Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 9 April 2014

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 09:30 PM PDT

Here’s a short list of stories to read this morning. (The longer lists will return soon.)

  • Adobe drops support for Android content viewers on Kindle Fire in latest release of DPS (Talking New Media)
  • Do Students Still Have Free Speech in School? (The Atlantic)
  • Nook vs Amazon | Who knew Nook pricing was so much higher? (TeleRead)
  • On the Perils of Feeling Dumb While Reading (BOOK RIOT)
  • The rise of mobile apps and the decline of the open web — a threat or an over-reaction? (GigaOm)
  • Why Do Publishers Want to Sell Direct? (The Scholarly Kitchen)

The post The Morning Coffee – 9 April 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Pocket for Android, iOS Updated

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 05:03 PM PDT

Pocket pocket logocontinued their international push today with a couple app updates. They’ve released new versions of their apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad, adding support for additional languages.

Both apps now offer an interface which has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, Korean, Polish, and Portuguese. This is the second batch of languages to be added to the app, bringing the total number of supported languages to 12. (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian were added in late March.)

Aside from new language support, the iPad and iPhone app only gained a single tweak (improved detection of copied links), but the Android app gained several features.

Pocket for Android now supports the immersive reading mode offered in Android 4.4 KitKat, and it can also hide the status bar on any Android devices running 4.1 Jelly Bean and up.  The typography and layout has also been tweaked to h ensure that headers, images and paragraphs all flow together seamlessly – even after a reader has changed the font size.

You can find the app in Google Play and iTunes.

The post Pocket for Android, iOS Updated appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Proof that English is Crazy (video)

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 01:16 PM PDT

English is widely recognized as a language with irrational and illogical syntax, pronunciation, and structure, and every so often someone likes to prove that point by demonstrating the many contradictory rules about conjugation and pronunciation.

I came across a new video today, and I wanted to share the fun:

English is such a confusing language because it draws from many different sources. I think James Nicoll said it best:

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.

The post Proof that English is Crazy (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kobo for iOS Updated

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 12:47 PM PDT

Kobo kobo itunes ios logoissued a minor update today for their reading app on the iPad and iPhone. There aren’t any major new features mentioned in the changelog, but the several subtle improvements.

In addition to bug fixes and performance improvements, the update adds a two new reading theme as well as a new option for customizing a reader’s home and library screens.

You can find the app in iTunes, and in order to install it you will need to be running iOS 7 or later.


1. A brand new Themes feature to customize your Library and Home screen, including time-based themes that subtly change throughout the day.
2. Two new reading themes to choose from: try Cyan for a cool blue tone, or Charcoal for a darker experience that's not quite as black as Night.
3. Overall performance improvements, and bug fixes for crashes happening with particular books.
4. Improved support for read-along books, page breaks, and more.


The post Kobo for iOS Updated appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Passes Apple, Hulu to Become Third Biggest Streaming Video Service in the US

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 11:56 AM PDT

Amazon has qwilt1[1]never said just how many of their customers are signed up for the $99 a year Prime membership but it seems seems quite a few are streaming videos.

According to the streaming video startup Qwilt, over the past year Amazon Instant Video has more than doubled in terms of its volume of streaming video traffic consumed by US broadband subscribers. The specific traffic details have not been disclosed, but Qwilt does say that Amazon is now second only to Youtube and Netflix in terms internet traffic.


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Thai eBook Startup Ookbee Raises $7 Million in New Funding Round

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 11:05 AM PDT

Southeast ookbee-logo[1]Asia's number one ebookstore startup picked up a new investor today in their series B funding round.

Ookbee announced today that Tokyo-based Transcosmos has bought a 10% stake in the company. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but sources place the deal at around $7 million. This would value the company at approximately $70 million.

Transcosmos is an IT outsourcing firm, and it is joining Thai VC InVent, which owns 25% of Ookbee. In addition to buying a stake on Ookbee Transcosmos is also forming a strategic partnership which will involve Transcosmos assisting Ookbee in customer support, online marketing, and data analytics.

Primarily focused on serving readers in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore, Oookbee boasts 5.5 million users, more than double the number of users reported in December 2012. Membership is expected to top 10 million by the end of 2014.

The startup offers reading apps for Android and iOS, and they recently launched a buffet style digital magazine service in Thailand called Ookbee Me. The price starts at 89 Baht (US$3) per month.


The post Thai eBook Startup Ookbee Raises $7 Million in New Funding Round appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Feedly Announces New Integration with IFTT Competitor Zapier

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 09:23 AM PDT

Feedly has zapier-plus-feedly[1]long offered more sharing options than even the now defunct Google Reader, and today they added a slew of new options. The leading news reader service has just announced new integration with Zapier, a web automation service.

Like its better known competitor IFTTT, Zapier lets users create tasks that are carried out automatically. But unlike IFTTT with its extensive connections to social networks, Zapier focuses on business customers. It’s a freemium service, with free users limited to only 5 tasks which can be run up to 100 times per month.

If you want to share a story privately to your colleagues, IFTTT offers connections to SalesForce Chatter and Yammer (also email). Zapier offers more connections to more business apps and services than IFTTT, including project management apps such as Asana, Basecamp, Trello and Podio, team communication tools such as HipChat, Slack, Campfire and Yammer, and task management apps such as Google Tasks and Todoist.

The Zapier sharing option is only available to Feedly Pro users. This $5 a month service includes better tech support, faster feed updates, search,  and many more sharing options that what free users have. In addition to Zapier, Prop users can also share to LinkedIn, IFTTT, OneNote, EverNote, Buffer, and more.


The post Feedly Announces New Integration with IFTT Competitor Zapier appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Wattpad Raises $46 Million in New Funding

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 07:30 AM PDT

Wattpad wattpad_logolaunched phase 3 of their expansion plan today:

  1. Launch community
  2. Not be acquired by Amazon
  3. Profit!

The online reading community announced on Tuesday that they had raised a total of $46 million in a C Funding round. The round was led by OMERS Ventures and included all of the company's existing investors as well as August Capital, Raine Ventures, and Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund.

Wattpad boasts that they have around 25 million monthly active users, or about 4 times as many users as when they secured their last funding round in mid-2012. Wattpad users now spend a cumulative total of over 6 billion minutes per month on the site. “To give some idea of how much content users are posting on Wattpad, they're uploading one chapter every half a second,” Lau told TechCrunch. “That’s about 150,000 uploads every day, and if you translate that to reading time, that's about ten hours of reading uploaded to Wattpad every minute.”

While that puts Wattpad far behind Youtube’s claim of 100 hours of video uploaded every minute, it is still an impressive accomplishment for a niche community.

Wattpad plans to use the funds to grow its user base, in particular the international membership. Wattpad has always had a strong international presence, and right now 50% of Wattpad's activity comes from users outside North America. The social network plans to capitalize on that.

The post Wattpad Raises $46 Million in New Funding appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Acer to Launch ChromeOS Tablet This Month? Probably Not

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 06:14 AM PDT

Rumors tablet2.141[1]have been circulating for 4 years that Google wanted to build a ChromeOS tablet and now it looks like the rumors might be about to come true.

Acer sent out an invite earlier this week for a press event. Specific details are scarce, but that hasn’t stopped one pundit from speculating that Acer could be launching a tablet running ChromeOS. What evidence does he have?

Close to none, actually, which is why I tend to doubt this speculation.

Yes, Google has been regularly releasing updates which improved how Chrome performed with a touchscreen, and that is probably a sign that they want to get Chrome on to a tablet. In some ways it is the stronger OS, and it handles large screens better than Android, so I would think that this would be an attractive option on 10″ tablets.

And yes, Google even teased us with a concept design in early 2010.

Chrome OS Tablet 1

But in spite of all the details pointing towards a Chrome tablet, I also know that this Chrome tablet speculation has been bandied about at least 4 times in the past couple years. It seems that every time a major tablet was about to be released, some blogger somewhere raises the possibility that it might run Chrome.

Folks, I would be terribly surprised if Acer did launch a Chrome tablet at the end of this month. This is another unicorn rumor, IMO.

After 4 years of speculation, I am beginning to wonder whether the tech blogosphere wants a Chrome tablet more than Google does. With dozens and dozens of tablets launched in the past 4 years from major device makers, Google has passed up untold opportunities to release a Chrome tablet.

And what with the new focus on Android (Android TV and Android Wear), I suspect that Google now sees Android as their main focus, not Chrome.

Google could have launched a Chrome tablet by now if they had wanted one, or if nothing else they could have gotten out of the way of a tablet maker and let someone else make it. The complete lack of Chrome tablets is probably a sign that Google is blocking them.

The post Acer to Launch ChromeOS Tablet This Month? Probably Not appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Samsung Unveils the Entry-level Samsung Galaxy Ace Style Smartphone

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 05:13 AM PDT

samsung galaxy ace 4In the smartphone world Samsung is best known for the Galaxy Note and their other premium models, but every so often they have shown an interest in budget models.

The South Korean gadget maker has just announced the Samsung Galaxy Ace Style, a truly bottom of the barrel smartphone – for Samsung, at least.

The Galaxy Ace Style starts with specs similar to the Galaxy S2, and then shaves off a couple features as the price drops. This smartphone has a 4″ screen with a resolution of 480 x 800, just like the S2′s slightly larger 4.3″ screen.

It’s running Android 4.4 KitKat on a dual-core 1.2GHz chip with 512MB RAM, 4GB Flash storage, and a microSD card slot. It has 2 cameras (5MP and VGA) and a 1.5Ah battery.

samsung galaxy ace 1 samsung galaxy ace 2 samsung galaxy ace 3

In terms of connectivity the Galaxy Ace Style has Wifi, BT, and NFC. It’s going to be available globally in black and white, so cellular connectivity will vary based on the market.

According to Samsung, the European price will be 149 euros around 200 to 300 euros (I don’t have details for other markets).  That doesn’t really strike me as a budget priced smartphone, but Samsung probably sees it that way.

The Galaxy Ace Style strikes me as a phone whose performance will be too laggy to be good for much more than phone calls. IMO that makes it a feature phone more than anything.

As I was writing this post I was reminded of the fact that Samsung over prices and under-builds their bottom of the market devices. That’s what they’ve been doing with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 tablets, and it is a good description for Samsung’s budget smartphones like the 2011 Samsung Galaxy Ace. That had only 384MB RAM, an 800MHz CPU,  and a 3.5″ screen, but it retails for $199.

While the Galaxy Ace Style is a slight improvement on that older smartphone, I think the specs (and more importantly, the resulting performance) are too low to really call it a smartphone.


The post Samsung Unveils the Entry-level Samsung Galaxy Ace Style Smartphone appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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