Fire Stories December 21, 2015

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The two new Nexus handsets this year have been received completely differently. While Huawei’s Nexus 6P is widely regarded as one of the best — if not the best — Nexus phones ever, LG’s Nexus 5X has been given the title “worse than the Nexus 5” on more than one occasion. I agree with that sentiment to some degree, and I would highly recommend you go with the Nexus 6P regardless of the size of your hands. There are some great advantages to a rebirth of the classic Nexus 5, but right now the phone is crippled by a software and hardware combo that leads to some unacceptable performance issues.

And now it looks like the phone is crippled by another problem in the case of one owner. Not unlike dozens of other phones over the years, it appears that at least one Nexus 5X unit had a faulty battery leading to a firey explosion…

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Fire Stories September 7, 2015

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The WSJ is reporting that Amazon is going to strip down a 6-inch tablet and sell it for $50 for the holidays. What’s amazing is that the theoretically color tablet was cheaper to make than even an ebook display version:

Mr. Bezos had set an internal goal of the $50 price tag for versions of both the Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader, viewing the rock-bottom prices as a crucial lure for a more cost-conscious group of buyers, the people said. But the e-reader screen technology from its vendors ultimately proved too expensive to drop the retail price, the people said. Amazon’s cheapest Kindle sells for $79.

It is likely that the $50 Tablet will be a pared down version of the already minimalist $99 6-inch Kindle which has gone on sale for as little at $69 in recent months. The report cites a mono speaker as one of the cost cutting initiatives but the company will likely drop things like cameras, display quality and battery life.

What might be more interesting to me is that Amazon is said to have fired many from its FireOS group in the wake of the Fire Phone flop and subsequent $170M writedown… expand full story

Fire Stories March 24, 2015

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The Google Glass Explorer program ended somewhat abruptly in January, and this didn’t come as much surprise to the Glass-bashing media nor those who tried the device for their own consumer use. In these situations, where Glass was a privacy nightmare and an underpowered gadget, the head-mounted wearable display would appear to be a failed piece of consumer technology (and Google’s Astro Teller believes that allowing this mindset to spread was one of the project’s biggest failures).

And it’s true. The first-generation of Google Glass might not really bring much value to the daily lives of most people, and it’s definitely not close to being socially acceptable quite yet. But many companies and organizations that adopted the experimental $1,500 spectacles for specific use cases weren’t so quick to dismiss the device. In fact, there are many groups—even now, after the Explorer program has ended—who are still doing some exciting things with it.

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Fire Stories December 23, 2014

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This is probably one of more dramatic smartphone explosion stories I’ve read lately. (But this is definitely not the first—almost every flagship phone has seemingly had a horror story like this one.) This time, it looks like an LG G3 was at one second sitting innocently on a mattress, but then erupted into flames so violently that its owners had to throw the mattress out the window.

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Fire Stories August 25, 2014

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It seems as if almost every flagship smartphone has managed to explode in the pocket of its owner at some point, and today we’re adding the OnePlus One to that list. In a post made by one user of the OnePlus forum MiYzu, we get a great illustration of just how scary it can be when a lithium ion battery just decides to catch fire.

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Fire Stories April 19, 2014

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Koushik Dutta — the man behind Clockworkmod, as well as various other Android apps and projects — has released AllCast for Amazon’s FireTV. The program lets you send videos, photos, and music from any Android device running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher to your TV. The app is free to install for the FireTV, though AllCast for Android requires a $4.99 purchase to enable the majority of the features, including a screen-mirroring feature. expand full story

Fire Stories September 6, 2013

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.

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Fire Stories February 10, 2012

We heard about this before: AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski reported (via Pacific Crest analyst Chad Bartley) that Amazon will launch a 9-inch version of the Kindle Fire by mid year. Amazon will play off the wide success of its 7-inch version. With the introduction of a 9-inch Kindle Fire by mid year, analyst Bartley is raising his sales estimate f0r the Kindle Fire from 12.7 million to 14.9 million units shipped in 2012. Bartley reported:

We are raising our 2012 sales forecasts to 14.9 million from 12.7 million,” he wrote. “But we believe there is an upward bias, particularly from the new 7- and 9-inch models, which we expect to launch in mid-2012.”

We heard rumors in late 2011 that Amazon was to launch a 10.1-inch version to compete with the iPad. At any rate, we expect Amazon to announce a larger version at some point.

 

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Fire Stories December 2, 2011

Every 14 days, Google publishes an updated pie-chart laying out all of the details about what Android versions are most prominent. Yesterday’s chart reveals that Android 2.3, or Gingerbread, now makes up 50.6% of Android’s user base, followed by Android 2.2, Froyo which has 35.3%. Interestingly, there are still close to 12% of users on lower levels of Android. Where the shocker really comes in to play is the percentage of users that are rocking Honeycomb, the Android version exclusive to tablets.

Figures also updated by Google’s team, was a pie-chart showing different screen sizes that feature Android. The chart showed that 3.1% of all Android devices are tablets with a 7-inch or larger screen.  If all 200M Android devices are still active and represented here, that means that 6.2M Android Tablets are in the market.

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Fire Stories November 17, 2011

A few days after becoming available to customers, a few early Kindle Fire owners are reporting Wi-Fi issues plaguing the device frequently. Some users have reported fixing the bug by changing settings on their router or fully resetting it. This is obviously a big issue for Fire users, seeing as Wi-Fi is a crucial part to streaming content — one of the Fire’s key focuses. Amazon has yet to comment, but this seems like an issue that could easily fixed via software update. For those of you who have already gotten their hands on the Kindle Fire, are you experiencing Wi-Fi issues? (via TechCrunch)

Fire Stories November 9, 2011

With the Kindle Fire set to start shipping next week, Amazon sent out a press release this morning confirming a ton of Amazon Appstore-optimized apps will be available at launch. While the Fire runs a scaled back version of Android, the app selection through Amazon’s app store will be far from the full-fledged Android Market. Here’s what you can expect on day-one.

Most of these are expected or were already mentioned during the launch event– Pandora, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, The Weather Channel, Rhapsody, and Comics by comiXology. In addition, Amazon says there will be “several thousand more apps” and is already working with a ton of developers including all the usual suspects–Rovio (Angry Birds), EA, PopCap, Gameloft, and Zynga.

You’ll be able to grab the Kindle Fire for $199 just about everywhere starting November 15. The press release (below) also provides the following list of other apps already optimized for the 7-inch tab:

Allrecipes, Bloomberg, Cut the Rope, Doodle Fit, Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja, Jenga, LinkedIn, Zillow, Airport Mania, Battleheart, Pulse, The Cat in the Hat, Quickoffice Pro, Jamie’s 20-Minute Meals, IMDb Movies & TV, and Monkey Preschool Lunchbox.

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Fire Stories November 3, 2011

In a move that might drive more e-book-only tablet users to Amazon (opposed to iBooks or elsewhere), Amazon has announced a new book borrowing service called “Kindle Lending Library”.  The move is said to encourage Prime subscriptions, which are required for the service, but could be part of Amazon’s larger strategy as the $199 Kindle Fire prepares to enter the tablet market. Either way,

The service will allow users to borrow from a selection of approximately 5,000 books (up to one a month) that have been enabled for lending by the publisher. You’ll be able to return the book at any time without due dates, and bookmarks and highlights will be saved in the event you borrow or purchase the book in the future. Included in the available content will be 100 current and previous New York Times bestsellers.

Not so fast if you’re hoping to borrow books on your non-Kindle tablet, however. The service will only be made available to owners of an eligible Kindle device that are also Amazon Prime subscribers. A Prime membership is currently going for $79 per year, a pricey ask for just the book borrowing service if you’re not planning on taking advantage of the 10,000 movies and tv shows, and free two-day shipping available to Prime users. The good news is the $199 Kindle Fire will come bundled with one free month of Prime.

It appears Amazon hasn’t entirely convinced publishers of the long-term benefits of the service, as they note in the press release they are actually ” purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader” to provide a “no-risk trial” for publishers: expand full story

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