The Amazon Kindle line of e-readers have been incorporating 3G internet access since the very first model that came out in 2007. Whispernet internet access is provided by AT&T and gives owners the ability to browse the web, purchase eBooks and download content. The big point of confusion that e-reader owners have, is what are the limitations?
The Whispernet feature was co-designed with Qualcomm, and Kindle was the first device to include free nationwide 3G access to download books from the Amazon web store. The internet access is provided by AT&T and works in all coverage areas across the globe. The ability to surf the web has prompted many customers in China to bypass the Great Firewall by way of the AT&T tower in Taiwan.
Amazon does not really advertise the data caps that are involved when you pay the premium fee to access Whispernet. Originally, the Whispernet service had no limitations on the amount of data downloaded, but some users learned that they could hack their Kindles to turn them into wireless hotspots for other devices. The increased data consumption by these users has led AT&T to place limits on the system.
Whispernet now offers users 50MB of data per month, but once you hit that limit, Amazon blocks all content other than the Amazon store and Wikipedia over the 3G connection. Users who hit the limit can still browse over the Kindle's built-in Wi-Fi connection, and organizations can continue to deliver content over their own wireless network.
There are no monthly fees for the 3G Whispernet access, but the Kindle service is different than the standard monthly rates you incur with the Fire line of tablets. The only way you would pay extra per month on the e-reader is if you opt into the Kindle Personal Documents Service. This a is a free tool that allows you to send documents directly to supported Kindle devices and Kindle reading applications linked with your Amazon account. Documents can be sent from the Send-to-Kindle application or from an authorized e-mail address. Basically it is free if you connect it up to WIFI but costs $.15 per megabyte domestic and $.99 per megabyte international.
Whispernet was one of the main contributing factors that propelled Kindle sales into the stratosphere. Customers found the process of buying books was super easy and intuitive. Instead of being tied down to a WIFI network, you can buy eBooks while on vacation, laying on the beach or traveling. Barnes and Noble tried emulating it with their first generation Nook e-reader, but gave up on it after incurring massive costs.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
This week we put the spotlight on apps that Blackberry World simply does not have. All of these apps are compatible with the Blackberry Playbook tablet and all Blackberry 10 enabled smartphones.
Kik Messenger - 29 million users love Kik! It's the fast, simple, and personal smartphone messenger that connects you to everyone you love to talk to.
VIZ Manga - Welcome to the VIZ Manga app! You now have the greatest manga from Japan at your fingertips, at long last in a convenient, downloadable format for your Android phone!
LINE Selfie Sticker - Take a picture of your face and tap 3 times to create awesome and original stickers at lightning speed!
Manga Box – Whether you've got a few free minutes while waiting for the bus, or right before going to bed, you can enjoy reading manga with Manga Box!
Instamusic – InstaMusic Dev aims to provide a cutting-edge version of InstaMusic.
Mango Comic Book Reader – Mango is a free, fast, and powerful app to read comics and manga on your Android smartphone or tablet. Choose from a library of thousands of fan-translated titles from 9 different websites and view them right on your device!
NBA Summer League 2014 – From Rookies to All-Stars, it all starts here at NBA Summer League. Follow the NBA's rising stars live from Orlando and Vegas with the official app of NBA Summer League.
Instasize – InstaSize has been revamped to create a better Instagram experience for you. InstaSize is still the easiest and fastest way to post entire photos on Instagram without cropping. We now just do more!
Square Register – Accept credit card payments and run your business anywhere it takes you with Square Register. Process Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, pay just 2.75% per swipe, and access your funds in 1-2 business days. No monthly fees, commitments, or surprises.
PowerSchool for Parents – See live attendance, assignments, scores, grades and more, right from teachers' grade books. Now with an easy access setup process! PowerSchool is the fastest-growing most widely used student information system, supported more than 13 million students in all 50 states and 72 countries.
Freescale and e-Ink have both played a pivotal role for the entire e-reader revolution. E-Paper and the processors that power them have run in tandem from the very first Sony e-Reader to the modern day Kindle Paperwhite 2. Many people in the industry are unfamiliar on the exact role that Freescale has played in the evolution of eBook readers. Today we talk to Business Development at Freescale Semiconductor Nik Jedrzejewski and he discusses all things e-Readers.
Q) What role has Freescale played in the evolution of e-readers
[NJ] Early Freescale had recognized the potential of the new EPD technology in the eReader use case. Freescale had worked with the pioneers of the segment (Amazon and Sony) to extract as much battery life from their devices as possible. At the same time, Freescale has been working with Eink to bring out the highest resolution and contrast while reducing the ghosting effects and improving on page refresh times.
By supporting the eReader Market from its infancy, we are able to understand its needs and have achieved an estimated 90% market share.
Q) What were the different chips that powered past readers? What were the names and devices?
[NJ] Through the years, Freescale has supplied many Application Processors for multiple of eReaders in the market, including: i.MX31, i.MX35, i.MX50, i.MX 6SoloLite. Both the i.MX50 and the i.MX 6SoloLite integrated powerful H/W EPD Controllers, allowing for faster page turns at lower power.
Q) How has the mainstream success of the Kindle played out for you guys on a business level in Europe, Russia and Asia?
[NJ] Amazon has had tremendous amount of success in the United States as well as abroad. We believe that Europe is still in the early stages for eReader penetration, not only for Amazon but also for many local content providers. For more information on how the two companies have worked together, Please also refer to the Kindle case study.
Q) In the current generation of e-readers, what would you say is the core markets freescale is focusing on?
[NJ] Freescale will continue to provide technologies in our Applications Processors that will improve on the current generation of eReaders. The core EPD market will continue to be consumer eReaders, however new generation of higher resolution enterprise devices will start being introduced. Freescale is positioned well to enable these enterprise market targeted devices.
Q) E-reader production is lower in 2014 than it was in 2012. What is Freescale doing to insure the continued success of e-readers in 2014 and going forward?
[NJ] eReaders had exploded on the scene in 2011, while their growth has slowed down in the US, there is still quite more room for growth outside of the States. Continued innovation will drive the refresh cycles globally, as we’ve seen in the past through touch and front light. We believe that there is still room for continued improvement on screen refresh rates, contrast and brightness. Freescale will continue to work with Eink to enable all these improvements through necessary H/W innovation. There has been much 'behind the scene' innovation already in both the EPD technology as well as the Applications Processors. Freescale is constantly driving towards aggressive standby modes to extend the eReaders' battery life.
Q) What type of relationship does Freescale have with e-Ink, in terms of lots of e-readers using your chips and their screens
[NJ] Freescale has worked closely with Eink in enabling technology both through Hardware and Software. Through close a close partnership we are able to facilitate the creation of a more compelling reading device.
Q) What type of presence does Freescale have in phones and tablets or wearable tech?
[NJ] Freescale has provided multiple of processors for various tablets and a wide variety of consumer devices. Freescale is committed to providing a scalable multicore platform that includes single-, dual- and quad-core families based on the ARM Cortex-A9 architecture. Together with a robust ecosystem, the i.MX 6 series provides the ideal platform to develop a portfolio of end devices based on a single hardware design. The i.MX 6 series expansion plan includes an ARM Cortex-A9 plus a Cortex-M4 core for fast and predictable heterogeneous processing
Freescale offers the market’s broadest and best-enabled portfolio of solutions ideal for designing into wearable products. Our scalable MCU and MPU families range from small ultra-low-power Kinetis MCUs, such as the KL02 chip-scale package (CSP) the world’s smallest ARM Powered MCU, to i.MX applications processors with hardware acceleration to enable designs with higher level operating systems, such as Linux and Android. We’ve partnered with several 3rd parties in creating a Wearable Reference Platform (WarpBoard.org) in order to enable developers who are driving the wearable market. Both the Hardware and Software will be open sourced and community driven.
HarperCollins has relaunched their US website and is selling eBooks and books directly to consumers. The newly-designed site will be rolled out to UK next month and then expanding into Canada and Australia.
When it comes to selling digital content, Harpercollins is no stranger. The publisher sold eBooks directly via www.cslewis.com and www.narnia.com, which launched in October last year. They also launched the HarperCollins Reader, which allows readers to download and read titles.
"We are excited to be able to offer an ecommerce solution to our authors, ensuring their books are always available to their fans," said chief digital officer Chantal Restivo-Alessi in a statement. "As a publisher, we want to offer as many paths to the consumer as possible."
Harpercollins is not just selling eBooks on their site with this relaunch but they will be leveraging new technology to allow authors to sell books directly. The publisher intends on approaching authors in their stable and giving them the ability to use embed codes in their websites, blogs and other online mediums.
The main premise of the Harpercollins initiative to sell all of their books directly on their site is to be less dependant on online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iBooks. Within the next year HC and Amazon will be signing a new contract and if the Hachette dispute has taught us anything, it can be a long, drawn out war.
One huge complaint against Google Now has been the lack of voice control support for using key features: especially playback for music apps like Google Play Music or podcast apps. Luckily for us, our wish is Google’s command –limited support has been added that allows you to stop and play music (using phrases like: “Okay Google stop music” and “Okay Google resume music”) as well as moving forward and backward through your playlists.
The limitation (and strength) is that this new feature works in any audio-enabled app… so if you were last listening to a podcast, that’s what will resume. It would be awfully nice if you could somehow specify the details for what you’d like played (though as a first-draft of the new feature, we’ll take it!).
Some Android users are already lucky enough to be using these new voice controls, give it a whirl to see if you are among them: start playing music and start issuing commands. Worst case scenario, you will see a note saying that the action is not supported along with a voice message that indicates “Controlling media is not supported on this device.”
In the land of wearables and hands-free functionality being needed in cars, voice commands are becoming increasingly trendy (and important, and safe).
With all the proverbial hustle and bustle surrounding Android wearables and what you might be able to do with them, the concept of gaming on them has been a little ignored –most people seem focused on seeing notifications on the tiny screens or having their fitness goals tracked. One of the first real additions to the wrist-based gaming market is Flopsy Droid, described as an experimental game that is inspired by the popular Flappy Bird app.
The premise of the game is very simple: pilot your droid through a bunch of obstacles… the difficult part is trying to stop playing when technically you can never put it down (because it’s sitting there taunting you on your arm).
If you haven’t yet experienced the frustration and joy of playing Flappy Bird (or even if you have), and you have an Android Wear device paired with your smartphone, consider taking Flopsy Droid on a test flight for free now.
Collection Highlights: Around the World is the latest installment of our collection highlights series, where we deliver the inside scoop on hot titles from around the world that are now available or coming soon to OverDrive Marketplace.
This month, we take you on a global tour of new OverDrive content, stopping to visit our recently added publishers in places like Egypt, South Africa, the U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy, India, and Taiwan. We round out our short presentation with recommendations for some of the most highly anticipated July releases (now available for presale) and a tip about snagging great deals in OverDrive Marketplace. Enjoy!
Carrie Smith is a Technical Writer at OverDrive.
Building your own remote-controlled robot or car is a favourite activity for kids who are using a Pi to learn about programming and electronics.
But this is the first one we’ve encountered that interfaces with a remote control made of cheese.
We absolutely love MaKey MaKey here at Pi Towers: it’s a kit that enables you to use any conductive objects in place of keypresses or switches, and there is little more engaging when you’re a kid than being able to build inputs out of things you’re more used to eating for dinner. I think this setup is a considerable imaginative leap forward from the standard bananapiano. I am not knocking bananapianos. Bananapianos are great. But it’s the canonical MaKey MaKey project, and so many people stop there, when there’s a whole world of conductive objects out there; and a whole world of things to make them control.
Like cheese. And tiny cars.
This is the work of Conor O’Neill, who wanted to do some family electronics his kids would enjoy. You can read a great writeup of his project on his website, with all the code you’ll need, and thoughts on where he wants to take the project next.
We salute your greasy forefingers, Conor and kids.
One fun piece came out during the very-human live-action Quidditch World Cup, a game in which actual people run around a “pitch” with capes and brooms, reenacting the game from the world of Harry Potter. This real event has even become the stuff of pop culture, making its way into films and television, and Rowling delighted fans by writing commentary articles as though she was a sports reporter covering the event.
Today, Rowling will post a new piece to Pottermore in which she reunites Harry and his friends from Hogwarts as they convene to watch the 2014 Quidditich World Cup. All of the usual suspects are there, including their children, and tabloid reporter Rita Skeeter voices the article.
“The reappearance of the characters from the beloved Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, last seen together in the epilogue of the final book, will thrill fans worldwide, and offers a snapshot of the current lives of the former Hogwarts friends, as well as a tantalising glimpse into the next generation.
Longtime fans of Pottermore will be able to log in and read the articles, but new readers will need to establish a free Pottermore account.
Today’s winners include:
General Fiction: A Pledge of Silence by Flora Solomon, Southport, NC
Mystery/Thriller: The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley, Shaker Heights, OH
Romance: The Bluestocking and the Rake by Norma Darcy, Canterbury, Kent GB
Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror: The Mengele Effect by Chuck Grossart, Bellevue, NE
Young Adult Fiction: Seashell, Stork and Apple Tree by Carrie Anne Noble, Montoursville, PA
Four of these five winners will be awarded a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing and a $15,000 advance. Once a grand prize winner is selected, that author will receive a publishing contract and a $50,000 advance.
To reach this stage, panels of judges made selections based on a variety of factors depending on the point in the process. The initial eliminations were based on the all-important “pitch,” whereas later eliminations were decided by full reads from Publisher’s Weekly reviewers (participants who had advanced to that stage were provided with the PW review of their works). Final eliminations were made based on the decisions from a select panel of judges.
"In traditional publishing paths, writers can wait years before receiving feedback from a publisher on their work," said Terry Goodman, Editorial Lead for Lake Union Publishing and an ABNA panelist judge. "What I love about this contest is that the 10,000 entries stand shoulder-to-shoulder and are all considered for publication. We get to press fast forward and make an author's dream come true, helping these writers break through and find an audience. And Amazon customers play a role in giving a novelist a life-changing publishing deal."
The final judging will be at the hands of the most important people in the book industry: the readers. Readers are invited to vote starting today and continuing through the end of the voting period on July 18th. In order to vote (or for complete ABNA rules and information), visit Amazon.com/ABNA.
“Through VitalSource Bookshelf, we strive to provide the right accessibility features in e-textbooks that will enable people of all abilities to get the most out of an e-textbook experience and realize its full potential," said Rick Johnson, Vice President Product and Sales Engineering, Vital Source Technologies, Inc., in a press release. "We've been doing this for more than a decade, and we will continue to innovate and introduce new ways to enhance e-textbook accessibility."
One aspect to the company’s approach is the ongoing consultation with experts outside the company to help ensure that Vital Source content–which includes more than 500,000 titles from over 750 academic publishers–is meeting not only the standards put forth in legislation concerning access to education and learning for students with different needs, but also that it is creating a rich experience for these learners. It’s not enough to meet government standards; all students should be able to participate in similar learning experiences, regardless of impairment or obstacle.
“As a result of rigorous, ongoing accessibility testing of the various Bookshelf platforms, Tech For All, Inc. can attest that a real asset of the Vital Source approach is its strong commitment to deliver an accessible, rich eBook reading experience which students with disabilities, like their peers, can access from home, in the classroom, and in a mobile environment,” said Rick Bowes, Executive Consultant for Tech For All, Inc., a leading accessibility and universal design consulting firm.
As accessibility continues to be an issue that plagues students and educational institutions alike, tools like enhanced ebooks can offer solutions that still have yet to reach all educational settings.
Some of the key points of this year’s survey include:
* Ebook Sales power curve is steep, yet incremental improvements in sales rank can result in exponential sales increases
* Readers prefer longer books (this is the 3rd year in a row the data confirmed these findings)
* $2.99 and $3.99 appear to be the sweet spots when it comes to unit sales and earnings potential
* “Free” books still a valuable marketing tool, but not as strong as it used to be
* Preorders are a remarkable best practice for indie ebook authors, but most authors not yet taking advantage of the tool
Mark Coker, CEO and founder of Smashwords, explained two new data points in this year’s survey, gauging the impact of the new pre-order feature and the way series titles were impacted in all of Smashwords’ distribution channels.
“This year, we break new ground with more data, including survey questions that explore preorders and series, two categories of inquiry that weren’t possible in prior years. These latter two categories were enabled by Smashwords’ introduction of ebook preorder distribution in July, 2013 and our new Smashwords Series Manager feature which allows us to capture, analyze and share the performance of series books.”
One final interesting point was that the survey really tried to uncover what causes a book, author, or story collection to get that “viral” edge that has everyone talking and sharing. While even Coker states that there is no magic formula that will propel an author’s work to the top of the bestseller list, there are important factors that provide all the tools a book needs to get noticed.
The most intriguing information to come out of the survey was the finding that longer books sell better than their mid-sized or shorter counterparts, which can’t only be attributed to perceived value. With so many industry experts warning authors that they have to give their audiences compelling content that will keep them reading, it only seems logical that readers want to invest their time and attention–not just their money–in a book that will draw them in and remain entertaining.
Coker’s report on the survey findings and his slideshow presentation on the survey data can be found HERE.
One of the best aspects of going the digital route for your manga needs is the ability to keep them all, rather than throwing them away. Physical manga books are made to be read and then discarded, digital allows you to keep them basically forever. The main benefit of reading on your tablet is being able to buy the next issue immediately, rather than waiting until you hit your favorite newsstand. Today, we look at the Top 5 Best Manga reading apps.
Viz Manga - Viz is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to manga production. They have lots of really great retro stuff such as Random 1/2, Berzerk and Bleach. The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of 2,000 volumes across nearly 200 different series.
You can read manga in both portrait (where it appears as a single page) and landscape (where it appears as a two page spread) orientations. Portrait gives you a larger page, which is very nice, but landscape feels a bit more natural to me. They’re both quality ways to read manga, and it's easy to adjust your reading experience to your preferred orientation.
Viz's pricing is pretty good. It seems like it's divided up according to page count, with exceptions for certain titles. Most manga, such as the popular Shonen Jump or Shojo Beat titles, will run you $4.99. These books run in the neighborhood of two hundred pages, give or take a couple dozen pages. For $5.99, you can purchase longer works, from 200 to over 300 pages. This includes many of Viz's SIGIKKI books, several of which we've talked about before. These books tend to be aimed at a more mature audience than Naruto or other shonen titles.
Crunchyroll Manga – Crunchyroll is best known for their television and streaming manga video app. They have dedicated apps basically for every single platform out there, including Android, Apple and Xbox. Last year they launched their impressive Android Manga Reader app and the big selling point is it has new manga chapters the same day they are released in Japan.
Crunchyroll is different from almost all other manga services in one important respect: It is a streaming service. The user cannot download the manga. Given a choice between free streaming manga or download-to-own manga at a price, a substantial part of the manga audience has opted for the free service. There is no shortage of users that can use the service either, its available in almost 180 different countries.
So how does the app actually perform? Crunchyroll Manga comes with a sleek, minimalistic interface and responsive swiping and zooming-in gestures, which make the reading quick and enjoyable. Also, the content, itself, looks great on a good screen. The guide mode shows you mangas, panel by panel, allowing you to focus on the drawings and observe even the smallest details. This is a great feature that no other manga apps we know of have. There is also a huge number of free chapters are available for sampling, making it easy for you to discover interesting titles.
Manga Rock – Manga Rock is a brilliant app to read manga, not only has it one of the best reading UIs out there, but it's also extremely easy to get hold of manga as well. Manga Rock has already 2 millions users on iOS before it hit Android, coincidence? I don’t think so.
The Android app supports up to 7 languages (English, Italian, Vietnamese, German, French, Spanish and Chinese). There are several manga sources for each language (15 total) with over 100,000 titles. Select all the sources or the ones you like most. Manga Rock automatically lists all the manga according to your established filters. There are other filters though: you can sort by genres, status, alphabetical order or ranking. Likewise, Manga Rock allows you to search any manga by title or author, from its top search bar.
You can get manga in portrait and landscape reading mode, as well as left to right and right to left reading directions. As if that wasn’t enough, you can pinch for zooming in/out, adjust brightness and lock orientation and “favorite” manga to access them quickly and, most importantly, to receive notifications on new releases.
Comicrack – This is a great app to read comics on if you like to load in your own. It has tremendous support for CBZ, CBR, CB7, CBT, PDF, DJVU formats. ComicRack has one of the nicest-looking reading experiences while you’re in the book. On a tablet, it’s optimized to take advantage of every pixel available. It also supports pinch-to-zoom which makes navigating individual panels on small devices fairly easy. You can set bookmarks anywhere in any comic for future reference.
For the hardcore readers, ComicRack also includes color and brightness adjustments so you can tailor your device’s display to your preferred reading experience. The app also includes search functions to track down whatever you’re looking for in your huge library. Syncing with the app’s desktop counterpart pushes it up the last little bit in to the top spot. This app is best used with the companion Windows app, which lets you sync content right to your device from your home, which negates having to manually sideload it.
Manga Box - Manga Box will allow users to read the 12 most recent issues of manga for free, and the users can also read the first 100 pages of the first volume of each series at all times.
The titles include a mix of all-ages and more mature content (think more PG-13 than R, with mostly crude gestures, violence and some sexual content) and features a fairly rudimentary interface that lacks some of the bells and whistles of other comic readers. Those used to navigating Tumblr, Pinterest and other social media sites shouldn’t have much trouble reading through content or alternating between titles, though. Currently this app has the least amount of content, but has over ten million downloads within a year of launching.