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Amazon Echo gets new multi-account support, BART schedule access

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

amazon_echo_couch

Amazon has rolled out a couple updates to their Amazon Echo home assistant appliance to help improve its usefulness. The first new feature that will impact the most users is the ability to play audiobooks and music from multiple Amazon accounts.

Users can fire up the Amazon Alexa companion app on their mobile device to add new accounts to the Household Profile setting. The Amazon Echo device has a couple new commands available once accounts are added. These include “Alexa, switch accounts” so users can move between them on the fly and “Alexa, which account is this?” if you happen to lose track of which account is currently active.

The other new feature will only benefit users in the San Francisco Bay area. BART schedules are now available through Amazon Echo by adding BART Times as a “Skill” in the Amazon Alexa app. Users can then use the command, “Alexa, open Bart Times” in order to check the schedule for home and destination stations.

source: ZDNet

Come comment on this article: Amazon Echo gets new multi-account support, BART schedule access

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp0G5sAdsQA
Welcome back to the Android Apps Weekly show! Let’s jump right into the headlines for this week:

  • Microsoft is now letting people download Cortana as part of a public beta which is the first time it’s been officially available to the public. There is only one problem and that is that you cannot participate in the public beta unless you live in the United States. We don’t think that’ll change which kinda sucks.
  • A new app called Vysor was leaked recently and it prompted developer Koushik Dutta to just release the application. It’s a Chrome app that lets you easily control your Android device from your computer. It’s a nifty tool even if it’s in beta and keep an eye out for pricing because there will be some pricing options eventually.
  • Facebook M has been officially announced and much like the leaks said, it’ll be a personal assistant that lives inside of Facebook Messenger that helps you buy things along with a suite of other functions for productivity. It’s currently in testing and we have no clue when it’ll be available to the public.
  • Earlier this week, Rovio announced that they’ll be laying off 1/3 of their work force. The speculation is that the Angry Birds franchise is finally starting to falter as the company just released Angry Birds 2 not long ago. The company maintains that it made these layoffs to be leaner and more agile.
  • Earlier this week, Amazon killed off the free app of the day and replaced it with a new application called Amazon Underground. The new app is meant to offer a lot more apps that the company is calling “actually free”. You can download and install Amazon Underground just like any other Amazon app.

For even more Android apps headlines, updates, and new releases, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter. There we have a whole lot more apps and games news that we didn’t have time for here. If you’re so inclined, you can even sign up using your email address and we’ll send it to you every Friday!


Subscribe to Apps Weekly Newsletter


The latest apps, games and Google play news in your inbox once a week.

While you’re at it, why not check out the Android Authority Twitch channel? Yes, we’ll be doing YouTube Gaming very soon as well but we still plan on hanging out on Twitch! Right now our streaming schedule is Sunday and Monday at 4PM EST. Come hang out, chit chat, and play some video games!

Check us out on Twitch!


AMC Android Apps WeeklyAMC

[Price: Free]
Late last week, AMC released its own official application to the Google Play Store. It comes with a lineup of AMC programming including The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, Hell on WHeels, and a lot more. You do need a cable subscription to have access most of the content but some stuff you’ll be able to access for free. It’s missing some features here and there and the app is suffering from release day bugs, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Get it now on Google Play!

AMC Android Apps Weekly


S6 Edge Plus experience app Android Apps WeeklySamsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ Experience app

[Price: Free]
Earlier this week, Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ experience apps. The point of these apps is to show people what kind of experience they can get with these devices and Samsung has released similar apps in the past for their flagships. They’re fairly easy to use and it’s a nice experience to have if you plan on buying either of these devices or just want to see what they’re all about.

Get it now on Google Play!

Galaxy S6 Edge experience app Android Apps Weekly


YouTube Gaming Android Apps WeeklyYouTube Gaming

[Price: Free]
YouTube Gaming is finally official and Google has released the official app to prove it. Google’s competitor to Twitch is in full swing and the application will give you access to everyone who is streaming games. You’ll also be able to engage with past broadcasts, plenty of channel and page browsing options, and the app will offer live streams from large events like E3, PAX, and Gamescon. It’s definitely worth checking out and hey, you’ll see us there very soon!

Get it now on Google Play!


Framed Android Apps WeeklyFramed

[Price: $0.99]
Framed is an award-winning puzzle game with a unique premise. You are given a set of video clips which you must arrange to create a certain story scene. If you do it incorrectly, you lose and if you do it right, you can proceed. It’s backed by a pretty decent jazz soundtrack and there is a lot of game here to play. It’s definitely something a bit different and actually very fun to play. It’s only $0.99 and it’s worth every penny.

Get it now on Google Play!


Lara Croft GO Android Apps WeeklyLara Croft GO

[Price: $4.99]
Last and certainly not least this week is Lara Croft GO. This highly anticipated game has finally made its way to Google Play to extremely positive reviews so far. This title features 75 puzzles over five chapters as you guide Lara through obstacles and fights with various creatures. It holds true to the series as you’ll be exploring ancient ruins with mythical puzzles. It looks good, it plays great, and $4.99 isn’t an unfair price at all.

Get it now on Google Play!


Wrap up

If we missed any great Android apps and games news, tell us more about it in the comments! Thanks for reading, watching, and subscribing and we’ll see you next week!

Reports say Amazon scaling back on development of consumer devices

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

The Amazon Fire phone was a flaming failure, whether it was because of its price point or the less than impressive specs of the devices. While it didn’t really make a dent in the online retail store juggernaut’s finances, it may have affected their reputation as a producer of consumer devices. Reports are coming in that the company may be retrenching in some of their divisions, specifically those that work in Lab126, their hardware-development center where the Fire phone was developed.

In the 11 years of existence of Lab126, this is apparently the first massive layoffs they’ve experienced, prompting analysts to wonder whether they may be giving up on producing smartphones or even more tablets, given the not-so-exciting reception for their Fire tablets as well. There is hope in Echo, their voice-activated virtual assistant that has been well-received, although it’s more of a cult following than massive popularity. Other products in the work, which include a large-screen tablet, may be put on hold, according to insiders, as they are looking into reorganizing the division.

Previously, Amazon was gung-ho about investing in product development, but they reported tighter cost controls for the second quarter, which of course led to higher profit and shares skyrocketed with that news. But it might be Lab126 that will bear the brunt of these changes, on top of one of their top engineers, Jon McCormack, moving to Google earlier this month.

The talk inside Lab126 is that the top execs were asking for products or features that they considered “gimmicky” and “unnecessarily expensive”. Now everything seems to be in limbo, and supposedly upcoming products like a smart stylus or a projector or a 14-inch tablet may either be scaled back or totally stopped. There was no response from Amazon when Wall Street Journal asked for their side of the story.

VIA: Wall Street Journal

Amazon lays off some of its engineers following Fire phone disaster

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Amazon_development_Lab126 hardware_082715Things aren’t looking good for Amazon right now. The company has recently laid off dozens of its engineers that helped with development for its Fire phone. In addition, Amazon says they are slowing some of their ongoing experiential projects.

The Silicon Valley based Lab126 will remain working on projects involving its Amazon Echo speaker and the connected home. The company has decided to kill off some of their older projects in hope to focus more on the bigger ones. Following the Amazon Fire phone disaster, the company has decided to lay off some its engineers that helped with development of the unsuccessful smartphone. Going forward, Amazon’s smartphone projects will be moved to a new location in Seattle, Washington. According to WSJ, the company won’t go away with its smartphone plans entirely, but has “stretched out its timeline.”

Amazon’s ultimate goal with electronics has been to lure in consumers to Amazon’s online store. The company wants to focus on bigger things going forward and is planning major cutting costs in the near future.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Come comment on this article: Amazon lays off some of its engineers following Fire phone disaster

Products in peril: Amazon is downsizing its hardware projects

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

amazon_logo_RGB

Amazon is a company that seemingly defies any and all expectations of what one might consider to be “status quo”. From its origins as an online bookstore to expansion into retail shopping-at large to media to consumer devices to web development, Jeff Bezos’ brand has become one of the most well known, most respected in the world. Perhaps no other company in existence could actually continue to garner investment revenue despite the atypical fact it rarely earns a profit. For better or worse, however, it seems that the superfluous spending on consumer devices has come to an end, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.

As Amazon has expanded however, not only have the costs risen, but so too the stakes. When the Kindle first launched years ago, the eBook reader market was basically empty save for a few Sony products. As time progressed, everyone from rival retailer Barnes & Noble to then-newcomer Kobo has tried to get in on the action. The Kindle begot the Kindle Fire, a tablet, and last year, a smartphone too, the Amazon Fire Phone. Other products have been created as well, everything from a streaming media device to a wireless voice assistant:

bt-ad886_amazon_16u_20150826182118_1024 The Wall Street Journal

While Amazon itself has yet to confirm anything, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that “in recent weeks Amazon has dismissed dozens of engineers who worked on its Fire phone at Lab126, its secretive hardware-development center in Silicon Valley, according to people familiar with the matter.”

While many companies have been downsizing as of late, with Amazon in particular the matter takes on a more severe overtone given that “the layoffs were the first in the division’s 11-year history, these people said. But the precise toll on its roughly 3,000-person staff couldn’t be learned, in part because Amazon typically requires employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for severance payments.”

amzn-chart_0

2015 is shaping up to be a profitable year for Amazon, but it hasn’t always been that way…

International Business Times

As if that wasn’t bad enough, “the company also has scaled back or halted some of Lab126’s more ambitious projects—including a large-screen tablet—and reorganized the division, combining two hardware units there into one, people familiar with the matter said.” Clearly the issue is not just one of seeking to keep costs down, but also limiting any potential fall-out from possible failures in the future.

Phone home?

While the general public might have a very positive impression of Amazon, and indeed see it as a legitimate contender in the gadget universe, the more tech-savvy tend to approach it with a much more skeptical, cynical eye. The Fire Phone, for example, was panned almost across-the-board even before it was officially announced, and then once the final details were laid bare, its fate was basically sealed.

The decision to release it at such a high cost, and limit the product to AT&T at that, was a questionable move that resulted in a very costly financial follow-up. This attempt to parallel the origins of the iPhone simply didn’t work, and even as recent as today, Amazon was still trying to liquidate the surplus inventory. Inventory for a product released over a year ago at that.

amazon kindle fire hdx 7 aa (20)

Arguably the Fire Phone is what sealed Amazon’s consumer development fate. Jeff Bezos had previously indicated that it would take several generations of the device before a verdict could be reached as to its success. The current fate is unclear, especially because “the company told some smartphone engineers earlier this year that further phone development would be shelved, though one of the people said Amazon has shifted the effort to its hometown of Seattle.” At the very least, we are unlikely to see anything in the near future.

Good for Google

If there is anyone who immediately benefits from the potential shutdown -or at the very least, slowdown- of Amazon’s consumer division, it is Google. In many ways, Bezos and Company have been seen as the largest potential rival for Mountain View, in large part due to the sheer size and number of customers it has. Whereas a company like Facebook has yet to release an internally produced product (the upcoming Oculus Rift is the result of an acquisition and the failed “Facebook phone” was an HTC produced product), Amazon has numerous ones already out there.

amazon-fire-phone-apps

The Kindle Fire tablet series, and the Amazon Fire Phone, were in many ways, seen as an affront to Google. Indeed the devices all used Android, but contained a heavy handed skin and did not include the framework necessary for Google to take advantage of metadata. Specifically, Google Play Services, and all related Google content, was stripped from the Fire OS. As Android is open source, this all perfectly legal and sanctioned; indeed anyone can modify the Android Open Source Project just as they can Linux, on which Android is based.

While Amazon was never one to talk the talk on numbering numbers, it can be assumed that enough consumers were buying its tablets to warrant the various iterations over the years. Likewise the high specs on many of them, combined with a very child-friendly approach, in some cases 24-7 free customer support, and a solid build meant that those looking for a family tablet may have immediately considered an Amazon product, all the more if they regularly shopped at the online giant and had a Prime account.

Unfortunately so long as the Amazon Appstore exists, Google will still continue to – theoretically – have some negative effects, though without a plethora of new devices to make exclusive use of it, the effect – however strong it may be – will be more contained than it is currently.

A word of warning

In considering the larger picture, news of Amazon’s decision might also be a potential word of warning for other companies and OEMs alike eager to try and diversify their product lines. Companies like HTC, already deep in financial plight, might want to reconsider future ventures like another re: action camera, and it’s extremely doubtful there will be an HTC Second. If a company like Amazon has had to rethink its consumer product catalog, what hope does a smaller player have?

htc-first-app-drawer

If Amazon serves as an example, expect some OEMs to be on alert for superfluous product development. (HTC First pictured)

Perhaps more importantly though, the larger lesson to be learned is that it’s price that is ultimately going to sell products in this day and age. One of the major keys to Amazon’s success had always been the price point, namely that it sells things for less than the in-store price. These things are finished products of which Amazon faces very little exposure to: after the return window ends, the manufacturer is responsible for basically everything.

With Amazon-produced products however, services like Mayday were included. Mayday, which came as no extra cost to consumers, required the employment of untold numbers of customer service staff who would be on call, 24-7, to handle any and every question, concern, or grievance from users. In theory it’s a great idea, but it’s also a very costly one for a business to run.

These factors, along with development costs, are seemingly a large basis for which Amazon chose to price its products at relatively high points.

Wrap-up

amazon-kindle-fire-hdx-7-unboxing-25

Amazon, in a sense, tried to come full circle in its business practices. The company, which began as a retailer of consumer products (books) and gradually shifted its main business to web services, sought to turn back on itself and create the very consumer products it began by selling. According to The Wall Street Journal, this process is going to be severely curtailed going forward, and thus we expect to see a more lean, more refined line of offerings in the future.

Does this mean Amazon will discontinue making electronics? Even assuming the report is 100% accurate, the answer is likely no. As long as Amazon keeps Lab126’s doors open, it will inevitably continue to create. As long as Amazon has a vision, and as long as it perceives a need, it will manufacture and sell. The only difference perhaps, is to what extent that might be, and to what market the devices are targeting.

It will be particularly interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks, given that this is usually the time when Amazon announces its new product refreshes. Could the Echo be the last major product of 2015, or will it be joined by some new tablets and Kindles?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Is Amazon’s current fate warranted? Have you owned any Amazon consumer products before? Please leave your comments below!

Deal Alert: SanDisk 128GB microSD card for $60

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

SanDisk Ultra 128GB microSD

High capacity microSD cards can be rather pricey, but Amazon US is running a big discount on SanDisk Ultra cards, which could save you up to 40 percent off the usual retail price.

The SanDisk 128GB model is listed with a retail price of $59.99, a $40 saving off the $99.99 usual cost. The card comes with up to 48MB/s read speeds, a 10 year warranty and a SD adapter to connect it up to your other gadgets.

Amazon is also offering a smaller, but still substantial 34 percent discount off the 64GB equivalent SanDisk card, which can be yours for just $22.99. The 32GB model has also been reduced by 24 percent and now costs $12.99. The 16GB and 8GB versions aren’t discounted, but they are only priced at $8 and $6 respectively.

These are a pretty cost efficient ways to bump up your smartphone’s or tablet’s internal storage. Amazon Prime customers can also benefit from free two day shipping, as these orders will be fulfilled by Amazon.

Amazon: SanDisk 128GB microSD card for $60

Deal: GOgroove Bluetooth car kit only $16.99!

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

BlueGATE_CTR_mounts_LRG

Looking for a hands-free Bluetooth kit? There’s plenty of options out there, but for $16.99 you could definitely do much worse than the GOgroove hands-free Bluetooth car kit. That’s how much the accessory is being sold for at Amazon, which just so happens to be a $25 (56%) discount over the original price.

The system is pretty simple to operate. Just plug the car charger in and connect to your Bluetooth-enabled device. This process is made simpler to those who happen to have NFC technology available, as the product has an integrated chip for easy pairing.

Need to charge your phone? No worries, the connector comes with an extra 2.1A USB port for powering any other handset. Pretty nifty, right? Once it’s all set up, you can make all the calls you want, as well as having access to music control, voice commands and more.

Want in on the deal? If you go to the Amazon product page you will see the price is still set at $41.99 with free shipping. To get the price down to $16.99, simply use coupon code “SAVEBLU1″ during checkout. This will grant yuo the $25 discount and you will be ready to head out the door with your brand new GOgroove Bluetooth car kit.

Buy the GOgroove hands-free Bluetooth car kit from Amazon!

Amazon releases updated shopping app, now calls it Underground

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Amazon has recently introduced a new shopping app for Android. Amazon Underground lets you do your shopping for apps and games for free. By free we mean the apps offered are complete with all the premium features. No need to pay extra for in-app items because the titles included are free versions of popular paid apps like ‘Goat Simulator‘, ‘OfficeSuite Professional 8′, ‘PhotoSuite 4′, ‘Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions‘, ‘Frozen Free Fall’, ‘Looney Tunes Dash!‘, and ‘Angry Birds Slingshot’ among others.

Amazon has partnered with game and app developers to work out a business model that would pay them on a per-minute played basis for their apps and games according to the e-commerce site. The idea is for these developers to waive in-app fees and they will be paid only every time an app is used or a game is played. So who’s paying for the app then? It’s actually Amazon who’s paying the per minute charges so you’ll have nothing to worry about.

To enjoy the full benefits of these premium apps and game, just download the Underground app and access from there. Owners of Fire HDX and Fire HD tablets will find the Underground app on their units automatically but app can also be downloaded from Amazon.com if you use any other Android tablet or phone.

Amazon Android shopping app

Simply put, Underground is a well-packaged Amazon app store. You cannot find it anywhere on Google Play. It’s basically a new Amazon shopping app but you can now see an “Actually Free” section where you can access and download all those “free” apps as long as developers keep them in the Amazon app store. They can be pulled out anytime so might as well enjoy them before you’re asked to pay a dollar or more.

Amazon Underground 2

VIA: SlashGear

SOURCE: Amazon

Still waiting to buy the Fire Phone? Amazon lowered its price (again)

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Amazon_Fire_Phone_Main_TA

The Fire Phone has gone from an overpriced bombshell to a moderately priced off-contract choice during its thirteen months on the market. Amazon started selling the device in July 2014 as an exclusive for AT&T customers, a decision that was only the beginning of its phone’s problems. The price of the Fire Phone with a two-year contract was $199 and the off-contract price stood tall at $649. Those two prices are typically reserved for high-end devices. The Fire Phone, of course, is not “high-end.” So Amazon was left with no choice but to lower the Fire Phone’s off-contract price multiple times. Until today, the price of the Fire Phone was $159.

Hit the break to see how much Amazon’s flagship phone is after the most recent price cut.

Amazon is currently selling the Fire Phone for just $130. This is without any type of carrier commitment. The Fire Phone purchased through Amazon at the new price can be operated on any GSM network. While $130 is an excellent price, the Fire Phone is very hard to recommend to anyone but Amazon shopaholics.

[Amazon]

Come comment on this article: Still waiting to buy the Fire Phone? Amazon lowered its price (again)

Amazon Underground is giving away $10,000 worth of free apps

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

amazon undergroundAmazon is now offering $10,000 worth of apps, games, and in-app add-ons all for free with Amazon Underground. Amazon says they will do this by letting users download an app for free, and based on how long you use it, will then compensate developers.

The way it works is per-minute payments are given to the developers from Amazon as long as they wave any upfront fees. That makes the software totally free for consumers. The apps that can be downloaded must be from the Amazon store and not Google’s Play Store, however. When you do go to download apps be sure to look for “Actually Free” to be sure the app is included in Underground and is free. Also, Amazon’s famous “Free App of the Day” promotion will disappear, and will be replaced by Underground.

Source: Amazon

Come comment on this article: Amazon Underground is giving away $10,000 worth of free apps

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