Project Wing is Google X’s attempt at a drone-based delivery program

Earlier this year, Amazon unveiled its plans for using drones to deliver products to customers, and now Google has revealed that it is working on something similar. According to two separate reports from The Atlantic and BBC, the secretive Google X team has been hard at work on Project Wing, a drone-based delivery system, for more than two years.

The idea of Google using drones to deliver goods is something that 9to5Google has reported on for some time now, including as far back as October of 2012, and again a few months later. Google said the following in a statement regarding Project Wing:

Project Wing is a Google[x] project that is developing a delivery system that uses self-flying vehicles. As part of our research, we built a vehicle and traveled to Queensland, Australia for some test flights. There, we successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to a couple of Australian farmers.

We’re only just beginning to develop the technology to make a safe delivery system possible, but we think that there’s tremendous potential to transport goods more quickly, safely and efficiently.

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Microsoft, Amazon, others reportedly eyeing Cyanogen for future smartphone software

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CyanogenMod—which is probably the most well-known fork of Android—lets users customize their phone beyond what Google intends, and touts having as many as 12 million active installs across a variety of devices. But the company behind the famed alternative operating system is reportedly getting a lot of attention, notably from companies that would consider themselves some of Google’s biggest rivals.

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Estimates say the Fire Phone hasn’t passed 35,000 units sold

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According to numbers crunched by The Guardian‘s Charles Arthur and based on data from Chitika and comScore, it appears as if the Amazon Fire Phone isn’t exactly setting hardly anything on fire. In fact, if this report is to be believed, Amazon hasn’t sold more than 35,000 total Fire Phone units since the much-hyped unveiling of the device in June.

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Move over Google! Amazon reportedly close to acquiring Twitch (update)

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Almost a month ago, it seemed like Google’s reported $1 billion acquisition of the video game streaming website  Twitch was a done deal. However, according to The Information, Amazon is in “late-stage” negotiations to purchase the company instead. The financial terms of this rumored deal have not been disclosed, so it’s unknown what would cause talks between Mountain View and Twitch to fall apart.

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Amazon takes on Square and PayPal Here with $10 smartphone cardreader & lower fees

Small businesses looking to take occasional card payments without paying monthly fees now have a third option as Amazon has launched Local Register to compete with Square and PayPal Here – as we predicted last month over on 9to5Mac. The $10 card-reader is currently only compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 and S5, along with the Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets, but more devices are expected to be added.

Amazon is undercutting both competitor services with a flat fee of 2.5 percent per transaction (vs 2.7 percent for PayPal Here and 2.75 percent for Square). Not enough? Amazon is sweetening the deal with a special introductory rate of 1.75 percent until the end of 2015, and will also credit the $10 cost of the cardreader in full against transaction fees …  Read more

Amazon’s back to school sale takes $20 or more off select Chromebooks and Chromeboxes

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Chromebooks are already making waves with educators and school districts and of course retailers are no exception. Amazon is currently running a back to school promotion that knocks $20 or more off the regular asking price of select Chromebooks. This brings some device’s like the Acer C720P Chromebook to an all time low. Other machines like the HP Chromebook 11, which features an Exynos 5 processor, 2GB of RAM and an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display are available for $200.

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Watch out Amazon: Google partners with Barnes & Noble in same-day book delivery service

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There will be some nervous faces in Amazon’s headquarters as Google today partners with rival booksellers Barnes & Noble to extend the Google Shopping Express service to books, reveals the New York Times.

Starting on Thursday, book buyers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to get same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shopping Express, Google’s fledgling online shopping and delivery service …

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Amazon is giving away over $100 worth of Android apps for free

From 9to5Toys.com:

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Amazon has just kicked off a 2-day Android App sale that includes 30 different apps for free. These “essential” apps cover a range of categories including games, utilities, travel, finance, fitness and more. This sale is a great way to pad your app library without spending a dime.

Before you get started, make sure you have the Amazon Appstore for Android installed on your smartphone or tablet.

Here’s our top picks:

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Amazon Fire Phone teardown analysis reveals how dynamic perspective killed the phone

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The reason Amazon’s Fire Phone has failed to impress is that it spent so much on the “gimmick” of dynamic perspective that it only had enough cash left to build an otherwise mediocre phone – the conclusion of a component analysis of a teardown of the phone.

Dynamic perspective allows the phone to detect and respond to head movements when viewing the phone’s display, but has been widely seen by reviewers as a novelty or gimmick.

Following iFixit’s earlier teardown of the Fire Phone, re/code has been given sight of a component costing following a separate teardown by research form IHS. This reveals that the total component cost of the Fire Phone is around $205 – more expensive even than Apple’s flagship iPhone 5S. The cost of the dynamic perspective technology left little room for anything but mid-range specs in the rest of the handset, says IHS …  Read more

iFixit teardown gives us our first look inside the Amazon Fire Phone, rates it low on repairability

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iFixit has added to the poor reception given to Amazon’s first ever smartphone, the Fire Phone, by rating it 3/10 for repairability. Even Amazon didn’t seem to have great confidence in the technology, its first ad focusing instead on the free 1-year Amazon Prime subscription you get with the phone.

Despite external, non-proprietary screws and no adhesive holding the casing together, iFixit found that simply removing the battery proved challenging, requiring a mix of heating and prying. After that, says the company, things only got worse …  Read more

Amazon’s unlimited ebook and audiobook subscription service finally goes live in the U.S., try it free

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Amazon’s worst kept secret, an all-you-can-read Kindle eBook service, is now live. Dubbed Kindle Unlimited, this $10 per month subscription service grants its members unlimited access to over 600,000 ebooks and thousands of audiobooks. Highlights of the library include:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Water for Elephants, Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People… plus thousands of classics such as Animal Farm, To the Lighthouse and 2001: A Space Odyssey…

Kindle Unlimited members will also get free access to Audible’s library of over 150,000 audiobooks for 3-months. After which, you’ll presumably need to pay the standard rate of $14.95 per month.

Anyone in the U.S. can try Kindle Unlimited for free for 30 days by signing up for a free trial. All of this content is available on Android, iOS, Windows phone, and of course all Kindle hardware.

Full press release follows:

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Amazon testing $10 per month subscription-based ebook service

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Amazon is currently testing an all you can eat subscription-based ebook and audio book service called “Kindle Unlimited.” A product landing page spotted by GigaOM revealed that the unannounced service will provide customers with access to over 600,000 titles for $10 a month. While subscription-based e-book services for smartphones and tablets already exist, Amazon has a vast number of resources that could quickly make the company a force in this relatively untapped market.

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