Amazon describes their new Echo device as a speaker, but fans of Iron Man will understand when I describe it to be a lot more like J.A.R.V.I.S.! Designed around the sound of your voice, the Echo is always on and ready to respond to your every command –beginning with the wake-word ‘Alexa’. Sure it also plays music (from local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn), but all the while it is ready to answer questions like: “Will it rain tomorrow?” or “How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?” (plus being eager to deliver the news, forecast the weather, set alarms and timers, and help manage your shopping lists).
The accuracy remains to be seen (or experienced), but Amazon claims the Echo can hear you from quite a distance (thanks to a circular array of seven microphones that use ‘beam-forming technology’ that will hear you from any direction).
The Echo also has its head (brain) in the cloud, running with help from Amazon Web Services. What this means for consumers is an ever-expanding database of knowledge with the Echo learning as you use it, adjusting itself to your speech patterns and vocabulary.
Using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and controlled by a companion mobile app (even when you are away from home), Amazon has packed a lot of features into a small package measuring about 9.25 inches high and 3.27 inches wide.
Amazon Echo is currently available by invitation only for $199 USD, though membership really does have its privileges –those subscribed to Prime can grab one for only $99 USD.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
There is no denying that there are more smartphones in the world than tablets and dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle. It is also important to note that the overall reading population in the US is massive. The books market, in terms of total books sold worldwide, is bigger than both movies and music. In a recent interview with Willem Van Lancker, the creative co-founder of eBook subscription service Oyster he said that future of books is not your tablet or e-reader, but your smartphone. This is quite the bombshell, but is it due to availability bias?
Availability bias is a human cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the probability of events associated with memorable or vivid occurrences. Because memorable events are further magnified by coverage in the media, the bias is compounded on the societal level. You only have to look at the blitz media coverage of any phone issued by Apple to see the societal impact and lifestyle psychology.Very rarely do you see the same type of effect on a new e-reader or tablet.
There are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2014, according to estimates The International Telecommunication Union. This is equivalent to 95.5% of the world population. Tablet sales so far in 2014 have only accounted for 270.7 million units.
Every major report by statistical organizations all proclaim that people are reading more on their smartphones than any other device. This is primarily due to it always being in our pocket and easily accessible. The devices also are heavily subsidized with phone carriers often giving you free upgrades every few years, whereas e-readers and tablets do not enjoy the same type of upgrade cycle, you basically have to pay full price.
Some people see phones as gateways to dedicated e-readers and tablets. Once you become immersed and maintain a habit of reading on a daily basis, making the switch to an e-reader or tablet makes you a more valuable consumer that is more likely to spend more money on eBooks.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Oyster, and Scribd all report that its their Android and iOS apps that get the most traction and they are all primarily optimized for smartphones. These companies realize that that is that their audience are using the most to buy and read digital books or fan-fiction.
What device is everyone using to read on a daily basis? Is it the quintessential smartphone? Are you using it primarily because its the one device always with you? Is there something to the availability bias argument? Weigh in on the comment section below.
Major publishers have finally warmed up to the entire notion of unlimited reading for a low monthly price. This has allowed Scribd, Oyster and Entitle to formulate solid businesses to cater to the needs of voracious readers. Audiobooks on the other hand have been a hard nut to crack, until now there has been little support for the concept of Netlflix for audiobooks.
Scribd has just unveiled an ambitious enhancement to their eBook subscription platform by including 30,000 audiobooks. Users do not have to pay any extra fees or hidden costs, if you have a subscription with them, you can listen to as many audio editions as you desire.
There are a number of notable audio titles at launch, including the Hunger Games, Ocean at the end of the Lane, The Spy who loved me, Brave New World and tons of other great content.
Right now Scribd charges $8.99 a month and is only available in the US. They are mainly focused on Android development with apps on Good e-Reader, Barnes and Noble, Google and Amazon. The company has promised a solid iOS app by the end of the year.
Unlimited Audiobook Subscriptions have Finally Arrived is a post from: Good e-Reader
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We have an incredibly strong list of titles you won't want to miss this month, and we're going to break them into three carts to make it a little easier. The titles below are what we believe will be the ones you do not want to miss. They're either sure bestsellers, prize winners, notable books, books with a lot of buzz, known authors with a holiday title, or something already selling well.
Don't miss the other two carts coming this week: More November Fiction and More November Nonfiction.
The Usual Suspects: No Introduction Needed:
Donna Andrews – The Nightingale Before Christmas – Penguin eBook
Karen Armstrong – Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence – Random House eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by the author – Kirkus, Booklist, LJ and PW stars!
Don't miss the other two carts coming soon: More November Fiction and More November Nonfiction.
*Geographical rights may vary by title
Ferran Fabregas worked out a couple of months ago how to render .jpg images in the Minecraft world using Minecraft Pi Edition. Our logo seemed an obvious place to start.
And Ferran has just made that good idea an absolutely fantastic idea, by adapting it to render images captured in real time from a Pi Camera.
Here’s his face, in all its pixellated, Minecrafty glory.
This is a really, really simple project to replicate at home – all the code you’ll need is on Ferran’s website, so if you’ve got a Raspberry Pi camera, you’re ready to go. Links to screenshots of your own in the comments below, please!