Music Playback Possible in iPhone’s Safari Browser [Grooveshark, Take Note]

8tracks on iPhone

I discovered something amazing about the iPhone today. While I never thought it was possible, it turns out that you can actually play music through the Safari browser.

Update: Commenter Rude points out that this does not work on the first-generation iPhone.

After a friend of mine posted a mix from 8tracks on Facebook, I clicked through to the website on my iPhone and hit the play button. I expected nothing to happen, but it actually played back the songs! Not only that, but I exited Safari and the music continued to play. Don’t believe me? See for yourself: TSN mix on 8tracks.

Why is this huge? Because this capability opens the door for developers to build powerful mobile music web apps that do not have to pass through Apple’s strict app approval process. The Grooveshark app comes to mind.

When Grooveshark announced it had finally released its Grooveshark for iPhone app last year, I was ecstatic. At first, Grooveshark was repeatedly denied the right to host their app in the App Store, so they released an app that was available to jailbroken iPhones only.

But after a year of working to meet Apple’s requirements, Grooveshark released its official App Store app and pulled the jailbreak app. Luckily, I downloaded the new iPhone app immediately, because in a matter of days (five to be exact), the app was removed from the App Store due to a complaint from a music label.

Today, only those who were lucky enough to snatch the app can use Grooveshark on their iPhones. The rest of you are out of luck until Grooveshark comes to an agreement with Apple over an acceptable Grooveshark app for the App Store. Unless…

What if Grooveshark used the same technology that 8tracks is using to enable music playback through the Safari browser? I’m not sure what technology 8tracks uses to accomplish this (maybe this github codebase for 8track mobile can offer some insight — jquery? HTML5?), but the fact is 8tracks has demonstrated that music playback is possible through Safari.

Grooveshark, get to work! Avoid all the Apple App Store nonsense and build a web app instead.

Most websites with a music player are not compatible with the iPhone, so I always assumed Apple placed a limitation on Safari to not allow music playback. After all, allowing web applications to play music through Safari would mean giving up control of a huge aspect of Apple’s business, namely iTunes. Apparently I was wrong. 8tracks proves that you can indeed play music through Safari.

The merits of web apps versus native App Store apps are certainly debatable, but no one can debate that a web app is better than no app at all. With the advent of HTML5 and Apple’s commitment to support the open web, web apps are becoming viable alternatives to native iPhone applications.

Were you previously aware of web apps that could play back music from the Safari browser? Are you as excited as I am about the potential for a Grooveshark web app?

Google’s Pac-Man Game Playable on iPhone

Google Pac-Man for iPhone

Did you hear? Google marked the 30th birthday of Pac-Man by changing its logo to a playable game of Pac-Man. Go to, click “Insert Coin” (button replaces “Feeling Lucky”), and get playing.

What’s perhaps most cool about the Pac-Man game, though, is that it works reasonably well on an iPhone, since it runs on HTML5. If you browse to Google on your iPhone, you’ll be directed to a mobile version. To play the game, click “Classic” to go to the original homepage.

Although the sound is missing when you play on your iPhone, you can direct Mr. Pac-Man by swiping your finger across the screen in the direction you want him to move. Is this the future of games on the iPhone? Will HTML5 and other open web standards give developers the ability to bypass the App Store altogether and create fully-featured apps in the browser?

Let me know how you like the Pac-Man game!

Update: The Pac-Man game is no longer on the Google home page, but you can play still play it at

Google Fast Flip for iPhone [Review]

Google Fast Flip for iPhone

Google today announced Fast Flip, a news-browsing service intended to replicate the feel of a paper magazine or newspaper. Fast Flip also has an iPhone version, which is automatically activated when you browse to Fast Flip on your iPhone at

Fast Flip for iPhone lets you choose a category and then flip through stories, essentially screenshots of web sites, as if you were flipping actual pages. To turn a page, just swipe your finger left or right to go to the next or previous story.

Google Fast Flip for iPhone

You can flip through stories from a single source, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post or Fast Company; or from a single category, like Politics, Business, U.S. or World. Fast Flip also has Recent, Headlines and Most Viewed topics.

Perhaps the Fast Flip function that has the most potential but needs the most work is Search. Ideally, a keyword search should turn up relevant stories to flip through, but as of this writing, searching for “fast flip” yields only 1 result, and a search for “iPhone 3.1” yields only 2, even though both these terms turn up many stories in Google News.

Is Google Fast Flip the Next Big Thing?

Is Google Fast Flip something I see myself using instead of traditional news aggregators? Not sure. But what sets Fast Flip apart from other news sources, like Google News or Regator, is its visual format and the way you can flip through news stories similar to how you browse through albums in iPhone’s Cover Flow.

What Do You Think?

Have you used Google Fast Flip on your iPhone? Do you think it will revolutionize the way we browse news or is it a failed experiment? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Google Latitude for iPhone: Cool or Creepy?

Google Latitude on iPhone

Google’s new location sharing service, Latitude, is now available on iPhone. You can direct your iPhone to Latitude and opt to share your location — with all of your friends, or with select friends only.


I can imagine a few ways Google Latitude could be useful:

  • You’re at a music festival and you’re trying to meet up with your friends. Instead of trying to talk over the music to tell them where to meet up, just share your location with them using Latitude.
  • You’re traveling and you want to give your family members the peace of mind of knowing where you are, so you share your location with them.
  • As Google themselves noted, imagine you’re playing tennis and you want to invite your friends. Simply share your location and include a status message inviting people to join you.
  • Parents can setup Latitude on their children’s phones — Latitude is also available on phones other than iPhone — to keep track of where they are at certain times.
  • Or, in an extreme situation, let’s say you are kidnapped and the police are able to locate you because of Google Latitude.

Note that strangers can never track you using Latitude without your permission. Anyone who wants to track you needs to be approved by you first.

Google Latitude Friend Request


Despite the benefits, however, there are a number of scenarios where Latitude could be abused, some of which have prompted privacy groups to speak out against the Google service.

  • Anyone could covertly set up the service on someone’s phone and track their every move. Once Latitude is active, Google does not remind you that the service is turned on.

    Privacy group Privacy International explains how this could happen:

    We have considered the following five scenarios:

    * An employer provides staff with Latitude-enabled phones on which a reciprocal sharing agreement has been enabled, but does not inform staff of this action or that their movements will be tracked.
    * A parent gifts a mobile phone to a child without disclosing that the phone has been Latitude-enabled.
    * A partner, friend or other person gains access to an unattended phone (left on a bar on in the house) and enables Latitude without the other person’s knowledge.
    * A Latitude-enabled phone is given as a gift.
    * A phone left unattended, for example with security personnel or a repair shop, is covertly enabled.

    Once the phone has been enabled, the second party will be able to mask his phone’s presence, thus ensuring that the victim is unaware that her phone is being tracked.

  • You could also set up Latitude on your own phone and forget that you have it turned on, unintentionally allowing your friends to track your location at all times.
  • Law enforcement could subpoena Google to find out where you are at any given moment. But Google says it stores only your most recent location, so your history is not tracked.
  • Although unlikely, a skilled hacker could crack the system and stalk you or learn your patterns so as to break in to your home at the perfect time.

xkcd Latitude comic

Google Latitude Privacy Tips

In the video below, Google shares some Latitude privacy tips for using the service safely and securely.

What do you think? Does Google Latitude and the idea of location-sharing go too far? Or is this something you plan to use? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.

Google Reader for iPhone [Review]

I thought I’d take a few minutes to sing the praises of an Internet service I use on my iPhone all the time — Google Reader.

What is Google Reader?

Google reader is an RSS feed reader. It’s a free service you can use to view all your blog subscriptions in one place. To sign up, go to

Then you need to add subscriptions. It’s so easy. I’ll guide you through it using my blog as an example.

  1. Log in and click “Add subscription” on the left-hand sidebar. Enter the feed address:
    Google Reader Add Subscription

That’s it. You’re now subscribed and you can read all the articles I’ve ever written, plus all new ones at the moment they’re posted, by clicking “Apple iPhone Review” in your subscriptions list.

Do this with every blog you read and Google Reader becomes addictive.

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