books Stories April 12, 2019

[Update 4/12: 9to5Mac is giving away free copies of Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level. Details below!]

There’s a new behind-the-Apple-scenes book coming to shelves next month. The author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products now has his sights set on Apple’s CEO with the follow-up nearly five years later.

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books Stories February 12, 2019

Between iCloud storage and Apple Music to the App Store and iTunes, there’s certainly no shortage of ways to give Apple your money for digital goods. New subscription services are rumored to debut this year, too, including Apple’s first original video content service and a separate service that integrates digital magazines in Apple’s News app based on Apple’s Texture acquisition. There’s even a rumored App Store game subscription service. The lesson here may be that if there’s a digital good you can pay Apple for once, there’s likely an opportunity for a subscription service for that category with recurring payments.

Digital books would qualify, and Apple would hardly be the first to rent ebooks for a monthly fee. My colleague Ben Lovejoy wrote last year that Apple’s Texture acquisition highlighted the opening for an Apple ebook subscription service modeled after Kindle Unlimited. We’ve since seen iBooks become Apple Books with a redesigned app user interface, but no ‘Netflix for books’ yet. Personally, I would love to pay Apple to stream audiobooks — and the service could have features that audiobooks in Apple Books doesn’t offer today.

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books Stories December 10, 2015

Product Hunt 2

Originally launched as a way to vote on new technology products, Product Hunt has since greatly expanded to include media like podcasts and books as well as games and other content. Product Hunt rolled out a visually refreshed home page a couple weeks back to reflect the evolution, and today the service is unveiling a redesigned iPhone app with new features to match…

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books Stories March 31, 2015

Audio Books CarPlay 5

Apple has only sanctioned a small set of App Store apps to support its CarPlay feature with Audio Books for iPhone today joining that limited list. The latest version of Audio Books adds integration with CarPlay head units for easily finding audiobooks to play through your car stereo on your drive. expand full story

books Stories March 5, 2015

EU court says ebooks aren’t books, must be subject to higher tax rates

Europe’s top court has declared that ebooks are ‘services’ rather than books, and that European countries are not allowed to give them the same favorable tax treatment as paper books. The reasoning, such as it is, is that ebooks cannot be used without a physical device, and ebooks are a service provided to those devices.

Both France and Luxembourg have applied to ebooks the same reduced rate of VAT (sales tax) enjoyed by books made from crushed trees. The WSJ reports that the EU has ruled that this is illegal.

Since 2012, France has applied a 5.5% VAT rate and Luxembourg a 3% VAT rate on e-books, the same rate as for paper books. The European Court of Justice said both countries must apply their normal VAT rate, which for France is 20% and for Luxembourg is 17%.

Europe already closed one ebook-related tax loophole: Amazon used to use its Luxembourg base as a reason to charge just 3% on ebook sales throughout Europe, but a change in the law forced it to apply the VAT rate applicable to the customer’s own country.

There is some small hope that sanity may prevail in future. The European Commission has said that there may be legal mechanisms through which countries can in future define their own policies, with an “extensive overhaul” of VAT rules to be completed next year. However, don’t be surprised if ‘harmonization’ of tax rates for paper and digital books results in higher taxes on the former to pay for lower taxes on the latter …

Apple of course had its own legal troubles around ebooks, with its pricing model found to amount to anti-competitive practices.

Via Engadget

books Stories December 15, 2014

Amazon pushed out an updated version of its Kindle for iOS app today bringing a list of new features to the reading app.

Kindle for iOS now includes integration with Goodreads, the social cataloging service it bought last year, allowing readers users to share book progress and completion status, quotes, and more Kindle to Goodreads. iPad Kindle app users now have access to Amazon’s Book Browser to view book descriptions and customer ratings; Kindle Unlimited customers (30-day free trial) can download books directly from the Book Browser. The new version also adds a feature called Audible Progressive Play, which allows audiobook listeners using the Amazon-owned Audible service to play content as it downloads.

The update also adds new ways for users to access information and details about Kindle books. Check the extensive change log of the latest version below for more information: expand full story

books Stories September 29, 2014

Kindle & Facebook Messenger updated for iPhone 6 support

The list of updated apps for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is still somewhat small since developers only learned of the new iPhone display resolutions earlier this month. The Kindle iPhone app from Amazon is joining that short list today, though, with a new version optimized for the iPhone 6.

That means that like iBooks, text you read in Kindle’s iPhone app won’t be fuzzy or scaled up. If you prefer the zoomed up version, however, iPhone 6 users do have that option to make every app larger using the Display Zoom feature found in the accessibilities section of the Settings app on iOS.

Kindle’s previous added a handy widget in Notification Center’s Today view for quickly accessing books you’re reading. Kindle for iOS is available for free on the App Store.

Facebook Messenger has also been updated for the new iPhone models. Notably, the chat app has beat the primary app for the social network in updating for the new iPhones.

books Stories June 10, 2014

Amazon integrates Audible audiobooks directly into Kindle mobile apps

Amazon announced today that it’s integrating the Audible audiobook service it purchased back in 2008 directly into the Kindle apps for both iOS and Android. After installing a free update landing today for the apps, users will be able to listen to Audible audio books without ever having to leave the app.

“We continue to hear from a growing number of Whispersync for Voice converts who tell us the innovation has profoundly changed the way they read—in fact, switching back and forth between reading and listening has become their preferred way of experiencing stories,” said Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz. “And the feature has gotten easier and easier to use, as this exciting integration into Kindle apps attests.”

The service is an extension of the Whispersync for Voice feature that Amazon recently launched. That feature allowed users to switch “seamlessly” between reading and listening but required users to have both the Kindle and Audible apps. With the updated Kindle apps, users will be able to get narrations for 45,000 Kindle books and growing as well as purchase Audible upgrades for previously purchased Amazon Kindle books ranging from $1 to $4. The audio and text versions of the book will stay in-sync, pages turn automatically, and narration includes a x2 speed mode and sleep timer option. The best part is that you won’t be pulled out of Kindle and into the Audible app now when switching between text and audio. 

The update includes other new features too, including: improvements to the X-Ray reference tool for textbooks and the ability to download an entire collection with a single tap. A full list of new features is below.

The updated Kindle app for iPhone and iPad is available on the App Store now.

What’s New in Version 4.3

Listen to Audible audiobooks! Customers owning both the Kindle and Audible versions of a title can now listen to the audiobook right in the Kindle app.

Now you can use the Kindle app to switch back and forth between reading a Kindle book comfortably at home and listening to the story while driving to work.

Additional Features Include: •Access to more than 45,000 Kindle/Audible title pairs, including best sellers • Find audiobooks compatible with items in your Kindle library – audiobooks are delivered by Audible, an Amazon company • Whispersync for Voice automatically synchronizes reading progress between the Audible and Kindle versions of a book • Read and listen to a Kindle book at the same time; pages turn automatically • Narration speeds up to 2x and a sleep timer • Download an entire collection – gives customers the ability to download an entire collection with the tap of a button, making it easier for readers to download in bulk and load their favorite books on a new iOS device • Students can now find terms that are in X-Ray for Textbooks by using search – occurrences in X-Ray are shown right above occurrences in the book • Finding where an X-Ray term occurs on a textbook page is now easier – tap a page thumbnail in the X-Ray feature and you will see the term highlighted in the page of the book • Performance and stability improvements

books Stories March 18, 2014

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This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company.  —  Tim Cook on Yukari Kane’s Haunted Empire

Take it from someone who would know: Apple CEO Tim Cook has declared Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, a book that seeks to dispel the idea that Apple can maintain its identity after losing its founder, to be “nonsense.” But Cook went beyond even that claim, noting that the term applied to a wide selection of books about the company.

Even so, the authors of three such books of “nonsense” gathered for a Churchill Club panel in which they discussed their views on Apple through the lens of the “nonsense” stories contained in their books, as well as some more recent developments spearheaded by your good friends here at 9to5Mac. The panel consists of Yukari Kane, Cult of Mac‘s Leander Kahney, and WIRED‘s Fred Vogelstein.

The complete video of the event is an hour and a half long and moves from a moderated discussion of Apple’s past, present, and future into an audience-driven Q&A session, which can help provide some new context for the stories found in the books. But hey, if a busy man like Tim Cook can read 700 emails in a day and still find time to read these “nonsense” books, you can probably find time to watch the entire video, which is embedded below:

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books Stories January 6, 2014

Kindle for iOS updated with new flashcard feature, dictionary redesign, more

Starting off the new year with new features and improvements, Amazon updated its Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch today to version 4.1.

The update brings new features to users like the ability to create flash cards from text books for studying. This feature essentially creates bookmarks outside of the content for reviewing information on specific characters, places, or topics, and uses data from Wikipedia as part of Kindle’s X-Ray feature.

The update also includes a number of requested features and performance enhancements (full change log below).

books Stories February 16, 2012

There are people—yours truly included—who felt genuinely dumbfounded having read both the authorized “Steve Jobs” biography by Walter Isaacson and Adam Lashinsky’s “Inside Apple.” Do not get me wrong, Isaacson and Lashinsky are among the best contemporary wordsmiths, and their work enlightened us with some previously unknown details about the inner-workings of Apple and the man who cofounded it. Nonetheless, the authors dedicated way too many pages to the stuff we already knew, and their writing style may not appeal to the Technorati accustomed to fast-paced news reporting and sensationalist headlines. Hoping to fill this gap and tell the untold story about Apple of California from a different angle, writer Ken Segall committed to a project tentatively named “Insanely Simple – The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success” (via Daring Fireball).

Few would dare argue that Apple’s agonizing over the tiniest and seemingly unimportant details is what makes the products so pleasurable to use. Segall should know what makes Apple tick: He coined the iMac moniker during his 12-year tenure at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Apple’s and NeXT’s advertising agency, and he now runs an Apple parody website you are probably familiar with called Scoopertino. The author explained the reasoning behind his ambitious undertaking on his personal blog:

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books Stories January 17, 2012

Fortune Senior Editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky’s upcoming book about Apple’s inner workings titled Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works” is bound to become controversial. Unlike Steve Jobs’ authorized biographer Walter Isaacson, Lashinsky did not have direct access to Apple’s leadership team, employees nor did he have Jobs’ cooperation. Nevertheless, the author has deep connections so his book draws from this expertise, focusing on Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs, current CEO Tim Cook, design chief Jonathan Ive and head of iOS software Scott Forstall (pictured on the right). The young executive (43) has managed to accumulate power, and he now wields tremendous influence at Apple due to his iOS division contributing to as much as 70 percent of Apple’s total revenues. As such, Forstall is seen as Apple’s next CEO once Tim Cook steps down, which probably will not happen until 2021 if he is to vest his 1 million stock shares awarded last August. Here is how one source described Forstall in Lashinsky’s upcoming book, according to Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

He’s a sharp, down-to-earth, and talented engineer, and a more-than-decent presenter. He’s the total package.

Lashinsky conceded and explained:

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