Archive for the ‘New Features’ Category

New! Pair your Echo device with your Fire TV…and get voice control

August 2, 2017

New! Pair your Echo device with your Fire TV…and get voice control

I was very excited to see this! People have wanted it since the

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

was first released.

You can now control a Fire TV device (Stick or not) just by talking to your

Echo family (at AmazonSmile*)

(I’ll give you more of an idea of what works a bit later).

You can’t do everything, but you can do quite a bit.

I first found out about it when I asked our

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

something this morning, and it said I wasn’t connected to a video source.

Then, I got an e-mail from Amazon, which was basically this

press release

In your Alexa app, go to the menu, and then Music, Video, & Books.

You’ll see a choice for FireTV and one for Dish (if you get Dish right now, there’s a deal where they will give you an Echo Dot).

If you have more than one FireTV, you can choose which one to do first. An Alexa device can only be paired to one Fire TV at a time (just like a Fire TV remote). If you want to change it later, you’ll have to first unlink it, then link it again (one which is already linked doesn’t show up as an option).

I was given a choice of all of these types:

  • Original Echo (“The Tower)
  • Tap
  • Dot
  • Echo Show
  • Lexi (that’s an app)
  • Dash Wand
  • Amazon App (on iOS)

You can, by the way, have more than one Alexa device linked to the same Fire TV. So, you can have both your Echo Show and your Amazon App controlling the family room Fire. I can also see where two people with iPhones and no Echo device would want to have them both linked to the same Fire TV.

The linking was easy and ready to go right away.

Now, in terms of what it can do…

If you are talking about Amazon (not just Prime) Video, it’s good. I said, “Alexa, watch The Wizard of Oz”, and it started right away (that was a Prime video right now, so it didn’t have to stop to ask me if I wanted to buy it or rent it). Same thing with Orphan Black.

It did pause when I asked it to do that, and did fast forward. Amusingly, when I asked it to show me X-Ray (I meant the X-Ray feature of Amazon Video), it brought up a movie named “X-Ray” instead.

It also did understand categories: I asked for “science fiction movies”, and that worked. However, again, it didn’t limit it to Prime video…I’d prefer that, and maybe it’s an option, but I haven’t tested that yet.

Oh, another interesting thing: it did not show me my commands in the Alexa app home, which it normally does for conversations.

Another misfire: I asked it to “play Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, since the movie was in the top banner on the screen, and it thought I wanted the music so offered to play me a sample. I think “watch” is going to work better than “play”.

It will also open an app (I tested Hulu and YouTube), but it couldn’t find a show in Hulu.

Bottom line: it works better with Prime Video.

If you do have a

All-New Element 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV – Fire TV Edition (at AmazonSmile*)

you can ask it to “Tune to NBC”, for example. You can also turn it on and change the volume.

Does all this mean you don’t need a remote?

Nope.

Once I open Hulu, for example, I’ll need my remote to pick something. If you don’t have the actual TV, you won’t be able to control the volume. Still, this is cool. 🙂

As you play around with it, let me know if you have discoveries and/or questions.

One last thing…

I don’t have one, but I’ve been hearing about the

The Spot Outlet Wall Mount (at AmazonSmile*)

Seems like it would work well for this, although it would also work in the kitchen and other places. It mounts your Dot right on an outlet…you don’t have to screw it into the wall or anything. It has a 4.5 average out of 5 stars, with 135 customer reviews at the time of writing; that’s quite good. It’s $13.99 at time of writing.

This is once again Amazon giving us something more at no additional cost…its one of the reasons I caution people about judging an Amazon device when it is first released based on its capabilities and content at that time.

Thanks, Amazon!

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

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

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New! Collection management comes to MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices)

October 13, 2016

New! Collection management comes to MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices)

Thanks to a reader who let me know in a private e-mail (if you want credit in the blog, just let me know) about a new development!

It’s something people have wanted for years…or at least, it’s a step in that direction.

There was a banner at

MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices), formerly MYK (Manage Your Kindle)> (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

saying,

“Cloud Collection Management is launched. Cloud Collections can be created, edited, and shared from the Manage Your Content and Devices page.”

I’ve had a chance to check it out, and it’s going to be useful, but it may not be everything people expect (but what is?). 😉

A little overview on Collections first…

“Collections” are sort of like folders on a computer or a phone. They are organizational tools. You can “put” books (and some other items) “into” these Collections.

The Collection is not the books, though. You can delete the Collection without losing the books.

Originally (once we eventually got them), the Collection just lived on one device. You created it on your Kindle (nowadays, that might also be a Fire device), and it was just there…it didn’t exist on another device on your account. You could import them, but that was a bit tricky.

Then, Amazon introduced “Cloud Collections” in 2013…I wrote about them in some depth here:

Understanding Cloud Collections

Those were visible from any compatible devices on your account…and I use them a lot. I have a Collection which is the “Guest Bookshelf”, and I’ve used that on multiple devices. I have one for apps which is “Bufo Morning”…that goes from one Fire to another.

What we haven’t been able to do, though, is actually create, rename, or delete Collections from the cloud (Amazon’s central account management system).

Well, you can now!

When you are on MYCD, you can switch where it says “Show” in your top left corner to be Collections.

From there, you’ll see your Collections, including how many items (it says “Books”, but some of mine don’t contain books) are in them. Depending on how they are sorted, you’ll get a modified date or created date. You can sort by those (either newest to oldest or oldest to newest) or alphabetical (A-Z or Z-A).

In an Actions column, you can delete or rename the Collection.

You can also use checkboxes to select Collections, and then bulk delete (you’ll see the button after you select at least one).

Those are nice…it will allow us to easily delete unused Collections. Many people experimented quite a bit at the beginning, so this is a good opportunity to clean up.

There are two big things it can not do that people want.

It won’t tell you which books (and other items) are downloaded to which devices.

You can’t move books into and out of Collections.

So, you can’t work on the items in the Collections here, but you can work on the Collections themselves.

Update: thanks to regular readers and commenters Edward Boyhan and Ann Von Hagel for pointing out that you can, in fact, move books in and out of Collections at MYCD now!

I was looking at the Collections selection, thinking that I would be able to choose a Collection and move things in and out of it. That’s an option on your device. It works, though, the other way.

You set the “View” selection to Books. Then, if a given book in at least one Collection, you’ll see that indicated with the number of Collections of which it is a part. There is a dropdown, and you can select a Collection. If you select the Collection in that dropdown, you then get to see all of the books in the Collection. That’s great! I hadn’t realized you’d be able to see them there. From there, just as you can in the Books view, you can click the Actions ellipsis (…) and choose to add or remove from Collections.

One interesting thing there: when I added one to a Collection on MYCD, I could then remove it from there. When I got to the Collection with the method I described in the previous paragraph, where I selected the Collection from the dropdown in the Books view, it was showing me it was in a Collection…but didn’t give me the option to remove the book from a Collection. I may have to experiment with that more…it might be that MYCD doesn’t give you the remove option unless it was added there.

When you choose to add a book to a Collection at MYCD, you get the option to create a new Collection in situ…that’s also a nice feature!

I just did that…very simple, pretty much just typing in a new name. It was smart enough to add the book to the new Collection, without having to take an extra step. I added a few books to that Collection, then checked on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX…and the Collection was immediately there (I was connected to Wi-Fi, but did not have to tell it to sync).

That means that (unless I’m missing it), the only big thing I’m not seeing is on which devices the books/Collections reside currently.

Thanks, Ann and Edward!

This is a beginning…I’m sure there will be more coming in the future. They do have a content management system for enterprises (companies and schools and such) called Whispercast, but this is unrelated to that.

The other thing they’ve added to MYCD that I noted was that they’ve added Prime Reading

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

to the choice of items to review.

As long as we have Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), I don’t think we’ll ever see anything in that section in my family…just in KU. People who don’t have KU will see their Prime Reading borrows there.

What do you think? If you have any questions or th0ughts, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

New Kindle Unlimited benefit (available to others to purchase): Singles Classics

July 19, 2016

New Kindle Unlimited benefit (available to others to purchase): Singles Classics

One of my favorite things I own is a rustic “magazinecase”. It holds a lot of my old issues of magazines. As I recall, I bought it for $5 from some place going out of business decades ago.

20160719_063332

As you can see, it isn’t fancy…but it’s a place for me to organize my magazines.

That’s a problem with magazines: organization.

Some times, I just want to find one particular story I remember reading a long time ago. There was a great interview with David Bowie that I recall. I don’t even remember which magazine it was in for sure.

It’s even a thing in the cryptozoology world. Many of us who are interested in that subject, including me, remember seeing a 19th Century (?) photo of a dead thunderbird (basically, a giant raptor)…but no one can find it. It’s possible it didn’t exist and we are remembering something else. I thought I was going to solve that mystery by going through my old Argosy magazines…literally flipping through them page by page.  I didn’t find it. 🙂

There are books that collect old magazine stories and articles…and it’s like archaeologists uncovering a lost tomb.

I include links (so you can read them) to some public domain magazines in

 The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project

and I’m trying to tag them in such a way that people can find stories…but that’s going to be imperfect.

That’s why I’m really excited about a new Amazon feature announced in this

press release

about

www.amazon.com/singlesclassics (Single Classics) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I never much got into Kindle Singles, which were sort  of meant to parallel music 45s from the old days…shorter, self-contained content. I just couldn’t see paying ninety-nine cents for one, most of the time, when that

can get you a full-sized book so easily.

Well, with this new Single Classics, it brings us two things.

One is that it is resurrecting older articles…and making them easy to find. Some categories include:

  • TIME Magazine Classic Coverage
  • The Playboy Interviews
  • Classics by Popular and Best-Selling Authors

I recognize some of the articles.

These are going to be great when you are waiting for something, or at lunch, or with text-to-speech in the car (I checked, and what I checked was not blocked…of course, you might miss some pictures that way).

The other thing is that although these are generally ninety-nine cents to purchase, they are included in

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

at no additional cost.

Yay!

That’s  yet another reason to consider KU, Amazon’s subser (subscription service). You can read books (including well-known ones), listen to audiobooks, and now read these articles and stories.

I don’t know what Amazon is paying for this, but it’s also going to help them by providing that enticement for KU (which I think will make people more loyal Amazon customers…if that’s possible) 😉 and will count as the ten you can have out at a time. It may mean that Amazon pays less in royalties, while customers still feel they are getting a benefit.

I’m also not surprised that rightsholders got on board! It’s a new revenue stream for something which I’m sure is hard to monetize.

What do you think? Does this interest you at all? Will you pay ninety-nine cents for one of these? Would you use it to write school papers? Is it going to get you to try the free trial of KU? How much of your reading is short form which didn’t originate on the internet? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

Page Flip redesigned, improved and coming to EBRs, Fire tablets, and reader apps

June 28, 2016

Page Flip redesigned, improved and coming to EBRs, Fire tablets, and reader apps

Amazon is not showing any indications of a wavering commitment to EBRs (E-Book Readers) and e-books!

You may see stories about e-book sales declining, but I think those may be based on a too small dataset (getting reports from the big traditional publishers, and missing not only indies ((independent publishers)) but Amazon’s own publishing).

They’ve recently announced a new EBR

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which I wrote about here:

New Kindle EBR with text-to-speech via Bluetooth!

This has a giant innovation, which may come to other models: it will connect via Bluetooth to play audio. It can’t play audio on the device itself, but Bluetooth speakers/headsets can be pretty inexpensive. I use a pair of Arctic brand headphones, no longer available, with our Fire TV.  However, I also have Bluetooth speakers, the Amazon Echo, Dot, and Tap, and those should all work with it.

That new Kindle will also export your notes in a new way…another big improvement, nearly nine years in the making. 😉

Their latest innovation, announced today in this

press release

is a great improvement on the Page Flip we’ve had on newer EBRs (E-Book Readers). It is coming as a wireless update to EBRs (I would be sure about all of the current generation…don’t know how far back it will go), Fire tablets, and the free Kindle reader apps for iOS and Android.

They wrote me personally and were nice enough to share links to some animations that show how it works on a

tablet
iPhone
EBR

Not surprisingly, not exactly the same on the three type of devices, but I think it is good on all of them!

With the current Page Flip (on, for example, the current Paperwhite), you can flip back and forth in the book while maintaining your current spot in the book.

The new version shows you several pages at once in “thumbnails” (small representations):

Page Flip on a Kindle

Page Flip on a Kindle

This will make it much easier to navigate to graphs and other images. It’s possible this will turn the tide on the reluctance some students have had in using e-textbooks. It will also work well in things like cookbooks and encyclopedias…you could flip ahead to find a picture of a red panda, for example…maybe not as quickly, but more easily than you could with a p-book (paperbook).

They’ve done a help page, which also embeds a cute ad for it, with a sort of duel between a kid with a p-book and an adult with an e-book:

Page Flip feature page (at AmazonSmile*)

Throughout the short history of the Kindle (not even a decade yet), Amazon has continued to make our devices better after we’ve bought them, at no additional cost to us. Certainly, not every feature comes to every model ever made (in some cases, that wouldn’t be feasible technically) and there have been a few reversals (not to the device you already own, generally, but Bluetooth restores TTS…text-to-speech…access to books which has been absent from EBRs for soe time), but overall, onwards and upwards. 🙂

You should just receive the update “over-the-air” if you leave your device connected to wireless…it won’t necessarily happen in the next day, of course. When connected to wireless, be aware that you are using more battery charge…I sometimes leave by EBRs plugged in overnight.

I’m not seeing it for manual download yet at

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

but I would guess it will show up there eventually.

I’m looking forward to getting it…thanks, Amazon!

Bonus deal:

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

includes The Color Purple (at AmazonSmile*) by Alice Walker for $2.99. The Pulitzer Prize/National Book Award winner is perhaps even more popular right now, with a successful Broadway musical. This is also a good opportunity to buy it as a gift, since you can get it at this price and delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion. Remember to check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…the sale may not apply in your country, for one thing.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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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