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The Fitbit EvolutionMonday, January 16th, 2017

mike vizzoniMike Vizzoni, Front Rush

A little while back my co-worker Chris wrote an article on this blog taking a look at all of the wearable technology we have available these days (link here). It is rather incredible to reflect on how many different options we have as athletes and consumers. From GPS tracking to heart rate monitors to messaging to entertainment, the possible fields that wearable tech can cover seems endless. When wearable tech first started rolling out I was a little skeptical. To me, it did not seem practical to constantly have something attached to you during training or simply everyday activities. Man oh, man was I wrong. Wearable tech has exploded in recent years, and this trend does not seem to be slowing down. As mentioned earlier, my co-worker Chris has already covered several wearable technologies. Here, however, I will be diving into a product that deserves much credit for this wearable uprising. Fitbit is one of the first fitness wearable technologies, and their story deserves to be told.

History

Fitbit, like most other tech start-up companies, is based out of San Francisco, California. The company was founded back on May 1, 2007, by James Park and Eric Friedman. In the mid 2000’s Eric and James began to notice how good sensors and wireless technology were progressing. The tech was reaching a point where the data retrieved by them could be exploited in countless ways. Eric and James realized that they could bring this technology to fitness and change the way people evaluated their movement. They decided to design a product that could seamlessly fit into someone’s life to help improve their health and fitness goals. The Fitbit was born. The first version of this product was released in 2009. This version could be attached to your shirt or pants and monitored very basic activity movement. They sold around 25,000 units. Once 2011 came around Fitbit released a new version that now included an altimeter, digital clock, and stopwatch. To continue the progress Fitbit went ahead and released two more models in 2012. The consistency of model upgrades is what separated Fitbit apart from many other wearable tech products and really kept them ahead of the curve. By the time 2013 hit, Fitbit released their first wristband model. The wristband model is what most people think of when they picture a Fitbit. This seemed to be the most appealing to users and is why Fitbit has further pursued that type of model. In 2015 Fitbit announced its IPO as $4.1 billion! They were the number one wearable tech product and had sold over 18 million units in one year. Last year Fitbit put out four new models; the Blaze, Alta, Charge 2 and the Flex 2. They continue to stay on top of the wearable market outperforming other industry leaders such as Apple, Xiaomi, and Garmin.

Today

Currently, Fitbit is still producing new models and continues to wow its customers with new features. The latest Fitbit supports features such as Bluetooth connection to smartphones, step and distance tracking, floors climbed, calories burned, and sleep patterns. Some of the most recent models also support text messaging and phone calls. All of this data is accessible through the Fitbit app. Simply sign up, log in, and take a look at the calories you burn per day or perhaps how many steps you have taken. What you then do with that data is entirely up to you. The possibilities are endless. This allows users to improve their daily activity and live a healthier life one step at a time. The great thing about Fitbit is that it has utilities that can be very useful for the elite athlete and everyday person alike.

Coaches, ask around to see if your players own Fitbits or any other type of wearable tech. Challenge them to improve their fitness being tracked each day and perhaps look into getting one for yourself. We live in a data-driven society and products such as Fitbit can only help improve your active life by taking advantage of that data.

Why I hate my smartphoneMonday, January 9th, 2017

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

A new year, a new resolution that won’t stick, but maybe it will work for you:

Taking a break from my smartphone.

Have you pondered how your day would function without that little, 4.7-inch screen in your pocket? The one that you feel buzzing, even when it’s not, but you hear that buzz in the back of your mind?  Remember those carefree days when you didn’t have the convenience of having your world in your pocket? I do. More and more each day.

If all smartphones were removed mysteriously from the planet, at the strike of midnight, tonight, what would we lose? Convenience. No longer would you be able to: call your taxi, order your dinner, look up movie times, check your fantasy sports teams, find the score of the game, keep connected with your work colleagues, listen to music, use your GPS, check Instagram because you’re bored, Facebook, Snapchat, make impulse purchases (with money you don’t have), check in with your family, find a date, watch movies, play games, bank, recruit. I could go on. But that’s already a run-on sentence.

The thing is, you would still be able to accomplish all of the conveniences and jobs we hire a smartphone to provide us. Other products and methods of technology, would fill the smartphone less void, at the cost of convenience.

Each of us uses our smartphone in unique ways. Some may not be addicted as others, or have better self-control, but, for some, putting your phone down can be quite a challenge. Next time you go into a restaurant, do a quick James Bond scan and count the number of faces staring down at their phone.

Convenience, like everything in this world, needs to be balanced. Yin and yang. Take away smartphones entirely, and the average person would gain 90 minutes a day, or 23 days a year. That time can go towards a lot of things. Think of everything you’ve wanted to accomplish, and explore since you were a small lad/gal. Personally, I’m trying to learn the bass, read more, and become the greatest Beatles cover band of all time (with a little help from my friends).

So will everyone slow down their phone usage in 2017? One-hundred percent, no. Unless that smartphone Angel snatches all of our phones at midnight, tonight.

In reality, smartphone usage will continue to ramp up in 2017 and for the foreseeable future. By 2020, smartphone internet traffic will pass PC internet traffic for the first time. Also, toss in the fact that more developed and developing countries are still just getting access to the web for the first time (approx 43% of the world population has access now), and the projections for connected phones and people will only skyrocket.

No one is going to control your phone usage (it’s not 1984, yet). So it’s up to you and me to monitor our usage and keep ourselves in check. For technology and convenience need to be balanced with the important things in life (the love that we create.)

You need to use this google maps hackMonday, December 26th, 2016

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

Hey Coaches!

Hope your Holiday weekend was splendid!

As much as I would have loved to slide down each and every one of your chimneys, like Scott Calvin, from Santa Claus, I am physically unable to do so (side note…Neal from Santa Claus is a huge prick).

What I can give to you is my top-secret Google Maps hack. This have been tested on the iPhone 7, but should work on Android devices as well.

Without further ado!

Your Places

Follow these steps to save you time in the long run:

  1. Open Google Maps
  2. Click on the 3 horizontal bars to the left of the ‘Search Google Maps’ search bar
  3. Click ‘Your Places’
  4. If you haven’t done so before, click ‘enter an address’ next to the Home and Work icons. Plug in your addresses.
  5. Click the back arrow to get back to the search bar
  6. Enter in an address that you use GPS for frequently (gym, grocery store, mall, etc). You can also enter in family/friends addresses (aunts, girlfriends, grandparents, etc)
  7. Click on the address
  8. Click on the ‘Label’ icon in the center-bottom of the page
  9. Name this address (moms, dads, gym, etc)
  10. Click ‘Done’
  11. Repeat this for all of your frequent searches

googlemaps1googlemaps2

What you just did was associate your favorite people/places with their physical address.

So instead of typing in “2240 Mercerville-Whitehorse Road, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619” to find your Grandma’s nursing home every time you pull up your Google Maps, you can just type “Grandma” to be directed to her location. That is, unless she has ran away on her wheelchair (which my Grandma frequently hints at).

This is a great time-saving hack, and has saved me from repeatedly asking my close acquaintances for their address over and over again.

Hope this helps a tiny bit!

 

Amazon Go (Ho Ho)Monday, December 19th, 2016

jw_headshotJulie Weiss, Front Rush

Yesterday while standing in a long snaking line in Bed Bath and Beyond I caught myself in a brief state of holiday hypnosis as I gazed into the eyes of a dancing Santa figurine  perched on the top shelf of the aisle endcap. Sigh, ‘tis the season for magic. As I came out of my haze I wondered if this familiar shopping experience is soon to change.

Earlier this month Amazon, a company who continues to push the magical envelope when it comes to catering to the consumer, unveiled it’s newest trick, an even more convenient convenience store they are calling Amazon Go. You may have seen the commercial. Customers walk into the store and are free to put whatever they want in their bag then simply walk out. No check out, no lines. It’s all handled through your phone. The Amazon Go app recognizes what you have put in your bag (blows my mind) and then charges you accordingly. So how exactly do they do that?

Amazon has figured out a way to read our minds. Upon entering the store a drone greets you with a bag full of everything that is on your shopping list. Okay okay, so maybe it’s not quite like this (yet).

The concept of the store is made possible through a combination of machine learning, sensors in the form of cameras and microphones; and artificial intelligence. USAToday outlines the flow as follows…

  • Customer walks in, taps phone on sensor in an area Amazon is calling the “transition area”
  • Surveillance identifies the customer
  • Cameras placed throughout the store capture items shoppers pick up and can determine whether the item stays with them or is placed back on the shelf
  • Microphones are used to detect where customers are by the noises they make
  • Infrared pressure and load sensors are used on the shelves to help note when an item is picked up or put back
  • The sensors also tell the store where everything and everyone is at any moment
  • Upon exit, items are totaled up and charged to the user’s Amazon account where they will receive a receipt for their purchases.

The blueprint is intriguing. The system feels thought out and well planned (so far?). The patent filed by Amazon in 2014 gives us an even closer (and somewhat creepier) look at what is involved.

“The use of cameras can even go as far as to determine your skin color. The patent says this is used to identify the shopper’s hand to see whether they actually pick up anything off of a shelf, but combine that with the fact that Amazon knows what you’re buying and who you are and this is pretty next-level market research data.” (verge.com 12/6/16)

Yes it does sound a little creepy, but if they make us aware of the creepiness from the get go while making the shopping experience more efficient in the process, do we give them a pass?

What about the human variable? What if an item is put back in the wrong place? How will the sensors react? Are the microphones able to differentiate between customers? Will quiet shoppers go undetected when drowned out by crying babies? How will Amazon account for multiple cell phones when families, friends (and teams), shop together? Will an army of drones be released on potential shoplifters? It is yet to be seen how such variables will be taken into account.

The beta store located in Seattle is currently being tested out on Amazon employees and is slated to open to the public in early 2017. The inventory consists of basic grocery needs and pre-made meal kits. With Amazon’s hold on ecommerce it is not hard to imagine how this concept will branch out if proven successful.

Imagine running to the store to stock up on food for your next away game without lines.

Looking past retail, the possibilities that this technology creates are endless.

Streamin’ On The GoMonday, December 12th, 2016

mike vizzoniMike Vizzoni, Front Rush

Netflix recently released an update to their incredibly popular app that allows users to download content for offline use. This new feature will let people binge their favorite Netflix content with no internet connection what-so-ever. This is huge news and something that people have been waiting quite a while for.

Funny thing is that back in 2014 the current director of corporate communications, Cliff Edwards, stated that the company would NEVER support downloadable content. He said that offline play back would be a “short-term fix for a bigger problem”. The bigger problem being poor internet connection. Although most of America still suffers from poor internet connection, faster speeds are on the rise! According to Speedtest.com, we have seen the average upload speed of fixed broadband internet usage rise to 50 mbps in 2016. That is 40% higher than 2015 and broadband internet speed seems to be rising even more as the year went on:

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 2.34.42 PM

(http://www.speedtest.net/reports/united-states/)

So with the average speed of the internet increasing why is offline playback such a huge announcement for Netflix? This is most exciting for those who travel a lot or simply want to save on cellular data usage. Those of us who travel frequently may have been disappointed in the past when attempting to watch Netflix on a plane, subway, train, or any other form of transformation. You are not always able to connect to the internet when traveling and this new feature will let users download content to then watch while traveling without an internet connection. This is also great for those of us who may have an internet connection through cellular data but would rather stream Netflix without using said data. Cellular networks have a stranglehold on data and most people are trying to cut corners on data usage whenever possible. This can prevent people from going over their monthly data allowance which in turn helps save a ton of money.

Let’s quickly break down how offline playback works. First off, make sure you have updated the Netflix app to the most current version on whatever mobile device you normally us to stream. Once the app is updated you will see a new message pop up the first time you open it:

netflix-download-1

You are now officially able to download select content on Netflix. When this was first released many people thought that users would only be able to download Netflix’s original series and movies but Netflix has gone above and beyond! Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction, Mad Men, and Parks and Recreation are just a few examples of other production company’s content that you are able to download. Netflix spokeswoman Marlee Tart also announced that “Netflix is working with lots of partners globally to get downloading rights for the bulk of the content on our service”. Hopefully one day everything within Netflix will be available for offline playback but in the meantime, they have supplied a great little tool within the app that lets you search for downloadable content. Any show or movie that supports this new feature will have this option:

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 2.55.35 PM

After clicking the arrow symbol, the content will begin to download. Always make sure the download has finished completely before exiting the app. Also, keep in mind that downloading shows and movies will take up physical storage on your device.

Coaches, be sure to share this info with your players. I am sure many of them enjoy watching Netflix on the way to or home from games. This new feature will surely help them save on data and I know when I was in college my parents would have been thrilled about that.

TFRRS: How It Helped Shape Collegiate XCTFMonday, December 5th, 2016

chrisMby Chris Mateer, Front Rush

In 2010, the foundations of college track and field and cross-country shifted. There was no massive legislation that was passed by the NCAA, there was no major scandal, and tracks remained 400 meters long. The change was brought on by a website with a pretty boring name and a very bare-bones layout. The site is known as the Track and Field Race Reporting System, or TFRRS for short. TFRRS is a simple website with a simple layout. It simply lists race results and filters these into various leaderboards and team rosters.

What has made TFRRS so revolutionary, however, is the centralization of data and the linking that occurs. Race results are listed chronologically and sorted by season. Every athlete has their own profile which lists their history of performances. Athletes are then listed on a team roster, where you can see that team’s performance list for every event. Each team is then part of a conference that contains its own leaderboard for each event. And finally, every conference filters into its own respective division and the division funnels in a national leaderboard. Everything is clean, centralized, hyperlinked, and completely objective. Soon, the NCAA ruled that in order to be eligible for championship qualification purposes, a race had to be listed on TFRRS.

The shifts that have followed have never directly pointed to TFRRS as the result, but the connections are hard to ignore. In the past, many conference and nationals meets set qualifying times or distances. If you hit the mark, you were allowed to compete. Provisional marks were in place and used to fill in fields on years when automatic qualifying performances were scarce. Now, nearly every meet goes off of performance lists, which absolutely requires a database like TFRRS to function.

It has been fascinating watching these subtle shifts affect the ways teams and athletes train and race. In the past, athletes and coaches would shoot for single, objective marks. Once they hit the times, they could scale back the competing and focus wholly on training and peaking for the conference and national championships. Now, there is always one eye on the leaderboard, making sure you are not being pushed too close to the cut off for qualification.

One of the most fascinating developments has been the emergence of “Last Chance” meets. These meets are on the very last week of the season where athletes take their last chance at qualifying for nationals. In the past, these meets were always important, but rarely ran the risk of knocking someone else out. Now, one well timed Last Chance Meet can completely change a field at the national championships. If you’re on the cusp of qualifying, you better keep an eye on where everyone else is traveling to. If you’re not there, your season may be coming to an end.

On an individual level for an athlete not looking to qualify, much has changed too. You know at any given moment where you stack up on your team and in your conference at the click of a button. There is no longer any disputing who ran what time and where they ran it. With the NCAA contract in place now, if the race happened it’s now on TFRRS. Although these words were written by John L. Parker in his cult classic Once a Runner almost 40 years ago in 1978, the words never rang more true:

“Never mind, the point is that we know not only whether we’re good, bad, or mediocre, but whether we’re first, third, or a hundred and ninety seventh at any given point. Track and Field News tell us whether we want to know or not.”

Learn How To Keep LearningMonday, November 14th, 2016

unnamedby Ken Whittaker, Front Rush

I’ve learned enough for one lifetime…said nobody ever. The reality is, we learn something new every day (gross, clichè) through the people we meet, the news we watch or read, or the work we do. There’s no doubt that knowledge surrounds us, and as new technology comes out, it’s very easy to feel dated. It seems like every year there’s a new social media craze, companies trying to remove the everyday need for the laptop, TVs that offer a clearer-than-life picture, and technology that makes us feel like dinosaurs at times. So, how can we stay relevant and keep learning – without breaking the bank?

Well, because we live in this technology driven society – we can leverage this to our advantage. As a software developer, I must continue to learn and adapt new technology, languages, and proficiencies to be sure the products and applications I build meet or exceed the end user’s standards. Newsletters, articles, blog posts, and Twitter can all be instrumental in getting pointed in the right direction. However, don’t be fooled into believing that this is only possible for technology geeks such as myself. Of course, online courses are a great resources for people looking to advance in their current career, but also offer tremendous benefit for picking up a hobby or learning more about something you’ve always been passionate about or interested in. You may surprise yourself how much you already knew, how much you’ve been lead on to believe, and how much is out there still to be learned.

One of my favorite online course sites is Udemy. Many courses are inexpensive, sometimes being discounted as low as $10 and ranging up to $200. After signing up for a free account, you can purchase access to any number of Udemy courses taught by various instructors across the globe. From learning languages to finding out how to get that six pack in the gym, Udemy offers thousands of courses that you can purchase and participate in at your pace. Many courses also offer a section that allow you to post questions to the instructor, and they have the opportunity to respond to you. Of course, this will vary based on the instructor, but is a useful resource if you get stuck or really want to learn more.

Lynda is another option, though I admit I have not used it yet. Their pricing model is a little different by which you can pay around $20 or $30 per month for unlimited access to thousands of courses. This would be a good option for anyone that wants the ability to hop around topics without the need to pay for multiple courses. Also, if you accidentally dive in to a course that is too difficult or too easy, you could potentially switch to another one without having to worry that you’ve wasted your money.

One of the last ways you could gain some extra knowledge is through various podcasts (hey, I hear Dan Tudor just launched their own podcast!) or TEDTalks. These offer a wider range of topics, from sports to healthy eating choices, and is a more passive way to learn new things. Podcasts have been around for a while now, but if you find a topic you’re passionate about and want to learn more, or just want to be inspired or hear a success story, podcasts offer a relaxing way to get those neurons firing. Don’t know what a neuron is? Maybe a podcast or Udemy course on Psychology might be a great start!

 

Are you getting the most out of your software programs?Monday, November 7th, 2016

cip_pic_360Chelsea Cipriani, Front Rush

Let’s do an experiment.  Take a minute and think about a few of the software programs you currently have access to.  Take a look at your smartphone and browse through all of the Apps that you have.  Think about your athletic recruiting software, recruiting websites you utilize, social media sites, your music streaming software, your directV or on demand, your email inbox, the list could go on and on.

Now after thinking about these different programs, how many of them do you use?  I mean… really use?  Of your Apps on your smartphone, how many have you never really dug into?  How many did you just delete off of your device?  The good news is, you just freed up some valuable space for photos and videos, but the bad news is, you wiped out some tools that one day were meant to make your life easier.

Now what about your athletic recruiting software?  How often do you log in?  What features do you use?  Does the software have a mobile app?  If so, do you have it downloaded to your smartphone?  Okay, before you start thinking, “Do I really need this? … stop yourself and take a deep breath.”

Okay… exhale and clear your mind.  Now let’s think about the why.  Before thinking about “Why am I not actively using the software in mind” let’s turn our thoughts to “Why did I initially get this, what was I trying to accomplish or solve through the use of this software program?”

The answer is probably very obvious.  If it is an App on your phone, it was most likely something that was going to solve a problem that you may have been having.  It most likely was there to provide a shortcut, or an easier way to do something.  If nothing else, it was there for some form of entertainment.

For your recruiting software, aside from the bells and whistles (which probably was a lot of the attraction) in more broad terms it was most likely one or all of these reasons: to be more organized, to save time, to be more efficient.

Now we want to find the answer to this question, “How can I change this, how do I start using the program, how can I prevent this in the future?”

The answer to that question, lies in the answer to these questions:

“How much time did I put into learning this program?”  

“Do they have a help section?”

“Have I looked at the help section?”

“Have I had a training?”

Now some of the responsibility falls on the customer service team, but sometimes you can take on some of that responsibility as well.  If you take these steps following a purchase or download of a software program, I believe, as long as the program is capable of solving your problem and you have used the customer service tools, you will see these products being used more frequently and you will be less likely to remove them from your device or routine.

My advice when signing up for a new service, software program, etc is to follow these simple steps.

  1. If the service offers a Training Session – Schedule one right away – before diving into it for yourself.
  2. Visit the help section.  Most software programs / Apps have a help section that provides articles as well as videos for your view.
  3. Contact customer support either by phone or by email.  The company wants you to be successful.  So give them a call and put them to work!  If you have a certain task / problem you are looking to solve, ask the customer service rep for their suggestions.  Chances are you are not the first customer to bring this up and they will most likely have a solution for you.
  4. Use the product as much as possible and give it 100% effort.  Think about your players on your team.  If they do not practice a certain skill, they are likely to not use that skill in the game.  If you do not practice, you are likely to depend on what you know, and the product may slip out of your grasp.

If you take the steps listed above and still do not see the value, give it one last shot.  Contact customer support, and ask them to walk you through the product one final time.  Tell them what problems / issues you are encountering, and give them an opportunity to help you.  

At the end of the day, it is possible the product is not right for you.  But, you will not know until you try, you may just find that it is exactly what you have been missing.

50,000 Beers and Robot CoachesSunday, October 30th, 2016

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

This past week, Otto, the Uber-owned self-driving vehicle operation, completed its first successful commercial delivery, delivering 2,000 cases of Budweiser from Fort-Collins, Colo to Colorado Springs: about 125 miles on the highway.

In this fast-paced world which we call our daily lives, that might not seem too crazy of a story, but think about it: A truck was able to drive itself, on a major highway, without a driver being in control. That’s wild. Tell that to your mother, father, grandmother, etc. and see their reaction.

Artificial intelligence and autonomous technology are here to stay. The Otto beer delivery was the first of its kind (great PR for Anheuser-Busch,) and a tale of what’s to come. Imagine there being no human truck drivers, sailors, cab drivers, chefs, carpenters, construction workers. Not only can it happen; history tells us it will. It’s just a matter of time.

Not only will robots eventually take over the blue-collar jobs, like the ones I listed above, but they’ll also dabble in the expert human jobs (doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches, etc), that we control today. Just this past May, the law firm Baker & Hostetler, announced they were employing IBM’s Al Ross to handle their bankruptcy practice. Ross is a robot lawyer.

It’s not just Silicon Valley investing in A.I., but also our government.  The Pentagon has put artificial intelligence at the center of its plan to maintain the United States’ position as the world’s dominant military power, spending billions of dollars on autonomous and semiautonomous technology. Think Terminator or iRobot. iRobot is actually one of my favorite Will Smith movies.

This blog may seem “anti-robot”, but it’s really not meant to be. There are so many potential ways for robots to help humans. Imagine there being a robot to help your elderly family member shower, change the sheets, walk the dog. Or, imagine having the luxury of a robot assistant able to assist you in breaking down game film and finding the 5-star athlete that know one else knows about.

We should never be afraid of technology or the future; for we should never live a fearful life, but be aware of what’s to come, and the potential implications.

Streaming Music Has Taken OverMonday, October 24th, 2016

mike vizzoniMike Vizzoni, Front Rush

Gone are the days of frantically digging through a messy bedroom drawer in search of your prized cassette mixtape. Popping that cassette into a Walkman had a certain gratifying experience that slowly disappeared as music became less physical. Fast-forward to the 90’s and compact discs were all the rage. CDs were the first mainstream format that digitally stored audio recordings. This format may have been similar to cassettes in the way you played it back: simply popping it in your Discman or CD player and rocking out to the latest Weezer or perhaps Backstreet Boys album, but the fact that the music was stored digitally really opened the doors to further innovation.

Once the 2000’s came around we had entered the future. Forget about those clunky cassette tapes and flimsy CDs. Who needs a physical medium for each album when you can reduce that clutter to one MP3 player. With the introduction of Apple’s iPod and several other competing MP3 players, the digital format had officially taken over. The flow now consisted of building a digital library with software on your computer, whether that be iTunes, Windows Media Player, or any other similar product. This could be done by purchasing the content online or ripping songs from a CD to your computer. This was the standard for about a decade, but then smartphones and streaming took over.

Today almost everyone you talk to no longer builds digital libraries or use any type of analog music recording (except for the hipsters and their vinyl’s). The times have changed and we live in the age of communication where almost everything requires immediate gratification. With that need for immediacy came the idea of streaming. Streaming any type of content requires you to have an internet connection. This is necessary because whatever content you are trying to access is not actually housed on your device. You are pulling this data in from a server that could be anywhere in the world. Streaming can be used for many different types of files but let’s focus on music. Here are the most popular music streaming platforms:

Spotify (2008)

The most widely used music streaming service, this company is considered to be the pioneer of music streaming. Spotify has over 30 million paid subscribers. They have a smartphone app, a desktop client, and a web-based player. This company has been on the forefront and is now one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The music selection is very impressive, having almost any album you could think of. Special features include offline music play, automated playlist curated off of your listening history, shareable playlists, calibration that syncs music to your running tempo, support for Apple Air Play and Chromecast.

Pricing Model:

Free: Unlimited playback on desktop app, advertisements, no mobile support

Premium ($9.99/month, $4.99/month student $14.99/month family): Unlimited playback on both desktop and mobile app, no ads, HD audio, offline playback

30 Day Free Trial: Same as premium

Google Play Music (2011)

This was Google’s go at creating their own streaming service. Not nearly as popular as Spotify, but still a solid platform that supports many of the same features that Spotify has. Google has not released subscription numbers but most would agree that the majority of Google Play Music users are those that are already heavily involved in the Google ecosystem. They have a mobile app and web-based player. Special features include automated playlist curated off of your listening history, free music storage for files on your computer, Chromecast support.

Pricing Model:

Free: Upload your own music to stream from anywhere, purchase songs

Premium ($9.99/month $14.99/month family): Unlimited playback on web based player and mobile app, no ads, HD audio

30 Day Free Trial: Same as Premium

Apple Music (2015)

One of the more recent streaming services, Apple Music has garnered over 17 million paid subscribers in just over a year. This is pretty impressive and may have something to do with the fact that Apple already has a foot in the door when it comes to portable music and recently acquired the company Beats Electronics. The iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones currently in the market and Apple Music is built for this device. They have an iPhone app and desktop client (accessed through iTunes). Apple Music offers a 3-month free trial which really helped spike people’s initial interest.  Special features include automated playlist curated off of your listening history, artist exclusive releases, music video support, Apple Air Play support.

Pricing Model:

No free option

$9.99/month $14.99/month family $4.99/month student: Unlimited playback on both desktop and mobile app, no ads, HD audio

3 Month Free Trial: Same as above

These are just a few of the music streaming options available today. There are several others including higher end services such as Jay Z’s Tidal and simpler services that strictly offer playlists such as Pandora. The market is constantly expanding as well, with other companies trying to create their own platforms such as Amazon’s Music Unlimited that was just released last week. So, with all of these options how do you possibly pick the streaming service that is right for you? Well, it has honestly come down to preference. Each service is very similar and usually differs based off of small feature differences. Perhaps try each service’s free trial to see which one you like best. Personally, my favorite is Spotify. They have been around the longest and are constantly introducing new innovative features. I also find their user interface to be the friendliest.

For all you coaches out there, always keep in mind that music plays a massive roll in athletics. I’m sure you see many of your players listening to music in the locker room or on the way to games trying to get focused, relax a little, or pumped up before game time. One of the coolest features with Spotify is the ability to share playlists. Perhaps try creating a playlist with your team that you could then all access. Personalize it however you’d like and let all of your players add to it. This could be a great way for your team members to bond a little and get a taste of what each player listens to. Music undeniably brings people together and these streaming services make that experience easier than ever.

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