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Amazon Prime Streaming Music is terrific for Prime subscribers
June 17, 2014 | 3:41 pm

Juli gave her review of Amazon Prime Music yesterday. Now I’ll have my say. First of all, as Slate and the Verge point out in their reviews, Amazon Prime Streaming Music is not a Pandora or Spotify killer, and it’s not meant to be. It really isn’t even a new service at all, so much as an extension of an old one. Amazon has offered cloud music storage since 2011, after all. You can already upload music to Amazon’s cloud and stream it, or stream mp3s you buy from Amazon’s mp3 store. Prime Streaming Music just lets you stream...

App Review: Google Play Books for Android
June 17, 2014 | 12:19 pm

Screenshot_2014-06-17-10-57-52I hadn’t paid much attention to Google Play Books before. I’d installed and even paid for readers like Aldiko and Moon+ (TeleRead review), and snagged a couple freeish ones like UB Reader, but Play Books just sat in my app drawer, unused, like most of the pack-in Google apps. But when I came across this Lifehacker piece calling it “the best e-reader for Android,” I figured it was worth trying out. And darned if I don’t by and large agree. Offering a simple and easy-to-use reading interface and cloud reading-position sync with all books, Google Play Books is...

Ars Technica exhaustively documents all Android versions
June 16, 2014 | 2:37 am

its-been-quite-a-journey1-980x439In the interest of documenting it for the historical record, Ars Technica has just posted an immense 40,000-word retrospective on all versions of Android to date, with as many screen shots and as much information as they can gather. It’s possibly the biggest article I’ve seen on their site, at 26 separate pages; Ars Technica premier subscribers can view it in single page form on the site or download a PDF. Those folks who don’t pay for a subscription may want to use an aggregator like Instapaper to view it in a more manageable form. It might even...

Appeals court rules HathiTrust book scanning is fair use
June 10, 2014 | 3:43 pm

Ars Technica reports that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the HathiTrust case, the legal sibling to the Google Books lawsuit. HathiTrust is the organization of university libraries that provided books to Google for scanning purposes in return for receiving copies for themselves. A Federal judge ruled HathiTrust to be fair use in October, 2012, and now the appeals court has upheld that ruling (PDF). The court found that, in scanning the books but not making their full text available (save to handicapped users, who have a special exemption under copyright law), the libraries were...

New author advocacy group Authors Alliance seeks to counterbalance Authors Guild on fair use issues
May 14, 2014 | 11:28 am

Origin 5142014 112418 AM.bmpA group of writers and copyright experts concerned over Authors Guild overreach has formed its own new author advocacy group, the Authors Alliance, to advocate in favor of fair use of works. Publishers Weekly has a fairly long interview with one of its directors, law professor Pamela Samuelson of the UC Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. (Samuelson’s name has popped up a few times on TeleRead as one of the critics of the proposed Google Books settlement and the Authors Guild’s role in it, and an organizer of the Berkeley Digital Library Copyright Project.) The Authors...

Republic Wireless offers affordable hybrid VOIP/cell smartphone service
April 18, 2014 | 3:06 am

20140418_003539_HDRI’d previously mentioned switching to an Android smartphone with Virgin Mobile, and enjoying it as far as it went. However, lately my Virgin Mobile phone went belly-up. I’d already promised myself that when I got my new full-time job I would be switching to Republic Wireless, so this was a good opportunity. I’ve only had my new Motorola Moto X for a day or so, but I’m already pretty pleased with the phone and the service so far. If you’ve never heard of Republic Wireless, it’s a small no-contract smartphone startup based on a clever idea. If you’re like...

In Google Books appeal, Authors Guild decries Google’s impact on Amazon sales
April 12, 2014 | 6:12 am

The Authors Guild is appealing Google’s November fair use win in its Google Book scanning case. The Guild says that Google is “yanking readers out of online bookstores” and stifling online bookstore competition with its digitized books. "Google emptied the shelves of libraries and delivered truckloads of printed books to scanning centers, where the books were converted into digital format," the Guild's lawyers said. They wrote that the library project was designed to lure potential book purchasers away from online retailers like Amazon.com and drive them to Google. Wait, what? ...

Google continues working on Ara modular smartphone project
February 27, 2014 | 11:42 am

arabackGoogle might have sold Motorola, but it turns out it hung onto the part of the company that’s been working on its Project Ara modular smartphone design. Time has an extensive feature about the project: turns out that Google is looking at creating a bare-bones design that would sell for as little as $50 for the base unit—possibly something that could be sold in convenience stores, much like pre-paid phones are now. The base unit would be little more than a screen, a frame, and a wi-fi radio; about like a low-end iPod Touch I suppose. You’d have to...

Google releases Chromecast SDK
February 4, 2014 | 3:56 am

CAM00395-1 Ars Technica reports that Google has finally issued a public SDKpublic SDK (software development kit) for its Chromecast HDMI TV dongle, meaning that for the first time, coders of random audio and video playing apps for Android, iOS, or the Chrome browser will be able to incorporate Chromecasting into their apps without having to work closely with Google to do it. Who knows what kind of apps we’ll get? Might there be a Chromecast e-reader app? It seems kind of unlikely. Due to the restrictions on the user interface, such an app might throw text up...

Google sells Motorola phone business, keeps patent portfolio
January 30, 2014 | 3:23 am

Motorola_logo26Well, there’s an example of comedic timing for you. Just the other day, Gizmodo speculated that Google might kill off the Nexus line of tablets and phones in favor of “Google Play Edition” devices from other hardware manufacturers—including, notably, Motorola, who Google owns. But today, news came out that had Gizmodo saying, “What?!” Turns out Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. The deal includes all Motorola’s phone hardware, but Google is keeping most of Motorola’s patents. Google already sold Motorola’s set-top box unit to Arris for $2.35 billion. It only just bought Motorola in 2011...

Wearing Google Glass to a movie theater leads to interrogation by federal agents
January 21, 2014 | 2:23 pm

google-glass-prescription-lenses-900-80Here’s an article that points out a problem that will only become more common as wearables do. A member of the Google Glass program had prescription lenses on his Glass, and wore them everywhere as his regular glasses. He didn’t have any other prescription glasses, so he wore them to a movie, with the Google Glass part turned off. He’d been to an AMC theater with the Glass three times, but this particular time (watching the new Jack Ryan movie, no less) a federal agent came in, plucked the glasses off his head, and proceeded to accuse him of...

Facial recognition for random strangers, coming soon to Google Glass and your smartphone
January 8, 2014 | 9:39 pm

nametag_1Smartphones might be good for e-reading, but soon they’ll be able to read your face, too. Remember the uproar when Facebook announced plans to add face recognition identity tagging to its photos? It turned out only to be meant to tag people who you’d friended already, but to hear most people you’d have thought they were going to have their identities revealed to total strangers. Well, CNET Australia now reports on a forthcoming app for Android, iOS, and Google Glass that could reveal your identity to total strangers. Called NameTag, the app will allow users to snap photos...