New Paperwhite & HDX Kindles

Yesterday Amazon introduced the all-new Fire HDX 8.9 which features a high resolution HDX display (339 ppi) with a more powerful processor, exclusive Dolby Audio, and all-new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” with new features and services. The new Fire HDX is available for pre-order starting at $379.

Fire OS 4 is based on KitKat and adds features and services to make it faster and easier to use. For example, Fire OS includes ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) which predicts the movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and starts them instantly.

Fire OS 4 will be available on all 4th generation Fire tablets and will be available for all 3rd generation Fire tablets via a free, over-the-air software update. Firefly will be available on Fire HDX 8.9. Fire OS 4 will be available on Fire phone early next year.

Amazon also introduced the new Fire HD, featuring a quad-core processor, front and rear-facing cameras, an HD display. The High-definition display has 252 ppi for 6”, 216 ppi for 7” model and is now brighter than the previous generation Kindle Fire HD. The new Fire HD tablets are available in two sizes—6” for $99 and 7” for $139.

Amazon today introduced three new Kindles: a $79/$99 Kindle, the $119/$139 Kindle Paperwhite, and the $199/$219 Kindle Voyage.

A new Paperwhite display, has the highest resolution, highest contrast, and highest brightness of any Kindle, says Amazon, with 300 pixels per inch. All E Ink Kindles have the same 1GHz processor, and they have 256MB of RAM, except the new Kindle Voyage, with 512MB of RAM. The $79 entry-level Kindle uses an infrared touchscreen instead of capacitive like the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage.

The $120 Paperwhite is getting upgraded from 2GB to 4GB of storage. The budget $79 Kindle is getting a relatively significant revamp with the navigation buttons all gone and in place of an all-touch interface. The new design is almost indistinguishable from the earlier Paperwhite.

The $200 Kindle Voyage introduces PagePress, a new way to turn pages. PagePress uses a custom-designed force sensor that sits directly under the bezel. You simply rest your thumb on the bezel and turn the page by lightly pressing. When you turn the page, Kindle Voyage delivers tactile feedback from a haptic actuator. The screen on the $200 Kindle Voyage is flush with the body and the shell is made of matte magnesium with strengthened glass resistant to scratches and micro-etched to reduce glare and feel more like paper. A new adaptive front light automatically adjusts the brightness of the display based on the surrounding light.

In addition to the $199 base model, Amazon is offering a Voyage with built-in 3G data (for Amazon content downloads only) for $269. Both models require an additional $20 charge to remove the embedded ads on the home screen and lock screen.

Incubator for Digital Storytellers

Oregon Story Board is an accelerator to help digital storytellers create companies, explains Rick Turoczy of Silicon Florist. The startup incubator is now accepting applications for the first class of its accelerator program.

The collaborative working environment is housed at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It offers a four-month program where companies receive access to technical and business support from entrepreneurs, investors and executives with expertise in the digital storytelling and funding.

Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center opened in 1998 with classes and resources to small publications, while The Portland Zine Symposium gathers writers, publishers and fans of the small, informal publications.

I’m intrigued by ePub3 which utilizes HTML 5, CSS and Javascript for interactivity – without constant internet connectivity – while delivering revenue for authors.

E-Pub3 is a natural for textbooks, but many authors object to interrupting the narrative flow. If it doesn’t serve the story, extraneous content (mostly) gets in the way.

Author Corey Fayman may have cracked the code in his e-book, Border Field Blues.

I decided on one essential interface design rule. There would be only one button on the screen, an ‘Extras’ button that sat at the bottom of the screen.

That button would open a new window, from which users had access to the following:

  • Photographs of various locations
  • Related videos from YouTube
  • Playable audio files of music referenced in the book
  • My own notes on each chapter
  • Google Maps of the areas
  • Email functionality, so readers could contact me
  • A way for readers to share comments within the app itself

All of the above were embedded into one “Extras” screen so that navigating the interface remained simple and clear. Readers can pop into the “Extras” section and pop back to the text with one simple tap in either direction.

If you want to build interactivity but aren’t a coder, there are free or cheap mobile app development tools that don’t require a lot of skill, such as AppMakr, Codiqa and Infinite Monkeys. They allow just about anyone to build simple apps by adding text, images and other features into templates. PhoneGap lets you code once – without going native – while targeting many different platforms including Android, IOS and Windows Phone. It can also detect your location with GPS and utilize a camera or other platform sensors.

Mobile Meetups help connect developers to share experience and knowledge.

Python has surpassed Java as the top language used to introduce U.S. students to programming, according to a recent survey by the ACM. The three largest, most popular online class providers — Coursera, edX and Udacity also offer introductory programming courses in Python.

The Readium Foundation (Readium.org) develops technology to accelerate adoption of EPUB 3 and the Open Web Platform by the global digital publishing industry. The non-profit organization’s projects include Readium Web (an EPUB 3 rendering engine for browser-based cloud readers) and Readium SDK (an EPUB 3 rendering engine for native apps). Their Readium for Chrome has garnered the highest scores out of over two dozen reading systems.

Portland Radio Project, a new online radio station, aims to capture the growing popularity of internet listening by bucking a trend. More and more commercial radio stations downplay local coverage, but PRP plans to go in the opposite direction. It’s available on IOS and Android. They work with OPB and their original content can be distributed through PRX.

Another Kickstarter funded on-line radio station, XRay.fm, has recruited 75 local DJs to “ignite both hemispheres of the brain with music, talk, culture, and more.”

Live Wire Radio is a weekly variety show taped in front of a live audience in Portland, Oregon and aired on public radio stations around the country.

The expanding portfolio of Public Radio Exchange, the Internet-based distribution platform, has prompted some public radio insiders to question whether NPR’s Public Radio Satellite System can adapt to stiffer competition from independent content producers. Both aspiring and established producers can distribute their work on PRX. Transom.org offers new work and voices to public radio and public media, with tools, advice, and community.

This American Life split from distributor Public Radio International on July 1, ending a 17-year relationship and now relies on PRX to deliver weekly editions to stations.

The BiblioTech digital library in Bexar County Texas has officially opened their doors to the public. Patrons will be able to access to over 10,000 eBooks and residents will be able checkout 600 E-readers, 9 laptops and 40 tablets to read them on.

BiblioTech branch manager Catarina Velasquez explained you won’t find rows and rows of books. “Instead, you’re going to see rows and rows of computers,” said Velasquez. “We have all of our content digital and online.”

OuterNet: CubeSat Datacasting?

Outernet hopes to use datacasting technology over a low-cost CubeSat constellation. The startup says it will be able to bypass censorship, ensure privacy, and offer a universally-accessible information service at no cost to global citizens. Outernet’s motto is “Information for the world from outer space.”

Outernet provides few technical details on how this constellation will work. The startup says the entire constellation utilizes globally-accepted, standards-based protocols, such as DVB-S2, Digital Radio Mondiale, and UDP-based WiFi multicasting.

“Outernet will broadcast the Internet to you and allow you to flick through certain websites,” explains the company.

Each satellite receives data streams from a network of ground stations and transmits that data in a continuous loop until new content is received.

It sounds kind of like a multi-media version of teletext where packets are sent in a carousel, then stored on the device.

Project Lead of Outernet Syed Karim, fielded some questions on Reddit.

“We’re definitely shooting for 802.11-spec compliance. It’s going to be tough, but it’s not outside of the realm of possibility. It’s actually a lot easier and cheaper to not be wifi compatible, but if this is a media platform for the world, it’s hard to ignore the 10,000,000 wifi devices that currently exist.”

“The signal on the ground will be fairly weak, in order to not interfere with local networks. At this time, we’re shooting for receive sensitivity of about -90dBm.”

The non-profit Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), is funding the idea, reports the UK’s Daily Mail.

Their website notes that development of prototype satellite and testing of long range Wi-Fi multicasting is scheduled for this June, with transmission testing in flight-like environments is set for September.

Launch and test of constellation operations is supposed to begin next January. By April 2015, Outernet hopes to establish a manufacturing process for turning out the hundreds of satellite needed, with deployment of Outernet supposed to happen in mid-2015, subject to launch schedules.

If the idea of a smartphone receiving WiFi signals from space and assembling news and information with an app sounds like a hoverboard, you’d be forgiven.

Maybe the time has arrived for a free global network. Or maybe it hasn’t.

Whatever. Getting a 20 MHz wide WiFi channel to travel 150 miles would require a huge antenna.

A 5 kHz-100 kHz wide channel (used by digital audio broadcasting), would have a much better chance of getting received several hundred miles away.

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is derived from mondiale being Italian and French for “worldwide”). It’s a set of digital audio broadcasting technologies for AM, FM and Shortwave Radio.

DRM30 can be used for digital broadcasting on short, medium and long wave broadcasting bands up to 30 MHz, and provides large coverage areas with low power consumption.

DRM+ is designed to fit in the FM broadcast band (VHF) with a frequency bandwidth of 100 kHz (like FM stations). It provides bit rates from 37 kbps to 186 kbps and permits up to four services. It’s a flexible solution allowing single or small numbers of audio services to be broadcast together.

Perhaps a $20 modular clip-on would translate the digital shortwave output to a Bluetooth/WiFi signal so a $100 smartphone could receive it (and play it with an app).
A 5MB file might be downloaded in about 5 minutes at 128Kbps, while a 16MB file plays for about an hour at 32 Kbps.

Since TV channels 5 and 6 are adjacent to the FM band in the United States, maybe that 12 Mhz could deliver world-wide, store and forward satellite broadcasting with over 100 multi-media channels. A 5 minute download might cover the 90 minute stream until the next satellite pass. Great for e-book delivery, too.

Facebook Invents Paper

Facebook today revealed Paper, a standalone iOS news reader app that delivers human and algorithm-curated full-screen articles and photos. Paper launches in the U.S. today, one day before Facebook’s 10th birthday.

Unlike other Facebook mobile efforts such as Messenger and the failed Snapchat knockoff Poke – it isn’t a specialized tool. It’s Facebook — almost all of it — rethought for a small screen, explains Time.

Most of what you can do in the standard Facebook for iPhone app, you can do in Facebook Paper, but it adds a new interface with a news section organized by topic. Paper is the first app out of Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative to let small teams within Facebook build standalone mobile experiences.

The app comes with a handful of sections for topics like tech, sports, and cooking, in addition to giving you a new way to leaf through your friends updates. Algorithms and human editors will pull together a variety of content, collating stories from big-name publications and choice offerings from lesser-known blogs.

According to Wired, Paper is trying to position itself as a place you’ll go for news and inspiration–and, just as importantly, as the kind of place you’ll want to contribute to yourself.

When Facebook acquired Mike Matas’ digital publishing company Push Pop Press in 2011, it asked him to apply his skills to Facebook content. Matas designed software for the original iPhone, Nest’s trademark thermostat interface, and Al Gore’s pioneering interactive eBook Our Choice.

Push Pop’s HTML-5 heavy multimedia ebook, Our Choice ($4.99) was not just an app, but a showcase for their publishing platform. It includes an editor, a publishing and hosting service and a document format. The plan was to eventually open it out to external publishers.

Whether it will be a threat to existing news aggregators like Flipboard, Google Currents, Zite, Circa, News360, Inside and others remains to be seen. FiftyThree, the maker of a rival app, also called Paper is clearly unhappy with Facebook. Apple named FiftyThree’s Paper the Best App of the Year in 2012.

According to a review in The Verge:

Everything from swipes to pinch-and-zooms respond instantaneously and naturally, and images load quickly. The team created a host of new gestures and ideas that will very likely inspire the next generation of interactive apps. Paper actually includes no refresh button. New content cards fly in the moment they’re posted.

Facebook is reaching 1.25 billion active users on its tenth anniversary, and bringing the ebook to life may be a one way to expand its impact.

Amazon Opens HTML5 App Store for Developers

Amazon announced today that developers of HTML5 mobile apps can now charge money for the apps distributed through the company’s Android AppStore.

HTML5 web apps using open web technologies such as HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS, can more easily run on different platforms such as Android, IOS and WindowsPhone.

In light of rumors pointing to an Amazon smartphone, this change could help entice devs to create apps that also work on the Seattle-based company’s handset, rather than focus their efforts on another mobile platform, notes Seattle-based GeekWire.

More Americans are now reading ebooks, according to a new Pew study. But in 2013, ebook revenue growth hit an inflection point and tapered off. Somewhere between a fifth and a third of book publishing revenue in the U.S. comes from the sale of ebooks – a number that was quickly getting bigger every year, until this year, when it stagnated. Perhaps HTML5-based Epub-3 will give it a shot in the arm.

Tools for Location-based Mobile Ads

Verve Mobile, a leader in location-based mobile advertising, today formed a strategic partnership with location-based advertising technology provider Vistar Media.

This partnership will connect Verve’s extensive collection of location-based data with Vistar’s 100,000+ digital screens nationwide, allowing for both better targeting and the creation of the industry’s first multi-screen location-based marketing platform.

The 25 Best Mobile Ad Networks for Publishers and Developers can provide the revenue to sustain a news site or a wireless connection.

Poynter says smaller news organization can try some of the dozens of templated news services to create mobile sites or native apps that will keep them in the game. These tools are designed to enable timely and profitable news distribution.

The same tools might also be used for businesses, schools and cities.

They include:

These templated news services allow publishers to:

  • Insert articles with title, photo, description and content
  • Share via Facebook, Twitter and Email
  • Push notifications
  • Breaking news
  • Popular news
  • Local Weather
  • Multimedia (photos, videos, podcasts)
  • Calendars
  • Commenting
  • Polls/Surveys
  • Sports Scores
  • Streaming Radio

Advertising revenue can be enhanced by targeting:

  • Time of day
  • Page
  • Device
  • Contextual
  • Behavioral
  • Location

Forbes describes some of the packaged, or templated options for creating apps, including:

HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and PHP make webapps interoperable. PhoneGap makes them mobile.

Behavioral advertising does not record your name, it gives you a unique ID number, that’s ostensibly anonymous. They track your interests then sell that information on a stock market-like exchange to online advertisers. Some have been developed by Wall Street quants.

Behavioral targeting uses that information to select which advertisements to display. They use Cookies, which embed a unique ID on your computer so advertisers can track you, or web beacons, which run live on a website but are not embedded.

ABI Research says the indoor location market is set to reach a significant number of installations in 2015-2017.

The Internet Advertising Bureau reports mobile advertising generated $3.4 billion in 2012, or 9 percent of total internet ad revenue in 2012. Location-based services are expected to generate $10 billion in revenue by 2016, according to Strategy Analytics. Over half will come from location-based search advertising.

Related Dailywireless articles include; PhoneGap: Open Source Mobile App Tool , Aruba Buys Indoor Mapping Company Meridian, Spotlight Mobile’s Meridian: Indoor GPS, Hotspot 2.0 for Museums & Transit, Indoor Location Without GPS, Qualcomm & Cisco Team for WiFi Location, Behavioral Advertising, Behavioral Targeting: Kill/Capture, Real-time Transit Maps, Apps for The City, Free Mobile Development for Cities & Governments, Augmented History, Public Safety 2.0, Mobile Portland Demos, Developer Contests, Geo Tours, Geolocation Takes Off