Amazon has dropped a small but significant update to their Prime Music app. According to 9to5google.com, you will now be able to store offline music on a device’s SD card for playback when you’re not connected to the web. The update also adds support for Android Wear smartwatches. With SD cards becoming less ubiquitous in smartphones, no word on whether Amazon will extend the feature to the main memory of smartphones. At any rate, the updated app is available free at the Google Play Store.
Speaking of Google, it appears that they’re moving towards merging Chrome OS into Android. Theverge.com says to look for a demo of the combined system at Google I/O next year. It will take some serious changes under the hood to get Android to run everything on laptops, and when the final new system is rolled out in 2017, Chromebooks will obviously get a new name…Androidbooks, perhaps? Google has noted that they are not exactly ‘killing’ Chrome, so there may actually be 3 different systems moving forward.
They went on preorder earlier this week, and priority deliveries start tomorrow for Apple TV…or, you can swing by an Apple Store and try to buy one. 9to5mac.com reports that Best Buy, B&H, and other resellers will also have the set top boxes, but check ahead to make sure they’re selling them tomorrow. Best Buy has said they will be stocking them in store by November 4th. Apple TV is $149 for the 32 gig model, $199 for the 64 gig one.
Long time dumb light bulb maker GE is a bit late to the smart bulb party, but is rolling out a pair of smart bulbs today, with one aimed at emulating natural light to help you wake and sleep better. According to theverge.com, the C Sleep bulb has 3 settings: a bright blue tone to wake you in the morning, a standard orange one for midday, and a softer yellow color for evening. GE says they better match actual lighting outdoors, and you’ll wake easier and get to sleep better with these. They’re controllable via Bluetooth from your smartphone, but you have to be in range…unlike many bulbs you can control remotely from outside the home. The plus is, there’s no hub to buy…you control them directly. The C Sleep bulbs are intended for bedrooms, a C Life model doesn’t have the color range, and it for the rest of the house. Right now, you need to visit GE’s website to buy a starter pack…2-packs will be showing up in stores soon.
On the heels of YouTube’s announcement of their ad-free subscription service called Red last week, ESPN has pulled all content from YouTube. The content is still available on ESPN’s own digital properties, according to 9to5google.com. The only reason given is ‘rights and legal issues.’ It appears that ESPN can’t sign on with YouTube Red due to deals it has with other distribution partners. Since ESPN is a Disney property, it’s a good bet that YouTube can get their content back by throwing money at them.
Meanwhile, if you’re where you can’t catch world series games on the tube or radio. Facebook has started letting some Messenger users subscribe to MLB World Series news, stories, and hi lights, embedded in a one on one chat. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s a slick way for Facebook to get into Twitter’s turf. So far, it seems to be just a test feature, but if you can’t catch the game, start a chat about it with a friend, and you may see the game updates invite from Facebook Messenger.
A lot of people first saw them back in the 60’s in James Bond’s “Thunderball,” and now Citigroup is testing iris scanners for their ATMs. Engadget.com reports that the financial giant will scan customers’ eyeballs with the bank patrons’ smartphones instead of using PIN numbers. They estimate that this could cut dragging out your cash down to a 10 second transaction. No timeline was given on when or if Citi will roll the iris scanning system to the public. The tech is from Diebold, which has something of a spotty record when it comes to voting machines, so Citi may be waiting to gauge if the public will be comfortable with an eye scan to draw out their hard earned cash.
We already have Uber and Lift for on demand rides and some small package delivery, so how about on-demand trucking? A startup called Convoy has raised $2.5 million from Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff, and some other heavy hitters, according to geekwire.com. It will concentrate on local and regional trucks on demand. Like with Uber and Lyft, it will be smartphone based. If someone needs some freight moved, they can key it in and a truck and driver will show up. For the indy truckers, it will get rid of the broker middleman and his cut, plus get them a job in minutes, saving lots of time. For the customer, pricing information is calculated instantly based on distance, weight, and other variables — and available trucks, all of which are pre-approved by Convoy, licensed by the government, and carry cargo insurance. The company also provides customer service to ensure that shipments are completed.
Like Phoebe Buffay from the old ‘Friends’ TV show, Samsung has developed a couple of batteries called Stripe and Band, that are almost ‘very bendy!’ The most flexible of the two is Stripe, which can be flexed many ways, like a fiber. Geek.com reports that Samsung suggests it can be used as a necklace, hairband, or other accessory, to provide on-demand power. It reportedly has a higher energy density than any remotely similar device. Band is specifically for smartwatches, and will increase battery life in smartwatches by at least 50%. No word on when they will hit the market yet, but look for Band on a future Samsung smartwatch soon.
In a move to capitalize on their rep at a real time source for news and commentary, Twitter is partnering with CBS news on the next Democratic presidential debate November 14th. The firehose social media site will provide CBS with real time data and insights, and bring in live reactions and questions. According to techcrunch.com, CBS will integrate this data and viewer commentary and questions into its live coverage. Look for the official hashtag #DemDebate.
Lockheed Martin and Kaman built the K-MAX helicopter to transport cargo in Afghanistan, but according to engadget.com, they showed off an autonomous version to the feds a few days ago in Idaho rigged to fight forest fires. Over the course of an hour and a half, the chopper scooped up buckets of water, and bombed targets, while the pilot on board held his hands up and away from the controls. California needs these now!
We’ve reported that Samsung’s next Galaxy smartphone, the S7, will have something resembling Apple’s 3D Touch and a new iteration Snapdragon processor. Now, 9to5google.com says you can expect a USB Type C port as well. The launch date will depend on when Qualcomm can get the Snapdragon 820 processors to them. SamMobile reports that just the US and China will get this processor, with other countries getting S7’s using the Exynos processor. Look for them in late Winter or early Spring of next year.
Microsoft temporarily shut down preorders for the new Surface Book combo laptop/tablet, but they’re back online. That’s the good news, if you want one of the powerful new devices. The down side? Cnet.com reports that ship times have slipped to between 6 and 8 weeks…two months! If you really want to get one sooner, some vendors…including frys.com have shorter ship times, or you can roll the dice and show up at a Microsoft store October 26th. Best Buy will carry the Surface Book, but their website only says ‘coming soon.’
Since the introduction of larger screened iPhones, China has rocketed to being Apple’s biggest market. TechCrunch.com says that App Annie’s analysis shows that China led all countries in absolute growth 3rd quarter of this year, both measured by app downloads and revenue. Google Play still has more downloads than Apple’s App store in China, but iOS App Store revenue is 80% higher than Google Play! Most of that action is in social video apps and games.
Uber has launched UberRush in New York and added San Francisco and Chicago. The same day delivery system had been piloting in New York, with the price of delivery ranging between $5 and $7. According to recode.net, businesses can either sign up for the program directly, or access it through e-commerce software like Shopify and Bigcommerce. Other partners include delivery.com, ChowNow for food, BloomNet for floral services, and the Clover digital cash register service. Uber is going after smaller local retailers and restaurants, as big name retailers have been tough for them to pull into the program. Diliv, Postmates, and Sidecar are already in this rapid delivery space, so Uber doesn’t have totally clear sailing…or in this case, driving.
Gadgets and software to repurpose old devices into monitors for your home are already out there, but not for free…until now. Perch is a startup from the Samsung Accelerator program, and right now, you can download their software for free to turn an old USB-based webcam, smartphone, or tablet into a security monitor. Thenextweb.com reports that it allows for two way communication, too, so you can turn on the audio and tell your pooch to stop barking. It’s movement based, and they claim it’s smart enough not to send you an alert if a dog or cat moves, just a person. You can also use it to turn on internet of things gadgets like smart light bulbs and appliances. It’s out for Android 4.1 or later, and Wi-Fi only for now. iOS and Smart TV support is on the way.
As expected, Apple has rolled out a new 21.5 inch iMac, featuring a 4K video display. Theverge.com reports it will sell for $1499, and in addition to the eye-popping new screen that can show 25% more colors, it has faster RAM and processor, and bigger storage options. It ships today with a new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and optional $129 Force Touch trackpad. The 1080p model stays in the lineup starting at $1099.
Meanwhile, over at Samsung, a completely un-shocking rumor is floating around. According to 9to5google.com, they’re working to add pressure sensitive touch screen to the next Galaxy smartphone, the S7. It will be the ClearForce hardware from Synaptic, which we reported was being shopped around to Android makers and which is already in the Huawei Mate S. The Galaxy S7 will also come with a new Snapdragon processor.
We had previously reported on the Skarp, that laser razor on Kickstarter, which has now raised $4 million. Well, Kickstarter has kicked them off the platform, claiming they are quote “in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards.” Kickstarter says the ‘semi-functional prototype’ in Skarp’s video isn’t enough. We expect the gadget to pop up on another crowdfunding site anyway, considering they got 4 million worth of interest on Kickstarter. [Update: It’s already on Indiegogo!]