Google's Android platform is on fire these days, with a new operating system, a latest and greatest smartphone, in the form of the Nexus 5 and rumors of an updated 10-inch tablet coming soon. However, the company is also known for killing off products, which makes today's announcement of a newsreader for Android all the more interesting.
Newsstand, according to the search giant, "puts the news you care about most front and center and presents stories that interest you based on your tastes". However, before you jump the gun and think this is Reader reincarnated, know that the service is a bit different.
Dropbox, one of the leading services for cloud storage, has been making recent inroads to become business and IT-friendly. The company boasts that its business user-base has doubled since 2012, and now reaches over four million customers. To keep that fire stoked, Dropbox now announces a new partnership with Salesforce.
"Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re partnering with Salesforce to bring great technology to the enterprise and help users connect with customers in a whole new way", says the company's Ari Friedland.
Much has been made of Google's little Chromecast device -- the dongle that allows you to send media from computers and mobile devices to your TV. The $35 device has received a fair amount of attention and also a bit of mimicry, with services like Cheapcast popping up.
Now, TV streaming service PlayOn is teaming with set-top box maker Roku to bring similar functionality to customers of the two services. "PlayCast gives users the ability to stream virtually any online video from a PC browser to a Roku-connected TV. It is like Chromecast casting for the Roku", PlayOn says in a brief statement received by BetaNews.
With both models of the new Kindle Fire HDX tablets now out in the wild, Amazon can concentrate on tweaking the system to add features and fix bugs. The device, while considered to be a competitor to the Nexus 7, is really more about media, specifically that from the retail giant's ecosystem.
The latest update, which rolls out today, takes the OS to version 3.1 and adds several new features to enhance the 'media device' perception even more.
Bluetooth is everywhere these days -- in our smartphones, tablets and even in newer computers. We use it for the mouse, keyboard and other items. Increasingly, that extra item is a speaker, or perhaps two, in the case of the new Logitech Mini Boom. But that's far from the only show in town, as Divoom also produces a speaker that it hopes can rival competitors in the market.
That market has become increasingly competitive, which is not particularly surprising given the growth of handheld devices, some of which produce less-than-ideal sound quality. The Bluetune Bean attempts to help alleviate this problem, by providing an external source to pound out your tunes with a bit more fury than the tiny built-in speakers that come as part of your tablet or phone.
Amazon continues to enhance its Prime video service in an ongoing effort to take on Netflix and the up-and-coming Redbox Instant video streaming services. One area of focus has become original content, with Netflix taking home awards for its House of Cards series.
Now the first of these original shows has hit the retail giant's video arm -- Alpha House, which stars John Goodman, brings comedic light to the US Senate, as if it weren't already there. "The first three episodes of Alpha House debut today for all customers to enjoy. Remaining episodes will become available weekly, every Friday, exclusively on Prime Instant Video", states Amazon.
Google continues to push forward its mapping program, earlier today unveiling its Street View team's trip around the city of Venice, Italy. While that may be fun and display pretty scenery, the latest update the company announces takes a more serious note. Cataloging the systematic destruction of our planet's forests.
"In a collaboration led by Dr. Matthew Hansen at the University of Maryland, we’ve built the first detailed maps of the world’s forests, from 2000-2012, documenting and quantifying forest landscape changes such as fires, tornadoes, disease and logging", says Rebecca Moore and Matt Hancher, of the Google Earth Engine team.
The Kindle has been big news recently, with Amazon rolling out a new version of its Fire HD, as well as 7 and 8.9-inch versions of a brand new Kindle Fire HDX, the latest iteration of its Android tablet. Not stopping there, the retailer introduced a case known as the Origami, but now has taken it one step further, with a personalized version of your own choosing.
"Customers can now design their own Amazon Origami covers and a variety of other covers and skins for Kindle by uploading photographs from their own library, choosing from a variety of Amazon designs made exclusively for Amazon Origami covers, or choosing from a library of hundreds of images, logos, designs and patterns—including popular comic, movie and television show graphics from Peanuts, National Geographic, Breaking Bad, Star Trek, and more", states Amazon.
Google continues to expand its Street View imagery to new areas, ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to the Grand Canyon and countless locations in between. This time, the intrepid team has invaded the canals of Venice, Italy. The romantic city can now be viewed by armchair travelers everywhere, no gondola required.
The city presented a new challenge for the Google team -- "It was impossible for us to collect images of Venice with a Street View car or trike -- blame the picturesque canals and narrow cobbled walkways -- but our team of backpackers took to the streets to give Google Maps a truly Shakespearean backdrop", says Daniele Rizzetto, Street View Operations Manager.
Cloud storage and sharing service Dropbox has been looking to grow its footprint in the business industry, adding Dropbox for Business, along with a steady stream of new features for the service. Now the company is attempting to consolidate its enterprise efforts with those for home users.
"On one hand, people wanted to access their personal stuff at work; meanwhile, IT admins wanted to keep company data separate and free of personal files. Both needs were real, but people had to choose between two Dropboxes", claims the company.
There is a market in education, and both Apple and Microsoft pursue it with iPads, Office and more. Now Google is looking to get in on the action with its Android mobile operating system. The search giant wants you to bring a tablet to school, and is rolling out a special version of its Play store designed to make this simpler.
"Today we're launching tablets with Google Play for Education for K-12 schools in the US. For the past five months, thousands of students and more than 50 schools have used Google Play for Education and shared their experiences as part of our beta program", says the company's Rock Borovoy.
While Windows, at least arguably so, has become more efficient with each new version, it's still far from fault-free. System problems still rear ugly heads -- check the action center and you will likely find something awaiting you. There is no end to the amount utilities that purport to help you fix these errors, but some are useless and a few are just malware, so it's frequently best to go with a reputable piece of software, even if it costs a few dollars.
System Mechanic describes itself as "an all-in-one PC tune-up utility software suite that analyzes, fixes, optimizes, and maintains Windows computers. It incorporates multiple patented and patent-pending technologies, such as ActiveCare, a technology that allows the program to run automatic maintenance scans and repairs on a Windows PC while a computer is on but not in use".
In the ongoing battle for your entertainment dollars, video streaming service Netflix announces a brand new makeover and Roku is one of the early adopters, announcing it is bringing the update to its Roku 3 set-top boxes. The effort is another move from Netflix to stay ahead of competitors like Amazon Prime and Redbox Instant.
"Today we are excited to unveil the biggest update in Netflix history to our TV experience. This update improves the Netflix TV for Netflix members around the world", states the streaming company.
The set-top box market continues to heat up, with Roku, Apple TV and Google TV going head-to-head for your entertainment dollars. Despite the best efforts of cable and satellite providers, customers continue to look towards services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon for their television entertainment.
Now Roku, one of the big players in this growing ecosystem, stokes the fire a bit more today. The hardware maker announces the availability of both ESPN and Disney arriving on its platform.
Microsoft has been busy on many fronts recently, from the desktop to the living room, to business. The latest update released by the company is for businesses, though home users can also benefit. Microsoft today announces a new update that brings Office 365 to new markets and languages.
The software giant now boasts 123 markets for its latest iteration of the suite, also allowing new customers to grab a 120-day free trial before making a decision about whether or not to reach for their wallets.