Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top 10 Android Apps of the Week


Another week, another maelstrom of apps hit the Android ecosystem and today Good e-Reader gives you the heads up on the most essential ones you need to know about!

Assassin's Creed IV Companion for Android – Assassin's Creed Black Flag's Companion is an indispensable tool for all would-be pirate captains. It acts like your very own quartermaster, so that you will never need to break the immersion and flow of gameplay by pausing the game to navigate through certain menus. You are now free to fully concentrate on the job at hand – to gain wealth and infamy on the high seas and in exotic cities.

GT Racing 2: The Real Car Exp for Android – Gameloft just released GT Racing 2: The Real Car Experience is a true-to-life automotive journey featuring the most prestigious cars in the world! The best-selling franchise is back for free and it's designed to offer an unprecedented level of driving enjoyment, whether playing solo or multiplayer.

Bakery Story: Thanksgiving for Android – Design the bakery of your dreams and share with your friends! Impress your customers with fun Thanksgiving decorations and mouth-watering sweets! Now with THANKSGIVING themed treats, decorations, and REWARDING storylines!

Internet Explorer Unofficial for Android – This app was designed mostly for smartphones and tablet users may not enjoy the most robust experience. This is a cool unofficial app that emulates the look and feel of the one designed for Windows 8.

Thor: The Dark World LWP for Android – Feel just like your favorite Asgardian with this official Thor: The Dark World app… Marvel Comics and Thor fans can recreate the excitement of the sequel with this incredible Live Wallpaper app for your Android device's home screen!

Nest for Android – Connect to your Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm from one place – the Nest app on your Android device. You can adjust the temperature on your Nest Thermostat from anywhere and get notifications for important events, like Heads-Up and Emergency Alarm.

Reddit Now for Android – Reddit Now is a great way to browse content published on Reddit, a popular social news and entertainment website, using your Android phone or tablet. Featuring a unique "card based" Holo-styled interface Reddit Now aims to provide you with an intuitive, gesture based, Reddit experience.

Greed for Glory: Dragon Cities for Android – Prepare for Glory….and DRAGONS! Build up a mighty army and use strategy to defeat your enemies in this brilliant expansion for the hit free-to-play game Greed for Glory. Raid, destroy defenses, and steal resources in glorious and fun 3D battles. Defeat dragons in an all new campaign, and receive fun new items and additional resources.

Escape The Titanic for Android - Join over 2 million fans who've taken the challenge – Do you have the skills to Escape the Titanic before it's too late? Face the ultimate test of wits, cunning, and speed in this challenging and unique puzzle adventure. No two scenes are alike, so be prepared for anything as you race to escape the world's most infamous ocean liner. Put your device through its paces as you pinch, twist, tap & swipe your way through ingenious puzzle challenges. Prove that you have what it takes to outsmart, outrun, and outmaneuver any obstacle. Good luck!

Tank Battles for Android – Get ready for Tank Battles! This is General McTankerson, the greatest tank commander in the world, speaking! Many have come to my island for the Tank Battles Tournament, but only one can be crowned the Tank King. Will it be you? Roll out and let the Tank Battles begin!

Top 10 Android Apps of the Week is a post from: E-Reader News

Shop e-Readers Launches New Holiday Campaign – Save 10% on eBook Readers and Tablets


Online retail giant Shop e-Readers has just unveiled their new Holiday promotion that will save customers money gearing up for the Holiday Season!  The company has unveiled their new 10% off promotion that is not only good for every single e-reader they stock, but also tablets, cases and accessories.

Shop e-Readers is the official North American distributor for Wexler and Icarus. They stock every single device those companies sell and save customers a ton of money ordering from within Canada and the US, instead of buying direct from Europe. Shop e-Readers also sells e-readers that are often not available in most international markets. You can get your hands on the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2, Sony PRS-T3, Kobo Aura, Kobo Arc 10 HD and over 100 other devices.

Peter Carotenuto of Shop e-Readers commented “We are very excited to offer mad savings on all of our products. Our big advantage is that we personally review all of the units we sell and only stock the ones we think are the best. Many retail stores will just stock whatever they are told to and customers end up get let down buying inferior products. We have been around since 2009 and have sold thousands of e-readers, we are the best.”

When you order one product or a bunch, simply enter the coupon code Holiday101 at checkout to save 10% on the entire order. This promotion will be running until December 25th 2013.

Shop e-Readers Launches New Holiday Campaign – Save 10% on eBook Readers and Tablets is a post from: E-Reader News

Viz Launches on Google Play with 1,700 Volumes of Manga


You gotta give Viz credit, when they move onto a new platform, they don’t mess around. When they launched on Google Play this week, they launched with 1,700 volumes across over 170 series.

Viz already has an Android app, so it’s reasonable to ask why a reader would want to buy the manga individually in the Google Play store. Here are two reasons:

Mature titles: It was only last year that Viz started releasing mature-rated titles, such as Dorohedoro, Nana, and Tenjho Tenge, digitally, and you can’t buy them in-app. You can buy them on the Viz website, but unlike comiXology, it won’t sync to the apps on your other devices. If you buy them on Google Play, though, you can sync to the Google Play app on your Android device. The mature titles are also available via Kindle, Nook, and iBooks, so this offers one more option.

Savings! Viz recently raised the prices on their digital manga, but the Google Play store is offering a price break on three titles for this week only: Every volume of One Piece (the best-selling manga in Japan), Demon Love Spell (a romance/comedy fantasy about a shrine maiden who accidentally seals a sexy demon and has to team up with him to fight monsters), and Case Closed (a detective series) is only $5.99, a buck off list. If you want to catch up on one of those series, this would be a good time to do it.

It’s also worth noting that Viz releases manga digitally the same day they come out in print, and unlike the Big Two, they offer a substantial price break to digital buyers.

“Google Play is one of the most-visited and fastest-growing online entertainment destinations, and we look forward to the platform's large mainstream audience discovering and enjoying one of the most substantial digital manga catalogs available anywhere,” said Viz executive vice president and chief technology officer Gagan Singh. That’s an interesting point: Google Play really is mainstream, and it offers games, movies, and music as well as books, so it’s a place for new readers to discover manga.

Viz Launches on Google Play with 1,700 Volumes of Manga is a post from: E-Reader News

Kindle Paperwhite 2 gets Goodreads Integration – Hands On


The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 received a new firmware update today that adds GoodReads to the main navigation bar. This allows readers to connect up to the service with their Facebook or GoodReads account and participate in a social eBook community.

There are a few ways that GoodReads will impact your day to day live on the Kindle. First of all, next to the store is a new G logo that will allow you to logan to your account. If you don’t already have one, it is fairly easily to register. If you have purchased books from Amazon before they will be in your library and you have the ability to add them to your “want to read” category or if you have completed it, select “I read this.”

If you are new to the service you can use this social platform to connect up and befriend other likeminded souls that have the same taste in books as you do. You can click on their name and see all of the books they have ever read and what books they are in the process of reading. If you see a book you like, you can click on it and be directed to the Kindle store, where you can check out reviews, ratings and buy it.

When you are reading a Kindle eBook and tap on the social button you can now update your status just on GoodReads. Before, you could only share it on Facebook and Twitter. It obviously makes sense to update your status on a book social site then it does spamming your friend-list on Facebook.

There are a few bugs with the recent firmware. If you click on a user and then check out what books they are reading and then click on one you are not directed to the exact listing in the Kindle Store. Instead, it takes the name of the book and does a broad search, sometimes not giving you the book you were looking for and listing others that are completely unrelatable.

I live in Canada and I could not fetch the update automatically with my  Paperwhite 2. Instead you have to visit the Kindle Firmware Update Page, download it to your PC and then copy the file to the root of your device. You then click settings and Update Your Kindle will be clickable and it takes around 10 minutes to fully update.

Kindle Paperwhite 2 gets Goodreads Integration – Hands On is a post from: E-Reader News

Kindle Paperwhite 2 Software Update Adds Goodreads, Cloud Collections, and Kindle FreeTime

Yesterday Amazon released Fire OS 3.1 for their latest line of Kindle Fire tablets, so we knew an update for the new Kindle Paperwhite 2 was soon to be coming as well since some of the new features overlap, and that didn’t take long to transpire as Amazon released the update for the 2nd gen […]

College Funding eBook Now Available


As the costs of higher education continues to rise in the US, especially where textbooks are concerned, a new ebook from the team at US News & World Report is aimed specifically at parents and college students who are already wondering how they’re going to pay for education.

“For nearly three decades U.S. News has provided expert advice and resources for families navigating the college process,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News, in a press release. “Paying for college is one of the most challenging and confusing parts of the process, so we’ve assembled our best advice to help students and parents plan for such an important financial investment.”

While also available in print (which ironically demonstrates the need for digital textbooks, since the print edition of the guide to affording college costs more than triple the price of the ebook), the U.S. News Guide to Paying for College was created and distributed by ebook platform Vook and is formatted for a wide variety of device and PC consumption. Crucial chapters in the guide include:

  • College Majors with the Best Return on Investment
  • 5 Big Financial Aid Lies
  • Think Hard Before Borrowing For College
  • Consider These Options to Cut College Costs Review Your 529 Plan to Meet College Savings Goals
  • 6 Steps To Reducing Your College Loan Costs

This ebook comes in a far-reaching move towards digital, as the US News Weekly magazine is already a digital-only publication. The U.S. News Guide to Paying for College is available by searching HERE.

College Funding eBook Now Available is a post from: E-Reader News

eBooks Sales in Japan Still Lagging Behind Printed Books


Notwithstanding the rapid proliferation that ebooks have made among the reading community the world over, Japan has emerged as a slow adopter of the digital versions. Conventional books continue to be used among the majority of Japanese citizens, even though ebooks have made serious inroads in the market of late. eBook sales have shown a positive growth during the last few years, while conventional printed books have shown a steady decline in sales for the last eight years in row. For those who’d prefer solid figures, ebook sales accounted for ¥36.8 billion in 2012 which marks a healthy growth over the ¥11.2 billion recorded in sale from ebooks in 2011. In contrast, paper books still command a market that is worth a substantial  ¥1.7 trillion.

As for reason behind the relatively slow growth rate of ebooks, experts attribute it to the large number of bookstores that dot the Japanese landscape. With a landmass and a population that is a fraction of that of the US, Japan still has more (14,696) bookstores compared to 12,703 in the US. The bookstores are also better stocked than the ebook stores, which has ensured they enjoy a wider acceptance among the populace compared to their online counterparts. While the biggest ebook stores generally top out at 100,000 to 300,000 titles, bookstore offer a far bigger collection, usually more than a million titles.

Publishers have also shown a general dislike towards adopting digital technologies as this would entail investing resources as well as acquiring the technical knowledge to survive in the digital era. This has especially proven to be a hindrance for small publishers, and Japan is home to many publishers that can’t boast of enough financial clout to explore digital.

However, in spite of the slow growth rate that the ebook segment has been witnessing, there is a lot of effort being put in to ensure greater acceptance of ebooks in future. There has also been no dearth of ebook reading devices dotting the store shelves to support the ebook cause, be it tablet PCs, smartphones or ebook readers. There also are quite a few big names associated with the ebook industry in Japan: Sharp, Toshiba, Sony, Rakuten (who acquired controlling stake in Kobo), and of course, Amazon. Publisher Dai Nippon Printing Co. has set up an ebook store of its own, promoting ebooks by making tablet PCs available on each table in its Tokyo cafe where visitors can browse through ebooks.

Promoting ebooks in schools is another area where the country can see considerable uptake, not only for the duration of the academic curricula but far beyond that, helping students grow accustomed to reading on ebooks in the future.

As Yoshiyuki Oshita, chief director of the center for art policy and management at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting, puts it: “There are movements to incorporate more IT into education, including textbooks. In that case, textbooks would become e-books," he said. "Children in the future will grow up with e-books, so it will be natural for them to use e-books, unlike people like us who grew up with regular books and may be reluctant to change.”

However, given the traditional Japanese culture of reading printed material, it could be some time before ebooks begin taking center stage over print.

eBooks Sales in Japan Still Lagging Behind Printed Books is a post from: E-Reader News

Coby Electronics goes Bankrupt

coby-ice-cream-sandwichCoby Electronics bet big on the budget tablet market since 2010 and pushed products into big box stores all over the US. Over the course of the last few years the company often would release six new devices and tried to market them under $200 to be appealing towards the price conscious crowd.  The company and all of their assets have now been sold for an undisclosed sum and key executives have all been let go.

The Gordon Brothers Group purchased a number of Coby assets a few months ago. GBG specializes in purchasing  defunct  companies and try to turn them around. In recent years they purchased Polaroid and The Sharper Image, two other companies that have a track record of shoddy products and abysmal  customer support.

One of the big losers of this sale are the customers. Coby devices continued to be sold at Walmart, Big Lots, Toys R US and a myriad of other retailers.  GBG has no intention of honoring product warranties, as the transaction was structured as an asset purchase, not an outright acquisition. Customer calls to Coby’s support line go unanswered and their main 1-800 number has been shut down.  Most troubling of all, products sent in for warranty service in the last few months were never returned or replaced. Presumably, then, there is a big pile of warrantied Coby stuff sitting in one of the company’s warehouses somewhere.  Many customers had to actually spend money to have their tablet devices fixed, in addition to having to ship it out. This entire situation has spawned a litany of posts on Facebook and other social media channels about faulty units and no way to repair them.

Why did Coby go out of business when it had an extensive line of consumer electronics and high visibility in the US? A source told us that they tried to aggressively expand too quickly with expensive executive hires, investments into factories and the costs of manufacturing the products. They bet the farm on Android tablets and customers did not embrace their line of products as anticipated.


Coby Electronics goes Bankrupt is a post from: E-Reader News

The Rainbow Orchid Now Available Digitally


I first found out about Garen Ewing’s The Rainbow Orchid years ago, because he posted the first few chapters online as a webcomic. It’s an adventure story in the Tintin mold, set in the 1920s and drawn in the same “ligne claire” (clear line) style that is so popular with European creators. The graphic novel reads a bit like a caper movie, with a colorful cast of characters chasing after a mythical flower, the rainbow orchid of the title. It’s a great all-ages title, the sort of thing that both children and adults find entertaining, and it’s a great read for any fan of Tintin and other adventure comics.

Until last year, however, the book was only available in print form in the UK, which made it tough to find; now you can get it on Amazon but it looks like it’s still an import, so it’s not something you’re likely to find in your local bookstore.

So I was delighted when an e-mail arrived in my in-box today to tell me that The Rainbow Orchid is now available via the Sequential iPad app. It’s priced right, too, at $5.99 per volume or $13.99 for the complete three-volume set.

The book has won plenty of critical acclaim—creator Bryan Talbot (Grandville) called it “easily one of the best graphic novels of the year”—and it has been shortlisted for the Young People’s Comic Award in the British Comic Awards, which will be announced this Saturday.

The Rainbow Orchid Now Available Digitally is a post from: E-Reader News

Ryanteck’s RTK-000-001 motor controller – robotics on a budget

We first met Ryan Walmsley when he was fifteen, back in May 2012. He’d been emailing and tweeting with us for months at that point (mostly variations on WHEN CAN I BUY ONE?), and he then proceeded to knock our socks off very shortly after we started shipping by producing, out of the blue, the Rastrack map, which Pi users can register their Pis on, showing the geographical spread of the project. We still use Rastrack regularly: it’s a great visual aid at talks and workshops.

At that point, Ryan had only really worked on web programming, but since buying his (first) Pi he’s gone on to learn Python, has done a huge amount of work on electronics and physical computing, and has been running Raspberry Jams in Stevenage, all while studying at sixth-form college. Ryan’s a really important part of the Raspberry Pi community. We rely on the passion, enthusiasm and skill of people like Ryan to get the word about Raspberry Pi out, and we think he’s great.

Ryan showing me his motor controller at work, at this weekend’s Manchester Raspberry Jam

Once he’d done a bit of dabbling with a soldering iron, we discovered that Ryan had a bit of a gift for electronics, and he’s visited Pi Towers a couple of times since we moved into our new offices to give us a hand adapting 1980s educational robots to work with Raspberry Pi. (Lots of schools still have discontinued equipment hanging around in cupboards.) He’s coming back in January for some formal work experience, and we are preparing to set him to work on some office-automation hacking when he gets here. We encouraged him to put his expertise to work in the meantime by contributing to the add-on board ecosystem, and so Ryan has developed something he himself felt was missing: a cheap, simple, solder-it-yourself motor controller board.

RTK-000-001 is a very straightforward, inexpensive motor controller for the Raspberry Pi, designed for hobbyist and schools robotics. It can drive two DC motors at 0.5A each, which screw into terminals on the board. The board itself clips neatly to the top of the Pi, and you can then mount the whole assembly on a robot of your choice. Ryan’s made demo code available, so you can get started right away: in under 25 lines of Python you can get your robot spinning in alternate directions at five-second intervals, and it’s easy to progress from there to start programming it yourself.

Ryan has a Tindie running to get the fifty orders he needs to get the price to the low level he thinks the RTK-000-001 should sell at. Please think about ordering one yourself: we get very excited when we see young people like Ryan building businesses around the Raspberry Pi, and we’re looking forward to using the board in our own offices. (Ryan, I have plans for getting you motorising all *kinds* of stuff in January. Our life-sized Minecraft sword would be 100% better if it started spinning on the wall when sent a command.)

ComiXology Launches eGift Cards Program


ComiXology is one of the quickest growing comic distribution companies in the world. The company recently hit the 200 million download milestone and many industry experts agree that it is only a matter of time before they are the target of an acquisition attempt. To prepare for the holidays ComiXology has just announced the launch of their new eGift Card program.

The cards are bought online and are emailed out to the target. There are cards available from $10 to $500 or set your own gift value. ComiXology eGift Cards are redeemable to purchase single issues or graphic novels on their main website or via their multitude of mobile apps. The Gift cards last forever and have no hidden fees or expiration dates.

This may be a cool gift idea for people who are inept in buying real presents. I mean what little boy wouldn’t love the ability to pick his own comics out with some digital cash?

ComiXology Launches eGift Cards Program is a post from: E-Reader News