Apple is a well known case study for controlled leaks to the public and workers in the supply chain trying to garner their fifteen minutes of fame by posting a picture of an upcoming iPhone CPU, Battery or rear shell. It really seems like we have a clear picture of the new iWatch, iPhone or iPad well before the September 9th product launch, but things are always mysterious with Amazon.
Amazon never leaks anything to the media and their PR department is outright hostile. When they do file patents, it is through shell companies, as to not give any indication on what they are planning to release. Their research and development division, LAB126 is a veritable fortress, with little being disclosed even to their families.
This year has been one of the biggest on record for Amazon, as they have expanded their hardware offerings into two different vertices; smartphones and television. The Fire TV and Fire Smartphone continue to sell well, but have been met with trepidation in the market due to the US exclusivity.
Yesterday, Amazon discontinued the $69 base model Kindle in the US and Canada. They have also been discounting the Kindle Paperwhite 2 by $20 to deplete existing stock. This is an indication that they have well begun the manufacturing process for the two new followup models. What can we expect from the next generation Kindle e-readers? Well the Paperwhite 3 will have a light sensor to automatically adjust the front-lit display to your environment. All other readers on the market have either a dedicated hardware button or software functionality to manually adjust it. Both of the new models will also have a different default font and include higher resolution. The new cheap Kindle will also scrap the D-Pad and adopt a new touchscreen.
Amazon is expected to release two new e-readers and three tablets in the next few weeks.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Consumers have been enjoying Amazon Fire TV in the US since the launch in April of this year, but now the device is also available to those waiting eagerly in the UK. Plugging the small Fire TV box into your HDTV allows for you to instantly enjoy access to services like: Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Demand 5, Spotify, Sky News, Curzon Home Cinema, YouTube, as well as low-cost video rentals (not to mention giving you the ability to share your photographs, music and games to anybody in view of the set).
Initial reviews of the Fire TV are positive, with most users ranking the device higher than Apple TV and Chromecast (particularly as it applies to speed and playback fluidity –helping you enjoy 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound). Even if you ignore that the price is right, there are plenty of reasons to choose the device, including: voice search functionality that actually works (just speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director or genre to get started watching your next favourite), hundreds of low-cost games (with titles like Minecraft and the Walking Dead) that can be played using the Amazon Fire Game Controller that is available separately, X-Ray for movies and television shows (telling you everything you wanted to know and more about the on-screen cast and crew), and seamless integration with Amazon’s Cloud Drive.
If you happen to be reading this from the UK and want to give Amazon Fire TV a try, now is the time –the hardware is available for the next four days at a bargain €49 directly from Amazon (with the price hiking up to €79 after this initial offer).
Amazon has always offered plenty of tools for authors to craft their own eBook, but kids books are a different story. In order to make Kindle Direct Publishing more relevant to children’s authors, Amazon has just unveiled a standalone program called Kindle Kids' Book Creator.
Kindle Kids' Book Creator is a free tool for authors and publishers to turn their illustrated children's books into great-looking Kindle books. Kindle Kids' Book Creator makes it easy for authors and publishers to import artwork, add text to pages, and preview how their book will look on Kindle devices.
With the click of a button, authors also can add Kindle Text Pop-Ups to make it easy to read their book on any device, including smart phones, tablets, and PCs. Authors then can publish to Kindle and share their story with tens of millions of Amazon customers worldwide.
Kindle Kids' Book Creator supports multiple layouts for children's books, including facing page spreads. Kindle Kids' Book Creator accepts the most popular graphic file types, so authors are free to create art in their preferred design tools. Authors can even import a book from a multi-page PDF, making it easier to ever to take a book originally created for print and turn it into a Kindle book. When you are ready to publish your book, simply go to Kindle Direct Publishing to upload your book.
Kindle Kids' Book Creator also makes it quick to preview how the content will look across Kindle devices. With an integrated preview feature, authors can validate that their books look beautiful on Kindle Fire tablets.
|Last week I posted a PDF review for the Onyx Boox M96, but that’s not all this Android-powered ereader is good for. Now I’ve got the main review for the Boox M96 finished, and it includes a 15 minute video walkthrough and several pictures. I plan to post some additional reviews and comparisons over the […]|
We love hearing ideas on how schools connect with their students, faculty and/or community to promote their digital library. Joyce Lynch, Library Information Teacher at The Middle School of Plainville (Connecticut), learned about a program called Read Right Run and decided to put one together during the 2014 – 2015 school year. While their digital library only plays a small role, this is a fantastic way to engage students in many aspects. The Read Right Run program encompasses three themes: reading, community, and health, and has four goals:
As it’s a marathon, participants pledge to read 26 books, run 26 miles, and do 26 right deeds in 26 weeks from October 1, 2014 – April 1, 2015. To ensure that students remain on track, they will check in with designated teachers every three weeks. During those sessions, students may participate in fun physical fitness activities led by local YMCA instructors.
Students may choose to read any kind of book that interests them. They may select print books, eBooks, or audiobooks, and that's where their digital library comes in handy. Students will be given a graphic organizer in a packet to keep track of their reading, mileage, and good deeds.
Every successful finisher will receive: a RRR tee shirt, designed by Leah Wachtelhausen (see photo), a string bag with a variety of “goodies” including a granola bar and bottle of water, and a medal, as well as a wonderful sense of accomplishment for completing a multi-faceted challenge. The Middle School of Plainville is fortunate to have a dedicated group of 14 faculty and administrators who have put in numerous hours to plan and organize such a huge event. MSP is also grateful to have the support of numerous local companies who have generously provided financial assistance:
Plainville Community Fund at Main Street Community Foundation, Healthy Plainville and the YMCA, Fleet Feet Sports, Gnazzo’s Food Center, Farmer Joe’s Gardens, the local McDonald’s and Staples.
Joyce found a way to incorporate their digital library as a piece of something much bigger and beneficial for their students, and we applaud her for putting this all together. We'd love to hear what initiatives you have for this school year, and let us know if there's any way we can help!
Beau Livengood is an Account Specialist at OverDrive.
|I was looking around at Amazon.com this morning because I have a feeling that something big is about to go down. New Kindles are likely to be announced soon, and I may have just stumbled across an indicator that hopefully means Amazon will be releasing a new basic Kindle this year. I noticed that Amazon […]|
Back in the mid-seventies, when I was even smaller and more adorable than I am today, my parents bought me a Fisher Price Chatter Telephone. I’m sure many of you had one too. Mine was called Bert. I loved him, chewed him, made imaginary phone calls on him, and pretended he was a pet dog. (With a rotary dial and a handset, natch.)
This year, I was surprised on visiting Lorna, our Trademark Compliance Elf, and her two small children, to discover that the Chatter Telephone is still manufactured, even though no child born in the 21st century recognises things with rotary dials and giant handsets as phones. (Phones are the little black slab things that we use to Skype with distant aunties, and they definitely don’t have wheels.)
Grant Gibson got his hands on a modern Chatter Telephone for his son, who didn’t seem particularly moved by it (probably because little black slab, Skype, etc.) So he decided to hack it into something a bit more interactive, and came up with this. A Chatter Smartphone.
The rotary dial provides the inputs, sound is output through the modern Chatter Telephone’s speakers (the vintage ones didn’t have speakers, but the modern ones play clips from Toy Story), and he’s added a servo motor to control the googly eyes. This particular Chatter Smartphone has been set up to deliver weather information, cinema listings, and more; as well as offering information on demand, it can issue alerts, so Grant’s family knows when he’s left the office and is on his way home, or if the ISS is passing overhead. If you make your own, Grant has provided code so you can adapt yours to your own needs.
You’ll find comprehensive build instructions, along with all the electronics help and code you’ll need, at Grant’s blog. Thanks Grant – we love it!
The Frankfurt Book Fair continues to be the largest European booksellers convention. This year, the emphasis will be on digital as Samsung has become the innovation partner and will lead a keynote speech, entitled “Getting Beyond the Book – Creating a New Digital Reading Experience With Innovative Mobile Technology."
Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, said the publishing industry, as a key content provider, could financially benefit from the mobile collaboration. "As Samsung continues to embrace new forms of storytelling and evolve the reading experience of millions of users, we think that the publishing industry can profit from this collaboration in many ways," he said. "At the same time, we also know that the book trade has a lot to offer the mobile technology sector, especially as an important content provider. As the world's biggest book fair, we think we are well-placed to open many important doors to the key movers and shakers in the content industry and help facilitate some exciting business conversations going forward."
Samsung has embraced digital content since the advent of the first generation Galaxy Tablet. The Readers Hub was very important to the growth of the companies smartphone and tablet series. Early on, it allowed users to buy eBooks, magazines and newspapers. Samsung eventually went their own route and started to sell eBooks directly, phasing out Kobo and PressReader. Earlier in the year, Samsung announced it was abandoning the Readers Hub and launching a special Kindle edition, where users would get free eBooks every month.
Samsung is still betting big digital publishing, but not in the conventional sense. They intend on showing off all of their latest generation hardware and trying to showcase the relationship they established with Barnes and Noble, for the Samsung Galaxy Tab for Nook.
The Samsung keynote will take place Tuesday October 7th at cConte, which is the precursor event leading up to the Frankfurt Book Fair.
First thing tomorrow morning, September 3, Samsung will unveil their Galaxy Note 4 (their flagship 5.7″ behemoth smartphone). Microsoft is set to discuss the Lumia 730 smartphone on September 4. The following day on September 5, Motorola will give us all the details on their Moto 360 smartwatch as well as the successors to the Moto X and G. Not long afterward, Apple will launch the iPhone 6 on September 9. Not to be forgotten, BlackBerry has announced that they will host a major event on September 24.
The only company brave (or stupid) enough to follow Apple.
With the announcement that the BlackBerry event will help us to “see the bigger picture,” it is expected that their new Passport device will be properly launched (with an expected 4.5-inch square display with a resolution of 1,440×1,440 pixels). While it may seem like a ridiculous form-factor to many consumers shopping for a new smartphone, be sure to consider that most of their clients are using them in a business setting where a larger and wider screen could be put to good use. The Passport is also expected to come with a new style of keyboard that promises to be “responsive to touch, so you have more ways to control your smartphone without having to use the touchscreen.”
Even if you aren’t quite sold, it has to peak your curiosity.
One thing worth considering, is that no matter the dates of these announcements –it all comes down to two questions: what day will they ship? will there be enough hardware available in a timely manner to adequately meet the demands of the consumers?
We’ve seen all manner of Android wearables, though almost all of them pretty much look like watches. Sure there are a few you can wear around your neck, but MOTO is offering you an alternative device in the form of a ring. The MOTA SmartRing claims that it will provide mobile app notifications directly on your… finger.
Announcing the SmartRing, MOTA describes the alerts that can be configured to work with their device:
In addition to working with Android devices, the SmartRing will also have an iPhone app that allows the device to pair with iOS devices as well. Whether you’d like alerts for text messages, calls, or calendar events, this may be an attractive alternative to the wearables competition.
Of course, we have no idea how much this SmartRing will cost (or how it will be sized –those of us women with small fingers may find it entirely too bulky, not to mention it doesn’t look terribly forgiving in case adjustments are required). The timing of this announcement is not likely a coincidence –with Apple’s big event happening next week, I suspect we will see more than a few ‘first to market’ style launches as manufacturers try not to be seen as a copycat of whatever is coming our way.
In case you weren’t convinced that Firefox was a good alternative browser to use on your Android device, a new version has introduced a number of new features that make it even more competitive. The latest update lets you switch quickly between the browser’s 55 supported languages as well as being even easier to clear the app’s browsing history.
Being able to quickly switch between different languages may seem trivial to most of you, but in many areas of the world where multiple languages are used regularly, this is significant. This comes in addition to even more languages now being supported, including: enian, Basque, Fulah, Icelandic, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh.
Equally exciting news bundled in this new version is the ability to customize your home screens. Mozilla describes this update by noting, “We have created home screen pages that allow you to access content directly from a variety of websites, feeds and services, such as Instagram, Pocket, Vimeo and Wikipedia.”
The last major change now available is the addition of Firefox Sync, allowing users to align their saved passwords across different versions of the browser.
If you haven’t given Firefox for Android a try, download it for free now.