Posts Tagged: Amazon’s

Amazon’s Kindle will finally add epub support

It only took about 15 years, but Amazon’s Kindle will finally support the ePub format. First spotted by Good E-Reader, Amazon updated its Kindle section with the news that the Send to Kindle function will convert ePub files to a format that can be opened on the e-reader. The update is scheduled to occur in late 2022.

It’s a change that — at first glance — seems rather minor, but in truth solves a lingering problem in the ebook industry. Amazon’s Kindle Store is a major ebook seller and ePub is the most widely-used ebook format. But up until now, Kindle devices couldn’t read the ePub format. For Kindle owners who’ve had to grapple with manually converting their ebook library to a more Amazon-friendly format with an app like Calibre, this will be a welcome change.

But another upcoming change is that Kindle will finally lose the ability to support MOBI, an older French file format that was Amazon’s proprietary ebook format for a while. Amazon acquired the company Mobipocket in 2005, and subsequently rebranded MOBI to AZW. If you already own ebooks in either format on your Kindle, you can still access them. The update only applies to new ebooks.

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Sens. Sanders and Warren urge investigation into Amazon’s ‘no-fault’ attendance policy

A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) want regulators to take a closer look at Amazon’s points-based attendance policy, which they believe may be punishing workers for taking legally protected time off. First reported by Vice, the letter to the Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission focuses on Amazon’s “no-fault” approach to absences, which adds points every time an employee misses work without giving advance notice, regardless of the reason. If workers reach a certain number of points, they are automatically reviewed for termination.

Under the company’s attendance policy, an employee whose child has suddenly fallen ill or who suffers a medical emergency would still be penalized. Employees who don’t report absences at least 16 hours before the start of shift receive two points on their record. If they give notice less than two hours before a shift, they receive two points and an “absence submission infraction”. If workers receive three absence submission infractions and eight attendance points, Amazon will consider firing them.

Lawmakers believe that Amazon’s attendance policy could violate current laws that allow workers to take sick, family, medical and pregnancy leave without advance notice. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees eligible workers unpaid leave for a variety of circumstances, including pregnancy or the need to take care of a sick family member.

“We field numerous calls from Amazon employees; while many workers know about Amazon’s punitive attendance policies, they describe never receiving information about the federal, state, and local laws that entitle them to legally protected time off—much less understanding how such laws apply in practice in their own lives,” noted labor rights group Better Balance in a letter to Congress.

Other companies with "no-fault" attendance policies have run into legal troubles in the past. Back in 2011, Verizon was ordered to pay $ 20 million after the EEOC found that the company's no-fault attendance policy made no exceptions for disabled workers. 

Many warehouse workers have complained that Amazon neglected to inform them of their rights under FMLA or disability laws. The company has had a poor track record with how it treats workers at its many warehouses and fulfillment centers. A number of warehouses, in response to poor working conditions at the e-commerce giant, are currently pushing to unionize.

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What is Kindle Unlimited? Amazon’s book-borrowing service explained

A Kindle Unlimited subscription grants you access to over 1 million e-books, audiobooks, and magazines. We look at how it works, and whether it’s worth it.
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Hitting the Books: How Amazon’s aggressive R&D push made it an e-commerce behemoth

Amazon is the Standard Oil of the 21st century. Its business operations and global reach dwarf those of virtually every other company on the planet — and exceed the GDP of more than a few countries — illustrating the vital importance innovation has on the modern economy. In his latest book, The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society, author Azeem Azhar examines how the ever-increasing pace of technological progress is impacting, influencing — and often rebuilding — our social, political and economic mores from the ground up.

The Exponential Age by Azeem Azhar
Diversion Books

Excerpted from The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society by Azeem Azhar. Copyright © 2021 Azeem Azhar. Printed with permission of the publisher, Diversion Books. All rights reserved.


In 2020, Amazon turned twenty-six years old. Over the previous quarter of a century, the company had transformed shopping. With retail revenues in excess of $ 213 billion, it was larger than Germany’s Schwarz Gruppe, America’s Costco, and every British retailer. Only America’s Walmart, with more than half a trillion dollars of sales, was bigger. But Amazon was, by this time, far and away the world’s largest online retailer. Its online business was about eight times larger than Walmart’s. Amazon was more than just an online shop, however. Its huge operations in areas such as cloud computing, logistics, media, and hardware added a further $ 172 billion in sales.

At the heart of Amazon’s success is an annual research and development budget that reached a staggering $ 36 billion in 2019, and which is used to develop everything from robots to smart home assistants. This sum leaves other companies — and many governments — behind. It is not far off the UK government’s annual budget for research and development. The entire US government’s federal R&D budget for 2018 was only $ 134 billion. 

Amazon spent more on R&D in 2018 than the US National Institutes of Health. Roche, the global pharmaceutical company renowned for its investment in research, spent a mere $ 12 billion in R&D in 2018. Meanwhile Tesco, the largest retailer in Britain — with annual sales in excess of £50 billion (approximately $ 70 billion) — had a research lab whose budget was in the “six figures” in 2016.

Perhaps more remarkable is the rate at which Amazon grew this budget. Ten years earlier, Amazon’s research budget was $ 1.2 billion. Over the course of the next decade, the firm increased its annual R&D budget by about 44 percent every year. As the 2010s went on, Amazon doubled down on its investments in research. In the words of Werner Vogels, the firm’s chief technology officer, if they stopped innovating they “would be out of business in ten to fifteen years.”

In the process, Amazon created a chasm between the old world and the new. The approach of traditional business was to rely on models that succeeded yesterday. They were based on a strategy that tomorrow might be a little different, but not markedly so.

This kind of linear thinking, rooted in the assumption that change takes decades and not months, may have worked in the past—but not anymore. Amazon understood the nature of the Exponential Age. The pace of change was accelerating; the companies that could harness the technologies of the new era would take off. And those that couldn’t keep up would be undone at remarkable speed.

This divergence between the old and the new is one example of what I call the “exponential gap.” On the one hand, there are technologies that develop at an exponential pace—and the companies, institutions, and communities that adapt to or harness those developments. On the other, there are the ideas and norms of the old world. The companies, institutions, and communities that can only adapt at an incremental pace. These get left behind—and fast.

The emergence of this gap is a consequence of exponential technology. Until the early 2010s, most companies assumed the cost of their inputs would remain pretty similar from year to year, perhaps with a nudge for inflation. The raw materials might fluctuate based on commodity markets, but their planning processes, institutionalized in management orthodoxy, could manage such volatility. But in the Exponential Age, one primary input for a company is its ability to process information. One of the main costs to process that data is computation. And the cost of computation didn’t rise each year; it declined rapidly. The underlying dynamics of how companies operate had shifted.

In Chapter 1, we explored how Moore’s Law amounts to a halving of the underlying cost of computation every couple of years. It means that every ten years, the cost of the processing that can be done by a computer will decline by a factor of one hundred. But the implications of this process stretch far beyond our personal laptop use—and far beyond the interests of any one laptop manufacturer.

In general, if an organization needs to do something that uses computation, and that task is too expensive today, it probably won’t be too expensive in a couple of years. For companies, this realization has deep significance. Firms that figured out that the effective price of computation was declining, even if the notional price of what they were buying was staying the same (or even rising), could plan, practice, and experiment with the near future in mind. Even if those futuristic activities were expensive now, they would become affordable soon enough. Organizations that understood this deflation, and planned for it, became well-positioned to take advantage of the Exponential Age.

If Amazon’s early recognition of this trend helped transform it into one of the most valuable companies in history, they were not alone. Many of the new digital giants—from Uber to Alibaba, Spotify to TikTok—took a similar path. And following in their footsteps were firms who understand how these processes apply in other sectors. The bosses at Tesla understood that the prices of electric vehicles might decline on an exponential curve, and launched the electric vehicle revolution. The founders of Impossible Foods understood how the expensive process of precision fermentation (which involves genetically modified microorganisms) would get cheaper and cheaper. Executives at space companies like Spire and Planet Labs understood this process would drive down the cost of putting satellites in orbit. Companies that didn’t adapt to exponential technology shifts, like much of the newspaper publishing industry, didn’t stand a chance.

We can visualize the gap by returning to our now-familiar exponential curve. As we’ve seen, individual technologies develop according to an S-curve, which begins by roughly following an exponential trajectory. And as we’ve seen, it starts off looking a bit humdrum. In those early days, exponential change is distinctly boring, and most people and organizations ignore it. At this point in the curve, the industry producing an exponential technology looks exciting to those in it, but like a backwater to everyone else. But at some point, the line of exponential change crosses that of linear change. Soon it reaches an inflection point. That shift in gear, which is both sudden and subtle, is hard to fathom. 

Because, for all the visibility of exponential change, most of the institutions that make up our society follow a linear trajectory. Codified laws and unspoken social norms; legacy companies and NGOs; political systems and intergovernmental bodies—all have only ever known how to adapt incrementally. Stability is an important force within institutions. In fact, it’s built into them.

The gap between our institutions’ capacity to change and our new technologies’ accelerating speed is the defining consequence of our shift into the Exponential Age. On the one side, you have the new behaviors, relationships, and structures that are enabled by exponentially improving technologies, and the products and services built from them. On the other, you have the norms that have evolved or been designed to suit the needs of earlier configurations of technology. The gap leads to extreme tension. In the Exponential Age, this divergence is ongoing—and it is everywhere.

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Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max is now on sale

If you are looking to upgrade your streaming experience then Amazon’s newest media stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, could be the device you need. Able to stream content in 4K resolution and sporting a brand new Alexa Voice Remote with dedicated channel buttons, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is now available on […]

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Amazon’s ‘Always Home’ security drone is real and costs $249

It’s been a while since it was first mentioned but Amazon’s Ring Always Home Cam is actually a real product and you can already request an invite to be an early adopter. Priced at $ 249, the Always Home Cam is basically a camera that is attached to a small drone that can patrol your home […]

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Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming service gets limited Android rollout

When Amazon launched early access for Luna, it left Android users out in the cold and made the cloud gaming service available on Fire TV, PC, Mac and iOS devices. Now, the e-commerce giant has edited Luna’s compatible devices and browsers list to rev…
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Amazon’s weirdly judgy fitness tracking bracelet is now on sale

After coming out earlier this year on an invite-only basis, Amazon’s Halo Band activity tracker is now available to anyone in the US who wants to buy one. You can purchase the wearable for $ 100 on Amazon and Best Buy. It’s available in three colors:…
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Amazon’s 2nd-Gen Fire TV Cube is gaining support for two-way video calling – just in time for the holiday season

It’s getting close to the season where video-calling our loved ones takes on increased importance, but having the whole family swarm around a laptop or smartphone in an attempt to get in on the action doesn’t really lend itself to a great experience. This is where the addition of two-way video calling the big screen […]

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Say hello to Amazon’s next-gen full-fat and Lite Fire TV Sticks and an Alexa-centric software update

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick had been allowed to quietly sell out in recent months and now the retailer has announced the launch of a successor as well as the debut of the Fire TV Stick Lite. Priced at $ 39.99 and $ 29.99 respectively, the two new Fire TV Sticks will be the first to feature an […]

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[Deal] Grab Amazon’s Show 5 smart display and the Blink Mini Indoor Security Camera for just $75

Amazon’s Show 5 Smart Display is on offer today with a Blink Mini indoor security camera bundled in for just $ 74.99, bringing about a $ 50 saving. The Alexa-toting smart display has an RRP of $ 89 by itself, so getting the Show 5 and the Blink Mini camera is a deal you may want to take […]

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Amazon’s multiplayer Pac-Man game is made for Twitch streaming

Amazon Games showed it’s a serious competitor with the new shooter Crucible and has an MMO on the way, but its next game is the one that makes the most sense for Twitch streaming. That’s because Pac-Man Live Studio is not just a variant of the arcade…
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Amazon’s free-to-play hero shooter ‘Crucible’ arrives May 20th

Amazon Games' long-in-the-works hero shooter will be available in just a couple of weeks. It'll release Crucible, which it announced at TwitchCon 2016, on May 20th. Amazon’s Relentless Studios developed the free-to-play PC game.You'll play as one of…
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Amazon’s Echo speaker drops to $60 at Best Buy

Now’s a good time to act if you want a soundtrack while you’re staying home. Best Buy has discounted Amazon’s third-generation Echo speaker for $ 60, or a hefty $ 40 off the usual price. On top of that, you can spend another $ 10 for Amazon’s Smart Plug…
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[Deal] Amazon’s Fire 7 tablets are on sale for just $40 today

Whether you’re looking to pick up a new tablet for yourself or just to get started on Christmas shopping early, Amazon’s got a pretty slick deal on their Fire 7 tablets right now. The newly refreshed version with 16GB of RAM is 20% off today, making it one of the cheapest Android tablets around that […]

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[Deal] Amazon’s blowing out a ton of Otterbox cases today

If you’re looking for some discount phone cases, Amazon’s going to be your friend today. They’re running a one-day sale and knocking up to 60% off of several different Otterbox cases, bringing some prices down to below $ 20 for certain models. It’s mostly for popular phones since that’s primarily what Otterbox designs cases for, but […]

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[Deal] Amazon’s selling our favorite mesh network routers at a big discount right now

Amazon recently purchased eero, the little mesh router company that could. Since then we’ve seen some pretty nice deals on packs of their routers, including a good discount on some right now for Labor Day. These are the newer versions of eero’s routers, too, so you’re getting some of the best wireless networking performance available […]

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[Prime Day Deal] Jump into Amazon’s ecosystem with these discounted Fire TV sticks, tablets, and Echo devices

It’s Amazon Prime Day(s) again, and this year the retailer is holding it over two days instead of one. We’ve covered the price reductions on Anker Accessories here and a whole host of other well-known brands in this constantly updated mega-deal post here, but what about Amazon itself? Well, as you would expect, the online […]

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Prime Day pro tip: Find extra deals with Amazon’s app

By Nathan Burrow Amazon Prime Day 2019 will begin July 15, and we're getting ready to bring you all the best deals on Wirecutter picks and recommendations from our expert staff. Bookmark our Deals page, follow Wirecutter Deals on Twitter, and sign u…
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Amazon’s Textract AI can read millions of pages in a few hours

Amazon has launched a new offering called Textract for its Web Services customers, and it's like optical character recognition on steroids. It more than just extracts text from documents like its name implies — Amazon says it can actually identify d…
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Amazon’s new Fire 7 tablets keep their cheap price but deliver some key upgrades

Amazon has announced a refresh of their Fire 7 tablets, which will be officially available in a couple of weeks on June 6th. These new tablets stick to the same tried-and-true design that Amazon loves, and they’re still only going to be $ 49. But they do offer some key upgrades over the older tablets that […]

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Amazon’s latest massive purchase is the mesh network company Eero

Eero was one of the first companies to dive into mesh networking, and they’ve consistently delivered some killer products. But like all tech companies and startups, the main goal for these smaller players is to eventually get scooped up by a bigger fish, and that’s where Eero is going next. Amazon has announced that they’ll […]

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Amazon’s $30 Echo clock puts Alexa timers on your wall

The Amazon Echo Wall Clock is finally available. First announced back in September, the analog clock that can sync with timers and display countdowns set through Alexa sells for $ 30. To get the most of this wall clock, you'll need an Echo speaker to…
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Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals promotion starts December 2nd

With the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday out of the way, you’ll no doubt be excited to learn that Amazon contrived to come up with yet another way to separate you from your hard-earned money. The online retailer has unveiled its 12 Days of Deals promotion that predictably runs for twelve days starting December […]

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Get ready for Amazon’s Alexa in your microwave

Amazon wants you to have Alexa everywhere. A speaker in your living room, a screen in your kitchen for recipes, a smart home controller in your bedroom… so why not go a step further and shove Alexa into your microwave? Amazon’s way ahead of you. Get ready. Yep, Amazon is planning on releasing up to […]

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Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is officially on sale

Amazon announced its latest addition to its range of streaming devices, the Fire TV Cube, just a couple of weeks ago. Marrying up Alexa, 4K streaming as well as the usual Fire TV functions into a single device, the Fire TV Cube promises to clear up the clutter beneath your TV. You can use the Fire […]

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Bonjour, Alexa: Amazon’s Echo finally comes to France

While all my American and UK colleagues have had access to Amazon's Alexa for years, I've been left out of the party here in France. At last, however, folks in the nation (and Monaco) can parlez Francais with Alexa on Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot and Echo…
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OnePlus’s Dash Charge and Amazon’s Dash buttons are conflicting trademarks

Dash Charge is what OnePlus calls their fast charging technology, and they did actually apply for a trademark for it when the OnePlus 3 launched a few years ago. Hell, they even sent us some energy drinks with the Dash Charge label a few years ago. Unfortunately for them, though, it doesn’t look like they’re […]

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TiVo update will add Amazon’s Alexa to select DVRs

Earlier this year, Tivo announced that it would make its set-top boxes compatible with voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. According to The Verge, compatibility with Amazon Alexa is now rolling out in an update to these devices…
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2017 was Amazon’s best year for new Prime subscriptions so far

Amazon's fourth quarterly earnings results has just come in and, as expected, it was a pretty great holiday season for the online retail giant. According to the release, the company made $ 60.5 billion in the last few months, which is close to a 36 pe…
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Amazon’s flop of a phone made newer, better hardware possible

Amazon devices have taken root in our homes with almost alarming speed, but the tech giant hasn't gotten everything right. Back in 2014, Amazon released the Fire Phone, an ambitious smartphone that remains the company's biggest hardware flop to date….
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Amazon’s Silk web browser is now on Fire TV devices

If you've been looking for a way to browse the web on your Amazon Fire TV, now's the time. The company has just released its Silk Browser for its media gadgets, making it compatible with the first and second generation Fire TVs, the second generation…
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[Deal] Pick up some cheap SD cards from Amazon’s Black Friday sales

We know you guys love expandable storage, so we know you’ll love some of Amazon’s Black Friday deals. Right now you can pick up some heavily discounted Sandisk microSD cards in several sizes, bulking up how many photos and songs you can stuff on your phone. The cheapest is the 32GB for $ 10, while the […]

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Jeffrey Tambor leaves Amazon’s ‘Transparent’ over harassment claims

The slew of sexual harassment and assault allegations surfacing in Hollywood has affected another major streaming service. Transparent actor Jeffrey Tambor has announced he's leaving the Amazon show after two transgender actresses on the show (Van B…
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Amazon’s ‘The Hub’ is a delivery locker for residential buildings

Amazon already has lockers in various public locations that you can use to receive packages, but it's now offering a more private option for multi-tenant dwellings. The e-commerce titan has launched a new service that offers to install "Hubs" in cond…
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Amazon’s discount policy is being investigated by the FTC

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods requires a wink of blessing from the Federal Trade Commission, but that might not be a done deal. Reuters is reporting that the FTC is taking a particular interest in how Jeff Bezos' online retailer prices, and discou…
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From the sky to your door, Amazon’s drones are coming – here’s what you should know

Curious about Amazon’s Prime Air, and how the delivery service came to be? We’ve compiled a history of the effort, which will get you up to speed and help you understand why Amazon is serious about drones.

The post From the sky to your door, Amazon’s drones are coming – here’s what you should know appeared first on Digital Trends.

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Now the NPR One app is plugged into Amazon’s Alexa

Amazon has been building out its voice-controlled AI system, Alexa, expanding into smart cars and Motorola phones. But part of its necessary growth comes from ingesting more content into its ecosystem. Today, National Public Radio announced that its…
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Amazon’s standalone music streaming service is finally here

Based on a string of rumors that began circulating in January of this year, it was only a matter of time before Amazon rolled out its fully fledged music service. And today is that day. Enter Amazon Music Unlimited, a standalone offering set to rival…
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Is there an Echo in here? How Google Home compares to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker

The Amazon Echo was a major development in virtual assistants, but Google is striking back with the forthcoming Google Home. How does this new device stack up against the reigning king? We examine the info revealed thus far.

The post Is there an Echo in here? How Google Home compares to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker appeared first on Digital Trends.

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Amazon’s Kindle for Kids bundle offers children’s books for $99

To offer kids a way to read via Kindle, Amazon is back with another $ 99 bundle. The Kindle for Kids offer combines the latest e-reader with a cover and a "2-year worry-free guarantee." It's meant to boost reading habits for children complete with too…
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Amazon’s Alexa told us Echo is coming to the UK very soon

Normally, us Brits only have to wait a few months at the most to enjoy new products from the world's biggest technology companies. However, when it comes to the Amazon Echo, we've been left on the outside looking in as the company continues upgrade A…
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Tweens rejoice! Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited now has a slew of content for ages 9-12

Older kids can now enjoy Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited just as much as their younger siblings. Amazon has updated the service to offer older kids, aged 9-12, over 13,000 videos, books, games, and more.

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Encryption’s a thing of the past in Amazon’s Fire OS 5

In the most recent update for its Fire tablets, Amazon has removed device encryption, a move that could be seen as backwards thinking. But the company has since backtracked and says full-disk encryption will return in a spring update.

The post Encryption’s a thing of the past in Amazon’s Fire OS 5 appeared first on Digital Trends.

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[Deal] Amazon’s Fire 7-inch tablet now $10 off for a limited time

Amazon-Fire-7-hero-ta

Amazon offers some really great value in its Fire tablet, priced at only $ 50. And now, they’re adding even more value by offering the 7-inch tablet for an additional $ 40 off!

The tablet is normally priced at $ 50, but the $ 10 discount will bring it down to $ 40. The model without special offers regularly costs $ 65, but this discount brings it down to an appealing $ 55, which is about the same price as the version with special offers at no discount.

As far as specifications go, this 7-inch tablet has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor in tow, 8GB of internal storage, a front and rear camera, and a decent battery that should hold up to a little over a day of frequent usage. At a resolution of 1024 x 600, the display isn’t the best, but still hard to pass up at that temporary $ 40 rate.

There’s currently no official timeline as to when the discount will end, so you may want to snatch up this tablet rather quickly. At $ 40, the Fire 7-inch tablet truly offers some of the best value on the market (review here), and is a hard one to pass up.

Anyone plan on buying?

[Amazon]

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Amazon’s Audible stocks up on original radio programming

Amazon really wants you to listen to its podcast and audio-book service, Audible. And it's hoping to win you over by grabbing comedians like Maria Bamford and folks from the public radio and podcast world for original content, according to Bloomberg….
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Amazon’s ‘Handmade’ section takes aim at Etsy

There’s a lot to love about Etsy — it’s one of the best places on the internet to find all sorts of stuff like minimalist Captain America prints or laser-cut Deathly Hallows earrings, but shipping windows are kind of a crapshoot. That could change b…
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