Amazon announced today new sharing functionality for its Kindle app that’s exclusive to the Android version until later this year. The new functionality provides the ability to share quotes, highlights, and book recommendations with friends over a host of different messaging services, and instant book previews for those who are on the receiving end of these shares.
Amazon’s Fire Phone, announced in June, was a flop to say the least. Offering hardly anything that wasn’t already on the market, the device launched at a price of $199 on contract (and AT&T-only, to boot), but very soon became basically free (and $199 unlocked) after sales figures turned out to be absolutely depressing. But even with the device’s failures, Amazon is today pushing a relatively substantial software update to its flopped attempt at entering the smartphone market…
Following a big day of Apple news, Kindle has unleashed a massive refresh of its Kindle lines, including three refreshed Kindles and—interestingly—one completely new Kindle model. The lineup includes the company’s new flagship e-reader dubbed Kindle Voyage, a new entry-level Kindle that now packs a touch screen, an updated Kindle Fire HDX, and a new Kindle Fire HD, which is starting at just $99. Read more
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.
Full press release follows:
I’m sure we’re all “tired” to hear about the tablet/PC debate and which format will outsell one another next year. That being said, a new Canalys report caught my eye as it projects that in 2014 tablets will account for 50 percent of the PC market. I consider projections that indicate tablets will become half of the desktop, notebook, and tablet devices that make up the entire PC market to be notable because of the sheer size.
Everything about the new Kindle HDX is better than the previous HD version. The screen is brighter and has more pixels. It is lighter, thinner, has a better case, and has an improved OS. The buttons are now around the back vs. on either side (which takes a few reps to get used to). You can now jump down to the apps in much similar way to what you can in a normal Android tablet.
But that’s the problem. The OS just isn’t as good as the one you’ll find on the Nexus 7 with similar specs. And with the Nexus 7 you’ll get Google’s extremely productive Google Apps including Google Now, Google Maps, Gmail, Translate, and on and on. With the Kindle line you get a lot of nice apps, including many of the more popular ones like Facebook, Hulu, Netflix. But you don’t get any of the long tail apps you get from the Google Play Store, and that’s kind of a bummer.
Also, I’m personally not feeling the Mayday feature. It was probably awesome when there were only 20 reviewers getting service, but I had to wait on hold for around 10 minutes before I could talk to someone – for me, that’s not worth it. Your mileage will vary, obviously.
Amazon has a ton of good content including a very passable App selection, full music and movie libraries, and of course tons of ebooks. If you are okay with just Amazon, then you are looking at the best tablet you can find. If you want more, then head over to Google Play. Pricing options below.
Hot on the heels of an iOS update this morning, Skype has just updated its Android app to version 4.4. Most notably, the update brings an all new interface to tablet users that “puts conversations first” by prominently displaying your most recent calls and chats. Tablet users should also see significant quality and performance enhancements, as well.
Skype is also touting that the video call quality has greatly improved in version 4.4 of the app. In “good network conditions”, you should experience up to four times the resolution of previous versions with improved clarity and frame rates. The update is also available to Kindle Fire HD and HDX users, who will be able to enjoy hardware accelerated video.
Other enhancements include: Read more
We got a tip (Thanks Guy!) that Amazon had trademarked the name ‘Firetube’ in Canada and the US. With all of the news surrounding the Amazon Phone lately – I immediately thought that is a dumb name for a phone.
Seth Weintraub (@llsethj) October 03, 2013
Seconds later it hit me. Tube=TV. Amazon needs a TV product to counter Apple and Google.
Seth Weintraub (@llsethj) October 03, 2013
It makes a lot of sense. Amazon has all of this content on the Fire and no way to put it on a TV yet. They have to release some type of Chromecast competitor and quick. There are, of course, rumors of an Amazon TV. Lots of rumors. Bloomberg thinks Fall 2013 is the planned launch window. That’s right now.
Quick thoughts: Will it play from the iOS app? Will it be cheap and cost ~$35 like the ChromeCast? Bundled with Kindle? Will it work with older devices? I’ve reached out to Amazon for a comment.
Update: Amazon has now said that the phone won’t be launched this year, and it won’t be free. “We have no plans to offer a phone this year, and if we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free,” Amazon said in a statement to AllThingsD.
According to Jessica Lessin and Amir Efrati, Amazon is considering making its upcoming, long-rumored smartphone available to consumers free of charge. However, it is unclear what strings are attached to the deal:
There are many unanswered questions about the plan and what strings will be attached for customers. One of them is whether Amazon would require its smartphone owners to pay for services such as Amazon Prime, the company’s loyalty program. But the people familiar with the matter said that Amazon wants the device to be free whether or not people sign up for a new wireless plan at the same time. (Wireless carriers typically discount the price of devices if customers sign up for a one- or two-year wireless contract.)
A launch date for the device is currently unclear. Like with the Kindle Fire tablets, past reports have suggested that the Amazon phone will run on a forked version of Google’s Android operating system.
Earlier this year, reports emerged with claims that Amazon is working on a bevy of products, including a phone with a 3D display, and various audio/media center devices. Amazon’s hardware development division for these products is (like Apple) situated in Cupertino.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is working to expand its hardware offerings, this year, beyond the Kindle e-readers and tablets (like the Kindle Fire). According to the new report, Amazon is working on two smartphones, including a high-end model with a 3D display. Like other smartphones currently on the market, this display could be interacted with via a user’s eyes:
We already knew that Google Glass would be running Android 4.0.4 and got a look at the official tech specs straight from Google, but until now we didn’t know some of the specifics such as how much RAM and what processor the device is using. Today we details via developer +JayLee (via Selfscreens) that Google Glass reports running a OMAP 4430 CPU similar to that used in the original Kindle (although not other details are available on the processor) and 682mb of RAM. Lee speculates Glass might actually pack in 1GB of RAM: Read more
Amazon announced today in a press release that it is lowering the price of its the largest tablet in the U.S., the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. The price of the entry level WiFi only model drops from $299 to $269, while the 4G variant will now sell for $399 (down from $499 previously). In addition, the company is also rolling out the device to a handful of new countries including: the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and Italy.
The 8.9-inch tablet includes a1920x1200, 254 ppi display, TI OMAP4470 processor, 1GB of RAM, Custom Dolby audio and dual stereo speakers, 10 hours of battery life, and of course access to Amazon’s ecosystem of content.