Thursday, January 15, 2015

Get Android Lollipop Look and Feel Ahead of Actual Update


Have you been waiting (not so) patiently while it seems like everybody around you gets to play with Android Lollipop before your device delivers the operating system update? Google seems to understand that it is hard to wait, proving an update to the Google Now Launcher that will make it seem like you’re ready to rock with Android 5.0.

Google Now Launcher and the Google Search app now feature the beautiful new Material Design styling –instead of the way it used to work, where they tailored themselves to whatever version of Android your device was running.

All in all, functionality is about the same as it was before… but you will see the Google Search bar sport a fresh white colour and entertaining animations at the top of the launcher. Google Now has added a slide-in panel on the left side of the screen that allows you to switch between accounts, set reminders, and update your corresponding settings.

Think of it as a bit of a cheat (or at least a preview), and enjoy!

Get Android Lollipop Look and Feel Ahead of Actual Update is a post from: Good e-Reader

Apple Gives Silent Axe to Single of the Week Promotion


Even though it seemed to be a popular program, Apple has killed their decade-old “Single of the Week” promotion (having first launched in 2004). One of the longest-running marketing campaigns in Apple history, delivery of a free music track every week was designed to bring users to the iTunes store while offering attention to up-and-coming and lesser-known artists. Unfortunately for those of us who enjoying taking advantage of these free tracks, the give-aways stopped when the clock struck 2015.

A lot is happening in the Apple music world, with the addition of music industry experts like Jimmy Loving and Dr. Dre to their team. Without official statements and announcements to turn to, suppositions and rumours suggest Apple is preparing for a transition away from traditional downloads toward a subscription-based streaming option (much like the highly successful Spotify service).

Silence from Apple on this matter seems strange –why not just tell people the promotion is ending? It makes me wonder if there was supposed to be a new product launch before this 2015 deadline… but things were delayed, and the wheels were already in motion to stop things? No matter the truth, we should know more soon.

Apple Gives Silent Axe to Single of the Week Promotion is a post from: Good e-Reader

Apple Game of the Year Monument Valley Shares Secrets to Success


There are plenty of successful mobile apps (games especially) –the measure of which is usually calculated by the dollars earned either up-front or from in-app purchases. According to Apple, Monument Valley has earned every bit of their success (enjoying their Game of the Year status while also boasting an Apple Design Award). The developers behind the game at Ustwo are happy to give back: giving an inside look toward what it takes to develop a popular mobile game.

While Monument Valley rests in the popular puzzle game genre, it takes more than challenging mazes and striking artwork to dominate and stand out amongst the competition. There are a lot of details to review and consider, but a few highlights to consider include:

  • Official sales numbers place iOS in the lead with over 1.7M users paying to play. Android lags considerably behind, with less than 1M across multiple app stores. While the reasons for this disconnect are difficult to speculate on, it may be due to better marketing efforts or search functionality within each app store –or it may represent a user base more willing and ready to pay for apps.
  • To date (since launch day on April 3, 2014), total revenue for the Forgotten Shores franchise is nearing $6M, with 81.7% of that figure credited to iOS.
  • Official sales by country show clearly that the USA is the dominant user base for an app of this type, with 38% of sales coming from that region. China, UK, Germany, Japan, and Canada run nearly tied for second place in the 4-5% range.
  • Development costs for the original game came in at $852,000 over 55 weeks, while the second piece in Forgotten Shores was an additional 29 weeks and $549,000. There are 8 core team members (based in London), but other resources were added as required and contributed to those totals.
  • A remarkable 50% of players who started the game, completed it. When you consider how much competition there is out there for mobile entertainment attention, this is an impressive statistic.

So what does it all mean? Reading between the lines, one thing is clear: successful apps require an investment into their development.

If you have an iOS device, you can give Monument Valley a try for under $5. If you prefer to play on Android, download Monument Valley for $4 now.

The release trailer for Monument Valley has been out for some time now, but it is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it (linked below).

Apple Game of the Year Monument Valley Shares Secrets to Success is a post from: Good e-Reader

Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint Previews Hit Good e-Reader App Store


Microsoft has unveiled three new apps for large screen Android tablets that is a cause for celebration. They have created native apps of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it is basically Microsoft Office in your pocket.

These 3 apps are in preview mode, which means you have join their official Google+ community to get a free key from Microsoft.  Google Play does offer the apps right now, but restrict the downloads to only residents of the US and users who only have certain tablets. Good e-Reader is making available not only the necessary Android files, but also the large data files (OBB). Once you download our free client, the data files automatically install and you can begin using the app.

In early 2015 Microsoft said that they do a broad release to the public and offer two different versions, a basic and one that requires a 365 subscription — just like Office for iPad does. There is a ton of advanced features already available, such as cross platform document editing, creation and syncing with Onedrive. If you are in the creation business and are heavily invested in Android, check these apps out today.

Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint Previews Hit Good e-Reader App Store is a post from: Good e-Reader

HP Steam 7 Review


The HP Stream 7 is one of the first of a new breed of seven inch tablets that have a full version of Windows and at $99 price point. Combined with Bluetooth and expandable storage via SD, you can really turn this into a fully featured laptop. Is this worth it to spend? It depends, you won’t be able to run any graphically intensive games, but would make simple stuff from Steam play well. You also could run a ton of emulated content, use it as an e-book reader or just watch videos.



The HP Stream 7, is seeking to make Windows 8.1 relevant in a seven inch frame. The resolution is 1280 x 800, and underneath the hood is an Intel Atom Z3735G with Intel HD Graphics (1.8 GHz, 2 MB cache, 4 cores), 1 GB RAM and 32GB of storage. Of course, this device has WIFI, Bluetooth, a Micro USB and Micro SD support to enhance the memory further. You can also listen to music with the 3.55 mm headphone jack or the single speaker.

I know lots of people that are buying this tablet and hooking up a Bluetooth keyboard or buying a Beats Pill portable speaker and using it to bring to the beach or use it as a portable entertainment device.

This tablet does not feel very high end has simple shell, sort of like a lower overall build quality than Acer employs on their current generation of mobile devices. It also cannot be charged while be hooked up to your PC via the USB cable, you definitely need to use the wall charger that comes with it.

To be honest, this tablet is the best $99 you can spend. Walmart, Best Buy, Future Shop and a number of electronics stores all have cheap and cheerful tablets. They are often underpowered and running Google Android, they feel like Chinese tablets that sell, only because they are so damn inexpensive. If you would put the HP Stream 7, head to head with any of the cheapo stuff you would find at a big box retailer, it would slay it completely.



The HP Stream 7 comes with Windows 8.1 and Microsoft sells it without any bloatware installed on it. This means, you will conserve precious memory by not having a ton of HP branded apps everywhere. I think the only app by HP it had, was a cloud printing one that hooks up to most WIFI enabled printers.

This tablet runs all of the mainstream apps you would find in the official Microsoft RT store, many of the top apps you would find on Android or iOS have all been ported. You will also be able to use this as a solid e-reader, since Amazon, Kobo, Comixology and a myriad of others all have the ability to buy and read content.

What makes this tablet truly exceptional is the ability to run traditional legacy Windows apps. Want to download and install Steam to play your backlog of content? You can do it. Need to install Firefox, Chrome, and your favorite internet browsing plugins, sure, no worries. Do you find yourself needing to use Photoshop and use the tablet to draw on via a stylus? This does that too, but a stylus does not ship with it, so you need to buy one extra. Finally, it will run the full version of Microsoft Office so you can bring your work with you, on the go.

This tablet is not brimming with super high specs, so you likely won’t play any of the cutting edge games. It struggled with Star Craft 2 and Day Z. The New SIM City actually played fairly well, but anything made in the last few years that has shaders and runs in 3D might not be ideal.

I would say the Stream 7 does well if you want to install the Native Windows Apps, there are all small in size and take up little to no memory. If you need legacy apps, I would install traditional productivity, business and art related stuff. If you need to game, try for more 2D experience or download some emulators. Oh, Hot Line Miami worked very well!

Wrap Up

Microsoft is trying to compete more in the tablet and smartphone space by either eliminating or severely discounting the licensing fees to use their OS. In effect, they are trying to pull a Google by not making money from their software, in a bid to gain market share.

The HP 7 I think is the best tablet to really come to market using this new license strategy and the customer ends up with a solid device for a paltry $99. I would NEVER pay this amount of money for an Android tablet, because at Good e-Reader we have reviewed a ton, and they all sucked. This is the first cheap Windows tablet that is totally amazing.


Cheap as hell
Bluetooth and SD support
Audio Quality is solid
Runs Native and Legacy Windows Apps


Needs Wall charger
Does not come with a Stylus
Build Quality feels cheap

Rating: 9/10

HP Steam 7 Review is a post from: Good e-Reader

Apple says One Million New iBooks Users Signing Up Per Week


When iOS 8 came out last year one of the many enhancements and changes included making iBooks becoming preloaded on all existing and new Apple devices. In the past, it was a recommended download from the App Store, and was able to be uninstalled. Now, it is impossible to uninstall the e-Book service and it seems to be paying off big, Apple has claimed over one million new users are signing up with iBooks every single week.

Apple Director of iBooks Keith Moerer, who spoke today at the Digital Book World Conference said that the increase in new user signups is not exclusively due to the larger screen iPad and iPad Mini.   iBooks consumption on phones is also on the rise since the launch of the larger-screened iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. “We are seeing more of our book sales starting to come from the phone,” he told the audience at the conference. Moerer also highlighted the company’s commitment to establishing relationships with creative professionals, including authors, and noted that indie publishing is one of iBooks’ “biggest growth areas.” Foreign publishing is also expanding, with Spanish-language publishing becoming a larger part of Apple’s business in the United States and Japan seeing a lot of growth.

Moerer also boasted that Apple charges the same split, taking a 30 percent cut of all sales, whether a book is published by a major company, or if it is self-published by a smaller author. He said this helps Apple to support the creative professionals who frequently use its hardware and software.

“We view what we do as an expansion of our support of print professionals on the hardware and software side and the way we run our other media business,” he said.

Many users are disappointed with the bundling of iBooks on their devices and have been known to refer to the platform as 1st party bloatware.  Others see no point of doing business with Apple, because other than their Mac-based iBooks app, there is no way to read purchased content on other smartphones. If you decide to purchase an Android, Blackberry or Windows phone, you are simply out of luck with reading anything you buy on iBooks. Most other retails like Amazon or Kobo have apps for every operating system in the world and make their own hardware. This is normally why these two companies see more revenue generated by e-Books than Apple.

Apple says One Million New iBooks Users Signing Up Per Week is a post from: Good e-Reader

New Anime Distributor Launches in the UK


In early November 2014, it was announced that Jerome Mazandarani and long time colleague and friend Andrew Hewson would be leaving Manga Entertainment UK to establish their own company. The new project was in stealth mode for quite awhile, but news has just broke out that the new endeavor is called Animatsu.

Animatsu Entertainment Ltd, is a distribution and production company and will primarily be focusing it’s works towards Japanese anime films and TV series. They recently closed a UK licence deal with Sentai Filmworks to bring eight new animes to the UK, titles include; Blade And Soul, Comic Artist and His Assistants and Coffin Princess. Not only will they be distributing some well known series, but will also be developing original content.

On March 16th 2015, the very first title to be released is Halo: Nightfall the sequel to last year’s Halo: Forward Unto Dawn. This same series was also released for the Xbox one with the launch of the inclusive Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The film will be a joint collaboration between Animatsu and Anchor Bay Entertainment. All of which will be released on digital, DVD and Bluray.

Manga Entertainment has also agreed to go forward with an exclusive sales and marketing partnership with Animatsu, in which they will be providing key back end services which include sales and distribution, while the new company will take on marketing and brand managements for both companies.

Andrew Hewson says "We can't exist without anime fans and in an age where there's so much content readily available on so many different platforms, we have to cut through all of that and justify why people should invest in one of our titles. We'll be handpicking and curating a collection that we hope fans will be proud to own." We know you guys will bring a lot out for us and we look forward to it’s first launch along with further upcoming titles.

New Anime Distributor Launches in the UK is a post from: Good e-Reader

PaperLike: 13.3″ E Ink Monitor by Dasung Tech (Videos)

One of the coolest new E Ink contraptions to be shown off at CES 2015 was a 13.3″ E Ink monitor that connects with computers and laptops via a USB cable to provide a secondary display. The device is called the PaperLike and it’s being made by one of E Ink’s partners in China by […]

Staff resources to kick off the new year

For many of our partners, January brings a parade of new device owners walking into library branches needing help getting started with eBooks. Feeling overwhelmed? Here are some tips:

The importance of staff training
If you have new hires or if any staff members need a refresher about OverDrive, our partners have 24/7 access to the Learning Center in the Partner Portal. In the Learning Center, you can watch webinar recordings that help to educate staff about the digital library website, the user experience, and behind-the-scenes tools like ordering in OverDrive Marketplace and running reports. Don't have time to watch a webinar? Check out our recent blog post, OverDrive's 10 most frequently asked questions, for a quick list of popular questions and answers that every public-facing staff member should know.

During the OverDrive Challenge in June, we found that some of the highest circulating libraries attributed their success to staff involvement. Athina Mavromataki from Monash Public Library Service in Australia said, "The campaign demonstrated what a difference staff awareness of (and confidence with) the collection makes to circulation figures."

sdltips1"Ask me about eBooks"
Become a walking billboard and spark conversation about your digital collection with "Ask me about eBooks" and "You have devices, we have eBooks" buttons, t-shirts or signs. You can find templates for these designs in the Partner Portal and some recommended printing resources here.

Help us help you
For users who need help getting started, we encourage you to explore the following resources:

  • Help videos are easy to share and a wonderful way to visually show the process.
  • Help articles provide assistance for a wide scope of questions and issues. This is useful for staff members to reference and also as a site to share with users that need assistance.
  • Printable Getting Started Guides (including device-specific guides) are excellent to have on hand at the library.
  • Just the Basics Template is a PowerPoint slideshow that covers the basic how-to information and can easily be modified to suit your needs for training classes or demonstrations. (The Getting Started Guides and PowerPoint templates are found at the bottom of the page, in the Resources section of the Learning Center).

Additional support
If you need general technical or invoicing support, you can contact OverDrive Support using the support forms in OverDrive Marketplace. Worried about the influx of patron questions coming in to your library? You may want to sign up for Front Line Tech Support as a way to put your end users in direct contact with OverDrive Support.


Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.

Closer Look at Dual Screen Yotaphone 2 (Videos)

The Yotaphone 2 is an Android-powered smartphone that has a 5-inch color screen on the front and a 4.7-inch monochrome E Ink screen on the back. What’s cool about this second generation model is that you can use the E Ink screen for just about everything, unlike the first Yotaphone that could only use the […]

FarFaria Combats Drop in Children’s Reading

Scholastic recently released the results of one of its many annual surveys, this one aimed at understanding the reading habits of kids across different age groups. The news was upsetting: there was a significant decrease in the amount of time kids spend reading self-selected texts for fun. The good news, though, is there was a correlation between the amount of time parents spend reading aloud to their children–something the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends parents do from birth, even before the development of oral language comprehension–and the amount of independent pleasure reading that kids choose.

In light of this important finding, children’s ebook service FarFaria has announced some good news of its own: the amount of time that kids spend interacting with their “read to me” feature, and the numbers of titles that kids are reading through the platform each day, are on the rise. Ajay Godhwani, CEO and co-founder of FarFaria, spoke to Good e-Reader about this increase, and what it can mean for developing a lifelong habit of reading for enjoyment.

“We start for a very a young reader. Preschool readers can learn sight words and be introduced to reading in FarFaria, but they can go well above that. We cover books up to age fourth grade, and with the read aloud feature, these kids can beyond their ability and be introduced to a higher level vocabulary.”

One of the aspects of the Scholastic study that demonstrates the need for read aloud time is the ability to convey higher order vocabulary words with proper pronunciation. This alleviates the “skipping over” hard words that can lead to comprehension deficits, which can then lead to readers abandoning the process for something less arduous.

“The study shows that children with access to broader spoken vocabulary in their environments learn a broader vocabulary themselves. We’re excited that FarFaria is a part of that.”

The company has tracked the usage of its ebook platform and knows that 70% of users engage with the optional read aloud feature, meaning young readers have access to that important oral vocabulary, but what was even more interesting is the numbers of adult respondents who say they use the read aloud feature even with their children. Rather than treating the ebooks and tablet as a built-in “babysitter” to do the reading for them, parents are curling up with their kids and taking advantage of the professionally recorded voices and sounds within the stories, as well as the light-up feature that highlights sight words as the voice reads.

FarFaria works within two distinct models; the first is an all-you-can eat subscription model for a low monthly fee, but the free model allows access to one title per day per user account. Even without the cost associated with the model, FarFaria is providing the same engaging content with the same educational features, regardless of ability to subscribe. Within this context, studies have shown that young readers on average who enjoy reading for fun read an average of five and a half books per month, but FarFaria’s numbers show their users read an average of nine and a half books per month, regardless of pricing model.

“Even when Mom and Dad are there, the read to me feature is still engaged. They’re using FarFaria as part of the daily routine, getting the daily habit of reading going. The child likes the way our voices read and the fun voices they put on, and Mom and Dad prefer it to reading themselves. It’s fun, and that’s what it’s all about, making reading fun.”

FarFaria Combats Drop in Children’s Reading is a post from: Good e-Reader

Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend 28 Feb – 1 March 2015

Raspberry Pi turns three (three!) next month and we would love you to come to our birthday party!

lego invite

The party is so huge and packed full of stuff that we couldn't fit it into one day so we'll be taking over the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory on Saturday 28th February and Sunday 1st March for the Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend. It's going to be a buzzing behemoth benchmark of a birthday bash. Blimey!

There will be captivating talks, animated hands-on workshops, informative show and tell sessions and chatty panel discussions. There will be a marketplace to buy the latest Raspberry Pi add-ons and other cool stuff. There will be competitions, prizes and goodies galore and a chance to chat with the Raspberry Pi team over a nice cup of tea. There will be gardens bright with sinuous rills and little, fez-wearing monkeys riding unicycles. You really don't want to miss it.

uncle buck pancakes

This is *exactly* what it will be like. But with fewer pancakes.

Each day will be different so feel free to come to both. As well as two days of all things Pi there will be an actual fill-yer-cakehole party from 4.30pm to 7.30pm on Saturday evening with food and drink (including a surprise birthday beverage).

So whether you're a seasoned Pi person, whether you got a Pi for Christmas and would like to learn more or whether you're just wondering what it's all about then come along—we'd love to meet you. The Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend is going to be a joyous celebration of creativity, technology and community so get your tickets now! Tickets are a scandalously reasonable £2.50 and entry is free for under 16s.

Get involved!

The party will be a celebration of all things Raspberry Pi which of course includes the amazing Raspberry Pi community. We’d like you to get involved and we are looking for people to:

  • give talks about Pi-related stuff;
  • run workshops or help run one;
  • take part in show-and-tell especially if you have interactive stuff or crazy inventions;
  • help run the day by spending a couple of hours as a marshal.

If you’d like to do any of these things (or have any other suggestions) then please get in touch. And if you’ve not done anything like this before then this is the perfect opportunity to help out, delight and inform us or just show off :) The party is being organised for us by Tim Richardson and Michael Horne—who are responsible for the excellent CamJams—so drop them a line and get involved!

We'll also be running the Pi Wars obstacle course as first seen in the December CamJam so bring your robot along if you think it's hard enough.

We’ll have a birthday webpage up shortly where we will post updated details of speakers, workshops and activities. If you don't want to register yet but would like to be kept informed then sign up for the mailing list.

See you there!