Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

E-commerce giant Amazon launched a new delivery system this week called Amazon Flex. The Uber-like model offers individuals with their own vehicles and an Android smartphone the opportunity to deliver packages for $18-25 per hour. Drivers have the option of two-, four- or eight-hour shifts. In addition to a car and an Android phone for managing deliveries with the Flex app, drivers must be over 21 and pass a background check. The new system, initially rumored back in June, works with Amazon’s Prime Now service, which offers members one- and two-hour delivery on items. Continue reading Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

Consumer Edition of Samsung Gear VR to Arrive Black Friday

During Oculus Connect in Hollywood yesterday, Facebook’s virtual reality developer conference, Samsung SVP Peter Koo announced that the new Gear VR headset co-developed by Oculus and Samsung will ship in November, in time for Black Friday, for $99. Consumers can expect a lighter, more comfortable Samsung Gear VR that is compatible with smartphones including the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The previous $200 version for developers was only compatible with the Note 4 and Galaxy S6. Continue reading Consumer Edition of Samsung Gear VR to Arrive Black Friday

Amazon’s New $50 Tablet a 180-Turn From Pricey Fire Phone

Amazon took a $170 million write down in October, largely due to its Fire smartphone, which was priced the same as the iPhone, a fact that drew strong criticism. Despite offering a free year of Prime membership and steep price cuts, the Amazon Fire failed to gain traction. Now, taking that lesson to heart, Amazon will release, in time for the holidays, a $50 tablet, making it one of the least expensive such devices on the market. Experts wonder if the compromises required to achieve that price will leave consumers dissatisfied. Continue reading Amazon’s New $50 Tablet a 180-Turn From Pricey Fire Phone

Startups Promote Interactive Video for Next-Gen Storytelling

In 2013, the interactive music video for Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” (directed by Vania Heymann) signaled a new wave of interest in interactive video. Although interactive media has been around for a long time, enthusiasts say that interactivity is now ready to make bigger inroads in entertainment and advertising. Web-based standards means that interactive videos can play across multiple platforms; it’s a way to differentiate content in a crowded market and, most importantly, click-through rates are impressive. Continue reading Startups Promote Interactive Video for Next-Gen Storytelling

Sony and ZMP Team Up to Offer Commercial Drone Services

In 2016, Aerosense, jointly owned by Sony and robotics firm ZMP, plans to launch a commercial drone service targeting construction, logistics and agriculture industries. A prototype of an airplane-shaped drone was unveiled this week. The drones, which will be capable of capturing HD images and transmitting them to the cloud, will rely in part on the mobile phone and digital camera technologies developed for Sony’s Xperia smartphones. Analysts believe the unmanned aircraft industry may be worth $82 billion in the U.S. by 2025. Continue reading Sony and ZMP Team Up to Offer Commercial Drone Services

Amazon Offers Echo Through Staples, But Exclusively Online

Amazon announced it will sell its Amazon Echo device with office supply chain Staples; however, it will only be available online. The Echo, a voice-activated speaker with the ability to answer questions, dim lights, and play music and more will be available for $179.99. The decision to sell the product through a third party has received mixed feedback, because the device still lacks a retail presence. While Staples carries Kindles, Fire TV and the Fire tablet, the Echo will not be showcased in stores. Continue reading Amazon Offers Echo Through Staples, But Exclusively Online

App Offers New Approach to Fashion Discovery and Shopping

As an alternative to scanning barcodes, fashion-focused app Craves lets users take photos of clothing and perform searches of similar fashion items that can then be purchased via the app. Co-founder Scott Cormier was inspired to create the app after watching his wife snap photos of clothing she liked with her smartphone so she could research the items later on Pinterest and Google. Craves also features a social component that allows users to follow friends and influencers, track trending items, and receive sale notifications. Continue reading App Offers New Approach to Fashion Discovery and Shopping

Startup Unveils Tiny 4K Camera with Interchangeable Lenses

Z Camera has introduced the E1 — a new 4K, micro four thirds (MFT) interchangeable-lens camera that is small enough to rival the GoPro line of action cams. The Chinese startup launched the E1 with a Kickstarter campaign that has so far generated more than $296,000 in pledges, well over its $42,000 goal. The E1 weighs more than twice the GoPro Hero4, but if equipped with a small enough lens, it can be attached to a drone like the DJI Phantom. The camera, now fully funded, will be produced in cooperation with Panasonic. Continue reading Startup Unveils Tiny 4K Camera with Interchangeable Lenses

ACSI: Customer Satisfaction of Facebook Users on Upswing

According to new data released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, user satisfaction with social media platforms is on the rise, led by Facebook’s recent success with its mobile app and improved ad targeting. In terms of customer satisfaction, Facebook was ranked the lowest social media site in 2012, but has since worked its way up to the middle of the pack, behind Pinterest, Wikipedia, YouTube, Instagram and Google+ (in that order). ACSI currently has Facebook ranked ahead of Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn. Continue reading ACSI: Customer Satisfaction of Facebook Users on Upswing

Tech Industry Fears Implications of Apple-Samsung Patent War

The patent war between Apple and Samsung resulted in Samsung turning over profits from Galaxy products to Apple based on patent infringements. The implications of the case motivated major tech companies including Dell, eBay, Facebook, Google, HP and others to form a coalition in a “friend of the court briefing” siding with Samsung, filed July 1 with a federal appeals court. The companies are concerned the ruling could subject the industry to more lawsuits, hinder future innovation, and limit customer choices across the entire tech sector. Continue reading Tech Industry Fears Implications of Apple-Samsung Patent War

TVShow Time Update Revamps App’s Community Interactions

French startup TVShow Time released a 5.0 update to its app that offers a more social experience for its 500,000 monthly users. New features permit users to track how many new episodes they have watched, send messages and show recommendations to friends, and view show ratings. The app has a newly designed interface and layout that makes content more accessible than before. Previously, TVShow Time used a simple calendar format that allowed users to keep track of their favorite TV shows. Continue reading TVShow Time Update Revamps App’s Community Interactions

BlackBerry and Google Partner for Business Version of Android

Blackberry and Google have joined forces to develop an enterprise-friendly version of the Android operating system. The companies had already been working together on equipping phones with Android for Work, which helps keep mobile data for business and personal use separate. The new efforts will focus on security and application management features by integrating BlackBerry’s BES12 security software into Android Lollipop. BES12 is compliant with multiple OS platforms and recently added support for corporate-issued iOS devices. Continue reading BlackBerry and Google Partner for Business Version of Android

Apple Takes a Dramatic Lead in Smartphone Industry’s Profits

Despite selling less than 20 percent of smartphones in terms of unit sales, Apple recorded 92 percent of the total operating income of smartphone sales for Q1, up from 65 percent last year. Apple and Samsung lead the industry while other phone makers broke even or lost money, according to Canaccord Genuity research. Apple has recorded such a significant lead because of higher prices per unit. This has forced rival brands, that mostly run on the Android operating system, to compete by cutting prices. Continue reading Apple Takes a Dramatic Lead in Smartphone Industry’s Profits

Amazon Releases Fling SDK, New Competition for Chromecast

Amazon’s new Fling SDK helps mobile developers create second screen and Cast-like functionality for iOS and Android apps, essentially simplifying the “network discovery and communication technologies” around Fire TV, according to the company. “Flinging” (Amazon’s version of Chromecast’s “casting”) is a means of sending video, audio or images from an app to a television screen via the Fire TV player. Amazon is targeting developers already using Chromecast by offering the ability to integrate Amazon’s SDK with existing Chromecast apps. Continue reading Amazon Releases Fling SDK, New Competition for Chromecast

Sony Announces 1TB PlayStation Will Be Thinner and Lighter

In the wake of E3, Sony has announced that its new PS4 will be thinner, lighter and pack more storage than its predecessor. The new PlayStation 4 1TB Ultimate Player Edition, coming to North America next month, will weigh 10 percent lighter than the current PS4 and use 8 percent less power. The new console will come in black or white with a hard drive bay cover in a matte finish, which Sony suggests provides “a more casual look.” Earlier this month, Microsoft confirmed that its latest Xbox One would feature 1TB of storage and an upcoming wireless controller. Continue reading Sony Announces 1TB PlayStation Will Be Thinner and Lighter

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