Archive for Technology
Apple TV is expecting a major new hardware update in 2014 and the big rumor is that it will include iOS, which will allow companies to develop custom apps and games. Until then, we will have to settle for incremental additions whenever opportunity arises. Today, Apple unveiled three new channels with A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel.
Starting today you can get your fill of American Pickers, American Restoration, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and tons more! This is only available for American subscriptions and it is a bit of a pain to actually watch all of the shows on-demand. Instead of subscribing with iTunes you have to write down codes from the TV, visit the television providers website and make a new account. The whole process takes basically 15 minutes, which is quite daunting.
Yahoo is making a big play to be the default search engine to iOS 7 and above. The company currently powers the Weather and Stock apps on iPads and iPhones the world over.
A new report states that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is preparing detailed presentations to present to high level Apple executives showing what its new mobile search product could look like. There are a pair of internal projects, code-named “Fast Break” and “Curveball”, that are part of Yahoo’s redesign of its mobile search engine for iOS.
Microsoft Bing currently integrated with Siri to be the search engine of choice when internet results are dispatched to users. Bing is also one of the user selectable options for Safari. The two companies are basically in the middle of a ten year deal and Yahoo wants to replace Microsoft.
TellTales masterpiece the Walking Dead Season 1 has finally hit Android 2.3 devices and is available for free at the Good e-Reader App Store. The first episode is free and each one costs a few dollars to play, this pack includes 400 days.
The Walking Dead is an epic series that follows Lee Everett who meets and becomes the protector of orphaned Clementine. Many prominent game review companies have proclaimed this series as the best game of 2013.
The essence of the game is making decisions in a mortality play. In most cases you choose dialog options and in others you have to swipe the screen to duck, run and dodge walkers.
It has been available on iOS, Xbox and a myriad of other game systems for quite sometime and many people have been clamoring for an Android release.The day is finally here and you can play it on your phone, tablet or Nvidia Shield. Download it today from the Good e-Reader App Store.
Plastic Logic is intent on leveraging their screen technology to the wearable sector. In order to facilitate this move they have engaged in a new partnership with Solvay Specialty Polymers, a recognised leader in polymeric materials development for the electronics sector. The two companies will combine their labs to deliver low power flexible electronics suitable for today’s ever-changing world of ubiquitous sensors, mobile displays, and wearable devices.
The companies have committed to a joint development program that will initially demonstrate and then industrialise low power variants of such devices within two years. The technology will enable product designers to develop stylish, more ergonomically-friendly devices in several emerging industrial segments, including flexible AMOLED and other displays for mobile and Wearables and the Internet of Things,- markets which are forecast to be worth $12Bn by 2020 (IHS 2013 report) and $1.9 trillion across all sectors in 2020 respectively.
Plastic Logic has not seen much commercial success in their entire line of products. Instead, they tend to act as a white label solution for companies wanting to use low-powered flexible display screens for their phones, e-readers and tablets. In recent times they started making secondary screens, built into smartphone cases with a faux e Ink screen.
Amazon Dash is a new remote sized product that scans barcodes and incorporates a microphone for audio orders. The premise is to order groceries online and have them shipped out to you the next day via Amazon Fresh. It takes the computer out of the shopping equation, simplifying the entire process.
When customers scan barcodes of products they want to order or use the microphone, all items are added to your Amazon Fresh account via WIFI. After you are happy with the number of products added to your account simple open the Amazon Fresh app for phones and tablets to pull up your list, check it over, and dispatch the order. There’s free delivery on orders over $35, and if the order is placed by 10am, Amazon promises that its customers will “have it by dinner”.
In an interview earlier this week, Paul Cousineau, Amazon’s director of mobile shopping, said that his division spends a lot of time thinking about how to make it easier for shoppers using touchscreen devices to quickly find the products on Amazon they want to buy.
“If you never had to type again on a phone that would be great,” he said. “We want you to go from ‘I want that’ to ‘I bought that’ in 30 seconds or 10 seconds … a very short period of time.”
Dash is designed not just to work with Amazon Fresh, but to also buy over 500,000 items from the main Amazon website. You could be playing guitar, break one and use Dash to ship you a new pair. I think this new program will turn a bunch of new people onto online shopping, because it doesn’t require technical knowledge. You just scan, confirm and pay.
Recently, the Amazon Fresh Android App has received a major update and now has Dash Support. You can download it from the Good e-Reader App Store.
The vast majority of tablets on the market only have WIFI capabilities and only the odd one has cellular data. The Apple iPad is the most successful when it comes to not relying on wireless signals to surf the internet or download apps. Emerging markets are starting to embrace cheap Android tablets thanks to the prices coming down in China and Taiwan.
Many indie companies in the US, UK and Canada often deal with white label tablets to get their products to market. The average company simply cannot afford to devote the resources to design and contract out the manufacturing to an existing fab. Instead, they contact existing companies with the hardware already built, load in a splash screen and customize the software. Companies like Monster, Pocketbook, Pandigital, Pioneer, Skytex, Wexler and many others all do this.
In the second half of the year it is estimated that out of the 12 million tablets intended to be shipped out in the second quarter of 2014, half will have cellular functionality. This is critical to emerging markets such as South Africa, Vietnam, Philippines and the Middle East. These countries have little to no infrastructure to WIFi and being able to use the tablet and use a cheap data plan is essential to have everyone connected.
We live in a world where each major operating system has a digital assistant. Apple is the most well known with Siri, followed by Google Now and the recently announced Microsoft Cortana. The priority seems to be on mobile phones and to a lesser degree tablets. e-Readers have never had this sort of software, but maybe its high-time they start to incorporate it.
During the last few years most e-readers have ditched onboard audio of any kind. A few years ago Amazon, B&N and Kobo all had speakers and a 3.5 mm headphone jack to allow readers to listen to music or audiobooks. When they all decided to offer the most cost effective devices possible and compete heavily against each other, audio had to go. This prompted a massive backlash from the National Federation of the Blind which had numerous protests outside Amazon headquarters. The lack of audio has also been a major factor on why schools never embraced them.
e-Readers overall are fairly refined and affordable. I think its time that they start to incorporate audio functionality once more, or at least have a higher priced option for consumers. One of the direct benefits would be for a digital assistant that would be able to aid visually impaired people by being able to launch tasks by voice. You could say “Michael, open the Hunger Games – Catching Fire” and it would open the book for you. Alternatively, after reading the book you could prompt the reader to buy the next one in the series. In addition you could do common tasks like access your Dropbox account or open an audiobook.
If a digital assistant were to be done right, it would suddenly make e-readers more accessible for the elderly and disabled. It would make purchasing and opening content much easier and give a reason for companies like Kobo to develop an audiobook catalog.
The idea for this news item came to me after reading about Microsoft Cortana. This is a new beta feature that will come out with the release of Microsoft Mobile 8.1. It has integration with Skype that will allow you to call people by merely using your voice. It has compatibility with Bing to search the web and is voiced by the same voice actor that did Cortana in the Halo Series.
Do you think this idea makes sense? Programming one on Linux would be the most viable solution, as most companies use it for their OS. Sony and Nook buckle the trend with Android, but are minor players in the arena.
Amazon has just announced the Fire TV at a media event in New York City. The $99 media streaming box gives people the ability to watch thousands of shows and also play video games. It comes pre-registered, so it is quite easy to just take it out of the box, hook it up to your television via HDMI, and start watching.
The Fire TV box is running on the Android OS and features a very solid 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU with 2GB RAM, Bluetooth, 8GB internal storage, and the same duel-antenna wireless internet that the latest generation Kindle Fire tablets have. It connects to your television via HDMI to give you full 1080p video and Dolby digital surround sound.
This box has a lot in common with Apple TV, Roku, and a number of other boxes. You get access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, YouTube, Crackle, Flixter, Watch ESPN, NBA Gametime, and a number of others. It also has lots of online radio apps like TuneIN, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. One of the elements that separates it from the competition is taping into the Amazon Instant Video system with 200,000 videos and television shows.
There are a few things that separate the Fire TV from the competition. One of them is called ASAP, which bears a striking resemblance to Amazon Silk. As you use the television service to use certain apps or watch shows, it will pre-buffer them so they will instantly play. There is also a microphone built into the remote control that is voice controlled. You can say actors’ names, like “Christopher Walken,” and it will list all of the movies that he has been in. It leverages IMDB for actors, movies, television shows directors, genres, and other fun stuff.
Media devices often lack security and most of them are in family homes. Amazon introduced a version of Freetime, which allows parents to modify the security settings to insure their kids aren’t watching anything they shouldn’t, like The Walking Dead. When in FreeTime, the background color and fonts change to a kid-friendly design. Kids only see titles that have been selected by their parents for them, and those who can’t yet read can navigate visually to content based on favorite characters or topics—for example “Dora the Explorer,” “Princesses,” or “Thomas and Friends.” Parents who have already set up profiles and approved content on Kindle Fire tablets will find the settings are automatically synchronized on Fire TV, making it simple and seamless to get started. Customers who subscribe to FreeTime Unlimited—Amazon’s all-you-can-eat content subscription designed just for kids ages 3 to 8—will get unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows.
Unlike all of the other streaming media boxes out there, Amazon has taken the unique step to integrate gaming. The Seattle based company worked with game developers like EA, Disney, Gameloft, Ubisoft, Telltale, Mojang, 2K, and Sega to bring their games to Fire TV. Games available starting today include customer favorites like Minecraft, Monsters University, The Game of Life, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, and more. You can game on the remote control that comes with the unit, or purchase the dedicated Game Controller.
Only residents in the UK and US stand to get the most out of this unit right now. The bulk of the voice controlled actions pulls up listings from Amazon Instant Video, which excludes every country in the world other than the US and UK. Still, the whole system is compelling. It is part gaming, part videos, and has lots of cool, unique features borrowed from the Kindle Fire line of tablets. It might be worth it to check out since its only $99.
Google has come up with a new set of guidelines for developers to follow, all aimed at establishing a safe environment for apps to flourish. As per the new rules introduced in the Google Play Developer Program Policy, developers will have to ensure their apps does not engage in immoral activities or attempt to deceive users with nefarious advertising policies. This will make it difficult for developers to issue pop-up alerts mimicking official Android notifications. Developers will also be barred from sending unsolicited SMSs for advertising purposes.
Developers often resort to issuing Windows-esque dialog boxes warning users of their systems being prone to serious malware infections and other threats, thereby luring unsuspecting users to download various apps. The new amendment also enforces a clampdown on developers using sexually explicit content to promote such apps. Developers will also be barred from indulging in app installs or redirection to the Google Play Store without explicit user consent.
Google has stated developers will have 15 days time to comply with the new guidelines before it starts banning apps that don’t conform to the changed rules.
The new amendment is the latest in a series of new measures that Google had introduced in ensuring its only quality apps that make it to the Play Store.
Amazon is poised to announce a new television service in the form of a physical box or dongle. The plan is to showcase their Amazon Instant Video service and also secure 3rd party services, such as Netflix and the WWE Network. Sadly, the essence of this service will not work outside the USA or UK. Amazon does not allow international viewers to watch any of their streaming music or videos, so the new box is basically irrelevant.
Next week at an event in New York, Amazon plans on announcing a new television service. No one really knows what it is all about, but they did file a series of FCC applications for a box, controller and other gizmos. Amazon has an extensive track record of being narrowly focused on the USA market when it comes to marketing their Instant Video services. The main reason people who would be excited about this box is the fact they can view Amazon Originals. Another component is being able to watch pilots and vote on the box if you want it to get made into a 13 episode season.
In reality, no one outside the UK and USA should even care about what Amazon is doing. Ultimately, no matter what they release, Canadians won’t be able to view any of the Amazon content. If you want to get a box with Netflix and WWE Network and other things, get a Apple TV or ROKU.
One of the pitfalls of a heavily curated app store, with an emphasis on quality, is that sometimes Android or Blackberry apps are out of date. In the past, we had to rely on people pinging the Admin Team on message boards, or our Youtube Videos. This resulted in some popular apps being hopelessly out of date and people expressed their general disdain. We now have a new system that makes letting us know an app needs an update quickly, easily, and anonymously.
The Good e-Reader app update notification system just went live on our website and will be coming to our fleet of apps soon. The flag resides next to the version number, in the app description. If you have installed an app on your Android or Blackberry device and get a message that it needs an update, you can now let us know. We promise that any requests will be resolved within 12 hours.
Visit the App Store today and check it out. Comment below if you have any problems using the tool.
The latest finding by Crittercism, which takes stock of app usage on Android and iOS devices, is that Android has emerged as the more stable platform than iOS. However, it hasn’t been a cakewalk, as Android 2.3 Gingerbread has been notorious for unexpected app crashes, earning it the least stable Android version honor. Things have improved dramatically ever since the later Android versions of Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and the latest Android version, Kit Kat. In numerical terms, while Gingerbread alone accounted for app crashes 1.7 percent of the time, its successors crashed about 0.7 percent of the time.
The corresponding figures for iOS show that iOS 6 has been most prone to app crashes, reporting crashes an average of 2.5 percent of the time. Things improved with subsequent revisions, with iOS 7 and iOS 7.1 crashing only 2.1 and 1.6 percent of the time, respectively. That might come as a surprise to Apple fans, who often perceive iOS as the most matured mobile OS out there.
These findings form part of the report titled “Mobile Experience Benchmark,” which is based on a survey of about a billion Android and iOS devices for a period of one month.
Finally, Microsoft has launched its Office software suite for the iPad which brings to an end the years of speculations and rumors. Thankfully, the Office for iPad is a mature application compared to the almost half-hearted attempt that the Office for iPhone was. Users will have at their disposal many advanced features lacking in the iPhone app, such as the ability to add rows or columns in an Excel spreadsheet thanks to the iPad’s larger screen. Users will also get to choose from almost the entire range of fonts andformatting options as well.
The Office app – which offers Word, Excel and Powerpoint – though free, will require a subscription to use the advanced editing options. Right now, users are free to open and view documents but are required to have an active Office 365 subscription to edit or create a document from scratch. Microsoft is also offering a free 30 day trial of the Office app.
Overall, the launch of the Office app for iPad is long due, and it’s the first major move since the changing of guard at Microsoft. Now what remains to be seen is whether the Office app will be able to hold its own in the face of Apple’s iWorks app, which offers an array of features and most important of all, is free.