Amazon working to move further into hardware space with 3D smartphone, audio device

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announcing new Kindle

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is working to expand its hardware offerings, this year, beyond the Kindle e-readers and tablets (like the Kindle Fire). According to the new report, Amazon is working on two smartphones, including a high-end model with a 3D display. Like other smartphones currently on the market, this display could be interacted with via a user’s eyes:

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Gmail 2.0, Kindle X-Ray for books, Foursquare, Netbot, Uber, Jingu Friends, more

Gmail iOS 2.0

Gmail version 2.0: Google has just released a major update to its Gmail iOS app, introducing multiple account support, a new look that appears to be partly inspired by its Sparrow acquisition, search predictions and much more. The update also brings interactive Google+ posts support, an infinite scroll inbox, new welcome screen, and  the ability to respond to Google Calendar invites. Google walked through some of the new features of the overhauled Gmail app in a blog post noting the app was six months in the works:

Six months ago, our team set out to completely rebuild the Gmail app for iPhone and iPad to give you you a faster, sleeker, and easier experience on iOS. The result? Version 2.0. With version 2.0 of the app, you’ll get a totally new look and feel, plus a bunch of improvements like profile pictures in messages, numerous new animations from swivels to transitions and infinite scrolling in the message lists.

Kindle version 3.5: Amazon previously rolled out its X-Ray feature, which used to be exclusive to Kindle devices, to iOS devices back in October. At the time, it was only making the feature available for textbooks on iOS. Today, Amazon has updated the Kindle iOS app to extend the X-Ray to all books. The update also includes “Manga Image Rendering Improvements”:

• X-Ray for Books – see the “bones of the book”. X-ray helps you learn more about notable characters, places, and phrases with descriptions from Shelfari.com and Wikipedia.
• Manga Image Rendering Improvements

Uber version 2.1.0: iPhone 5 support and localizations:

-Uber app now supports iPhone 5. Also in this release are Dutch localization, and an enhanced look for top riders.

Netbot for App.net (iPhone): Tapbots updated its Netbot client for App.net today with some new features and improvements. The iPad edition is available here.

- Added support for Stream Marker
- Added Unified Stream option
- Added support for img.ly as an image service
- Performance improvements for older devices
- Better support for image annotations

Foursquare version 5.3.5:  Read more

Bad Piggies, Kindle, Cut the Rope, National Geographic Magazine for iPhone, more

Bad Piggies version 1.1.0: Rovio has updated its new Bad Piggies title with 15 new levels today, as well as a new free sandbox level. The update also includes its biggest sandbox level yet, called “Field of Dreams”, as an in-app purchase.

 The Bad piggies finally did it — they finally got the eggs! But can they hold on to them with the Angry Birds in hot pursuit? Even under the cover of darkness, they’ll need all of their best machines to stay ahead! 

-Fly through 15 tricky new levels with the birds on your tail!
-Take cover in a brand new moonlit theme!
-Unleash your creativity on a free new sandbox level!
-Introducing the Field of Dreams: Our biggest sandbox level yet, now available for purchase!

National Geographic Magazine version 2.1: With this update the free app is now available to National Geographic subscribers on the  iPhone:

• Now available for iPhone!

Kindle version 3.4: A nice update to the Kindle iOS app comes following Apple releasing new features for iBooks. The app now supports Japanese with vertical text & Manga, an option to read books in the publisher suggested font, and a new “Caecilia” font choice. Also included is X-Ray for Textbooks:

X-Ray for Textbooks gives you instant access to all the most important terms and concepts in a book, with glossary definitions, links to relevant textbook pages, and related content from Wikipedia and YouTube (available on many of the most popular print replica textbooks)

Cut the Rope version 2.0: Popular Chillingo title Cut the Rope is getting updated today with new levels, iPhone 5 and Game Center support, and more. The HD iPad version gets the same updateRead more

Amazon making moves to displace iPads in schools

We know Apple has had a lot of success pushing iPads in education, and during Apple’s Q3 conference call, CEO Tim Cook said the company would continue to be “very aggressive”. Apple’s iPad 2 sales in the K-12 market doubled y-o-y in Q3 thanks to a price drop to $399. In Q2, Apple said it sold about a million iPad units to the United States education market. With Apple’s upcoming iPad mini announcement possibly bringing an even lower price point for iPads in education, Amazon is announcing its plans today to get Kindle tablets into schools.

Reuters reported today that Amazon is launching a service, called “Whispercast”, aimed at allowing schools to easily deploy and manage multiple kindle devices:

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First-ever Harry Potter eBook series is iPad, Mac-compatible with ePub format, and Kindle-friendly too

J.K. Rowling’s widely popular Harry Potter series is at-last available electronically.

The author’s own online Pottermore Shop displays all seven titles in ePub format, and prices vary between $8 each and $10 each, per copy. Fans can also purchase the entire series for $57.54.

The ePub files are unprotected and compatible with most iOS devices, Android devices, and any other eReader, tablet, or smartphone that accepts ePub format. In addition, the Harry Potter eBooks are available in Amazon Kindle formats. A full list of compatible devices and reading services is also available on the Pottermore Shop website.

Conspicuously, Rowling did not make the eBooks available through Apple’s iBookstore.

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Amazon launches iPad Kindle Store on the web, feels like a native app

Amazon today launched touch-optimized Kindle Store for iPad as a standalone web app accessed through the iOS Safari browser. You may remember that the online retail giant released Kindle Cloud Reader in August —also a web app that works great on Apple’s tablet, but this is an entirely different experience. Available on the iPad at www.amazon.com/iPadKindleStore, the web interface totally feels like a native app. It is smooth, natural and supports familiar touch gestures, like swiping left and right to brows the store’s virtual shelves. The design calls for big cover images, large buttons and elegant typeface that’s easy on the eyes, unlike some other HTML5 web apps that feel cluttered on a 9.7-inch screen and cause eye strain…

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Kindle iOS app updated with new iPad UI for magazines, Send-to-Kindle cloud storage and more

The Kindle iPhone and iPad app were given a significant update, bringing it up to version 2.9 and introducing many new and highly requested features.

First up are a few iPad specific changes, such as a new user interface for magazines on the larger screen, and you now have the ability to “read print replica textbooks” with support for layout and rich formatting of the print editions, notes, zoom and pan, and table of contents.

When it comes to updates that apply to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, you can now email documents to your “Send-to-Kindle” address to store in Amazon Cloud, open PDFs from within Safari or Mail by sending them to your Send-to-Kindle address. Moreover, a new library organization view lets you manage content from Newsstand, Docs, and Kindle Books.

You can grab the Kindle iOS app as a universal download from the App Store (iTunes link). Check out a full list of changes below:

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Did the Kindle outsell the iPad at Best Buy last weekend?

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Some are saying that just because the Kindle sits atop the BestBuy.com “Best Selling” tablets category, it is outselling the iPad 2.

Not so fast.

There is exactly one model of Kindle Fire, while there are about 16 models of iPad, two of which are second and third on the list and iPads make up a majority of the top 15 list.  Did number 1 outnumber #2+#3+#5+#6…?

Could the Fire be the top selling tablet at Best Buy still?  Sure (unlikely), but there is no way to tell from the data provided.

And that’s before you get the to the whole $199, making money on the razor blades business model. Read more

Barnes and Noble release Nook Tablet iPod touch competitor

Barnes and Noble announced their Nook Tablet today, a successor to their now $199 Nook Color.  The $249 dual core tablet is aimed squarely at the $199 Kindle Fire but has 10GB more (16GB total) storage and the ability to add up to 32GB via micro SD card.  It also has a superior screen to the Kindle and the popular Hulu Plus and of course Neflix for watching videos.  The app library is a much smaller  subset of the Android market, however it is curated much better so only quality apps are allowed in.

Although we hear it a lot, the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire aren’t really competitors to the iPad.  Realistically, if you have a budget for a $500-$830 iPad, you aren’t considering a $200 alternative … and vice versa.  Sure all are “tablets” but it is like comparing a netbook to a MacBook Pro.

If anything, these cheap 7-inch tablets are competition for the $188 iPod touch (though with increased portability, superior app and content ecosystem and cameras -that too is a stretch).  Price, being one of the biggest purchase considerations, puts these things more in line with the lower priced iPods.  For people who want a bigger screen and don’t consider the many other advantages to being in the Apple ecosystem a plus, these might make sense.

If you had a choice between the two, would you choose a $199/$249 Nook or a $199 Kindle Fire?

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Steve Jobs bio is available for download in the iBookstore — in Australia

As it passes into Monday in Australia and across the World, the Steve Jobs bio is hitting the iBookstore (full shot below). It is still a $16.99 pre-order in the US but should become available at midnight tonight. It also hasn’t begun shipping in hardcover form from Amazon $17.88, but the Kindle downloads should be available at about the same time. We saw that some bookstores had begun stocking them prematurely yesterday and readers have been sending in lots of scanned pages since then (thanks).

Thanks Dean!

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