Chrome, Spotify and Android gear up for an appy New Year

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Week in Tech
Chrome, Spotify and Android gear up for an appy New Year 

This week in tech has been a week of apps. First up there's Chrome, whose Keep and Sheets apps have been given an upgrade. Sheets is faster, handles bigger spreadsheets and works offline, while Keep still isn't as good as Evernote. Chrome Apps are coming to the Mac too, with a new section in the Chrome Web Store devoted to OS X-friendly programs.

Spotify has a new app too: Spotify Shuffle, a subscription-free version for smartphones. The iOS and Android apps don't require subscriptions any more either, and the service has signed an exclusive deal with Led Zeppelin to stream its back catalogue to the three people who haven't pirated it in the 14 years since Napster came along. The deal didn't impress Duncan Geere, who thought it sets up streaming for an exclusivity arms race where listeners will be the losers.

Exclusivity is already common in video streaming, and this week we compared the two titans of video streaming, LoveFilm and Netflix so you can see which is right for you. Meanwhile, the Netflix app is getting some new neighbours on Apple TV: the US networks ABC and Bloomberg joined the Apple TV home screen, alongside movies app Crackle. There's still no iPlayer, though, meaning iTV still can’t quite cut it as a standalone service.

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In this week
Week in Tech: Chrome, Spotify and Android gear up for an appy New Year
Talking points: Chromecast, Android apps, Project Ara, Xbox One scam
Competition: Win! The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug exclusive merchandise
The week's best buys: HP Chromebook, Google Nexus 7, HTC One
Top 10: Mobile phones
Talking points
Google Chromecast dongle set to get AirPlay-like display mirroring
Google's HDMI Chromecast dongle is great for streaming content from an Android device directly to a television set, but falls short of the Apple TV platform when it comes to full-on display mirroring. However, that could soon be about to change, judging by code spotted within the Android 4.4.1 update which is currently rolling out to Nexus smartphones and tablets. Read more
Top 225 best Android apps for 2013
There's an app for pretty much everything these days, and it's easy to spend hours browsing the selection in the Google Play Store. That can be a downside as it can be a problem to separate the wheat from the chaff. That's why we're here. We've tirelessly trawled Google Play looking for the best downloads on offer. Read more
Motorola's Project Ara modular phone prototype is 'almost ready'
The dawn of fully customisable smartphones mightn't be too far away, with Motorola revealing its modular phone prototype is almost ready for action.  In a Google hangouts chat Moto CEO Dennis Woodside said the mysterious Project Ara initiative, which will allow users to slide in and out their processors, RAM and camera modules is close to being realised. Read more
Xbox One owners warned over console-bricking backwards compatibility scam
The subject of backwards compatibility is a sore one for Xbox One owners, but a method posted online promising to unlock Xbox 360 games gave hope to the non-savvy few. Except, of course, it's a scam. Read more
WIN! The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug exclusive merchandise
To celebrate the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in cinemas on December 13, Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and TechRadar  are offering three lucky winners the chance to get their hands on some awesome exclusive merchandise! To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, just answer a simple question.
Enter competition
WIN! A 16GB Wi-Fi iPad Air and Canon Pixma IX6550
Enter competition
WIN! A pair of Scandyna SmallPod speakers worth £599
Enter competition
Your tweets this week
The week's best buys

We're still smiling every time we pick this up. It really is astonishingly well built at this price. The keyboard is great and the screen is a joy. We remain bemused though delighted that HP has managed to make something that punches so colossally above its weight in terms of fit, finish and pleasure in using.

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Google Nexus 7

The screen is to die for and the form factor is ideal for media consumption. It's light, it's bright, it's fun and it's thin. The battery life is really impressive, and the sheer diversity on offer, be it through the uprated CPU, screen, or GPU, mean that we struggled to put it down at times.

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This is the best phone on the market full stop. For functionality, innovation and just overall effect it has in the hand, we can't help but recommend the HTC One to anyone looking to buy a new smartphone.

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What's your worst tech horror story?
@mikecouk I dropped my Galaxy Note II and smashed it trying to get it into the protective rubber case as I got out of my car.
@azzy223 Watching my mum walk in my room, catch my controller cable and watching my BRAND NEW xbox 360 fly off my desk onto the floor!
@BigJohnnyArcher Hearing a 42in Panasonic TV smash face down on a table behind me while I was looking for the screws to secure it to its stand :-(
Top  10  mobile phones
How do you decide which mobile phone is the best one for you? Well this is where we make it easy, because here we have our continually updated comparison of the top 20 best smartphones currently available.
View top 20
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 Christmas gift ideas
From consoles and phones to kitchen and garden gadgets, here's our bumper selection of gift ideas for tech lovers. Whoever you're buying for, we've got you covered... 

Read now
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