Alibaba one-ups Amazon with drone-delivered tea

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The Alibaba Group began testing drone delivery through its e-commerce site Taobao, bring tea to 450 doorsteps within an hour. Photo: Taobao.com
The Alibaba Group began testing drone delivery through its e-commerce site Taobao, bring tea to 450 doorsteps within an hour. Photo: Taobao.com

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.

Killed by Apple, RadioShack could become Amazon.com Shack

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Now on sale - your personal info. Photo: Dig My Data
This could be an Amazore store soon. Photo: Dig My Data

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.

Duet Display, Djay Pro and other awesome apps of the week

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Awesome Apps of the Week

Happy July 4, readers! It's been a great week for apps in the App Store, and as always Cult of Mac has your back when it comes to the tracking down the best new tools you should be filling your iOS devices with.

Scroll through our gallery to check out our picks for the hottest new apps and updates this week.

Photo: Cult of Mac

Duet Display

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

Djay Pro

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

Group Text+

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

Email+

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

Judge suggests Amazon, not Apple, is e-book monopolist

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Apple's eBook appeal is just getting started. Photo: Apple
Apple's eBook appeal is just getting started. Photo: Apple

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.