Amazon is preparing a new app service for Android. It’s called Unlocked, and think of it as free Amazon Prime for apps. But there’s a catch. Apps that are given freely can also be taken away again.
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Amazon is in the business of making it as easy as possible to spend money in their online store. It should surprise no one, then, that Amazon is already developing an Apple Watch app, which will let customers search for products and purchase them with a single click, all from a user’s wrist.
I can’t wait to read Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader. The upcoming biography, by veteran reporters Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, promises to be the definitive telling of Steve Jobs’ life.
The writers scored interviews with major players including Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, Pixar’s John Lasseter, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. The result is a book loaded with interesting anecdotes and insights about the former Apple CEO.
I haven’t yet read the whole thing (it comes out March 24), but while pre-ordering my copy on Amazon, I could initially access a significant portion of the biography through the site’s “Look Inside the Book” feature. (Amazon later blocked out far more of the book’s contents.)
From what I’ve seen, some of the stories are pretty sensational — providing new details into the close relationship between Jobs and Cook, revealing Jobs’ secret plan to buy Yahoo!, and much more.
Want a few of the highlights? Check them out below.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is redefining high tea.
Drones are taking to the skies in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to deliver tea to a test group of 450 shoppers using Alibaba’s website Taobao. The three-day trial of drone delivery service in the Chinese cities ends Friday as Alibaba continues to push its might across the globe.
Apple’s retail stores are one of Cupertino’s crown jewels, and the envy of pretty much every tech company out there. A new rumor suggests that online retail giant Amazon might soon be looking to replicate Apple’s success with its own line of brick-and-mortar stores. But how will they get them? By buying up old Radio Shack stores and rebranding them.
Who says iOS has all the apps? According to new data, Google isn’t just kicking butt when it comes to market share, but also mobile apps as well. The search giant’s Play Store now offers a great selection of titles than the App Store, but Apple fans will argue that quality is more important than quantity.
Awesome Apps of the Week
It’s the weekend, which means it’s time to catch up on all of the hot new apps you might have missed throughout the week.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Can reading the Bible be sexy? There’s a new app from an ex-Apple designer that argues it can. We’ve also got the snakiness weather app you ever did see, the long-awaited return of an App Store reject, and other indie goodies you don’t want to miss.
Without further ado, here are this week’s awesome apps!
Developed by former Apple engineers, Duet Display is the first iPad app that lets you use the tablet as a secondary display for your Mac via a Lightning cable. Other apps have tried streaming over WiFi to turn the iPad into an extended display, but then you usually have to deal with bad lag and poor frame rate.
Because you connect the iPad via a 30-pin or Lightning cable, Duet Display claims to be capable of powering a Retina display at 60 frames per second with zero lag.
Its developers claim that the app works with all iOS devices on iOS 6 and up along with all Macs capable of running OS X 10.9. I wasn’t able to test it because my Mac is running the 10.10.2 Yosemite beta, which is currently super buggy.
Duet Display sounds like a great tool for making use of an old iPad you may have lying around the house. Support for older iOS 5.1.1 devices is being worked on for a future update in the App Store.
Available on: iPad
Price: $9.99 (requires free Mac installer)
Download: App Store
Algoriddim is known for making Djay, the most popular consumer DJ app out there. While the software already supports professional-grade turntables and DJ gear, Algoriddim has taken another big step into the world of pro DJing with the release of Djay Pro, it’s new Mac app.
This app is a powerhouse with 64-bit support, multi-core track analysis, a design that look great on Retina and 5K displays, and 60 frames-per-second graphics rendering.
The design looks pretty similar to what existing Djay users know, expect now there are even more features, like the ability to mix four tracks at once. The biggest feature addition by far is integration with Spotify. Premium Spotify subscribers have full access to their playlists, saved music, and the entire service’s catalog. Djay Pro is the first app to integrate with Spotify this closely, and it shows. It’s pretty cool to be able to switch seamlessly between your iTunes and Spotify libraries inside the app.
Djay Pro is trying to be the Final Cut or Logic of DJ software, Algoriddim CEO Karim Morsy told Cult of Mac in an interview. This new app is aimed squarely at the pros out there who also want a simplistic, powerful design. “This is what they’ve been waiting for,” he said.
Available on: Mac
Price: $49.99 introductory price (will eventually go up to $79.99)
Download: Mac App Store
If you’re someone who lives and dies by group texting, this is a great app to try out. From the same developers behind Launch Center Pro, Group Text+ allows you to “mix and match contacts, groups, images, and text snippets to quickly compose messages.”
You can add things like current location, the content of your clipboard, or a song to the group text as well. What you get with this app is an experience tailored to group messaging that’s built on iMessage and SMS, so you don’t have to worry about signing people up for some proprietary messaging service.
The interface is pretty simple, and there’s a handy extension to use the app throughout iOS.
Available on: iPhone/iPad
Price: $1.99 launch sale)
Download: App Store
Made by the same people behind the previous app, Email+ is the same group messaging approach applied to email. If you live in group email threads all day, this app could be the breath of fresh air you’ve been waiting for.
Available on: iPhone/iPad
Price: $2.99 (App Store bundle Group Text+ included costs $3.99)
Download: App Store
Amazon Prime Now
Amazon is determined to be the one-stop shop for just about anything you could need, and it’s new Prime Now app is for getting those things to you as quickly as possible.
With “tens of thousands” of items available for sale, Prime Now will ship to Amazon Prime subscribers within one to two hours.
The experiment is similar to Prime Pantry, Amazon’s same-day grocery deliver service that’s being slowly rolled out across the country. Prime Now is only available in Manhattan right now, but Amazon has plans to bring it to other cities.
Available on: iPhone
Price: Free with Prime subscription (One-hour deliveries cost $7.99 and two-hour deliveries are free)
Download: App Store
Apple was found guilty last year of colluding with publishers to raise ebook prices, but now that the antitrust case is being heard by the Second U.S. Court of Appeals, two out of the three appellate judges are starting to see things Apple’s way.
The appeals case kicked off this morning with Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart attempting to compare Apple to a driver taking a narcotics dealer to a drug pick up. The analogy was supposed to make the point that if Apple knew publishers were conspiring to fix ebook prices, it was just as guilty as them for facilitating the conspiracy. However, Fortune reports that Judge Denis Jacobs laughed off the analogy, pointing out that drug trafficking is one of the few “industries in which the law does not look with favor or new entrants.”
The comment drew a chorus of laughs in the courtroom, but Judge Jacob’s concerns went even further, as the the judge questioned whether the government should have even brought the case to court.
Yesterday, Amazon announced that they would begin streaming Amazon Prime movies in 4K Ultra HD, free of charge. This follows an announcement by Netflix in March that they would allow subscribers to stream 4K shows in Ultra HD for a small additional charge every month.
Of course, neither the iPhone, iPad, or the Apple TV support 4K video… but the new iMacs with Retina Display do. Yet despite this, Netflix and Amazon don’t actually stream 4K video to the Retina iMac. The best you can get is plain old 1080p.
What’s the deal? The same as it ever is. DRM.
It’s been over two and a half years since Apple TV was updated, and while Apple’s been happy resting on its laurels, its biggest competitors are passing it by.
Google’s Chromecast is now more popular than Apple TV, reports Parks Associates, which says streaming media players become more popular than ever in the first three quarters of 2014, as 10 percent of U.S. households bought at least one new streaming device.