Wednesday 9th November 2011, Brighton, England

Proporta, the Brighton based mobile device and gadget accessory manufacturer is delighted to announce its new range of cases for the Blackberry Curve 9350 / 9360 / 9370, BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Torch 9810.


These new products are the first fruits of Proporta’s involvement in the Built for Blackberry programme, which enables them to have access to the latest BlackBerry models before they are released to the press or public, in order to have the time to develop and perfect the design and function of its accessories.

                                         (Skeleton)                                                                     (Butterflies)


Lynnette Prigmore, Head of Product at Proporta comments, “With a solid customer base among business users, Proporta has recently seen a dramatic growth in products aimed at the fashion and youth markets, which creates an obvious synergy with BlackBerry. We are delighted to be accepted into the program and look forward to working much more closely with the prestigious Blackberry brand in the future. On a personal note it is also really exciting to be able to transfer our more unique designs to a wider range of devices. Something we think our customers will be really pleased about.”


                        Protective Hard Shell Case for                                     Aluminium Lined Leather Case

                         BlackBerry Bold 9900 / 9930                                       for BlackBerry Bold 9900 / 9930

                                        (Satellite)

  

The Built For BlackBerry programme gives confidence to the BlackBerry customer that these accessories are made specifically for the BlackBerry device that they are using. All the accessories have been tested to ensure proper fit, performance and quality.


Additionally, as a Built For BlackBerry member, Proporta has access to pre-release device information meaning that Proporta is able to time its BlackBerry accessories with device launches, enabling them to launch products much sooner than would otherwise be possible.       




and the winner is…Samsung

Figures released today in UK shows that sales of Samsung handsets have passed Apple to own more of the market in Q3, which runs from July-September.

 

Samsung now own 23.8% of the market to Apple’s 14.6% and in third place in Nokia with 14.4%  of the market. In Q3 Samsung sold 27.8 million units compared to Apple’s 17.1 million units.

 

With all these handsets out Proporta has it covered (literally) with our extensive ranges of cases and accessories for both the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Apple iPhone 4S as well as older models as well.

 

In the office today we have run a quick questionnaire into which mobile phones each us have, the findings look slightly biased however it’s a great range.

 

BlackBerry Curve – one
BlackBerry Torch  – one
BlackBerry Bold 2 – one
iPhone 3GS  – one
iPhone 4 – four
iPhone 4S  – One
HTC Desire HD – one
HTC Google Nexus 1 – one
HTC Desire S – one
HTC Wildfire – one
Samsung Galaxy Ace – one
Samsung Google Nexus S – one
Other – two

Pretty interesting don’t you think?

 

Already in Q4 the battle to be the best selling handset will really hot up, with Christmas round the corner who is going to win….?