So you have a new BlackBerry Priv. You have your native BlackBerry apps and maybe the very few classics that were available with BB10. If you are like me, maybe you side-loaded a few apps that weren’t available in the Amazon web store. Now you have the Google Play Store with a wealth of apps and you are just itching to get started with some new stuff. Me too.
So here’s what I’ve been doing on what I’m describing as my ’12 days of Priv-mas’.
I know the Priv is a business device, but men (or women) cannot live by bread alone, we have to have music. As much as I loved my Passport and my Galaxy Note 5, music, especially the iTunes thing, just p$ssed me off.
But today I would fix the music. End game? I want total portability with access to all my music anywhere – in the car, on my phone, in any room of my house, and in my condo. I’ve had bits and pieces of this, but I haven’t really put it together.
I’m going to want to store all my music locally on the Priv, so I upped the memory on the Priv today. Unlike the iPhone or even the Galaxy, I just stole a 64 GB Micro-SD card from an old phone and popped it into the Priv. I had to ‘mount’ the storage, but once I did that it was ‘good to go’. I’m interested if the Priv will make managing the extra storage as seamless as BB10 did, but we’ll find out.
Wi-Fi speakers for the house
I have wireless Phorus speakers in both my house and my Toronto condo. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them before, but they have these marvelous Wi-Fi speakers that I have all over. They retail for a couple of hundred bucks. They aren’t cheap, but they are wireless speakers that run on wireless, not Bluetooth. Why not Bluetooth?
The aim of wireless speakers is to give great sound and great freedom. Anyone, whether they use a laptop, an iPhone or an Android phone (like the Priv), can hear the music they want to hear from their own device or from the central store of music. Each room can play it’s own separate music or even stream radio programs (we are total CBC fans and we like to listen to our local station Canoe FM in Haliburton wherever we are).
You could do this with Bluetooth, but this introduces all kinds of problems. Bluetooth can be flaky. There are tons of posts about pairing issues and volume issues on the internet. I couldn’t ever get my Samsung Galaxy to give me any decent volume on my Bluetooth headphones (thankfully, the Priv has no such volume issues). And Bluetooth signals can only be sent so far. For example, my Bluetooth headset will drop out if I’m listening to something and walk from my kitchen to my bedroom. Also, and this is a matter of opinion and taste, but many (including me) believe that Bluetooth isn’t great for music.
So, Bluetooth is okay for the car. With the Priv, it can power my headphones so I can go for a walk or work in the yard, and have my music and favourite podcasts or radio programs with me. But in my house, if I want to avoid dropouts and have real fidelity in the music, Wi-Fi is the way to go.
To make a long story short – I couldn’t use Phorus in my home with BB10. Although it was an Android app, it would never run properly. So I had a Samsung Note 3 and later Note 5 mostly so I could have my music. This is no longer necessary because Phorus now runs on my Priv like a charm.
Just so everyone knows, I am not anti-Apple, I just prefer my BlackBerry phone. And if I had to use another mobile OS, I prefer Android. Long story, and one that I’ll explain another time, but the proof that I’m not anti-Apple is that my laptop by choice is a MacBook Air. And it has iTunes with all my music.
In my house, I use a Western Digital My Cloud storage device for all my music. I transferred a copy of all of my iTunes music to it, and as an added bonus, I use it as a cloud backup using Time Machine on the Macs in our house. It’s hung off a high-end Linksys prosumer router. It’s a big house and I wanted the best signal I could get. When I get something new I just manually drag and drop it into the public music folder on the WD Cloud and I can stream it using Phorus to any speaker in the house.
Now that Phorus is working on my BlackBerry Priv, I’m set. Except for one thing: if I’m not in the house and I want to stream my music, what do I do? How do I keep my phone in sync? Easy.
Google Music Manager
Google Music Manager will sync your Priv and iTunes effortlessly. There’s a great article on this in Talk Android from Christian de Looper if you want to dig deeper.
But the long and short of it is that you need to download Google Play Music Manager on your Mac. Use this link.
Google Play Music comes pre-installed on the Priv in the Google folder which is, if memory serves me, right on the main page. Google Play Music is fabulous. If you have a decent data plan or are hooked to Wi-Fi, you can stream some incredible tunes. When I first got it on my Priv, I put on an old Creedence Clearwater Revival album and followed it with a Clapton extravaganza. And when you find an artist that you love, you can select ‘radio’ and get a channel of that artist and related artists. The ‘radio’ channels revolve around a particular album. So for example, Roseanne Cash’s ‘The List’ radio gives you Rodney Crowell and others. If you look at Cream, you’ll get Clapton as well as Hendrix and other power guitar players. It’s very cool.
But since you own a ton of tunes on iTunes, you might want to get to those. So once you’ve got these both and logged in with the same Google ID select the Google Music Manager and set it to automatically sync all your music and podcasts.
In the background it will sync iTunes and your Priv.
Voila – Music Everywhere
So let’s recap my first day of Priv-mas. I have one shared directory in the house that is identical to my iTunes library. When I get my wife to put hers into it as well, we’ll have a massive collection that anyone who downloads the free Phorus app can stream to an exceptional speaker anywhere in the house. The drive it all sits on costs just marginally more than I would need for backup, so an extra terabyte for music is nothing.
I’ve also installed and played with Google Play Music on my Priv. You could use Bluetooth headphones or, believe it or not, the speaker on the Priv is pretty good.
And I’m using Google Play Music Manager downloaded to my Mac (I’m sure there is something for PCs as well). With that, I’ve synced my iTunes library with my phone so I can have all my music on my phone as well as on my Mac, and I won’t have to chew up bandwidth to listen.
That’s my first day of Priv-mas.