Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Amazon Releases Keynote Video of the New Fire Phone


Amazon introduced the Fire Phone, which is the smartphone equivalent of the popular Kindle Fire tablet product line. It has technology borrowed from Amazon Dash, which allows you to scan UPC codes and order them or their Firefly software which functions like Soundhound or Shazam to recognize songs and movies. Amazon has just posted the video of the entire event, which includes keynote, unveiling and tons of details. If you are a fan of Apple events for new devices, or have questions about the new phone, check it out.

Amazon Releases Keynote Video of the New Fire Phone is a post from: Good e-Reader

Aptoide Files Anticompetitive Complaint Against Google


Two months ago Google removed every single third party App Store from Google Play. This resulted in an expulsion of notables including 1Mobile, Good e-Reader and Aptoide. Google cited new policies that did not allow any alternative app stores that competed with Play to be valid content and in one fell swoop nixed them all. Not everyone is taking this lying down as Aptoide filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission.

Aptoide is currently based in Portugal and boosts an active userbase of over six million monthly users. Their catalog of apps has reached over 200,000 and they have found their traffic has dramatically decreased now that Google Play has levied the ban hammer. According to Gigaom there are four main points to the Aptoide complaint.

Blocking: A non-compete clause in the Play Store terms and conditions means no fully-functional third-party app store can be found in the Play Store. The app stores that are in there are therefore "nothing more than catalogs" that then steer users to the Play Store mechanisms for downloading the apps they want, Trezentos said. Therefore, Aptoide can only be downloaded to a phone via the service's mobile web page.

Installation obstacles: The firm claims Google has made it progressively more difficult to install apps from third-party sources. According to Trezentos, Aptoide's focus groups showed that, in Android 2.1, 80 percent of users could easily find the setting that allows third-party app installation. But that option kept becoming harder to find on the relevant settings page, and after Android 4.0 "only 20 percent" of users could figure out how to find it.

Bundling: Google Mobile Services (GMS), the suite that Google-ifies an Android phone, is strongly coupled with the Play Store. So, for example, an Android-based Amazon Kindle device uses Amazon's own store and also doesn’t come with Google's services, while a standard Android phone will come with Google Maps and so on, and must therefore also include the Play Store.

Other Google services: Aptoide claims that Google's Chrome browser blocked the page for the Aptoide installer on the premise that it was infested with malware. The firm's attempts to show Google its clean bill of health over the last 4 weeks have allegedly elicited no response. What's more, Aptoide says Google is making the inclusion of the Play Store mandatory in its search agreements with carriers.

Aptoide chief executive Paulo Trezentos said in a statement “We are only asking the Commission to restore fair competition in the market, so we can compete on our own merits.”

Google already faces antitrust complaints from Nokia, Microsoft, Oracle and more over dozen others about anti competitive behaviour over its use of Android to promote its own apps. They complain that manufacturers of Android smartphones are required to preload Google apps and give them prominent default placement on the phone. Google currently enjoys a 72.2% of the market in Europe and Google Play enjoys the lionshare of the market.

The Aptoide complaint is considered significant because its stemming from a startup which is in direct competition with Google.

Aptoide Files Anticompetitive Complaint Against Google is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo eBook Store for Kids Now Available in the UK


Late last year Kobo developed an online kids store that has over 100,000 titles. There are plenty of innovative features such as safesearch and the ability to preload their kids account with credits to buy content, its like virtual allowance. Today, the Kids store has expanded from their Canadian roots and now is available in the United Kingdom.

Kobo has made it a point to offer a safe environment to browse and purchase kids content. Not only can you browse for books in age appropriate titles, but it will filter out non-kids books. Parents basically set up a second account in their child’s name, so there is no cross sharing of content.

The Kobo Kids Store was originally supposed to launch last summer, but was close to four months late in their official launch. This was due to erotica and romance titles from the companies self-publishing platform, Writing Life, creep into the kids section. This resulted in a firestorm in the UK, New Zealand and many other markets that had closed their Kobo powered store. All of this drama is sorted out and the Kids store is ready for international expansion.

Kobo eBook Store for Kids Now Available in the UK is a post from: Good e-Reader

Samsung Releases Terrain Home Launcher


It is generally not such a bad idea to try to be like Google (at least when it comes to the visual look and easy-to-use interface of Google Now). This appears to be a theory supported by Samsung and their new launcher: Terrain Home (though technically it is their Accelerator start-up incubator that handled the release). Battling for success among the homescreen options already available, Terrain Home has been described as: “Aviate without the brains. Fasthlane without the tiles. without the recommendations. GEL without Google Now.” While it may seem at first that every other option has a specialty, while Terrain Home has none –it may actually be that Samsung has combined the best bits and pieces from all of the competition, succeeding in creating a launcher that truly simplifies your device.

Key features of Terrain Home include: a smart sidebar (called A Bird’s Eye View, letting you bring together all of your favourite apps, tools, contacts, news and social media), a powerful local phone search, app drawers (allowing you to find the app you are looking for quickly and easily), swipe gestures (right for the sidebar, up for search, and to the left for your apps), customize your homescreen icon size, and do it all without a negative impact to your battery life!

Initial reviews indicate that Terrain Home looks very plain and simple, but using it for a few minutes demonstrates that is part of the charm –the customization options mean that ‘what you see is what you use’.

The best way to judge would be to give it a try for yourself, download Terrain Home for Android.

Samsung Releases Terrain Home Launcher is a post from: Good e-Reader

Boom Beach Strategy Game Available Now


My love for turn-based strategy games began with Sid Meir and Civilization almost 15 years ago, though modern day equivalents like Boom Beach by Supercell (made famous by their Clash of Clans game) do satisfy my love of the genre. Fortunately for it has crossed over from iOS to Android.

Game-play is straightforward: “storm the beach and win the day!” Like any combat strategy game, you must build your base (including storage facilities, residences, weapons and all the things you will need to wage war) and then venture out to explore and attack your enemies (while freeing innocent villagers who were caught in the middle –all of which will be very grateful). If you are the type to rush, in-app purchases will allow you to buy the resources you need to speed things along. This is one game that is easy to play, but difficult to master –just the right formula for fun (and addiction)!

If you have a mind for strategy and nothing but time to waste, download Boom Beach for Android.

Boom Beach Strategy Game Available Now is a post from: Good e-Reader

OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile helps the Escondido Public Library reach more of the community

A March 12 visit from the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile coincided with a spike in new patron registration at the Escondido Public Library in Southern California.

The Digital Bookmobile is a 74-foot traveling exhibit that helps libraries across North America promote the digital services available to their communities. New patron registration at EPL in March jumped by 21 percent from the average of the four months before the Digital Bookmobile event.

"It's a nice big advertisement for the fact that we have eBooks," EPL Adult Services Supervisor Paul Crouthamel said of the Digital Bookmobile, which drew a crowd of hundreds ranging from kids to seniors throughout the afternoon.

Having held than 700 events since launching in 2008, the Digital Bookmobile lets visitors learn about and browse the host library's digital catalog, test browser-based OverDrive Read ™ technology and kick back and watch titles available to libraries in the theater-style "Video Lounge." Crouthamel said many EPL patrons also took advantage of the Digital Bookmobile's "Gadget Gallery," where they received instruction on using popular devices like the Kindle ® and iPad ® to access digital content from the library.

"The OverDrive staff was really helpful in getting them started downloading eBooks," he said. "They were very knowledgeable."

This was the Digital Bookmobile's second event at EPL, the first being in February 2013. Besides attracting new customers and boosting digital service awareness, Crouthamel said the Digital Bookmobile has encouraged positive interaction between staff and community members and brought attention to other EPL programming.

"A lot of times, people will come in and get their stuff, and they don't really stop and talk to you," he said. "I think it's helped us."

EPL wasn't the only SoCal library to benefit from a Digital Bookmobile stop in March. The nearby Oceanside Public Library – also a member of the Serra Cooperative Library System – hosted an event the day before, and experienced an 18 percent hike in new patron registration from the previous four-month average.

Learn more about OverDrive's Digital Bookmobile at

Blackberry Signs a App Distribution Agreement with Amazon


The currently Blackberry 10 ecosystem is fairly woeful, with only a handful of apps that were built with the native framework. The lack of a solid user base and complex SDK turned off many companies such as Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram and many others. This situation is now rectified as Blackberry just signed a licensing agreement to have the Amazon App Store bundled on all phones starting with the 10.3 firmware update.

Good e-Reader exclusively reported back in January at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas that the 10.3 update will have a new Android driven app store for customers to have access. It looks like we were right because in the next few months the Amazon App Store, with over 200,000 will be preloaded on any new phones being sold and a firmware update available for existing users.

You will be able to access popular apps such as Groupon, Netflix, Pinterest, Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft – all available for direct download!

This is landmark agreement that Blackberry signed with Amazon, but there is a downside. Starting July 21st the company is closing its video and music business on Blackberry World. Previously downloaded content will be available after that date through MyWorld. Part of the agreement with Amazon necessitated the Seattle based company to get all multimedia sales through their own ecosystem.

Blackberry is putting a priority on Android apps being the future of their ecosystem. Recently, the company let go their entire developers relations team and a number of engineers responsible for native apps in Blackberry World. It looks like developing your own ecosystem from scratch and offering a paltry selection of content was not the best gambit and now Blackberry is getting in bed with Amazon.

Blackberry Signs a App Distribution Agreement with Amazon is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Unveils the Fire Phone, Now up for Pre-Order

Today Amazon unveiled their first smartphone. It’s called the Fire Phone, another branch off of Amazon’s Fire branding from their tablets and TV box. The Fire Phone is sort of like a mini Kindle Fire tablet in some ways, but it brings a lot more features to the table, both hardware and software, and even […]

New Amazon Fire Phone is a Waste of Time


Amazon has unveiled a new high end smartphone and is basically your gateway to storing all of your data and shopping on their website. It incorporates most of their standalone systems, like Dash, to scan UPC codes and have produce delivered to you from Amazon Fresh, X-Ray, the Lending Library and Cloud storage. Obviously most of these systems are US only and international users will find no value.

The Fire phone features a 4.7 inch 720p HD display and is optimized for outdoor viewing.  It is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 13 MP rear facing camera and 2 MP front facing.

Amazon is relying on gimmicks to sell the phone, much like car commercials focus on 1 year free access to Pandora, or Beats audio built in!  They have magnetic headphones that want tangle in your pocket! WOW!

When you take photos they are stored in the Amazon Cloud Photos. If you have a problem with your phone, you can initiate a call to a MAYDAY rep, that will help you troubleshoot your issues for free. You can listen to an audiobook as you read the book and have the words highlighted at the same time and also the plentiful benefits of Amazon Prime.

So far, it seems like a phone version of the Amazon HDX tablet line, sans the incorporation of Amazon Dash. Well, there is a few new things that may be the deciding factor for some users.

It has a feature called Firefly, which uses the camera to scan barcodes on products and pull them up in Amazon's store. Firefly can also listen to music or TV shows using technology similar to Shazam or Soundhound to recognize them and pull them up in Amazon's digital shop. It also has four small cameras around the edges for a parallax peak effect that allows people from multiple viewing angles to see what’s on the screen. It is built with the intention for shopping, but an SDK will be released for developers to incorporate it into their apps.

The Amazon Fire Phone is only relevant in the US, much like Amazon Dash, Fresh, Instant Videos, ditto with X-Ray for Movies and other key features. You can really tell Amazon is selling this phone to hustle more subscriptions to Prime and act as a gateway to selling you even more stuff online, whats next an eBay Phone? Even Bezos was tepid saying the Kindle e-reader and tablet did not do well out of the gate, and is holding a long term view.

The only way this phone will be relevant at all, with its woeful specs and gimmicky nature is if they give it away for FREE for Prime members. I see this device going to the same way as the ill-fated Facebook phone, the HTC First, that was bundled with Facebook Home.

New Amazon Fire Phone is a Waste of Time is a post from: Good e-Reader

Highlights, INscribe Digital Partner on eBooks

In an announcement today, long-time children’s content creator Highlights for Children stated that it has signed a deal with ebook developer INscribe Digital to digitize and distribute its content. This is welcome news in a publishing climate in which children’s ebook sales–while on the rise–still lag behind other categories.

"Highlights for Children adds significant momentum to our growing list of children's books," said Anne Kubek, INscribe Digital's EVP/General Manager, in a press release. "It's an honor to be partnering with one of the oldest and most distinguished children's publishing brands in North America."

"We are thrilled to collaborate with INscribe Digital as we launch our eBook publishing program," continued Mary-Alice Moore, VP, Editorial Director of Book Publishing for Highlights. "As the publishing industry transforms, the opportunities for growth in all formats is tremendous. Our partnership with INscribe will be a key part of our fast growing efforts to provide our titles digitally to consumers."

One factor that made this a sound decision is INscribe’s capabilities with complex titles. Children’s content has typically included bonuses like read-aloud narration, additional content, moveable and manipulatable graphics, and more. According to Highlights, INscribe has demonstrated its ability to produce that level of digital content and get it into the retailers’ hands quickly. This partnership is now active, and content is currently being distributed.

Highlights, INscribe Digital Partner on eBooks is a post from: Good e-Reader

OverDrive Adds Foreign Language Content, More Streaming

OverDrive is the world’s largest supplier of digital content to public and school libraries, but that content isn’t only ebooks. The company also meets the needs of libraries and their patrons with music, audiobooks, and the ability to stream movies from the library. OverDrive announced a recent addition to that catalog that will increase its already-10,000 strong list of movie titles to include great new programing from National Geographic, BBC, and more.

"Streaming video is the fastest-growing category of digital titles you can now access from your local library," said Alexis Petric-Black, OverDrive's manager of publisher account services, in a press release. "The OverDrive collection of Hollywood feature films, documentaries, self-help and beloved children's titles permit the public library to offer a first-stop destination for what to watch online."

The bigger news, though, is the availability of new foreign language titles through a large addition to OverDrive’s catalog. Some 30,000 new titles from major European publishers have been incorporated, adding to the accessibility of content for native speakers and interested language learners alike.

“Renowned international publishers and aggregators recently added to the OverDrive network include RCS Group (5,000 Italian titles), Libranda (12,000 Spanish titles), Zebralution (2,000 German titles), DeMarque (8,000 French titles), and Primento (1,500 French titles). Imprints under RCS Group include Adelphi, Bompiani, BUR, Marsilio, and Rizzoli, with authors such as Umberto Eco, Oriana Fallaci, Dacia Mariani, and Papa Francesco (the Catholic Pope). Zebralution brings works in the German language from authors such as Timur Vermes, Phillip Müller, Dan Brown and Ken Follet.”

This recent addition brings that total amount of content that member libraries can use to build their catalogs to just over two million titles.

OverDrive Adds Foreign Language Content, More Streaming is a post from: Good e-Reader

Facebook Launches Snapchat Competitor Slingshot

facebookslingshot1-630x436We knew it was coming, and today is is here –Facebook has released Slingshot, the social media giant’s attempt to compete with the very popular Snapchat app.

How it works is very simple: take a photo or video and send it to your friends. If they are willing to share something with you, they can unlock your creation (and react) –once they swipe it away, it’s gone!

I find the popularity of these quick-chat-photo-journal apps a little confusing. While I do appreciate having an easy way to share candid snapshots from special moments, I question how meaningful and important the content really is (plus it vanishes so quickly). If I have to send you a picture in order to unlock your content, it seems less like a choice to share and more like persuasion. I suppose I might be missing something and should give it a try, if you’d like to join me, download Slingshot for Android.

Facebook Launches Snapchat Competitor Slingshot is a post from: Good e-Reader

Oyster eBook Subscription Service Now on Android

OysterFellow bookworms will be thrilled to know that their appetites can now be satiated much like movie and television show lovers are by Netflix using the new Oyster – Read Unlimited Books app. Functioning as a subscription service with a library of over 500,000 titles (with additions every week, including New York Times bestsellers), Oyster is a bargain at $9.95 per month (especially considering you can start off with a 30-day free trial).

Built with special consideration for the variety of screen sizes and resolutions found among the variety of Android devices out there, Oyster boasts a special high contrast type-face (handy for reading outdoors) among the choices between a variety of other attractive themes. Even better are the book detail pages, featuring editors notes and thoughtful reviews –though my favourite feature is “read time,” which shows the approximate time it should take me to finish a particular book (think: can I finish this title while I’m traveling and in airports today? how many books should I sync for offline reading while I am at the beach this afternoon?).

It’s hard not to love a subscription-style service like Oyster offers –how many times have you wanted to re-read an old favourite story, but it seems expensive to pay the cover price for something tried and true instead of new? How many recommendations from friends have you passed on because your budget steered you toward something that was more of a sure thing?

Get started with Oyster by downloading the app for free!

Oyster eBook Subscription Service Now on Android is a post from: Good e-Reader