iPad usage in North America rises slightly in September over third quarter

North American Tablet Usage Sep 2014 Chitika

The latest numbers from advertising company Chitika Insights show that iPad web usage in North America rose nearly 2% in September, marking a slight increase over the third quarter. Chitika found the iPad to have a 79.9% share of tablet web traffic in the United States and Canada during the month, compared to a 78.0% share reported in July. Read more

Amazon announces Echo, a dedicated, Siri-like speaker system for quick information

Amazon today announced a new hardware product called Echo. It’s essentially a speaker unit dedicated to being a voice-control system. It kind of sounds like Siri but in a speaker for a single room instead of in your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.

You can set alarms, control music, ask about the weather, search the web, ask questions, and access local news. It streams content via Bluetooth and WiFi, and connects to the Fire Phone (if you have one, lol), iOS via the browser, Android, and desktop computers via the web. Instead of “Hey Siri,” you say “Alexa” to start speaking the device. You’ll need a Fire OS/Android device to take full advantage, but music should work fine via iOS.

The whole concept is very futuristic, and it’s unclear how beneficial this will be to people with voice-controlled phones. But, hey, this comes from the developers of a faux-3D phone and delivery drones, so this is not completely out of left field. The Echo is $99 for Amazon Prime users, $199 for everyone else, and (for some reason) you need an invitation to receive the honor to buy one of these untested things.

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Amazon Rewards Visa card now ready to load in Apple Pay

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Update: A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed Amazon Rewards Visa cards now support Apple Pay: “Amazon Rewards Visa Cardholders can now pay with Apple Pay. The website (https://www.chasedigitalpayments.com/) has been updated and cardholders can now start provisioning their cards.”

Just two days after Amazon said it was working to enable its Rewards Visa card in Apple Pay, the company has made good on its promise. Reddit users are reporting success in adding the card, and TechCrunch posted the above photo of a card loaded into the app …  Read more

Amazon takes on Square and PayPal Here with $10 iPhone/iPad cardreader & lower fees

Small businesses looking to take occasional card payments without paying monthly fees now have a third option as Amazon has launched Local Register to compete with Square and PayPal Here - as we predicted last month. The $10 card-reader is compatible with any iPhone from the iPhone 4 onward, as well as any iPad or iPad mini.

Amazon is undercutting both competitor services with a flat fee of 2.5 percent per transaction (vs 2.7 percent for PayPal Here and 2.75 percent for Square). Not enough? Amazon is sweetening the deal with a special introductory rate of 1.75 percent until the end of 2015, and will also credit the $10 cost of the cardreader in full against transaction fees …  Read more

Amazon apparently set to launch Square-competitor in August as it develops biometric payment solutions

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Amazon could be preparing to launch its own mobile credit card reading hardware in the coming weeks, according to internal Staples documents hinting at such a launch that we’ve obtained. According to the documents, Staples stores will prepare next month to stock a new product called the “Amazon Card Reader” alongside existing card readers from Square, PayPal, and Staples’ own in-house brand. The small hardware, which will likely connect to smartphones to process payments, will cost $9.99, according to the Staples internal sales systems…

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Apple’s top lawyer reported Google to FTC over in-app purchases by kids

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Apple seemingly wasn’t too happy that it was singled out for an FTC investigation into making it too easy for children to make in-app purchases: following its own settlement back in January, the company’s general counsel Bruce Sewell promptly reported Google for the same thing, reports Politico.

“I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it,” Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill, pointing to a report that criticized Google’s app store over the same issue of unauthorized purchases …

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Apple reboots its eBay refurbished store, iPhone 5 (unlocked) starts at $449

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Update (7/10 9:00am): Looks like the store got pretty popular this week. It has been updated with the following message: “More inventory coming in on Friday – We are currently replenishing our inventory for our Factory Certified store, please check back soon!”

In late 2012 we uncovered an eBay store that was selling Apple certified refurbished products (iPad, MacBook, iPod, more). Though never officially confirmed by Apple itself, this storefront had all the makings of being officially tied to Apple in some capacity. This store is still live on eBay, but has not offered an item for sale since March of 2013. We speculated that Apple outsourced the sales to a 3rd party middle-company which allowed it to sell its wares without tax in many states even though eBay told us exclusively that they were dealing with Apple on the project.

It now appears that Apple is once again testing an eBay store, but this time is only offering iPhones for sale. Presently, there are six different pre-owned iPhone 5 configurations available with prices starting at $449 with free shipping. The store layout and verbiage is extremely reminiscent of the previous Apple eBay store. All items include a 1-year warranty, receive a complete burn-in, and final quality inspection is performed by Apple. Up until now, Apple has never sold pre-owned or refurbished iPhones so it’s possible that this eBay store is even more temporary than the first.

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Amazon officially unveils much rumored 3D Fire Phone, coming to AT&T July 25 for $199/$299 w/ contract

After several months of speculation, Amazon has just unveiled its own smartphone, dubbed the Fire Phone on stage at an event in Seattle, Washington. As expected, the device features the much rumored a 3D display. You can pre-order the Fire Phone for $199/299 with a contract on Amazon. Off-contract, the device runs $649/749 for 32GB and 64GB of storage respectively.

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Review: Proximo, the feature-packed Bluetooth tagging system for the forgetful

We’ve all done it. You put your keys down, and five minutes later you have no idea where they are. You could swear you put your phone on the kitchen table last night, but it’s not there now. You put your bag under the restaurant table and then walk out without it. Doing all three in the same week might suggest the help you need is more medical than technological, but for those occasions when you do one or other of them, Proximo is designed to help.

Bluetooth tags also provides some degree of protection against theft, where you’ll be alerted to any of your tagged items walking off.

There are a number of different tagging systems on the market, with varying levels of functionality. Proximo is one of the more sophisticated, offering five different features … Read more

Apple passes Staples to become the #2 online retailer behind Amazon

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 7.05.19 PM

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal (citing e-commerce trade publication Internet Retailer), Apple has managed to overtake Staples and claim the number-two spot in the world of online retail. Apple’s online sales data jumped a significant 24% last year, although this jump is mostly due to the fact that Internet Retailer now includes the company’s online hardware sales along with digital download data from iTunes and the App Store and doesn’t seem to reflect an actual sales increase of that magnitude.

Essentially what that means is that Apple could actually have been sitting in the #2 spot for some time now, but simply wasn’t recognized as such because Internet Retailer previously excluded sales of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs, Apple TVs, and other hardware processed through the company’s online store.

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Apple announces 20 million Apple TVs sold through Q2 2014

ATV

During Apple’s earnings call this evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company has sold 20 million Apple TV boxes through the second quarter of 2014. Sharing this number is out of the ordinary for Apple, as it generally doesn’t break down specific sales for its set-top box like it does for other products.

Apple’s decision to give us specific sales information for the Apple TV, however, does corroborate with its move earlier this year to present the device as its own product line, as opposed to an accessory. Cook also said on the call that Apple TV is over a billion dollar market, which means that it is no longer just a “hobby” for the company.

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Amazon Cloud Drive Photos 3.0 adds iOS 7-friendly redesign, upload enhances, timeline, and more

Amazon updated its Cloud Drive Photos app today to version 3.0 bringing an iOS 7-friendly and a number of features and improvements. With the redesign comes a new navigation view that now contains toggles between photos, videos, and both. This view also includes a progress bar while uploading photos; previous versions of the app only said that photos were being uploaded, not how many or how long it would take. The progress bar feature works with both automatic and manual photo and video uploads. Read more