Archive for the ‘Fire Phone’ Category

The Fire (Phone) has gone out…no longer available

September 15, 2015

The Fire (Phone) has gone out…no longer available

Well, I guess I have a collector’s item now.

Don’t get me wrong…I like collector’s items, and have a number of rarities.

However, it makes me a tad uncomfortable that one of the things on which I rely the most, my daily use SmartPhone, the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

now says on the Amazon product page

“Currently unavailable.
We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”

I mean, I’m sure it was a gas to own a Tucker 48…but I’m guessing it’s a little hard to find spare parts and an authorized repair shop. 😉

I do like my Fire Phone…not as much as I liked my Galaxy, but it has some cool features.

I’m sure Amazon will continue to support it…but no question that they’ll stop developing for it. We already know they laid off a bunch of techies at Lab126 that worked on it. With something like a SmartPhone, you develop new features partially to attract new customers, not just to service the ones you have. Since there won’t be any new customers, there is less of an incentive to innovate.

It is possible this Fire Phone will come back into stock…but it seems a bit unlikely.

It’s also possible (and Jeff Bezos has indicated it will likely happen) that Amazon develops some other phone…but probably not right away.

I can make a gadget last a long time, but I don’t want to be doing a lot of first aid to what is basically my lifeline to the world.

For example, I drove a car…until it literally fell apart. 🙂 The whole muffler exhaust pipe thing (I’m not a car person, as you can tell) dropped. I took a fan belt, tied it up, and drove like that for maybe another two weeks. This was many, many years ago…I wouldn’t do that now.

I’ll keep counting on the phone for now…but it’s not too early to sort of think about other phones.

I wouldn’t get an iPhone…Apple soured me with what they did with e-books, and I have an iPhone for work. I’ve never liked the iPhone as much as I liked my Galaxy.

Part of that is just familiarity, I know.

If I had to get a phone right now, I’d be looking at a Galaxy again…perhaps the Edge.

What went wrong with the Fire Phone for Amazon, and how does this impact EBRs (E-Book Readers)?

Price.

That was about it.

If the Fire Phone had been introduced as a cheap phone, I think it would have done well.

People are always impressed when they see the 3-D effect.

The gestural control, while that sounds gimmicky, is helpful. It makes  lot more things one-handed. It takes a little bit to get used to flicking the phone this way and that for different functions, but it works.

Then, of course, there is Mayday…Amazon’s on-screen tech support. That’s a remarkable achievement.

This should be a pretty clear lesson to Amazon: don’t try to be the luxury brand.

That should place downwards price pressure on other gadgets…and we’ve been hearing a rumor about a $50 tablet from Amazon, in time for the holidays.

It’s been just about a year since the last big hardware announcement from Amazon (September 17th last year), and the year before that was the end of the September.

We probably won’t hear about a phone in this year’s big announcement…although I could see the Echo getting some sort of phone capability (either tying into your phone through Bluetooth, but controlled by the Echo, or maybe VOIP…Voice Over Internet Protocol).

There is also the possibility, which hasn’t been talked about much lately, that Amazon introduce a wearable (a watch?) with phone calling. I’ve never liked wearing watches (I carried an old fashioned pocket watch for years). Wristwatches would tend to go wacky on me. I couldn’t figure that out for some time, although there were people who thought it had to do with my “magnetic personality”. 😉 Someone finally made a good suggestion to me: since I’m ambidextrous, I probably tended to bump it into things more…I couldn’t put it on a non-dominant hand.

Yeah, I’d rather not get a SmartWatch.

No real reason why a tablet couldn’t make phone calls, I suppose…my Kindle Fire could do it with an app, but it wasn’t that convenient.

Anyway, it’s the end of a (short-lived and largely non-impactful) era. Unless it’s just out of stock…but I think that’s unlikely.

Keep your fingers crossed that my phone hangs in there! If Amazon did bring out another, fairly inexpensive phone before I had to replace this one, I would honestly consider it…owning this one has not been a bad experience…Samsung was just a better experience. 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

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Round up #300: best books, books on buses

June 25, 2015

Round up #300: best books, books on buses

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

That’s right…300!

Wow! This is the 300th round-up! The first one was on October 24th, 2009. Let’s see, that means I have averaged…just about one a week (one every 6.9 days). That seems about right. I have a lot of fun doing them, and they are often a way for me to make a quick mention of something which I can’t (at least at that time) expand into its own post.

There are also times when it lets me let you know about something before I feel like I’ve really explored it. I might hear about something complicated, or controversial, and not be ready to give an evaluation…but still want you to be informed.

Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far

Amazon has announced their

Best Books of the Year So Far (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They didn’t just name ten or twenty…here is the list:

  • Best Books of the Year So Far
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 (15)
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 Children’s Books (20)
  • Arts & Photography (20)
  • Audiobooks (16)
  • Biographies & Memoirs (19)
  • Business & Leadership (20)
  • Children’s Books (100)
  • Comics & Graphic Novels (16)
  • Cookbooks, Food & Wine (20)
  • Crafts, Hobbies & Home (20)
  • Fashion (15)
  • History (19)
  • Humor & Entertainment (20)
  • Kindle Singles (20)
  • Literature & Fiction (16)
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (19)
  • Nonfiction (18)
  • Romance (13)
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy (17)
  • Teens & Young Adults (20)

Their top book overall?

H is for Hawk (at AmazonSmile*)
by Helen Macdonald
4.2 stars out of 5 | 384 customer reviews

Two updates

On my Kindle Fire HDX, it’s clear that there has been some (minor?) update to the Amazon Kindle reader. I’m at 9.9, and I’ve noticed a couple of changes.

When I tap the top middle of the page to bring up the menus, a little thumbnail of the cover now appears.

The other thing is that the text-to-speech (something I use every day) play arrow is on the right when it used to be on the left.

Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s all I’ve noticed so far.

The other update was to my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It looked like a system update…but it was showing Voice Input. I’m not noticing any difference, and I did test it with a few things. Still, it’s nice to see the Fire Phone still getting love. 😉

Books on Buses

I love it when adults read, but I do think it’s important and special when people take steps to encourage children to read. According to this

WDBJ7 by Jean Jadhon

the city of Roanoke, Virginia is doing a summer reading program on city buses.

There will be book bags at the front of the buses.

Parents (hopefully, legal guardians) with children can take a bag. It will have five books in it…and they can even take a book home, sort of like a library. They would bring it back later.

I think that’s great!

This was my favorite part of the whole article, though:

“I love reading books!” children chanted as they stood outside the Roanoke City Main Library Monday.”

🙂

The future is bright…

Amazon Echo mini-round up

The

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

went on public pre-order yesterday. I will be covering it as part of this blog, but yesterday’s post just on it was an anomaly. 🙂 A few notes…

  • The return policy wasn’t on the product page…I was assuming it was thirty days, like Kindles and  Fires, but it isn’t. It’s 180 days! That’s right…about six months
  • There are now over 20,000 reviews…still average 4.5 stars
  • Somebody asked, so I checked: yes, it works with a synthesized voice. That can be important for people with certain challenges who need to use a synthesizer
  • I liked that it knew the appropriate response to, “Alexa:  Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
  • There are still pop culture questions and answers I think it should know…and I may set up something to inform Amazon. For example, I asked it today, “Alexa: who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?” The appropriate answer, of course, is “The Shadow knows…” followed by a maniacal laugh. I think people would really like it when the Echo said something like, “Ha haha haha” for the laugh 🙂

When is an average not an average?

I have to say, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.

According to this

CNET article by Ben Fox Rubin

and other sources, Amazon is changing its review system.

Certainly, the current system is flawed. There have been a lot of problems with…biased reviews, even ones which have apparently been purchased. For example, a company might give you a free copy of a book, if you are willing to write a five star review of it.

Amazon’s approach is going to be to use “machine learning” to put more weight on more popular and more recent reviews.

In terms of moving them up higher on the page, I have no problem with that. We’ve had those “most useful” reviews for a while.

What concerns me is that those weightings will affect the average of stars (which I often report…I did it on the Macdonald book above, for example).

I’m going to guess that the specific algorithm is not going to be revealed…so we will no longer know what 4.5 stars really means.

I’d be okay with it with the option to see either one…unweighted or weighted.

I’d also like to see an option to see the difference between Amazon Verified Purchase reviews and non-verified…that seems like useful data.

However, let’s just make something up. 🙂

Let’s say (and again, I have no reason to think these are the numbers) that reviews posted in the last week are worth twice as much as older reviews.

A book had five reviews which were all three stars more than a week ago.

Now, the publisher gets five people to put in five star reviews all at once.

The older reviews are worth 15 “points”. The new ones are worth 50 points (five reviews of five stars times two).

That makes the average 6.5 stars…on a scale of 1 to 5. 🙂 Presumably, they’d round down to 5 stars.

It would appear the book had a perfect score, despite earlier mediocre reviews.

Now, it could certainly be argued that the newer reviews may be more valid. What if the publisher updated the book, fixing mistakes, and even adding new material?

I just don’t like that I’ll never know what the average actually means, and that I won’t be comparing apples to apples. They may all use the same algorithm, but one review getting votes as useful (when those votes might actually be because the review is well written) could raise the average on a book over another equally liked book.

What do you think? Do you like the new review system? If not, what should Amazon do about the review system, if anything? How about books on buses? Can you think of other ways for cities to encourage reading…and does the choice of the books by the government concern you? What are your best books published in 2015 so far? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #283: discount on covers, Echo plays Simon Says

January 31, 2015

Round up #283: discount on covers, Echo plays Simon Says

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

New features for Echo, Fire Phone

I’m one of the few people who bought an

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

when it first came out for $199.

People treat it like it is Amazon’s Edsel (a famous flop from Ford), and yes, Amazon blamed it for a big loss in the financial report before yesterday’s.

However…

It’s still being updated, and Amazon said they are “working through” the inventory.

I don’t think they are done with the Fire Phone.

Sure, they’ve given us new lockscreens…and those are cool things that use their “dynamic perspective” (which I like to call “dy-per”) 😉 to look 3D. As you move your head, you can see different things. I have to say, it’s quite hard to get people to hold the phone still and move their heads to experience it…that’s not natural for people. Some of those are even little movies…as short as Vines, perhaps, but cool. That’s not really a new feature, though.

The voice assistant giving you directions?

Yes, that’s new. We didn’t have it when the phone came out, but it was recently added.

I tested it today, and said, “Directions home”…worked just fine.

That’s something else I want to mention: dictation on the phone, and, I think, on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

has gotten a lot better lately. It’s always been pretty good, but the voice recognition has improved, I believe. I’ve even noticed it capitalizing things.

I suspect that may be a benefit from the

Amazon Echo

Part of the big feature of the Amazon Echo (Amazon’s yet-t0-be-generally-released ambient computing device) is it’s ability to carry on a conversation with you.

The voice recognition utilizes a hive mind (individuals contributing to and  benefiting  from a central source)…and so does voice recognition on the Fire Phone.

If you aren’t connected to wireless, voice recognition isn’t the same…I’m not even sure it works.

Now, it’s possible the voice recognition on the Fire Phone is actually powered by Google (the Fire Operating System is a “forked” version of Android), but I suspect it may not be. After all, Amazon bought Ivona (a text-to-speech and voice recognition company) about two years ago.

Nice to see my Fire Phone getting updates…and I think there is more to come.

The Echo has not even been released generally yet, so updates and new features make perfect sense. You can only buy one at this point if you ask for an invitation and get one…and my delivery date is estimated between May 27th and July 2nd!

One of my readers was nice enough to share an Amazon e-mail with me in a private e-mail (if you’d to be credited by name, just let me know).

Amazon announced to new features for this reader’s Echo. You can now control iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify by voice. You start it playing on a paired phone or tablet, then you can say, “Alexa, play” or pause, stop, next, or previous.

While that may not seem at first like that big of an addition, it’s important to note that this is more functionality with non-Amazon apps…showing that they aren’t trying to make this a “walled garden” as people like to say.

Second, and more interesting to me, is a “Simon Says” feature. You can say, “Alexa, Simon it’s time to go to bed,” and Alexa says, “It’s time to go to bed.”

Maybe that just sounds like a novelty, but I can see how it could be really useful.

You can use the remote to do it from another room…and I’m guessing you might be able to use the companion app (available for iOS and Android) to do it from elsewhere.

Of course, you could use it for playing tricks on your family members (Amazon even hints at that).

When I taught Advanced Excel class many years ago, I would set up a prank for the instructors to use on April Fool’s Day.

When you clicked in a particular spot, a message box would appear that would say,

“System crash imminent”

Click on that OK button, and it would say

“Radiation hazard”

Click again and get

“Your car has been towed”

One last click and get, “April Fools!”

People are going to tend to believe Alexa, so if she said it was time to go to bed, I think young kids would be more likely to do it than if a legal guardian said it.

At this point, it’s a one way communication…you talk through Alexa, but you can’t hear back anything that is being said.

You can see how it could have a practical application. You use the app (again, I’m not sure if that’s possible…I’d appreciate it if someone with an Echo could check) to say, “Honey, it’s me…I’m running late.” That’s easier for the person to get in a text…depending on how you have things set up and how often they check texts. 😉

They are making more improvements. I suspect eventually you’ll be able to have it remember a phrase you say to use for an alarm, and there is a lot more coming from the Echo, I believe.

Oh, and in another improvement from Amazon, reader Tania Marshall pointed out to me that the Washington Post app now does text-to-speech! That had been one of my comments about it when it was first released…but I’m glad it’s there now.

10% discount for ILMK readers at Queen Of Cases

https://queenofcases.com/

which makes really interesting hard cases for tablets and other devices is offering a discount code for readers of this blog.

Use the promo code

ilmk10

to get 10% of your order. They make cases for the Kindle Fire tablets, the Kindle Keyboard (AKA Kindle 3), the Kindle Touch, and the Kindle 4th generation.

Please be prepared to be specific as to which Kindle you have…if you need help figuring that out, let me know. 🙂

You may find this page of mine helpful:

Which Kindle do you have?

Enjoy the discount! I think these could make really nice gifts. They can do a custom case from any picture. They also have a sixty day return policy!

Let me clear, I haven’t tried one of these myself, but I appreciate them reaching out to me for your benefit…and they did it very nicely, I might add. 🙂 Nothing pushy…

“When Authors Reboot a Series”

Jessica Pryde has an interesting

BOOKRIOT article

talking about authors “rebooting” a series…returning it to after a gap.

We’re not just talking a year…it can be a decade or even more.

Certainly, there are series where I wanted more…but thinking about being able to get back into the same “head space” after all that time…

Most likely, the author changed in a decade…won’t that affect the book?

Sure…and why not?

Characters in series do tend to evolve over time…and not just when they are aging like the Harry Potter protagonists. 😉

I actually think it can be more likely that another author picking up on a series can more closely replicate the feel of the original than the original author!

What do you think? Have you ever picked up a reboot and thought it was a considerable improvement over the previous books? Have you ever kinda sorta wished they had left it alone? Which series continued by other authors have been just as good or better (I might go with Ruth Plumly Thompson following on L. Frank Baum with the Oz series for one)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

$199 Fire Phone – AT&T = huge hit…and a book deal tonight

November 27, 2014

$199 Fire Phone – AT&T = huge hit…and a book deal tonight

When I paid $199 for the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

it wasn’t actually the version above.

Mine was “locked” to AT&T, which was okay with me…since that’s our carrier anyway.

They did have an unlocked version in the beginning, but it was at least $450.

Not too long after that, the price for what I bought dropped to $0.99.

Amazon clearly took a big hit on the Fire Phone, and fessed up to it during their financials call.

I’ll have to admit to a tad bit of worry that they wouldn’t continue to support my phone.

Now that they’ve dropped the price of the unlocked version, though, it seems to be working.

At time of writing, the Fire Phone has rocketed up to being #1 in electronics at Amazon.

Higher than the

Fire TV Stick (at Amazon Smile*)

although admittedly, that one’s sales may be down because they are sold out…they don’t expect to have them again until mid January of 2015.

Higher than the

Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile*)

Now, this might just be a sudden leap because of it going on sale, but I think it could make actual inroads into the market. I don’t like mine as well as I did my Galaxy, but I do like it…and it’s a bit of a chicken and the egg issue of having market share to get apps developed for it.

It’s also worth noting that, even at this $199 price,  you still get a year of Amazon Prime (a $99 value), whether you are already a subscriber or not. That makes the price effectively $100.

One other tip…Amazon sent me a heads up on this deal:

“Happy Holidays! With Black Friday two days away, Amazon has announced another great deal starting at 9pm PST tonight [Wednesday, November 26] where customers using the promo code HOLIDAY30 will receive an additional 30% off of purchase for one book, not including eBooks or Audible Audiobooks. The offer is available for a limited time. “

Okay, okay…I know that’s not a Kindle deal. 🙂 If you want to see Amazon’s Black Friday Kindle device deals (with links), see

These will be Amazon’s Black Friday device specials

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

 

Round up #268: KU and KOLL, Apple check?

September 11, 2014

Round up #268: KU and KOLL, Apple check?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Thanks to the readers who have inspired some of today’s stories!

Borrowing from the KOLL when you are a KU member

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Tom Semple for this!

It’s still not quite a solution, but it does give me more information to give Amazon…they are supposedly still trying to figure it out.

I am an eligible Prime member, so I should be able to borrow a book a calendar month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). I could do it (and did do it…every single month) before I became a member of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Since, then, I’ve been unable to borrow a book through the KOLL, at least as far as I knew. When I went to a book in the KOLL, it would only let me borrow it through KU.

Not a huge deal…but it did mean that I had effectively lost a benefit of Prime.

Well, Tom suggested a specific book which is part of the KOLL and not part of KU. Those are going to be few and far between, I think. The book is one which I do think is excellent, but which I won’t link (and I don’t think it’s necessary to mention it for the sake of this story). I’m not linking it because the publisher has chosen to block text-to-speech access in the Kindle edition…I read it in paper, years ago.

On that one, I do get the option to borrow it through the KOLL.

That’s definitely not the way it is supposed to work…I should be able to borrow books that are in both populations either way, at least some of the time.

Still, useful info…thanks, Tom!

Did Amazon drop the price on the Fire Phone because of the Apple announcement?

I recently wrote about Amazon’s

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

being reduced over 99% from about $200 to about $1 (both with a two-year contract).

A reader, Stephen, asked (perhaps rhetorically) if the price drop was because of Apple’s recent announcement (of two new iPhones and the Apple Watch).

I actually think it’s pretty unlikely that was the specific impetus.

This announcement doesn’t change the landscape much. Apple already had a better phone, as far as many people were concerned. While the new iPhones have some improvements, I can’t say that this announcement was something Amazon hadn’t anticipated when they initially priced the phone.

I’m happy for Apple that the announcement was generally well received…and it’s good for Amazon to healthy competitors.

However, I don’t think the Fire Phone was intended as a direct competitor to a top of the line iPhone…Amazon doesn’t need to knock the iPhone out to keep the Fire Phone viable…that’s not their target market space.

Also, Amazon made their announcement before Apple made theirs…

Apple Settlement: you may get a check

Lady Galaxy, regular reader and prolific (and most welcome) commenter, copied and pasted an e-mail purporting to be from Amazon about an Apple settlement.

I also received that e-mail, and will post that for you here. Lady Galaxy had asked if that was legal: yes, my understanding is that unless someone tells you that an e-mail is private, you have the right to publish it. IANAL (I Am Not a Lawyer), but I think that’s right.

The e-mail appears to be legitimate, and other news sources have reported it as such.

Here is most of it:

Dear Kindle Customer,

We previously emailed you about Settlements between several eBook publishers, State Attorneys General and private plaintiffs. On March 25, 2014, Amazon made credits from the proceeds of those publishers’ Settlements available to eligible customers. You can learn more about those publishers’ Settlements by clicking here.

The Attorneys General and private plaintiffs have now settled similar claims against Apple Inc. The court where those claims are pending has directed us to send the following legal notice to you to advise you of your rights in the Apple Settlement. If you have any questions about this notice, or your legal rights, please visit the E-book Lawsuits website or call the phone number listed at the end of this notice. Amazon’s customer service will not be able to answer questions about your legal rights in the Apple Settlement.

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

==========================================================

Notice ID Number: [deleted]

Legal Notice
Benefits from E-books Settlement with Apple
Para una notificación en Español, llamar o visitar nuestro website.
Records indicate that you are eligible for a payment from a Settlement reached by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs with Apple Inc. (“Apple”). The Apple Settlement resolves Plaintiffs’ claims for money damages against Apple in antitrust lawsuits about the price of electronic books (“E-books”). Amazon has not been sued in these cases. It is providing this notice as a service to its customers.

What the Apple Settlement Provides
The Apple Settlement provides for three possible outcomes, depending on the decision of an appeal of the District Court’s July 10, 2013 finding that Apple violated the antitrust laws (“Liability Finding”). First, if the Court’s Liability Finding is upheld, Apple will pay $400 million to Eligible Consumers. Second, if the Liability Finding is sent back to the District Court for further consideration of whether Apple violated the antitrust laws, Apple will pay $50 million to Eligible Consumers. Third, if the Liability Finding is reversed, Apple will make no payments.

If Apple is required to pay Eligible Consumers under either of the first two options and if the Court approves the Apple Settlement, you will receive an automatic credit to your customer account. The credit can be used for the purchase of products or services sold by Amazon. The amount of your payment, if any, will be determined based on the qualifying E-book purchases identified by Amazon in your customer account.

How to Receive your Benefit
If Apple is required to make a payment to Eligible Consumers, you do not need to do anything to receive your credit unless you change your email address. (If you do change your email address, you should update your Amazon profile or visitwww.EbookLawsuits.com and click on the “Update Your Contact Information” link.) Because you are pre-qualified, your credit will be applied to your account by Amazon automatically, and you will receive another email letting you know when it’s available. If you bought E-books from more than one retailer, you may receive other notices with different instructions on how to receive a payment.

If Apple is required to make a payment to Eligible Consumers, you also will have the option to receive a check instead of your credit. You can request a check by calling 1-866-686-9333, or going to the Apple Settlement website listed below, and clicking on the Check Request Option link on or before October 31, 2014. Be sure to reference the Settlement ID number found at the top of this email. Customers who received a check from the earlier E-books settlements do not have to re-submit a check request for the Apple Settlement. However, if your mailing address changes before you receive your check, please visit www.EbookLawsuits.com and click on the “Update Your Contact Information” link to update your mailing address.

Your Other Rights
You can choose to exclude yourself from the Apple Settlement and keep your right to sue Apple on your own. If you exclude yourself, you can’t receive any benefits from the Apple Settlement. Your written Exclusion Form must be postmarked by October 31, 2014.

If you don’t exclude yourself, you can submit objections about the Apple Settlement. Your written objections must be postmarked by October 31, 2014.

Please visit the Apple Settlement website below for detailed information on how to submit a valid Exclusion Form or objection.

The Court will hold a hearing on November 21, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. to consider whether to approve the Apple Settlement. You or your own lawyer may ask to appear and speak at the hearing. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so please check the website below for additional information.

For more information:
Call 1-866-686-9333 or Visit www.EbookLawsuits.com

==========================================================

(c) 2014 Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Amazon.com, 410 Terry Avenue N., Seattle, WA 98109-5210.

Reference: [deleted]

Notice that it says you don’t need to do anything. That’s what I’d do at this point, unless you feel like you need to go to one of the sites indicated to do something. Before you do that, I would verify with Kindle Support that this is real:

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*)

What do you think? Was Amazon lowering the Fire Phone’s price in response to the anticipated (at that point) Apple announcement? Is it an act of desperation because of possibly low sales, or had they perhaps always intended to drop the price like that? How important is the KOLL to you, if you are a Prime member? Why do you think Amazon sent out that e-mail (if they did), before there was anything definitive to announce? Could it have been an attempt to tarnish Apple following their big announcement? Do you think Amazon has a hardware release on the horizon? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post…and thanks again to the commenters who inspired today’s stories!

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Fire Phone reduced in price…by 99.5%

September 9, 2014

Fire Phone reduced in price…by 99.5%

I bought my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

when it was recently released for about $200.

In this

press release

Amazon announced the new price…of ninety-nine cents (with a two-year contract…same requirement I had)!

Wow, a drop of that much in about a month and a half! That makes me want to…smile. 😉

Yup, I’m happy that other people will be able to get such a great deal.

As I’ve written in previous Fire Phone posts, it took me a while to warm up to it…but I like it now.

The biggest plus for me is the easy access to things you’ve done before. I go a lot of different places, and I really like having access to previous navigations right from the Carousel.

Of course, I couldn’t get a feel for that until I’d been there, done that a few times.

Certainly, I’m looking forward to a software update to the voice assistant. It’s still pretty limited, although it understands what I say well.

Generally, I think one thing that makes it a good phone for many people is Mayday, the live, onscreen technical help. This is the first phone you can give to someone who is not at all tech savvy, and they’ll be able to really use it to send texts and e-mails.

I think we’ll see tremendous improvements to the phone over the next year, in the way of software updates.

So, why the big drop?

Rumors suggest it wasn’t selling well. One speculation I saw mentioned a figure of 15,000 phones…which would make me one in about 200.

They need to get them into people’s hands…they can’t have this be seen as a failure. Well, they could…pretty much every company has had failures, but they don’t want Fire Phone to be to Amazon as the Newton is to Apple. 😉

I suspect adoption will be slow, but will get up there. The included year of Prime (even for current Prime members) will mean some folks will try it as another phone at the holidays. I suspect we may see this some kids’ first phones…and that’s part of why their advertising campaign with the two children makes sense.

The press release also says,

“In the U.S., Fire is available exclusively on AT&T – the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network. Fire with 32GB is available for 99 cents with a two-year contract or $0 down and $18.75 per month (for 24 months) with AT&T NEXT 18.”

Readers Edward Boyhan and Tom Semple have also pointed out that you can now buy the Fire Phone without a service plan for $449.

We’ll know after the holidays how effective this was…even if Amazon doesn’t release figures, people can do some analysis and make some guesses.

Bonus story

I didn’t want to do a story just on the Fire Phone…I know a lot of you reading this blog may see it as somewhat outside “…the Kindle and the world of e-books”, as I say on the masthead for the blog. It is in some ways involved with e-books, and certainly affects Amazon (and that affects the Kindle’s fortunes), but I understand.

So, here’s a purely book story. 🙂

Annotated Classics series (at AmazonSmile*)

This is a series of low-priced (but not free) public domain classics.

The reviews are generally good, and they do seem to be pretty inclusive for the given author. They also have quite a bit of other material…not just pulling one essay off Wikipedia, as some books do.

For example, for the Shakespeare collection, they say:

“* NEW: Easily look up text that is linked to local Shakespeare glossary.
* Illustrated with the original images.
* Annotated with concise introduction, including analysis of William Shakespeare’s works as well as modern view on Shakespeare’s historical background.
* Original footnotes are hyperlinked for easy reference.
* The collection includes alphabetical and chronological indexes of Shakespeare’s works.
* Each book features its own active Table of Contents.
* Includes William Shakespeare’s Biography.
* Includes William Shakespeare’s most famous quotes.
* Includes famous quotes about William Shakespeare.
* Includes analysis of William Shakespeare’s literary style.
* Includes analysis of English Renaissance theatre.
* Includes analysis of characters of Shakespeare’s Plays.
* Includes glossary of Shakespeare’s words.
* All Annotated Classics books are beautifully designed for easy reading and navigation on e-Readers and mobile devices.”

In terms of completeness, here is the listing for the H.G. Wells set…nothing is standing out as missing to me:

NOVELS:
Ann Veronica
The First Men in the Moon
The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth
The History of Mr Polly
In the Days of the Comet
The Invisible Man
The Island of Dr Moreau
Joan and Peter
Kipps
Little Wars
Love and Mr Lewisham
Marriage
Mr. Britling Sees It Through
The New Machiavelli
The Passionate Friends
The Research Magnificent
The Sea Lady Illustrated
The Secret Places of the Heart
The Sleeper Awakes
The Soul of a Bishop
The Time Machine
Tono-Bungay
The War in the Air
The War of the Worlds
The Wheels of Chance
When the Sleeper Wakes
The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman
The Wonderful Visit
The World Set Free

COLLECTIONS
The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents
Twelve Stories and a Dream

SHORT STORIES
Aepyornis Island
The Apple
The Argonauts of the Air
The Beautiful Suit
A Catastrophe
The Chronic Argonauts
The Cone
The Country of the Blind
The Crystal Egg
A Deal in Ostriches
The Diamond Maker
The Door in the Wall
A Dream of Armageddon
The Empire of the Ants
A Family Elopement
Filmer
The Flowering of the Strange Orchid
The Flying Man
The Grisly Folk
The Hammerpond Park Burglary
How Gabriel Became Thompson
In the Abyss
In the Avu Observatory
In the Modern Vein: An Unsympathetic Love Story
The Jilting of Jane
Jimmy Goggles the God
The Land Ironclads
Le Mari Terrible
Little Mother Up the Morderberg
The Lord of the Dynamos
The Lost Inheritance
The Man Who Could Work Miracles
The Man With a Nose
The Magic Shop
Miss Winchelsea’s Heart
A Misunderstood Artist
The Moth
A Moonlight Fable
Mr. Brisher’s Treasure
Mr. Ledbetter’s Vacation
Mr. Marshall’s Doppelgänger
Mr. Skelmersdale in Fairyland
My First Aeroplane
The New Accelerator
The Obliterated Man
A Perfect Gentleman
The Plattner Story
Pollock and the Porroh Man
The Purple Pileus
The Rajah’s Treasure
The Reconciliation
The Red Room
The Remarkable Case of Davidson’s Eyes
The Sad Story of a Dramatic Critic
The Sea Raiders
A Slip under the Microscope
The Star
The Stolen Body
The Stolen Bacillus
A Story of the Days To Come
The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost
The Story of the Last Trump
The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham
A Story of the Stone Age
The Temptation of Harringay
The Treasure in the Forest
The Triumphs of a Taxidermist
Through a Window
The Truth About Pyecraft
Under the Knife
A Vision of Judgment
The Valley of Spiders
The Wild Asses of the Devil

NON-FICTION
Anticipations
Certain Personal Matters
An Englishman Looks at the World
First and Last Things
Floor Games
God the Invisible King
In the Fourth Year
Mankind in the Making
A Modern Utopia
New Worlds for Old
Russia in the Shadows
The Salvaging of Civilization
A Short History of the World Illustrated
War and the Future
What is Coming?

BIOGRAPHY & HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Biography
Chronology
H.G. WELLS by J.D. BERESFORD

QUOTES & ANALYSIS
Quotes
Works’ Analysis
History of science fiction

I checked a sample, and it does look good. With the H.G. Wells, sample, I got more than one full book, by the way…and one of them was The First Men in the Moon.

These might be good gifts, or could be a good way for you to be an e-completist. 😉

Enjoy!

This post was updated and improved with comments from readers…and I also caught one of my own mistakes. 😉

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Update 3.5.1 rolling out for the Fire Phone

August 8, 2014

Update 3.5.1 rolling out for the Fire Phone

 

I’m on the road today (well, right now I’m in a hotel), so my time is a tad limited  (having a three and a half hour commute will do that to you). 😉

I did respond to comments, and I was getting ready to write something, when my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

updated (it asked me first) to 3.5.1.

Yes, that’s right…we got new features two weeks after the phone was released.

That has happened with other Amazon devices, too…quick updates.

I  looked online, but there wasn’t information or a manual update yet…so I used the Mayday feature on the phone to talk to a live rep within seconds.

To me, that’s clearly one of the advantages of the Fire Phone over other SmartPhones: Mayday is one the best innovations in Customer Service in the past ten years, I’d say.

The Mayday rep was able to tell me what was in it…and to help me test them.

They may make a manual update available, but the rep told me that nothing was on the website yet because it had just started to roll  out…some of the Mayday reps had it on their own phones, some didn’t. 🙂

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Quick switch: this is nice! You can “double push” the home button, and you get quick access to some apps. The rep was suggesting that this was so you could close open apps, although it appears to me that these are recently used apps
  • App folders: I was told that you could put your apps into folders…not Cloud folders, and not other things than apps. We didn’t test that on the call, and I can’t find a way to do it now. 😦 If I do, I’ll let you know.
  • Delete e-mails from Carousel: while the Carousel may at first look busy, it’s actually quite useful. For example, below the icon for the e-mail app,  I see my recent e-mails…and I can slide them up to see more. Well, the new thing is that I can delete them right from there as well. Swipe a given e-mail to your left, and you’ll see the garbage can icon
  • Lenticular photos: you can now have up to nine of these. This is sort of a weird thing. You tap the settings button in the camera (which you activate with a physical button on the phone, and other ways). You can choose “lenticular” or panorama. Set on lenticular, you take multiple images. When you done, you tap the next arrow. What you’ll have is what vlooks like one image…but as you tilt the phone, you’ll see the other images.
  • Video sharing: the rep said that videos shared with me would look better…I haven’t been able to test it
  • Pin things to the front of the Carousel. If you long press (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second) an item on the Carousel (the maps, for example…I’ll need that driving back), it will stay in the front, even when you open other apps. That’s a really nice  feature!
  • Photo locket: this one is a good idea, but it’s going to confuse people. On the lock screen, you can swipe to your left, and you’ll get a choice to add a photo. The photos then become available from the lock screen…they don’t become the lock screen, by the way, but they are easily accessible. What’s potentially confusing is that it doesn’t work with pictures that are in the Cloud (through the Amazon photo app). It looks like you can add  them, but they don’t display. When you go to add a photo, I couldn’t tell which were in the Cloud and which were on the device…sort of trial and error

There is a lot more  to come in the future for the Fire Phone!

Bonus deal: I wanted to make sure I included something not Fire Phone related (I’m guessing not a lot of my readers have them, so…

50 Kindle books for $2 each (at AmazonSmile)

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

August 3, 2014

Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Kindle case for those with grip issues

I have a sibling with a medical condition that makes it hard to hold on to things…lots of things get dropped.

We happened to be visiting today, and my sibling told me about a Kindle case which had been recommended in a class…and which really worked very well:

MarBlue Atlas (new) for Kindle Case, Purple (Fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can’t see it at all well in the product pictures, but it has a broad strap on it…roughly the size of a deck of cards (well, an almost two dimensional deck of cards).

My sibling is able to slip a hand in there, and then can even turn the Kindle upside down without dropping it.

It could be useful for a lot of people who want to make sure they can hold on to a Kindle (even in the bath, for example).

It’s $24.99 for basic colors at time of writing, and is also available with a customizable design (which could be good for gifts, or if the person is in a group living situation).

One other thing: we don’t use leather, and this one is all synthetics.

My Fire Phone tells me where to go

No, it wasn’t insulting me. 😉

I’m liking my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

more as I use it more.

Today was the first time I tested it out for navigation (using the native Maps app).

It worked fine. 🙂

I liked the timing of it…with my S4, I sometimes wouldn’t get the upcoming directions at the right time…too soon or too late. One test isn’t enough, of course, but the timing seemed quite good. It didn’t announce the next move way ahead (once I was on the right path), which meant it was less “chatty”. Oh, and if it had to re-route (because I went a different way), there was just a little chirrupy sound, and it seemed to re-route very quickly…within half a block, I’d say.

I’ve also been playing

Planet Puzzles (at AmazonSmile*)

which came on my phone. It’s a puzzle game: you have a Rubik’s Cube looking thing, and there will be two squares of the same color on it. There might be several pairs. All you have to do is “connect the dots”, coloring the squares in between, say, blue and blue.

That sounds easy…it very quickly became quite a challenging puzzle!

It has the dynamic perspective, the sort of 3D effect.

I had a New Millennial (born roughly between 1980 and 2000) relative try it (and play around with the phone). The response was good. 🙂

August Kindle First books

The

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

books are out for August, and this time, I had an easy choice.

Prime members can choose one of these pre-release titles…not to borrow, but to own.

The choices this time are:

  • Fantasy: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Mystery: A Cold and Broken Hallelujah by Tyler Dilts
  • Historical Fiction: Portrait of a Girl by Dörthe Binkert (translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo)
  • Romantic Suspense: Crazy for Her by Sandra Owens

I went with The Paper Magician…

If you wait until they are released (in September), you should be able to read them through Kindle Unlimited, and borrow them through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library).

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Public Domain Detective

I haven’t reported on this one yet, but the U.S. Supreme Court, according to this

BBC article

and other sources, declined to hear an emergency appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, effectively ending (at least for now) a legal battle over the copyright status of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a bit of a tricky case, but very interesting and potentially with sweeping implications (including for fan fiction, in my opinion).

It goes like this:

A lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain in the USA. That means that the public owns them: they are not under copyright protection. Anybody can publish them, distribute them, profit off them, and make media adaptations of them without first getting permission.

Ten of the stories, however, are not.

The estate argued that a new work which is “informed” (my term, not theirs) by the last ten stories would infringe upon their rights if unauthorized.

The suggestion was that a new work with Sherlock Holmes as a character might infringe their copyright…because those last ten stories were under protection.

The declination to rule clears the way for new Holmes works…although not, of course, for reproduction of the last ten, without permission.

In a related story, the British House of Lords has just okayed the use of parody there, according to this

The Drum article by Angela Haggerty

and other sources.

I think most Americans don’t realize our relatively freedom to parody works (which I’ve done many times in this blog).

When you parody something, you can use the original characters (even the names) if what you are doing is critiquing that work. In the USA, we see it all the time…Saturday Night Live, Mad Magazine, and so on.

That hit me years ago as the explanation for a mystery: why are so many comedians (including ones on SNL) working in the USA Canadians? John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Eugene Levy…the epiphany was that Canada doesn’t specifically have parody as a defence in copyright cases. In order to make parodies, it makes sense for them to come to the USA to practice their art. That’s not the only reason, I’m sure, but I would guess it is a contributing factor.

Another way that the UK is updating copyright laws is to make format shifting legal of items you legally own, when you do it for your own use:

Intellectual Property Office PDF

I’ve been saying for some time that the USA needs to make this explicit change as well.

Currently, it isn’t clear that it is legal for you to digitize a p-book (paperbook) you own, if it is not in the public domain…even for your own use.

Oh, the odds are that no one would come after you, of course, but you can’t judge morality and legality just on whether or not you will get caught (at least, I don’t).

The hard thing in the USA is that it might be legal…this is one of those fuzzy areas that the Copyright Office often has.

I’d like to just see a straightforward statement: format shifting for your own use of legal items (just like it is now in the UK) is legal.

It seems unlikely that we’ll get that soon, though. We need a major overhaul of copyright: I’ve suggested one possibility would be to go to permanent copyright in exchange for much greater Fair Use provisions for educational and non-profit uses. That may have been my most controversial article to date, even though I didn’t advocate for the idea, just explored it:

Should copyright be permanent?

A great example of the value of Kindle Unlimited

I was working with a physical therapist who recommended a book to me:

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Merzenich
4.3 out of 5 stars, 74 customer reviews

I’m guessing this will be the kind of book I won’t want to re-read.

It’s price in the USA Kindle store right now is $9.95…but I could borrow it for free as part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

So, this month, I’ve already almost saved enough with KU to pay for itself…with one book. 🙂

What do you think? Should it be legal to format shift books? Will the US make any major changes to copyright in the near future? If so, what would you like to see? If you are on the trial of KU, will you pay for it when that trial is up? Which Kindle First book did you pick? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

July 29, 2014

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

I’ve had my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

since Thursday, which has given me an opportunity to use it over the weekend and at work.

I can say that the best is yet to come. 😉

This is a new and radically different device. Think of the people who bought the first automobiles, before there were purpose built roads. They had to bounce and rattle along over streets intended for entirely different vehicles. It wasn’t until people responded to the invention that it became completely indispensable.

At this point, the Fire Phone’s two breakthrough features (Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, which I call “dyper”) are like that.

I’m coming to the Fire Phone from a Galaxy S4…and I have an iPhone 5S that I use for work. The iPhone is new for me (the way Apple handled e-books left a bad taste in my mouth for their products), but I do have some experience with it.

I wouldn’t say I’m a power user of SmartPhones: not like I am with Kindles. However, I do know what I’m doing and I use them quite a bit.

At first, I found the Fire Phone’s interface less easy to use than my S4. After doing more research, playing around with it, and making a couple of calls to Mayday (the almost instant live online screen tech help…which is a huge plus for the FP over anything else), it’s growing on me.

It does all of the basics fine: e-mail, calendar, text.

The navigation is new. Without learning that, the phone can seem frustrating, like it takes a lot of steps to get anywhere.

Let’s talk this through.

The way I have the phone set, I turn it on by pushing a power button once…reasonable.

The lock screens look amazing! They have dyper…just by moving my head, I can see more of the image. For example, I have a neon sign up right now, like a tourist trap in the desert (it includes the date and time). By moving my head (even from probably half a meter away from the phone), I can see the streetlamps which are otherwise off the screen. I can see how many new e-mails I have, the signal strength and battery level.

To unlock it, I swipe up from the bottom…that’s an adjustment for me, I’m used to going side to side. However, as an ambidexter, I appreciate that it isn’t better for right or left handers. 🙂

I’ve put a password on mine.

Once it opens up, there is a Carousel, like there is an a Kindle Fire. It’s going to be easier for Kindle Fire users to adapt to this phone than other people.

At the bottom of the screen are four icons:

  • Phone
  • Messaging
  • Email
  • Silk Browser

Here’s the first thing you might not realize.

Swipe those four icons up, and you’ll be on the apps screen.

It will default to being the apps on your device, but you can switch it to the Cloud easily enough (it’s an obvious choice in your top left corner).

Okay, here’s are a few gestural things on this homescreen which aren’t intuitive.

In addition to swiping from the left or right side, you can just “flick” the phone.

Flick it where you are turning the phone with a rapid motion with the left side getting closer to you, and you reveal the main navigation. That has

  • APPS
  • GAMES
  • WEB
  • MUSIC
  • VIDEOS
  • PHOTOS
  • BOOKS
  • NEWSSTAND
  • AUDIOBOOKS
  • DOCS
  • SHOP
  • PRIME

Flick it back to remove that menu.

Generally, that left menu will be available in most places you are working, and will be the same.

Flick it the other way, with the right side getting closer to you, and you’ll reveal a context sensitive menu…one that varies depending on what you are doing.

ON the home screen, I get a weather report (which I could set to be in Celsius, my favorite…and which autodetected my location), and Google Now type cards. Right now, I’m seeing calendar events, but I may see an e-mail from people I designate, or texts. There is an ellipsis (“…”) at the bottom to go to the full calendar.

Flick left, flick right: two of the main gestures.

Three other big gestures:

Tip the phone to one side (either direction), and you’ll see a ribbon at the top with quick access to functions:

  • Airplane mode
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Flashlight
  • Sync
  • Settings
  • Mayday
  • Search
  • Brightness

How would you know what they were?

You peek.

Really, that’s what they call it.

Move your head to the side and look back at the phone, like you are trying to look behind the icons.

The captions magically appear.

You’ll use that a lot.

The last gesture I’ll mention is how to get back to what you were doing last.

The first couple of days, I really missed the Back button on my S4. Then, one of the Mayday reps told me that you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen. They didn’t describe it quite right: the thing is that you start off the edge of the screen at the bottom, at about the same level as the home button. Then swipe up on to the screen: that will take you back to the last function.

Before I go on, let me say that is seems to drink battery charge like a Chevrolet Suburban drinks gasoline! 😉 Just while I’ve been writing this post, it went down four percent. I expect that will get better after I play with some settings.

In terms of the pre–installed apps, I recommend that you play with Clay Doodle and Monkey Buddy (although the latter might drive you crazy, if you are an adult). The first one is like Play-Doh, and takes advantage of the dyper. The second one is a virtual pet, like a Tamagotchi in concept. Since it can see where you head is, it responds to you nodding your head yes in approval, for example.

Believe it or not, the integration with Amazon could be better. My Prime music wasn’t available until I downloaded an app…that was weird. My biggest disappointment so far has been that gestural scrolling doesn’t work in the Kindle app! It only works in Silk on websites.

I was really looking forward to having an endless scroll in my Kindle books, where I could get to the next text by just moving my head or tilting the phone.

A Mayday rep told me that an update is coming soon which will include more functionality…and better interface with the Kindle app is one of the things we may see. Right now, you can get the X-Ray background data by flicking from the right…good to know, right? 🙂

I may do a full menu map at some point (that kind of thing might make a good short “book” for people to borrow through Kindle Unlimited), but let’s go through the settings at a high level:

Wi-Fi & Networks

  • Connect to Wi-Fi
  • Enable Airplane Mode
  • Pair Bluetooth Devices
  • Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot (only if that’s part of your data plan, I think)
  • Enable NFC (Near Field Communication)
  • Turn off cellular dta usage
  • See your cellular data usage
  • Change your mobile network operator

Display

  • Adjust screen brightness
  • Turn off automatic screen rotation
  • Hide (or show…the commands change based on current state) status bar
  • Change time to sleep
  • Share your screen via Miracast
  • Configure low motion settings (this will turn off some of the gestural stuff, which would be useful for those with unsteady hands or heads)

Sounds & Notifications

  • Change your ringtone
  • Manage notifications
  • Select ringtones for specific people
  • Select text message tones for specific people
  • Change volume levels (there  are also physical volume buttons)
  • Change touch feedback settings (my first call to Mayday: how to turn off hepatic feedback, the vibrating you get when you touch a key…I just don’t like it, and it uses battery charge)

Applications & Parental Controls

  • Configure Amazon application settings
  • Manage applications
  • Prevent (or enable) non-Amazon app installation
  • Turn off product recommendations
  • Enable Parental Controls

Battery & Storage

  • View battery usage (the system is taking 50% of my usage right now)
  • View available storage
  • Free space on your phone (not how much you have…this one is designed to free up space)
  • Change USB connection type

Location Services

  • Configure Location Based Services for your applications
  • Enable Enhanced Location Services
  • Disable Find My Device (enabled by default)

Lock Screen

  • Select a lock screen scene (the default is that it changes every day)
  • Set a password or PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  • Change the automatic lock time
  • Turn off (or on) notifications on the lock screen

Keyboard

  • Change the keyboard language
  • Configure auto-correct and spell-checking
  • Manage advanced keyboard features
  • Edit your personal dictionary

Phone

  • Configure call waiting
  • Configure caller ID
  • Forward incoming calls
  • Edit Reply-with-Text messages
  • View your phone number
  • Set up voicemail
  • Contact your carrier

My Accounts

  • Deregister your phone
  • Manage e-mail accounts
  • Connect your social networks
  • Manage your Amazon account
  • Manage your Amazon payment method
  • Manage your Amazon Newsstand subscriptions
  • Manage your Send-to-Device email address

Device

  • Change the date and time
  • Disable auto backups
  • Change your language
  • Install system updates
  • Factory reset your phone
  • Get info about your Fire
  • Configure your emergency alerts
  • View your emergency alerts
  • Manage your SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card PIN
  • Manage enterprise security features
  • Manage accessibility (it has nice magnifier features…I turned  those  on)
  • View Legal and Compliance Info

Voice

  • Configure voice settings (oh, it does take voice commands…hold down the home button, like accessing Siri. I have found that I have to say “Search the Web” to get it to do that…it doesn’t just guess that’s what you want if you say something for which it doesn’t have a command)
  • Change Text to Speech (TTS) language (it does have TTS for Kindle books…it comes with English and Spanish, but you can download quite a few others for no additional cost)

Help & Feedback

  • Get help from Mayday (there is a lifesaver for that on the quick access ribbon…remember, you can tip your phone quickly for that, or swipe down from the top. Use it to get the most out of your phone)
  • Browse online help
  • Contact Amazon technical support
  • Provide feedback

There, that gives you a pretty good idea of its capabilities.

Overall, I’m starting to like it. If you want everything to be easy, if you want it to be as good as the most popular other phones, you may not want to be an early adopter. You can download apps to do things it doesn’t do right now (in many cases), but a year from now, it will be much more capable…I suspect it will be a lot more capable before the holidays.

It’s certainly satisfactory…and the hardware (the four cameras that enable dyper) and Firefly (the real world recognition system) promise much greater things in the future, once people start designing for it. The killer apps are yet to come.

I think it’s a great first SmartPhone (which is where I think the market is), and an adequate transition phone (with amazing potential).

Hey, my Kindle app has an update available! That sort of thing is going to happen a lot…I won’t focus on the Fire Phone a lot in this blog (just as I haven’t done that with the Fire Phone), but it is a Kindle reading device, and  I think it deserves some coverage here.

If you have any specific questions about it, or things to say, feel free to comment on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Amazon’s Q2 Financials: net loss 18 times larger than last year

July 26, 2014

Amazon’s Q2 Financials: net loss 18 times larger than last year

Customers can be happy about all of the money Amazon is investing to make their lives better. They are spending money on more content at no more cost (for example, hundreds of thousands of more songs for Prime Music), they continue to update devices, they are introducing new devices which lets us do things more of the same way in more places (which is easier).

Investors may not feel the same way about it, though.

Let’s take a stand-out figure, according to this

press release

“Net loss was $126 million in the second quarter, or $0.27 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $7 million, or $0.02 per diluted share, in second quarter 2013.”

That’s a big proportional difference: as I mentioned in the subject of this post, it’s eighteen times larger.

However, a loss of $126 million just isn’t that much for a company the size of Amazon.

The big thing, of course, is that we have to believe that this is an extraordinary circumstance and not a trend.

After, all if the losses continued to grow at the same rate, they would lose two BILLION, two-hundred and sixty-eight million dollars in the second quarter of 2015…and then you’d be talking real money. 😉

Of course, that’s not likely.

Amazon just introduced a whole new hardware line for them with the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

Mine arrived yesterday (I’ll make some comments about it at the end of this post).

That’s a very big investment. It’s not just development: I’ve seen full page ads in magazines, for example, and that’s not a cheap thing to do.

Starting up a new service like

Kindle Unlimited

also has significant costs.

So, what did investors think about this?

This

CNN Money graph

shows a drop of 9.65% today…which comes with the smell of fear.

Now, that may bounce back, but my intuition is that investors are actually becoming even less secure with Amazon right now.

What does that mean for customers?

I suspect we may go into a “building” year where there aren’t any more radical product launches (that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t get a new Kindle Fire or Paperwhite…but that they won’t launch any more hardware lines).

They need to show that some of these risks are going to pay off. They need to show a record of success for Kindle Unlimited with an indicator of continued success.

They need the Fire Phone to be accepted and to be in a position for growth (the AT&T exclusivity is likely to only be for a year).

Amazon Web Services (AWS) needs to show it is a solid income stream going forward.

None of this concerns me for the viability of Amazon long-term…but we may see them painting the boats rather than launching new ones for a little while.

You can listen to the webcast of the conference call here:

http://edge.media-server.com/m/p/drh3z532/lan/en

Often the Q&A (Questions and Answers) portion is the best part…there is an index and you can jump right to that, if you want, but I didn’t hear any bombshells in it this time.

I’m actually listening to it right now on my Fire Phone.

I need to use it more until I can give you a real report on it (I’ll use it more over the weekend).

Let’s start out with a few things:

It works. 🙂

It sounds fine as a phone, I set up my e-mail, texting, and calendars. I was able to import everything pretty painlessly from my Samsung Galaxy S4 (which I hate to give up). I was already on AT&T, and they have a wireless transfer app that moves things between the two phones.

I did have one weird thing. Since I’d ordered the phone on one phone number on the account (which was eligible for an upgrade), but wanted it to work on another phone line, I had to call AT&T. The rep there was great, by the way! Surprisingly good.

The negative was that I needed the number on the SIM card on the new phone…and I could not get it to come out of the phone! I actually ended up calling Mayday on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It was kind of funny, because I had the AT&T rep on speaker phone, and that person could hear the Mayday person.

However, try as I might, I couldn’t get the SIM out. Fortunately, I found the number on one edge of the box for the phone…but I still haven’t gotten th SIM card out.

As to the “dy-per” (what I call Dynamic Perspective)…so far, it’s cool, but I wouldn’t feel like I need it. When I’m looking at the sleep screen, I can tilt the phone to see more of the scene. That’s a little hard to describe…it’s like when you were a kid, and you put your face right up to the mirror and were surprised that you could see things “in the mirror” that weren’t directly in front of it…suggesting it was actually showing you another world. Oh, was that just me? 😉

The Carousel, though, looks really busy. I have to check on how to maybe eliminate some of the data.

For example, if I swipe over to the messaging icon, the most recent messages show below that icon. Same thing with e-mail, the Help menu, Settings…it’s sort of like “customers also buy” on the Kindle Fire HDX…but there is a lot of text.

I haven’t seen it react to where I’m looking, yet, outside of dyper..and I’d really like to be able to scroll my book by looking! I may have to Mayday that (the Help search is unimpressive).

Flicking left and right does bring up some useful things…but it’s so far hard to predict when it will work or what it will show. I think that will come in time (I haven’t used it for a total of two hours of actual interaction time yet). There are people who still don’t right-click…you have to use it to get used to it. 😉

While you would think that this would integrate super well with Amazon’s stuff, I haven’t found Prime Music yet…despite looking for it for a few minutes. I can find my other music, but not Prime.

The other big feature that make the phone a stand-out is Firefly, the “real world recognition” functionality.

I pointed it at a superhero sticker today…it thought it was looking at a thermos with that superhero.

I pointed it at a can of Dust-Off which I had bought from Amazon: it first linked me to an inhalant abuse website that was on the can, then I repointed it at the SKU (the zebra stribe Stock Unit number) and it got it then.

It also got a toner cartridge package…again, by pointing it at the SKU.

I think at this point, the features are ahead of the functionality: I suspect there will be some killer apps for both Firefly and dyper, but casual use of the phone at this stage may not reveal their power.

What do you think? Do you have specific questions about the Fire Phone? Will Amazon raise consumer prices to make lower losses for investors? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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