Companies agree to make in-app purchase systems more visible
Major app store operators Amazon, Apple, and Google -- as well as French publisher Gameloft -- have reached a deal with Italy's Antitrust and Competition Authority that will let them avoid fines for misleading people about so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" apps. The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies have agreed to remove the word "free" from apps that may require in-app payments to be useful. The parties have also committed to making it clearer when a person is about to make an in-app purchase. All of the changes will be applied across the European Union.
Sales up 15 percent to $29.3 billion, Amazon Prime boost credited
Amazon released its fourth quarter and annual numbers today, through a its investor relations site and a web cast conference call. Prime service membership was called out as a key contributing factor towards increases in Q4 and full year 2014 numbers, with new Prime membership growing slightly faster in markets outside North America.
WorkMail hosted on AWS, provides 50GB storage for each user for $4 per month
Amazon is taking on Google, Microsoft, and other suppliers of remote workplace communications, with its own corporate email service. Dubbed WorkMail, the service is claimed to be a "secure, managed business email and calendaring service," hosted in the cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and could be an easier and cheaper corporate email system to manage than current services like Exchange servers.
Motorola details online store discounts for early February
Motorola will be offering multiple discounts on devices in its mobile store, as part of a Valentine's Day promotion. From February 3 until February 14, the manufacturer is discounting pre-tax purchases worth $500 by $100, or $35 off $250 purchases, though an customers registering for the promotion within a one-hour window on February 2 will get codes worth $140 and $50 off the $500 and $250 respective purchases.
App for managing store loyalty cards, gift cards no longer available for download
Amazon has quietly pulled an Android app for a service it launched half a year ago. The Amazon Wallet app, launched in July last year and previously available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, is now no longer available to download, suggesting that the app failed to make as much of an impact as the online retail giant anticipated.
Plans to bring movies to Prime Instant Video within weeks of premiere
Amazon is expanding its media empire once again, by moving into the movie business. Not content with producing its own programs, Amazon Studios plans to produce and acquire original movies for release in cinemas, though unlike typical theatrical releases, the retailer is aiming to add the films to Prime Instant Video shortly after the premiere.
European Commission investigation finds issues with Amazon tax affairs
The European Commission believes Amazon's tax arrangement with Luxembourg can be classed as "state aid." A document published today suggests that Amazon benefited from an agreement with Luxembourg over taxes payable in Europe, one which allowed the retailer to pay proportionately less than other companies had to over the last decade.
Library of over 500 tracks available to Twitch game streamers
Twitch is providing music to users of its game-focused video-streaming service, in order to allow its broadcasters to avoid potential copyright problems. The extra help to game streamers comes as the Amazon-owned service attempts to diversify into different areas, by launching an experimental "Music" category for musicians to stream them playing or creating music.
Last same-day delivery by Amazon before Christmas 3 cases of energy drink
In a release today, Amazon claims that the company's 20th holiday season has brought "record growth" to the Amazon Prime subscription service, despite a price hike to $100 per year earlier in 2014. Amazon reports that more than 10 million new members worldwide tried Prime for the first time, with nearly 60 percent of customers shopping on a mobile device. Other highlights from Amazon for the holiday point to the Fire TV Stick being the fastest-selling Amazon device ever, expansion of Sunday delivery to thousands of US cities, and delivery to 185 countries.
Free apps for your Android phones and tablets
You've no doubt seen some of our picks for discounted iOS apps, and our "beyond-the-last-minute" Gift Guide, but we've been poking around the Android side of things as well. The biggest deal going for Android users is a special offer from Amazon's app store currently has $220 worth of normally for-pay apps available for free. Read on to discover just a sampling of what Santa-zon has in store for you.
Apps, e-cards and other instant-delivery options for the procrastinators
We're some 40 years overdue for flying cars, teleportation and printers that can output copies of our dreams, but there are a few methods by which the chronic procrastinators of this world can still swoop in with a last-minute gift for someone at Christmas they'll actually like. While Amazon has closed the doors to physical delivery of any products at this point -- even for Prime members - by the 25th, you still have perhaps a few hours left to send a Boxing Day present, or get in now to ensure a timely New Year's gift. Or you can read on for more suggestions.
Samsung Smart TVs to gain PlayStation Now in 2015
Sony's PlayStation Now is heading to new Samsung smart televisions. The game streaming service, which allows gamers to play hundreds of PlayStation 3 games without the console, will be available on "select" Samsung TVs arriving in the first half of 2015. Samsung has yet to state which sets will receive PlayStation Now, but more details are likely to surface during CES next month.
Dev channel for Chrome OS includes always-on voice search option
Google is bringing the always-on "Ok Google" voice command to Chromebooks. Spotted in the Dev Channel version of the operating system by Francois Beaufort, the function lets users perform a search verbally at any time, in a similar manner to some Android smartphones. It is unknown if or when the feature will reach non-developer users.
Prime customers can pay for one-hour delivery, get two-hour deliveries free
After experimenting with same-day deliveries in a number of cities, Amazon is now increasing the speed of delivery for some customers with the launch of Prime Now. The new service, launching in Manhattan today, will let Prime subscribers place orders for thousands of essential items, and receive the delivery on their doorstep in an hour or less.
Streaming app from HBO hits Fire TV today, Fire TV Stick in spring
HBO Go is heading to a number of streaming devices now and in the near future, it has been revealed. Owners of Roku streamers on Comcast will soon gain access to the app and Showtime, while Amazon's Fire TV users are able to stream from the service straight away, with the app also including support for the Fire TV's voice search functionality.
Claims Apple was taking on 'predatory pricing' by Amazon
At least one, and possibly two, of the three judges overseeing the appeal of the e-book antitrust verdict against Apple, have expressed strong doubt about the entire basis of the case against the iPhone maker - with Dennis Jacobs, was "openly hostile to the [US] government's case" on the first day of proceedings, says Agence France-Presse. Apple is accused of conspiring with book publishers to artificially inflate the costs of e-books, with a particular aim at undermining Amazon. Jacobs today argued, however that Apple was a "new entrant" into an established e-book world, "breaking the hold of a market by a monopolist who is maintaining its hold by what is arguably predatory pricing."
Book Browser iPad-only for now
Amazon has issued a major update to the Kindle app for iOS, v4.6. Central to the update is the Book Browser, a feature that lets people search through text and audiobooks hosted on Kindle Unlimited. Tapping on a book's cover provides information, such as a description and customer reviews. People subscribed to Unlimited can download a title immediately; the Browser is, however, restricted to the iPad.
Amazon promises sellers won't be affected or penalized by flaw
A brief error on Amazon.co.uk, the British version of the online mega-store, led to thousands of third-party sales erroneously priced at $0.01. A glitch by Amazon Marketplace's Repricer Express led to the pricing errors, between 7PM and 8PM GMT on December 12. Compounding the problem, Amazon seller's fees had not been cut, leading to a temporary situation where sellers were actually giving money to Amazon to sell the goods for near-free.
App replaced by 'Amazon Shopping' app with no links to app store
As a result of a revised developer's agreement, Google has made the original Amazon Android app undiscoverable in Google Play. Amazon has replaced the removed app with a new "Amazon Shopping" app, which notably removes access to the retailer's app store through a Google Play-sanctioned app, leaving users forced to "sideload" a separate app from another source in order to facilitate downloads and purchases from Amazon's app store.
Ultra HD streams of Amazon originals, Sony Pictures movies offered to Prime subscribers
Amazon has started to make some of its Prime Instant Video content available to view in 4K, later than originally thought and months after major competitor Netflix started offering its Ultra HD streams. The change will allow Prime subscribers to stream a selection of movies and TV shows, including some of Amazon's original productions, as well as offering up 4K movie purchases to all customers.
Firms lag behind likes of Intel, Microsoft, Google
Apple and Amazon are two noteworthy holdouts among major technology companies refusing to share their EEO-1 diversity data with the media, says USA Today. US businesses submit an annual EEO-1 form to the Federal government, detailing the racial, ethnic, and gender lines of their workforces. While resistance to sharing that data has been common for years, in recent months, more and more companies have been bowing to pressure. Facebook, eBay, Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn have made their EEO-1s public; Intel has been disclosing its data for a decade.
iCloud attacks likely key subject of discussion
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Lu Wei -- the chairman of China's State Internet Information Office -- during the latter's recent trip to the US, reports say. Lu is also said to have met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It's unclear what Lu discussed with the executives.
Amazon Kindle tablets and e-readers from $49
Black Friday deals are on now at Amazon. No need to wait outside in the cold, or battle the hoards of deal-hungry shoppers to get these great prices. To kick things off today, the online store is offering discounts on their line of Kindle tablets and e-readers. The all-new Kindle with touch has been reduced again by $30, and can be had for only $49 with special offers that display on the lock screen, or $69 without the ads.
Fire Phone cut to less than a third of original launch price
Amazon has dramatically cut the price of its Fire Phone for a second time, and not as part of a holiday sale or other promotion. The retailer has brought the smartphone down in cost to $199 off-contract from an earlier $0.99 price on a two-year AT&T contract or $449 off-contract, itself a cut from the original launch price of $199 on-contract or $650 unlocked.
OnePlus experience store in Beijing formally opens December 20
OnePlus is seemingly trying to make acquiring its smartphone and accessories easier to acquire in some markets, both online and offline. The company is apparently planning to allow OnePlus One invitation holders in India to buy the smartphone through Amazon's Indian operation, while OnePlus' first offline retail store is opening in China.
Amazon delivery pick-up locations in the United Kingdom exceeds 16,000
Amazon has made two announcements relating to services provided to its customers, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the United Kingdom, the retailer is increasing the number of delivery pick-up locations in time for the holidays, while customers buying certain products in the United States will be alerted to installation services in the local area.
Rumor claims free Prime Instant Video-style service launching early next year
Amazon customers wanting to experience Prime Instant Video may soon be able to view some content without subscribing to the Prime delivery service. The retailer will reportedly be launching an advertising-supported video streaming to its online services roster early next year, allowing viewers to watch a selection of movies and TV shows for free.
Report claims Amazon in talks with hotels to offer online bookings from early 2015
Amazon is said to be close to expanding its retail ambitions, into the travel market. A report claims the online retailer is preparing to open a travel department, and has apparently been working with independent hotels and resorts close to major cities in order to launch the service in the near future, possibly as soon as New Year's Day.
Google Play Music All Access subscribers gain YouTube Music Key access
Google has rolled out its YouTube Music Key service to existing Google Play Music All Access subscribers. While the YouTube Music Key launch revealed its users automatically enrolled into the Google Play Music subscription, Google revealed yesterday that Music All Access users were also able to use Music Key as part of their existing subscription. The Google Play Music app has also been updated on Android, providing options to watch the music video with certain tracks.
Fire TV Stick described as most successful Amazon device launch ever
The Fire TV Stick, Amazon's second media streamer after the Fire TV, has started shipping. Pre-orders of the competitor to the Google Chromecast are the first to go, dispatched on a first-come, first-served basis, though new customers will have a considerable wait for their order, as new stock will not be available until January 15th, 2015.
Google Nexus 6 pre-orders begin in United Kingdom
The Google Nexus 6 will be going on sale soon in the United Kingdom, with a number of retailers offering pre-orders for the device. Carphone Warehouse is selling the smartphone SIM-free for £499 and £549 ($780 and $860) for the 32GB and 64GB models respectively with delivery expected on December 1st. Amazon UK is stocking the 32GB model at the same price, but with a later release date of December 15th. Google Play does list the Nexus 6 for the UK, with identical pricing for both versions, but it is not allowing for pre-orders, nor states when it will be available.
Walmart attempts to retain holiday sales by price matching Amazon
Walmart stores will soon offer price matching against Amazon product listings, in time for the holiday shopping period. Managers at the retailers stores have been informed of the policy change, formalizing a practice already being conducted at half the stores according to Reuters, with the ultimate aim of encouraging customers to continue visiting its stores rather than shopping online.
Hachette allowed to set e-book pricing for all its titles on Amazon storefront
The long-running and rancorous dispute between publisher Hachette and Amazon seems to be over. Both companies have announced that a deal has been struck, with Hachette being able to set prices on the e-books that it sells. Other specific terms of the deal have not yet been made public, and will not likely ever face public scrutiny outside the publishing industry.
UK aviation jobs with Amazon accompanied by voice recognition roles
Amazon's attempts to create a drone delivery service may involve some testing in the United Kingdom. Job postings for Evi Technologies, an Amazon-owned company, show the retail giant is looking for a flight operations engineer, a site leader, a project manager, a software developer, and an office manager, with all jobs directly mentioning Amazon Prime Air.
Primecast app allowed Chromecast streaming of Amazon Instant Video
An Android app which allowed users to watch Amazon Instant Video content on the Google Chromecast has been removed from sale just 36 hours after launch. The Primecast app, an unofficial app sold for $2.99 via Google Play, was pulled after the app's ability to stream video was blocked, effectively making the app useless to its users.
Still down slightly from record high; Amazon tablets more popular than Samsung tablets
New data from ad network and analytics firm Chitika saw the iPad regaining nearly two full points of North American web traffic among tablets in September, finishing the month with 79.9 percent share. Even at its lower July reading of 78 percent, the iPad line still completely dominated its rivals, all of whom reported single-digit web presence. The next nearest rival was Amazon, with 6.7 percent share for its entire Kindle Fire line. Samsung followed in third place, with six percent.
Echo speaker answers questions, plays music on command via voice recognition
Amazon has quietly launched a network-connected speaker with voice recognition. The Echo is a tall cylindrical speaker unit which can be used for music playback, but it also includes a seven-microphone array at the top for listening to voice commands, allowing users to give the device instructions to play music, ask questions, and set appointments.
Toronto, Vancouver-based Amazon customers can pay for same-day deliveries
Amazon is making some changes to its same-day delivery service, including covering two new cities in Canada. The rapid delivery option introduction in Toronto and Vancouver arrives at the same time as a report is published, claiming the retailer is testing the use of taxis for deliveries in some of the areas, with a view to using the cabs for more deliveries in the future.
Globe Theater opens video on-demand store for Shakespeare plays
The Globe Theater has launched a streaming service specializing in Shakespeare plays. Available globally, the Globe Player store offers a selection of performances filmed at the London theater, with a seven-day rental priced at approximately £4 ($6.50) and sales including offline viewing priced at £8 ($13) for each of the famous plays, though it also hosts a number of interviews with notable performers which can be viewed at no charge. Currently, the service only works through a web browser, but the service is considering creating mobile apps if the demand warrants it.
British fashion retailer provides free shipping for Amazon Prime subscribers
Amazon has extended the usefulness of its Prime shipping subscription, by enabling free shipping with another retailer. An agreement between Amazon and British fashion retailer AllSaints will allow Prime subscribers to buy from AllSaints.com with free next-day delivery of orders, in what could be the first of such deals between Amazon and other major online stores.
Free storage applies to photos only, videos still count against storage
Amazon has unveiled another benefit for Amazon Prime purchasers. Effective immediately, the company has granted unlimited storage for personal photos in Amazon Cloud Drive for US Prime users. The benefit was previously only available to Amazon Fire Phone owners. Additionally, the photo storage doesn't count against Cloud Drive storage limits in any way.
Amazon smartphone sales improved after severe price cut
Amazon made a mistake with the launch of the Fire Phone, an executive has admitted. Pricing of the device is claimed to be a major factor in its relative failure to gain traction in the smartphone market, one which led to the retailer's Chief Technical Officer Tom Szkutak to note as part of the retailer's quarterly results that most of a $170 million charge was due to the device, with a surplus of devices worth around $83 million left unsold.
Gold-colored Moto 360 spotted on Amazon with matching metal bands
New color options of the Moto 360 are on the way, according to a leak on Amazon. The now-removed listings spotted by Android Police showed a champagne gold Moto 360, combined with matching 18mm and 23mm metal bands, with the existing black and brushed steel versions also shown by the online retailer as being sold with their respective-colored metal straps.
Amazon competes against Chromecast with own HDMI dongle
Amazon has added a second option for customers wanting to acquire its Fire TV media streamer, one which seemingly takes inspiration from the Roku Streaming Stick and the Google Chromecast. The Fire TV Stick plugs into the HDMI socket of a television, and aims to provide the same streaming experience as its set-top box stablemate.
May signal gradual expansion
The Amazon Rewards Visa card has now been added to Apple Pay, some owners have noticed. The card wasn't initially compatible with Apple Pay when the service was launched earlier this week. Support for the card is notable because of its popularity, owing to users getting three percent back on Amazon purchases, two percent at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores, and one percent on all other purchases.
Wall Street expecting Amazon to rein in ambitions, turn a profit
Amazon.com today announced financial results for its third quarter that ended on September 30. Net sales increased 20 percent to $20.58 billion in the third quarter, compared with $17.09 billion in the third quarter of 2013. Despite the increase, Amazon's net loss was $437 million in the third quarter, or $0.95 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $41 million, or $0.09 per diluted share in the same time period of of 2013.
Amazon Fire TV includes broadcaster on-demand services alongside Amazon Instant Video
Amazon has started to sell its Fire TV media streamer in the United Kingdom, marking the set-top box's first foray in Europe and outside the United States. Following a pre-order period which started in early September, Amazon is selling the Fire TV for £79 ($126) including tax, and is also shipping the Amazon Fire Game Controller separately for £35 ($56).
Google Glass update adds smartwatch-style notifications
Google Glass will soon have the ability to show notifications from a smartphone on the heads-up display, a feature common to smartwatches. Notifications Sync on Glass will show all notifications from the connected Android smartphone, not just those which offer Glass functionality, with the software update expected to roll out to users of the MyGlass app this week.
Three studios allegedly in discussions with Amazon over joining UltraViolet
UltraViolet, the online digital locker which provides downloadable copies of movies sold on DVD and Blu-ray, may get some extra support in the future. The Wall Street Journal claims the existing roster of companies offering UltraViolet services could soon be joined by Amazon, as it attempts to fight off competition from Apple's iTunes Store and other services.
New York Amazon store claimed to act as mini warehouse for same-day deliveries
Amazon may be preparing to open its first physical retail store, reports claim, with an experimental store set to be unveiled in New York City. The online retailer is allegedly looking to open its first brick-and-mortar location on 34th Street in Manhattan, with the space expected to be turned into an Amazon pop-up store in time for the holiday shopping period.