Amazon Prime Music Now Available Off Line; Google Merging Chrome OS into Android

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.


Apple TV in Stores Friday; GE Rolls Out Hubless Smart Lightbulbs

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.


ESPN Pulls Out of YouTube Due To YouTube Red Issues; World Series Updates on Facebook Messenger

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.


Citi Tests Iris Scanning ATM Tech; Startup Rolls Out Uber for Trucks

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.


‘Bendy’Battery & Twitter Partners on Next Dem Debate

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.


Pilotless Chopper to Fight Fires?

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.


Preorders Back for Microsoft Surface Book…But Wait Time Slips

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.