Amazon Rolls Out Home Services in 11 More Cities

It’s been 4 months since Amazon Home Services bowed, and now they’re adding 11 more cities, to cover a total of 15. Home Services allows you to not only buy things like water heaters and wall mounted TVs, but to locate someone to install them…horning in on Angie’s List and American Home Shield. Geekwire.com says they plan to be in 30 cities by year’s end. Already available in New York, LA, San Francisco, & Seattle, Amazon has tacked on providers in: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose and Washington D.C.
They are offering what they call their Happiness Guarantee on the jobs.

A big gift for history buffs has dropped…AP and British Movietone have added their entire historical news archives to YouTube, dating back to 1895. That’s more than a million minutes of historical footage! 9to5google.com reports that AP may try to monetize later with ads, but for now are relying on licensing deals with documentary makers and the like.

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‘Amazon Killer’ Startup Jet Launches

Jet, which has been operating in beta since April, officially launched today. They’ve raise 225 million in their effort to out-Amazon Amazon. Businessinsider.com reports the site promises prices 10-15% lower than anywhere else. Product prices start at about 8% cheaper, but Jet gives further discounts when you bundle multiple orders into a single shipment. The company claims not to take a cut of product prices, but just be about making money from a Costco like $50 annual membership fee.

Google has released a new plug in that allows you to open files for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint right from Google Drive. When you’re ready to save, you can save right inside Drive, too. According to engadget.com, it works with Office on Windows machines, but Google hasn’t announced when the plug in might be available on Macs.


Apple Dominates Mobile Podcast Listening

Apple has 41% market share in smartphones, compared to 53% for Android, but when it comes to podcast listening, they crush all comers. 9to5mac.com says a report by Clammr on podcast listening habits gives Apple 82% of all podcast listening…with Android owners a distant 2nd at 16%. Even with a large selection of third party podcast apps, three fourths of users listen on Apple’s native Podcasts app.

The Mag Safe connector Apple supplies with its MacBooks has probably saved hundreds of thousands of laptops from damage, by easily disconnecting the cord whey you clumsily trip over it. Now, gizmodo.com reports a new Kickstarter called Znaps brings that tech to the rest of us. The system uses a little adapter that plugs into the Lightening or micro USB port, and another small adapter that goes on the end of your charging plug. A little LED on the connector tells you your phone’s charging. Znaps was shooting for $120,000 on Kickstarter, but has raised a half million. You can preorder a single pair of adapters for just 9 bucks.


Hulu Thinking About Ad-Free Tier

On the heels of the word that Netflix is considering a price increase, it’s come out that Hulu is looking into rolling out an ad-free tier. Thenextweb.com reports that Hulu’s Project NOAH (which stands for No Ads on Hulu) would cost $12-$14 a month…not quite double their present $7.99 service with commercial breaks. There has been some speculation that they would add 4K streaming to the ad-free service to sweeten the pot, since Netflix is already launching 4K for some of its original content. No word on when this might happen…as they say….stay tuned.

A Korean company may have come up with a solution to one of life’s great aggravations…flat tires. Hankook Tire already makes traditional vehicle tires, but according to bgr.com, they are testing a new type of airless tire called iFlex…no air, never a flat tire! The tests are now in the 5th generation, and are allegedly made of eco-friendly material. They aren’t ready for high performance, but Hankook says that up to 80 mph, they perform just like a regular tire. No word on when they might be ready to hit the market…and roadways.


Facebook’s Experimental ‘Watch Later’ Button

Here’s a solution in search of a problem. Facebook is testing a ‘Watch Later’ button for videos. Video is a big deal to Facebook, because it’s one of their fastest growing categories, with 4 billion views a day the last quarter. Techcrunch.com says they’re testing a little tab in the upper right corner…mouse over it, and a save box pops up. Facebook is intent on really competing with YouTube in videos. It will be great for more views on Facebook, and more of your data they can make a buck off of, but do you really want or need this? I don’t.

Apple is reported to be talking with the cell providers about launching new ‘e-SIM’ cards for their phones. The latest iteration of the iPad has the feature, so it’s not like a bolt out of the blue, but the carriers are much more protective of the handsets than tablets. 9to5mac.com reports that Samsung is also involved in the talks, so a universal embedded e-SIM card could become standard…enabling users to switch cellular providers more easily. Of course, the carriers would still put limitations on this, to avoid an exodus to competitors. AT&T and T-Mobile parent Deutche Telekom are among the telecoms involved in the talks. The e-SIM could appear in phones as early as next year.


Google Rolls Out “Purchases,” Their Mobile Buy Buttons

It’s been rumored for a couple of months now, and today Google dropped Purchases on Google. According to TechCrunch.com, you’ll see a ‘buy’ button in some of the promoted mobile search results. When it’s clicked, you jump to a page where you can buy the advertised product. Unlike Amazon Marketplace, Google just hosts the pages…the actual fulfillment will be handled by the merchants running the ad. Right now, there are over a dozen retail partners powering Purchases by Google, but expect many others to join in by year’s end.

A new study from Pew Research and Knight Foundation says Facebook and Twitter users spanning all demographics are increasingly using the social networks as news sources, albeit for different content on each platform. Niemanlab.org reports that 63% of both Twitter and Facebookers get their news from the social nets. That’s up from 52% of Twitter users 2 years ago and 47% of Facebook users. Nearly double the Twitter users follow breaking news…59% as opposed to 31% of Facebook users. Now 10% of American adults get news on Twitter, and about 40% get news from Facebook.


Apple TV May Be Coming—As Streaming, Not a Box

Now that Cupertino has jumped into music streaming with both feet, Apple is working on a ‘cable-killer TV app,’ according to theverge.com. There are several reports that they are working to cut deals with ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, among others. One sticking point has been the fragmentation of local affiliate feeds, but apparently the networks are close to having rights to negotiate with Apple on behalf of their affiliates. As with apps and music, Apple is looking for a 30% cut of any subscription revenue. Disney and CBS could be first to sign, and ESPN may be included. Rates are rumored to be $10 to $40 a month. No time frame on when it might roll out.

A creepy discovery about Google Photos was uncovered by a reporter. Bgr.com reports that after trying the app, and deleting it, the reporter found his pictures were still being uploaded to Google servers. The uploading apparently takes place independently of the app on your phone, and it’s a feature to Google, not a bug. If you want to stop it, you have to go into Google Play Services and disable automatic uploads.