Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 19 March 2014

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 09:13 PM PDT

Top stories this Wednesday morning include a useful list of basic spellcheck tips (link), a look at Penguin India censoring a book due to pressure from religious extremists (link), the end of Viacom’s crusade against Youtube (link), yet another example of Apple censoring or banning books in iBooks (link), and more.

  • Apple: Stop imposing your moral agenda on publishers and readers (FutureBook)
  • The Author’s Self-Editing Checklist (Author J.S. Morin)
  • Deadly Dozen Hits The NY Times and USA Today Lists. Lessons Learned From The Box-Set (The Creative Penn)
  • Everybody Wants a Netflix for Books (The Scholarly Kitchen)
  • Get Out, We Have No Customs (n+1)
  • Google and Viacom end YouTube lawsuit, agree to work together (GigaOm)
  • Tech gives strugglers the confidence to read more (The Observer)
  • What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong (TIME.com)

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The ToneFone iPhone Case Turns Texting into a Workout

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 01:35 PM PDT

If you’re product_1[1]looking for a way to fit a workout into your busy schedule then I have just the thing. A UK fitness retailer is now selling a 3 pound iPhone case which is designed to make you work for your Angry Bird fix.

It’s called the ToneFone, and it’s available in both 1KG and 1.5KG models. It retails for about $35 to $38, depending on the weight.

The ToneFone is basically a chunk of steel wrapped in a rubber shell, and if not for the fact it’s wrapped around an iPhone it would simply be another exercise weight.

Sounds simply, right? Here’s how it’s described on the product page:

The ToneFone is a revolutionary new case for iPhone 5 and 5s that turns your phone in to a weight loss device by increasing its weight to up to 1 or 1.5kg – allowing you to work out wherever you are.

It's simple: you get a text you get fitter, your mum calls you, you get fitter, you check Facebook and you get fitter, even when you order a takeaway you get fitter. You can take it with you anywhere and every time you pick your phone up you'll be working out.


This case has proven more popular than the retailer expected, and it’s sold out at the moment.  They’re taking pre-orders for the next shipment, in case you’re interested. It’s only available in white, though gold and grey models are due to be released in June.

Desirable Body via Gizmodo

The post The ToneFone iPhone Case Turns Texting into a Workout appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Android Wear is Intended to Render Existing Smartwatches Obsolete

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 12:22 PM PDT

Google’s android wear 2first wearable, the Google Glass, has generated a lot of media attention since it debuted a couple years ago, but I think it may have always been intended as a sideshow in Google’s wearables effort.

The main show was unveiled today, and if it lives up to the early hype then Android Wear is going to be much bigger than the $5,000 Google Glass.

Android Wear isn’t so much the Google smartwatch we’ve been hearing rumors about as it is a platform for wearables. It’s intended to  to make it easier for developers, both app and device, to integrate smartwatches and other wearables into Android.

The platform is launching next quarter, but an early developer preview is available now. Google has also announced a couple launch partners, with more promised to join the fun later this year.

Both LG, the rumored Google smartwatch partner, and Motorola, the previous rumored Google smartwatch partner, are announcing new smart watches today based on Android Wear. The LG G Watch is square, while the Moto 360 eschews corners and goes with a traditional round watchface.

android wear 1On a related note, isn’t it interesting how the Google smartwatch rumors were so close and yet so wrong? To be fair, the rumors weren’t wrong so much as they didn’t convey the sheer scale of Google’s ambitions.

Release a smartwatch? Hah. Google doesn’t think that small.

Android Wear is going to focus on smartwatches at first, and after it has sparked that market into existence Google plans to extend support for other wearables.

At this point only 2 products have been officially unveiled, and we have a look at a couple of different approaches to how Android Wear might be used. LG's G Watch appears to be focused on being simply a notification window, with emphasis on utility, but the Moto 360 is designed with a smarter look that might be intended for the fashion-savvy crowd.

Update: Qualcomm has confirmed that they too will be getting involved with Android Wear, but they have yet to share any specifics.

For more details on the LG Watch, you can check out their blog post. TechCrunch has a good post about the Moto 360, and Motorola has released this promo video for the Moto 360:


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Humble Bundle’s New eBook Bundle Includes Titles by Wil Wheaton, Cory Doctorow

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 10:40 AM PDT

Humble Bundle’s humble bundlechief claim to fame is cheaply priced software bundles, but they have released audiobook bundles and ebook bundles in the past.

They’re launching a new bundle today. The Humble eBook Bundle number 3, which launches later today, includes 7 titles from a variety of authors. In this bundle you’ll find Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black, Jumper by Steven Gould, Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw, and a simon & Schuster anthology called Zombies Versus Unicorns.

This bundle also contains one of Wil Wheaton’s memoirs, The Happiest Days of our Lives, as well as a Cory Doctorow audiobook, Homeland, an exclusive self-published audiobook which is narrated by Wil Wheaton.

The bundle is set to be released to the public today at the Humble Bundle website, but it’s not available as I write this post. Like past bundles, the ebooks and audiobooks are available DRM-free. Readers can set their own price, and they can also choose how much of their payment goes to charity.

This is Humble Bundle's third ebook bundle. Previous ebook bundles were organized by Cory Doctorow and have proven immensely successful. They were downloaded more than 200,000 times and generated more than $2 million in revenue.

Humble Bundle


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Microsoft Expected to Launch Office for iPad Next Week

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 09:15 AM PDT

Rumors za104170968[1]have been circulating for nearly 3 years now that Microsoft is working on an Office app for the iPad, and it looks like the latest rumor is about to come true.

Numerous blogs are reporting today that Microsoft is hosting an event next week in San Francisco. MS hasn’t revealed the topic for the event, but everyone is reporting that the Office iPad app will make an appearance:

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Satya Nadella may unveil an iPad version of the company’s Office software suite on March 27, a source familiar with the event told Reuters, and use his first big press appearance to launch the company’s most profitable product in a version compatible with Apple Inc’s popular tablet.

Microsoft has already released an Office app for the iPhone, and they have developed iPad friendly web apps, and finally they are going to release a native iPad app.

It is safe to assume that the new iPad app will be the iPhone app writ large, and that it will require an Office 365 subscription. This program used to cost $10 a month or more, but last week Microsoft announced a new option for individual subscribers which cost $6.99 a month. That plan is much more limited, and it is only good for a single PC and a single tablet. The $10 a month plan offered access to Office 365 from up to 5 PCs.


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Amazon Now Testing In-Store Pickup in India

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 08:29 AM PDT

For amazon_india[1]over 2 years now Amazon has been using delivery boxes in the US and UK to give customers more delivery options, but they are taking a different approach in other markets.

The retail giant launched a new program earlier this week which gave their customers in India a new delivery option. Residents of Mumbai and Delhi can now elect to pick up their purchases at a participating retail store. It’s called Amazon Pickup, and given the fact that the similar US and UK program is called Amazon Locker this could be a telling detail.

Amazon has partnered with BPCL, an Indian oil and gas company, to launch Amazon Pickup as a pilot project in Delhi and Mumbai. Under this program Amazon customers can have their packages delivered to one of 8 In & Out convenience stores.

“We are continually innovating to find solutions that enhance the convenience and experience for our customers on Amazon.in. Towards that we are running a pilot in Delhi and Mumbai with BPCL to ascertain the benefits and mechanics of enabling a pick-up service. It is too early to comment any further. Depending on results, we will take a call on how and what we want to roll out and we will make further announcement on this at an appropriate time,” Amazon India said in a statement.

In a way this new program is very similar to the Amazon Locker program offered in the US and UK, though it’s not clear whether the Indian program included lockers or the deliveries were held by store staff. While Amazon has partnered with 7-Eleven (and other retailers) to add lockers to convenience stores in the US,  store employees were not involved in running the lockers.

The Amazon Locker program is available in metro areas across the US and in several cities in the UK.

Trak.in, BGR India

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WSJ: Amazon’s Set Top Box to Ship in April

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 07:33 AM PDT

With amazon-tv-pilots[1]new leaks about Amazon’s streaming media device coming out on a daily basis, it’s pretty clear that we’re only weeks away from a launch.

The latest rumor comes to us today from the WSJ. Their sources are saying that the unnamed and unpriced device will ship early next month:

Amazon will begin shipping its long-awaited video-streaming device in early April, through its website as well as retailers including Best Buy and Staples said people familiar with the company’s plans.

The Amazon device will carry a variety of apps available on Roku Inc. and Apple set-top boxes and run on a version of Google’s Android software, like Amazon’s tablet computers, these people said. Roku’s most popular apps include video services Netflix and Hulu Plus and music service Pandora, as well as Amazon’s own video-streaming service.

Pricing remains unclear, though the people familiar with the e-commerce giant’s plans said the device likely would come with incentives available to members of Amazon’s Prime streaming video and shipping program.

At this time it looks like the device will be a dongle, and include access to a number of competing services including Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video. Few specific details are known about the device at this time, but it is generally safe to assume that it does exist and will launch this Spring.

I don’t know whether this is part of Amazon’s marketing plan or simply the fact that no one can keep a secret, but Amazon’s past product launches have been heralded by extensive leaks. Last year we knew pretty much everything about the new Kindle tablets long before they launched, and in 2012 we knew a fair amount about the new Kindle Paperwhite and the new tablets released that year.

Over the next few weeks we’re probably going to read many rumors about Amazon’s latest gadget. Most, if not all, will be true.

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Roxana Robinson Elected as President of The Authors Guild

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 06:50 AM PDT

The Authors Robinson2_JoyceRavid[1]Guild announced on Monday that Roxana Robinson, an American novelist and biographer, has been elected to replace Scott Turow as president.

At its annual meeting on Wednesday of last week, The Authors Guild members also elected Judy Blume, Richard Russo, and James Shapiro as co-vice presidents. CJ Lyons joined the Guild's executive Council.

Mr Turow led The Authors Guild through a tumultuous time that included the rise of independent authors as they gained more ways to bypass publishers and reach readers directly, the rise and fall of Agency pricing, and a surging global ebook market.

During his tenure, Mr Turow oversaw 2 important legal battles that were successfully resolved with rulings that confirmed the definition of fair use, benefiting publishers and the public alike. The Google Books case, which was initially filed in 2005, and the HaithiTrust case, which was filed and resolved on Mr Turow’s watch, both resulted in rulings that will help creators in the long run.

The Authors Guild is of course appealing those rulings: "Groundbreaking lawsuits are most often decided in higher courts," said Mr. Turow. "We know we were right to bring these cases, and we expect to prevail at the end of the day."



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Apple Retires the iPad 2, Replaces it With iPad 4 as the new $400 “Budget” Model

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 05:05 AM PDT

Apple 942303802_1337041136_o[1]quietly retired their best selling tablet today, and they replaced it with a slightly newer model.

The iPad 2 had been Apple’s designated budget model ever since it was reintroduced in 2012, but this 2011 era tablet has been getting a little long in the tooth. With benchmark tests, cameras (VGA and 2MP), and a screen resolution (1024 x 768) about on par with today’s budget Android tablets, the iPad 2 no longer presented as good of a value as it did 2 years ago.

But the iPad 4, now that’s another matter. This tablet, which was initially released in late 2012, has a better CPU, much better graphics chip, higher resolution cameras (5MP and 1.2MP), and 4 times the screen resolution (2,048 x 1,536). With a price tag of $400, it’s going to present a much better value than the iPad 2.

But even though this looks like a nice tablet, it’s far from perfect. That higher resolution screen requires a much larger battery the screen resolution largely cancels out the more powerful graphics chip. Also, this tablet is limited to only 16GB of storage, and if you use a lot of digital textbooks or download videos which make use of the full screen resolution that’s a detail you’ll notice pretty quickly.


In spite of the few shortcomings, I might even get one. The screen on my iPad 2 has long been broken, but I have been avoiding replacing it because it worked well enough. But with the relaunch of the iPad 4, now might be a good time to upgrade.

I would expect that a lot of iPad 2 owners feel the same way, and given that the iPad 2 represents the single largest block of iPad models I would bet that Apple is going to have a huge bump in sales this quarter.

The post Apple Retires the iPad 2, Replaces it With iPad 4 as the new $400 “Budget” Model appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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