In a bid to compete with devices like the Google Chromecast, Roku and mainly the Apple TV, Amazon today announced the Amazon Fire TV. According to chairman Jeff Bezos, the Fire TV “is a tiny box that plugs into your HDTV. It’s the easiest way to enjoy Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, low-cost video rentals, and more. With instant access to over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, plus all your favorite subscriptions and streaming services, you can watch what you want, when you want.”
In addition, if you’re a Prime member “you get unlimited access to thousands of popular movies and TV shows, including exclusives like Downton Abbey, The Americans, Alpha House, and Under the Dome.” All in 1080p, of course.
Bu wait, there’s even more. “Fire TV has voice search that actually works. The old way of searching with a TV remote—scrolling and clicking one letter at a time on an alphabet grid—is painful. With Fire TV you simply speak the title, actor, or genre into the remote and you’re done.”
The internal specs of the Fire TV are impressive as well. The device features a quad-core processor, dedicated GPU, 2 GB of memory, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi. It also features a new buffering system which will supposedly help eliminate any streaming lag. Of course, your mileage may vary.
The device also plays games. Titles at launch include Minecraft, The Walking Dead, Monsters University, the Amazon exclusive Sev Zero, and many other free games available to Prime Members.
The Amazon Fire TV is $99.00 and ships today. The optional game controller will set you back another $39.99.
I’m one of those “weirdos” who still wears a watch even though Iv’e got a perfectly good cell phone in my pocket to tell me the time. What can I say, I still like watches and I don’t mind having to look and see where the little hand and the big hand are to see if I’m late for an appointment.
However, I am very interested in all of the wearable tech, including watches, that seems to be heading our way. And that goes double for what Google announced this week. It’s a new SDK called Android Wear and damn if it doesn’t look pretty cool.
It’s basically Google Now and provides you with information as you need it or as it happens in a card-style format. The company is starting with watches, but you can imagine other products not far behind.
Here’s some other highlights of Android Wear:
• Straight answers to spoken questions. Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions, like how many calories are in an avocado, what time your flight leaves, and the score of the game. Or say “Ok Google” to get stuff done, like calling a taxi, sending a text, making a restaurant reservation or setting an alarm.
• The ability to better monitor your health and fitness. Hit your exercise goals with reminders and fitness summaries from Android Wear. Your favorite fitness apps can give you real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.
• Your key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear lets you access and control other devices from your wrist. Just say “Ok Google” to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favorite movie to your TV.
Google is already working with manufacturers Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung, along with chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek, and Qualcomm. Fossil may make the first watches available later this year.
To see Android Wear in action, check out the videos after the break.
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If you’re already taking advantage of Amazon’s Prime service, this is a post for you. And if you’re not, it might be a good idea to pay attention too. Why?
Well, the company announced today they are raising prices on their Prime service to $99 from its current level of $79. Students will pay $49, up from $39.
New members have until March 20 to sign up for $79, according to the company, while current members will see the price increase to $99 at their next renewal. Guess they’ve gotta pay for those drones somehow, right?
Members whose accounts are set to renew before April 17 will be charged $79. Lucky them.
Currently, members get unlimited free two-day shipping on eligible items, free streaming of movies and TV episodes, and free e-book borrowing from Amazon’s library of more than 475,000 titles. It’s expected that Amazon will offer additional services and perks to help soften the blow of the price increase. But so far, no word on what those might be.
In the meantime, if you haven’t signed up yet, now would be a good time. Check out more at the official Amazon Prime page.
In case you haven’t heard, Apple released an update to its mobile operating system this week. The update, known as iOS 7.1 to those in the know (and pretty much everyone else) features a host of improvements and bug fixes. But much like most of Apple’s updates, the company doesn’t really spell out exactly what all those “improvements and bug fixes” are.
But what if you really want to know each and every detail of this update? Fortunately, the folks at iTwe4kz have got you covered.
In fact, they’ve made a handy video that highlights pretty much everything that’s new in iOS 7.1. Cool, right?
Check out the video after the break. You can download Apple’s iOS 7.1 via software update on your devices or via iTunes.
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Love them or hate them, Apple is one of the most dominant players all over the world world with their iPad and iPhone devices. And now they’re looking to expand that dominance into a new place: your car.
That’s right, today Apple announced a new way to integrate iOS7 devices with your future vehicle. It’s called CarPlay and, to be honest, it looks pretty darn cool.
Set to debut later this year in vehicles from select manufacturers, CarPlay will let users make and receive calls, send and receive messages, listen to music and navigate with Maps, all via a built-in display in the car. Several other apps will be supported at launch, including Podcasts, Beats Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Stitcher.
Car companies such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will showcase CarPlay at next week’s Geneva International Motor Show. Meanwhile, others such as BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota intend to make future vehicles compatible with CarPLay.
For more on how it will work, Volvo has released a video highlights CarPlay’s features. Check it out after the break.
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If you’re an Android and Samsung fan, this is a great day for you. Why? Well, Samsung has just announced its brand new flagship Android-powered smartphone: the Galaxy S5. And yes, it looks pretty cool.
The new hotness features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, a 2.5GHz quad-core processor, a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 3GB of RAM, a 2,800 mAh battery and Android 4.4 KitKat. But wait, there’s more.
The Galaxy S5 also features a water-resistant case and a fingerprint scanner similar to the one Apple uses in its iPhone 5s. It comes in four colors including charcoal black, shimmery white, electric blue and copper gold.
Here are the full specs:
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Much as it did with The Killing and Arrested Development, Netflix has decided to give a cancelled series a new lease on life. Well, for at least one more season anyway. That series? Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
That’s right, the streaming service will unleash a 13-episode sixth season of the animated series next month. The season will be called Titled The Lost Missions which promises to reveal “some of the deepest mysteries of the conflict between the light and the dark sides of the Force leading to a series finale.”
“An intrepid clone trooper discovers a shocking secret, Anakin Skywalker’s closest relationship is tested to its limits, and what Master Yoda discovers while investigating the disappearance of a Jedi could forever change the balance of power in the galaxy.”
Sounds good, right? We really hope this is a success because then it could open up other opportunities for canceled series that didn’t get a proper send off.
Firefly anyone? Let’s make it happen Netflix.
Look for Star Wars: The Clone Wars to debut in March 7.
Believe it or not, the actors in a movie or TV program don’t just make up their dialog on the spot (well, sometimes). Nor do the director or producers just make up the story as they go along (well, not very often).
In most cases, a person (or more than one) has to write a screenplay so the rest of the team can get together and make something. That person is called a writer. And most writers in Hollywood use a program called Final Draft to work their magic.
And now the makers of Final Draft have released a new version, Final Draft 9, and it’s got over 30 new and improved features to help writers (and the rest of the team) take care of the business of show.
Here’s some of them:
• New look and feel for both Mac and Windows users
• Navigator feature now offers story development tools for Scenes, ScriptNotes, and Characters
• Watermarks for PDFs and printing
• Improved Spell Checkers
• Mac specific features like retina display compatibility, dictation support and full screen mode
For more, check out the website right here.
As with most new smartphones, and other highly anticipated devices these days, it’s hard to keep them a total secret before they come out. Inevitably, photos, specs or in the case of the Motorola Moto X smartphone today, a video will leak out.
The video in question is from Rogers Wireless which highlights the upcoming Motorola Moto X and confirms many of the new features the device will have at launch. Among said features are hands-free searches, notifications showing up as information on screen rather than through a notification light, gestures to launch the camera, and more.
The video also confirms that the device will be able to work hands-free, with features being activated simply by talking to it. In the video a woman speaks the command “OK, Google Now” with the phone fully asleep and it wakes and then performs a search. The clip also highlights other Google Now features, like setting an alarm or getting directions.
All in all, this looks like a pretty great device. Can’t wait to get our hands on one to check it out in more detail.
In the meantime, check out the video after the break. Look for the Motorola Moto X to arrive in the coming months.
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This will be a welcome announcement for the thousands (or more) of you using an Apple TV. HBO Go and Watch ESPN are now available via that device.
“HBO GO and WatchESPN are some of the most popular iOS apps and are sure to be huge hits on Apple TV,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We continue to offer Apple TV users great new programming options, combined with access to all of the incredible content they can purchase from the iTunes Store.”
In case you didn’t know: HBO GO users get unlimited access to their favorite HBO shows, including HBO original programming, hit movies, sports, documentaries, comedy specials and more. This includes full seasons of the best of HBO, plus bonus features and special behind-the-scenes extras. HBO GO on Apple TV requires a subscription to HBO through participating television providers.
Here’s all the technical details too, just in case: Apple TV requires iTunes 10.5 or later. Apple TV requires an 802.11g/n Wi-Fi network or Ethernet network, a broadband Internet connection and a HD TV capable of 1080p or 720p and an HDMI cable that is sold separately. Third generation Apple TV hardware is required to play 1080p video. HBO GO, Watch ESPN, SkyNews, Crunchyroll and Qello require Apple TV software version 5.3 available as a free software update for second and third generation Apple TV users.
Truth be told, this is great news. We love our Apple TV and now we don’t have to fire up the XBox 360 or PS3 just to watch repeats of Game of Thrones. Thanks Apple.