Amazon Launch Subscription Service for Books

 

Katie Collins writing for Wired: 

Online retailer Amazon launched a Kindle subscription service for books on Friday that will work much like Spotify or Netflix, but for books. Kindle Unlimited is available now in the US and costs $9.99 (about £6) per month.

Wired.co.uk asked Amazon when we could expect to see Kindle Unlimited land in the UK, but could get no more information than the following statement: “Kindle Unlimited is only available in the US right now, but please stay tuned.”

Unfortunately Amazon does not have a track record of quickly delivering products it launches in the US. When Amazon launched Autorip — the service that entitles anyone who buys a CD or vinyl to a free digital version — in the US in January 2013, it took six months to bring it to the UK. The Kindle Fire tablet took almost a year to reach British shores and Amazon is still yet to announce a date for launching the Fire TV in the UK, and wasn’t prepared to give anything away when Wired.co.uk questioned a UK-based Amazon Prime Video executive recently.

As it stands though, Kindle Unlimited might prove a rather underwhelming service anyway. Amazon boasts that Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Life of Pi will all be available, but the big five publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan — have all declined to make their titles available on Kindle Unlimited. The big five are far from the be-all and end-all of publishing, but not being able to make their titles available to Kindle Unlimited customers means that the service will lack many old favourites and much-anticipated new books.

If they can get the those 5 publishers onboard than that will point to subscription services really being the way of the future just like music subscriptions services.

Samsung still obsessed with Apple, screen quantity over quality

 

Rene Ritchie on Samsung’s Latest Ad:

And this, once again, highlights important differences between the two companies. Not just that Samsung shows off Apple products in their ads and Apple sticks to showing off their own products, or that Samsung uses plastic where Apple uses aluminum, or that Samsung uses SAMOLED where Apple prefer LED, or that Samsung has a bifurcated software experience, split between Android and TouchWiz and Apple has a coherent one, all iOS, all the time, but at their cores.

Samsung, like everyone’s favorite crazy uncle, believes in trying everything and anything, throwing it all at the wall in hopes that something sticks. It doesn’t matter if any one of those products is substandard or marginal, if things like PenTile pixel arrangements downgrade screen quality or some features exist only in their own apps and not Google’s, preventing people from having a consistent experiences.

Apple, by contrast, stays focused. They take their time. They weren’t first to phones or tablets or TV boxes, and they weren’t first to phablets. They believe in quality over quantity. They had 3.5-inch phones for 5-generations, the 4-inch phones for 2. They went to Retina display, in-pane switching, 16:9 aspect ratio, and in-cell display. They didn’t make many more screens, they made far better screens.

And according to the latest numbers, the iPhone 5s still outsells the Galaxy S5.

Many people simply don’t want a bigger phone. They want something that easily fits in their hand or pocket or purse. For those who do, however, they currently have to choose between iOS on a 4-inch device or not-iOS on a bigger device. Imagine what will happen this fall, when they can get iOS on a bigger phone.

If history is any indicator, what Samsung’s really going to need to make bigger is their ad budget. And better too. Way better.

Focus. Spot on from Rene Ritchie.

Apple brings iTunes Extras to Apple TV, HD Extras to Macs today & iOS 8 in fall

 

Jordan Kahn:

Apple today released iTunes version 11.3 and with it is making its iTunes Extras feature available for HD movies on Macs.  Apple also announced today that the feature is now available for Apple TV with update 6.2 and will arrive on iOS 8 this fall.

As noted by Apple, “iTunes Extras can include behind-the-scenes videos, short films, high-resolution image galleries, director’s commentary, scenes, and more.

Finally – have been waiting for iTunes Extras for Apple TV since the 1st generation of Apple TV.

Harmony Remote Now Works With Nest Learning Thermostat

 

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Logitech announced yesterday that their Harmony universal remote control devices range can now be integrated with Nest Thermostats – specifically the Harmony ‘Ultimate’ remote control. Together with their previously announced Philips HUE light integration and Sonos audio integration, the Harmony remote can now control your lights, audio and now heating for when you using one of the activities such as watching a movie, listening to music etc.

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Logitech state that you can:

  • See and set the temperature without leaving your couch
  • When paired with your Nest Thermostat, Harmony Ultimate lets you quickly and easily set your preferred temperature directly from the remote.
  • Change Nest heating and cooling modes
  • Easily access and select your preferred Nest operating mode—Heat, Cool, or Heat • Cool— on the remote’s full color touchscreen.
  • Ultimate lets Nest know you’re home
  • Pick up Harmony Ultimate when you return home and the remote’s motion sensor knows to tell Nest to switch off Auto-Away™ mode.
  • Pairing Nest with Harmony Ultimate is a snap
  • Use the MyHarmony desktop software to quickly add, pair and configure your Nest thermostat with your Harmony Ultimate remote. Get step-by-step instructions.
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I’m not really sure how useful it would be to adjust the temperature when starting or changing an activity, it seems more like a convenience to be able to adjust the temperature rather than anything else, however just having the ability to talk to the Nest Thermostat should be applauded.

You can find out more about the Harmony ULTIMATE remote here.

Why Windows Phone is not Taking Off

 

Brad Reed:

Windows Phone is in a real Catch-22: App developers won’t make apps for the platform if Windows Phone doesn’t get more users and Windows Phone won’t get more users until more app developers make apps for the platform. And it’s not enough for Microsoft to just throw cash at developers to get them to bring their apps to the platform long after they’ve become hits — the company needs a way to get developers to put Windows Phone on the radar right from the beginning.

Being a long time iPhone user, I have used a Windows Phone and to this day absolutely adore the user interface of Windows Phone. The Live Tiles, fonts, ease of use is very refreshing in a Android and iOS dominated world. It is a shame that Microsoft is not gaining traction in the market because of 3rd party apps or lack off – that’s the bottom line.

Cloud Kit for iCloud Will Solve Photo Storage Issues on iPhone

 

Daniel Eran Dilger:

The new Extensions feature isn’t the only major advance for Photos in iOS 8: Apple also dramatically improved upon its existing (and somewhat confusing) iCloud Photo Stream implementation. Currently, users can manually share photos as a “Shared Photo Stream,” and iOS devices automatically share the last 1,000 photos taken to “My Photo Stream.”

In either case, users can opt to download cloud-based photos to a Mac via iPhoto or Aperture for permanent archiving. Shared Photo Streams can be shared just among a user’s devices or with other users, and don’t go away. However, the main Photo Stream overflows at 1,000 pictures, meaning users have to manually manage photos they want to have accessible “in the cloud.”

This can lead to confusion for some iOS users who run out of space and manually delete images under the impression that they are stored “in the cloud” when in fact those images will eventually go away unless the user understands how to save them to a desktop computer. For iOS 8, Apple has fixed all of this with Cloud Kit.

Cloud Kit is a new architecture that provides third party developers with all of the cloud infrastructure they need to build sophisticated web services. Developers build a local client app that talks to Apple’s Cloud Kit, and Cloud Kit manages all the work in saving shared content on Apple’s remote servers. As a demonstration of how Cloud Kit works, Apple built iOS 8’s Photos app using Cloud Kit.

As a result, the new Photos gets rich support for storing images and video in iCloud. iOS 8 users will now have all their photos and videos saved in the cloud, and none will vanish after a specific period or threshold of 1,000 images.

As Apple notes, “Once you’ve enabled it on your iOS devices, iCloud Photo Library automatically keeps all your photos and videos in iCloud, at full resolution in their original formats, including RAW files. You can access and download them anytime from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or the web.”

The space consumed by photos and videos consumes much of the available storage for many iOS users. Under the heading “Fill your library, not your device,” Apple’s iOS 8 preview explains, “iCloud Photo Library helps you make the most of the space available on your iOS device, so you can spend more time shooting pictures and less time managing them. It can automatically keep the original high-resolution photos and videos in iCloud and leave behind lightweight versions that are perfectly sized for each device. You get 5GB of iCloud storage free, and other storage plans will start at $0.99 per month.”

After having a quick look at the beta version of the upcoming iOS 8 release, I was intrigued to see how the new storing all your photos in iCloud would affect the amount of storage on your iPhone.

At the moment, the majority of iPhone users are running into storage issues because they have 2-3 Gigabytes of photos stuck in their camera rolls and there is no built in way to free up that storage by having the photos you take, automatically be managed and moved. It would appear that this new Cloud kit backend from Apple will automatically delete the local copy of the photo from your device without affecting the permanently saved and stored iCloud copy. 

We will have to wait nearer iOS 8’s release to know for sure exactly how it manages it, but solving the memory issues when it comes to photo management on the iPhone is something I’m eager for Apple to potentially solve.