JetBlue providing Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming to flights this week
Passengers of JetBlue will soon be able to stream from Amazon's Prime services during flights, as the airline makes it available via its Fly-Fi in-flight Wi-Fi service. Originally announced in May, the program will provide access to TV shows and movies on Prime Instant Video, as well as the option of renting or buying titles from the Amazon Video store for instant viewing, and listening to Prime Music, with non-Prime members able to sign up for a free trial during the flight itself.
No evidence of breach at present, but will force-reset account passwords
Amazon in the US and the UK has sent out emails to some users saying that the company has reset their account password after discovering that "your [Amazon] password may have been improperly stored on your device or transmitted to Amazon in a way that could potentially expose it to a third party," and thus has been resetting some accounts, though it said it is doing so out of "an abundance of caution" without any evidence of a direct breach.
Amazon adds two-factor authentication to accounts
Amazon is improving the security of its account system, just in time for the Black Friday sales, by giving the option of adding two-factor authentication to the log-in process. The online retailer is now allowing account holders to log in using an extra generated code alongside their regular username and password, potentially preventing potential fraudulent purchases from being made from the account.
Apple Maps, App Stores, iTunes affected by brief outage
Apple's online services endured another outage overnight, with a number of services becoming unusable for over an hour. Apple's system status page advises some users were affected by downtime for "multiple store services" and "multiple iCloud services" at around 10pm EST for just over an hour, with all users affected by a slightly briefer Maps issue for approximately half an hour at roughly the same time.
Investigation centers around agreement for Apple to carry Audible titles
The German Federal Cartel Office, which handles antitrust investigations, is looking into the agreement between Amazon and Apple by which the latter purchases audiobooks from Amazon-owned Audible for sale in iTunes. While there is no suggestion yet that either company is doing anything wrong, the office appears to be concerned that the arrangement has resulted in such a strong market position as to potentially be anti-competitive, and thus in need of a closer look.
Amazon launches Pantry grocery delivery option in United Kingdom
Amazon has expanded its Pantry grocery delivery service to the United Kingdom. Launched last year in the United States, the UK version of the service allows its users to order more than 4,000 food, drink, household supplies, and other products in one delivery, with a fixed price of £3 ($4.50) for a delivery of a single 20kg (44 pounds) box, with extra boxes in the same order priced at £1 ($1.50) each if the physical volume of the original is exceeded.
Amazon constructs physical book store in Seattle
Amazon has opened up its first physical book store today, in what can be best described as an unusual decision by the primarily-digital online retailer. It has built its brick-and-mortar store in University Village, Seattle, where it will provide real copies of books to customers, alongside gadgets including the Fire TV, Echo, Kindle eBook readers, and the Fire tablet range, with Amazon using its digital strength for stock selection.
Financial Innovation Now group to attempt policy change in Washington DC
Technology industry leaders Amazon, Apple, Google, Intuit and PayPal today announced the formation of Financial Innovation Now. The new Washington DC lobbyist super-group is a coalition that will promote tech-company friendly policies to help foster greater innovation in financial services, as well as claiming to assist consumers in the transition to new payment services like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet.
T-Mobile launches 4G LTE CellSpot, mini cell tower for home use
T-Mobile is offering its customers a way to get LTE signal from within their home, in areas where LTE coverage is unavailable or lacking in strength, via a mini cell tower. The 4G LTE CellSpot is a unit measuring 8.5 inches wide and tall, and 1.3 inches thick, and is capable of providing an average area of 3,000 square feet LTE service over the network by using the customer's existing home or business Internet connection.
Online deal highlights for November 1, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, Call of Duty fans will get home deliveries of Black Ops III at midnight on launch day, SXSW deals with online harassment panel issues, a developer rewards players for reading a game's End User License Agreement, and Batman: Arkham Knight refunds are available on Steam until the end of this year.
Retailer follows through with warning for competing streaming devices
Amazon has followed through with its warning from earlier this month that it would be taking down store listings for devices that do not support Amazon Prime Video, by removing devices from Apple and Google. The Apple TV and Google Chromecast no longer appear in searches on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, with the first result coming up for each of the products searched being Amazon's own Fire TV Stick instead.
Rare quarterly profit beats Wall Street, stock price boosted by results
Amazon yesterday announced financial results for its third quarter that ended on September 30. Net sales increased 23% to $25.4 billion in the third quarter, compared with $20.6 billion in third quarter 2014. On the strength of that, and the massive growth from cloud service sales, the company posted a net income of $79 million, compared with net loss of $437 million in the third quarter of 2014.
Monitoring term has concluded successfully, says Apple and US government
Apple's contentious time spent with e-book antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich has may be coming to a close. A letter filed jointly by Apple and the US government claims that the computer manufacturer has "implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court," and recommends that the antitrust monitor's tenure need not be extended.
Online retailer allegedly approached broadcasters for initial Internet TV talks
Amazon is looking to compete with Sling TV, Sony's PlayStation Vue, and others by creating its own Internet TV service, a rumor claims. The retailer has allegedly approached a number of major broadcasters about providing channels and other content for the supposed service, which could ultimately provide subscribers with access to traditional broadcasters as well as pay TV channels over an Internet connection for a set monthly fee.
Amazon brings Prime Now one-hour deliveries to more London areas
Amazon is expanding its Prime Now service in London to cover more areas. Originally launched in June, the launch of a new delivery station in Wimbledon now means the service can now perform one-hour deliveries to five times as many postcodes (zip codes) in the UK capital, with coverage of areas eligible for two-hour deliveries also trebling. Following its success in London and Birmingham, Amazon plans to bring Prime Now deliveries to more UK cities before the end of the year.
How a cheap non-Apple cable stands up
It's not as if you go out of your way to pay Apple more money than you want to for things, but common wisdom holds that they do charge more -- how accurate that statement is, depends greatly on what product you're talking about. They charge enough more that if you have a Mac or an iPhone, you've been asked why you'd spend all that money, and you've been told that PCs and Androids are much better anyway, so there. The counter-argument you've probably started with is that no, they're not. When pressed, you've gone further and explained that you do spend more on Macs, but all the PC users you know have to keep replacing their hardware at what seems unfathomably short intervals. I've said all these things so often that I was programmed to ignore non-Apple Lightning cables.
October 29 end date of sales for media streamers that don't support Prime
Amazon resellers are reportedly receiving an email from Amazon, telling them that video streaming devices that don't support Amazon Prime Video won't be sold on the commerce giant's marketplace. If the reports are accurate, the Apple TV line, as well as Google's Chromecast, will be barred from sale after October 29.
Amazon Flex will pay drivers to deliver Prime Now orders
Amazon has launched a service that allows its customers to pick up some extra cash, by working as a part-time delivery driver for the retailer. Leaked last month, Amazon Flex will pay drivers to perform deliveries for it's Prime Now one-hour delivery service in a number of markets, with participants being paid between $18 and $25 per hour to hand over products to other customers within an hour or two of being ordered.
Starbucks spreads app-based ordering, payment to all US stores
Starbucks has made its Mobile Order & Pay system available to all customers across the United States, following tests in a number of US markets. The feature, available in both iOS and Android versions of the Starbucks app, lets customers place their order from within the app, with the estimated time for order completion provided once it has been placed. There is also the ability to pre-pay within the app itself, saving customers more time. Starbucks is aiming to bring the same feature to select company-owned stores in the United States and Canada next month.
Fire HD 8, HD 10 tablets accompanied by new Kids Edition, low-price Fire
Amazon is refreshing its range of Fire mobile devices by introducing four updated tablets to the collection, alongside its Fire TV announcement. The Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 joins the existing Fire HD6 in the range, and while the Fire Kids Edition gets some minor changes, the original Fire tablet has been given significantly more attention, with the online retailer redoubling its efforts to make it an ideal entry-level device by pricing it at $50, with an extra bonus for buying multiple devices.
New Fire TV offering from Amazon paves the way for a 4k future
Today, alongside an assortment of Fire Tablet announcements, Amazon unveiled the new Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV boasts a faster processor, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) support, and supports 4K streaming. The Fire TV Stick is unchanged, but now has voice search. Additionally, coming to the older Fire TV is the new Fire OS 5, with Alexa voice search support.
Developers start receiving new Apple TV development kits
Developers have started to receive their new Apple TV development kits, and have posted images of the devices online. AppleInsider spotted developer's Caleb Thorson's photo of the Apple TV development kit on Twitter, though it has now been removed, with the image of the box showing the phrase "As (not yet) seen on TV" on one side. Units of the developer edition of the set-top box were distributed via a lottery, with successful applicants able to buy the new Apple TV for $1.
Hardware incubator hit hard by Fire Phone failure to launch
According to recent reports and rumors out of Seattle and Cupertino, e-commerce giant Amazon is scaling back some of its hardware ambitions. Amazon's Lab126, its hardware incubator has contracted somewhat, with "several hundred" of the 3000-strong staff looking for work following a combination of hardware development projects and the cancellation of some upcoming projects killed in the wake of the Fire Phone's failure.
Cheaper actually is better
We used to have all these old iPod 30-pin style cables and yet could never find one when we needed it. Now we have a building full of Apple Lightning cables and it's the same thing except slightly worse: our cables are wearing out. At £25 a pop here in the UK or $29, we counted the cable as a bonus when we had to buy an iPhone 6. It's expensive to buy a Lightning cable from Apple that way but it's expensive buying them from Apple in any way so we finally caved and tried an AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable 6ft (1.8m) in black.
Prime Now location in Seattle may offer order collection, crowdsourced deliveries
Amazon is allegedly looking into offering another way for customers to receive their orders, by collecting it from Amazon itself. A building in Kirkland expected to be the base for future Prime Now deliveries in the Seattle area is also displaying signs for an unannounced service called Amazon Flex, believed to be either a way for customers to pick up orders directly, or possibly for some form of crowdsourced delivery system.
High budget, creative freedom attracts Clarkson team to Amazon
Amazon's latest content acquisition may put more of a strain on its finances than expected. The team formerly behind popular BBC program Top Gear, is being provided with a budget of £160 million ($250 million) to produce a new show exclusively for Amazon's Prime Instant Video streaming service, making it not only the most expensive UK TV shows ever produced, but also an extremely expensive endeavor compared to other streaming-only shows.
Staples starts selling Amazon Echo connected speaker through online store
The Amazon Echo, the network-connected speaker hosting the retailer's Alexa assistant, has gone on sale through a third-party store for the first time. Staples is offering the cylindrical speaker through its website to all customers priced at $180, the same as Amazon. So far, it can only be acquired through the Staples website, with delivery to local stores available as a shipping option, though there is still the potential to sell it from stores directly.
Verizon offers FiOS customers access to HBO Now
Verizon has started to sell HBO's standalone streaming service, HBO Now, to its FiOS broadband customers. Following the lapsing of Apple's exclusivity period, Verizon is providing a 30-day free trial of the $15 service, which provides access to currently-broadcast programming as well as HBO's on-demand archive. Verizon Wireless customers won't be missing out for long, as HBO will apparently be included in Verizon's in-development Go90 Internet TV service.
Users report Windows 10 upgrade files starting to download to systems
Microsoft is allegedly preparing for tomorrow's launch of Windows 10, by preloading the operating system on computers that have been booked in for the upgrade. According to WinBeta, users that have already reserved their free upgrade from Windows 7 or later will start to see the files being preloaded ahead of a release after midnight tonight. The report also warns upgraders they can also expect to download a day one patch for Windows 10, weighing in at over 1GB in size.
Investors react to Amazon result, passes Walmart market cap
Amazon has managed to achieve a surprise profit in the last quarter, with an operating income of $464 million and a net income of $92 million, amid skyrocketing sales. Both of these figures are a reversal of the operating and net losses of $15 million and $126 million for the same period last year, with the diluted earnings per share of $0.19 compared to the second quarter of 2014's $0.27 loss.
Turning your e-book into a real, printed one
As I write this, the paperback of my book The Blank Screen: Blogging is working its way through the final stages of publication via Amazon. It's a book about blogging for writers and authors, but more importantly it has been the subject of the Summer Project. Through countless software apps and services, we've followed the creation of a genuine book. Not some test thing, not an afternoon's casual typing, but a real book that was already being written.
Amazon Fresh reportedly close to launch in United Kingdom
Amazon is preparing to launch its grocery delivery service in the United Kingdom later this year, according to reports. According to the Times of London and also Recode, the subscription-based Amazon Fresh service, where customers can order a selection of groceries and other consumable items, is apparently at an advanced stage and could start as soon as September, with London said to be the initial launch area.
Today's multiple deals, all in one convenient place
Today is going to be replete with deals. Since Walmart and Amazon aren't so nice as to have mostly all-day sales. Instead of being witty and talking about what something is, and what it isn't, we're going to do a bulleted list, with stop times as best as we can find them. Every so often, we'll check what's still available, pop in new deals, and bump this to to the top and label a time for an update so you've got an idea about relative freshness. And we're done here! This final frequent update is at 3:30 PM EDT, but we may still add as the day goes on, just with less fanfare.
Spring expands Direct 2 You deliveries to four new markets
Sprint is bringing its Direct 2 You home delivery and set-up service to two new markets. The latest major expansion of the service, Sprint will now be delivering smartphones and transferring files and user settings between old and new devices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver. This brings the total number of cities covered by Direct 2 You to 28, with it expected to roll out to more locations throughout the rest of this year.
Leading e-reader software gets extremely overdue features
The latest release of Amazon's Kindle software for iOS and Macs is devoted to improving how text looks on your screen as you read. Excuse us? With Kindle 4.9.1, it's five years since the application came to Apple gear and only now it's concerned with how you read on it?
Amazon Prime Instant Video starts streaming HDR content
Viewers of Amazon's Prime Instant Video in the United States can now watch some of the service's catalog in a high dynamic range (HDR) mode. The first shows in HDR, Mozart in the Jungle and the pilot of Red Oaks, can be watched on a number of Samsung Ultra HD televisions through the smart TV app, with more programs using HDR and ways to access them said to be on the way.
Alexa APIs allow developers access to Amazon voice recognition service
Amazon is allowing third-party developers and companies access to Alexa, the digital assistant included in the retailer's Echo network-connected speaker. As well as a collection of tools and APIs, Amazon is helping accelerate the push to make Alexa as useful as Siri and Google Voice Search by launching the Alexa Fund, a scheme where it will offer up to $100 million in investments to support developers and start-ups making use of the software and the technology.
Authors will be paid based on pages read from borrowed Kindle Unlimited titles
Amazon is making a change to the way it pays authors for allowing their books to be included in Amazon Prime's Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited. Starting from July 1, rule alterations to the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program will now pay authors based on the number of pages read in their ebooks by users of both services, instead of the previous method which counted the number of times books were downloaded by subscribers.
Amazon removes invitation requirement to purchase Echo
Amazon has finally made its Echo network-connected speaker available for purchase by anyone, seven months after the company initially launched the device. Previously only sold to Amazon Prime subscribers and on an invitation-only basis, the Echo can now be bought by all customers in the United States without requiring an invitation, with the retailer expecting to start shipments of the device on July 14.
Deal brings Marvel comics to Kindle Store
Comic book fans now have more of a reason to go to Amazon, as a deal between Marvel and the retailer has brought more than 12,000 digital issues to the Kindle Store, allowing for comics from the Amazing Spiderman, Daredevil, and other franchises to be downloaded to the Kindle app and Kindle ebook readers. The agreement does not affect ComiXology, the digital comic book service owned by Amazon, nor the ComiXology-powered Marvel Comics platform.
Spotify Taste Rewind suggests songs from previous decades
Spotify is trying to get its users to discover older songs they may like, by launching a promotional site. Taste Rewind allows users to select three artists from a list that they have recently played on Spotify, reports VentureBeat, with the site then providing playlists of songs the user may enjoy from each decade between the '60s and the 2000s. While a neat software toy that may help introduce younger listeners to older tracks they could enjoy, the results do not apparently cover the entirety of Spotify's catalog, and can come up with some odd suggestions. For example, a test using Nicki Minaj, Skrillex, and Ellie Goulding brought up a playlist for the '60s headed up by Leonard Cohen.
First transparency report suggests Amazon may have received National Security Letters
Amazon is joining the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple, by issuing its first transparency report. Later than other online giants in providing the information, and only doing so after criticism from civil liberties and digital rights groups, the retailer's first report advises of the number of times the company has received requests from both US and non-US governments for customer data, and how many times Amazon has provided what was requested.
Complaint similar to 2011 investigation against Apple, publishers
The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon's business practices around e-book distribution and sales. The Commission will in particular investigate certain clauses included in Amazon's contracts with publishers that require publishers to inform Amazon about more favorable or alternative terms offered to competitors.
Amazon adds Audible audio support to Echo speaker
Amazon has updated its Echo network-connected speaker to work with Audible. Via voice prompts using the Alexa assistant or the Amazon Echo App, the speaker can start reading out Audible audiobooks to the user, with vocal commands allowing the book to be requested by title, paused, resumed, and to go forward or back 30 seconds. It also works with Whispersync for Voice, allowing listeners to pick up an audiobook from where they left off on another device.
Amazon UK users can order books from local shops for pickup or delivery
It's certainly possible to buy books from independently-owned shops through Amazon, but these businesses have registered to sell their stock on Amazon's platform, a sometimes-contentious act that has resulted in some bullying by the online retailer. Just as an Amazon app allows shoppers to scan a barcode in a brick-and-mortar bookstore and order that book online, a new Chrome plug-in, Bookindy, adds local shop options to Amazon's listings to give a shopper the option to support a local, independently-owned business, while using Amazon to "showroom" the product.
Amazon Echo can read appointments stored in Google Calendar
Alexa, the virtual assistant that forms part of the Amazon Echo network-connected speaker, has been upgraded to allow it to read Google Calendar events. Android Central reports Alexa can now be linked to the user's Calendar and will respond to queries about it, such as "Alexa, what's on my calendar?" and "When is my next event?" So far, it appears Alexa can only read appointments, not add new items, but this could be included in a future update of the device.
Free same-day delivery applies to daily staples
Amazon has modified its same-day delivery service, expanding the utility for Amazon Prime members. Starting today, Amazon Prime members in select areas will be able to order from a million-strong catalog, and receive free same-day delivery if the order exceeds $35. The previous $6 charge still applies to items not on the million-item list, or if the order falls beneath the $35 threshold.
A pre-teen survival horror game with puzzles and quicktime events
So, unlike our game from Amazon Game Studios (Lost Within), we didn't call Todd and ask him to keep us company as we played Til Morning's Light, but the story here is still pretty horrific. The game sits firmly in the classic survival horror genre of exploring a spooky old house, solving puzzles and occasionally being attacked by monsters. The puzzles aren't terribly difficult, although there's a very real danger of overlooking something important. We also enjoyed the production quality, and the quick-time combat system held our interest.
Google makes Roboto font open source
Roboto, the font used throughout Android, Chrome OS, and a number of other Google products has been made open source. Originally released under the Apache license as part of Android 4.0 in 2011, Google has now made it, and the toolchain used for its creation, into an open source project hosted on Github. Google has also added Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek characters found in Unicode 7.0, with the total number of glyphs increased from approximately 13,000 to more than 40,000 as part of the effort.
UK sales to be reported via local Amazon subsidiary following government tax crackdown
Amazon is altering its tax affairs in Europe, following pressure from governments and regulatory bodies over the way it and other tech companies attempt to shrink their tax bills. The retailer is starting to run sales it makes in the United Kingdom within the country itself, instead of funneling them through Luxembourg to minimize the amount of tax it pays, a change that is expected to bring in millions in corporation tax to the UK treasury.