Amazon: $115 in Paid Apps Free this Halloween

Amazon is promoting some $115 in paid apps this Halloween for Android devices at the Amazon Appstore. You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app. The offer is good through November 1.

Here are some of the highlights, including their usual price:

You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app on your Android device, however. The offer is good through November 1.

Greenbot also has roundup of the best Halloween apps and spooky games from Humble Bundle.

LTE Multicast Tested by 16 Operators

A new report from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association says sixteen operators, spanning 13 countries, are currently trialing LTE Multicast, also called eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services. LTE Multicast allows wireless operators to broadcast live video over their LTE networks to multiple users simultaneously.

Today’s unicast streams require a dedicated channel for each user and can easily overload the network. Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, are good candidates for LTE Multicast.

AT&T, Verizon and Dish networks all own 700 MHz frequencies and are likely to utilize those frequencies for LTE broadcast.

Verizon has 98% of the country covered with LTE, with some 55% of customers now on it, generating almost 79% of the company’s data usage.

Other technologies, such as Qualcomm’s defunct MediaFLO, DVB-H, ATSC-M/H
or ISDB-Tmm, use a dedicated television channel to transmit data. LTE Multicast uses cellular channels so no special antenna or tuner is required.

Tablet TV offers a free over the air DVR-type service jointly financed by Granite Broadcasting and Motive Television, a London-based television software and services company. Rechargeable “T-Pods” capture the over-the-air digital TV signals and retransmit them to tablets using their own Wi-Fi signal. They are nearing a beta launch in the Bay area. Tablet TV will allow users to watch and record live over-the-air HDTV signals and will also allow on-demand packages for downloading in conjunction with local broadcasters—all without a cellular connection.

South Korea’s KT Corp. launched the first commercial service in January of this year and remains the only operator with an actual commercial service. Now, however, it’s joined by operators in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK and the US, all of which are at least trialing the technology currently.

During the World Cup, Brazil welcomed over 1.5 million tourists and over 3.3 million fans watched the games live. They used smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even smart watches and glasses to access the Internet, updating Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and WeChat. They shared in real time every twist and turn of each game by uploading pictures and video clips or chatting.

Streaming television to multiple users may seem like it has limited appeal in the age of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. But perhaps streaming providers could, in essence, create their own “networks” by leasing cellular channels for wireless delivery.

LTE Multicast may come into its own for data delivery. Imagine multi-player games played on a massive scale. Amazon’s purchase of Twitch this week for nearly $1 billion, a case in point.

In addition to the shared transmission capability, the two-way capability of the eMBMS system allows users to dynamically interact with the broadcast network.

Parks Associates said about 61 percent of all U.S. homes with high-speed Internet own at least one tablet, and found that the weekly video viewing time on tablets has increased from an average of a half hour in 2012 to 1.3 hours this year.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Australia’s Telstra Tests LTE Broadcast, Dish Network’s 700 MHz Spectrum, Dish: Lower 700MHz Power Ups Speculation, AT&T Gets Heat on MediaFLO Spectrum, LTE Broadcast Mobilizes at MWC, H.265 Gets Real, Aereo Vs LTE Broadcast: Fight!, Mobile Video on Diet with Social Graph, DIAL: Smart TV App Browses for Movies, Mobile: The New Television, Verizon & AT&T Launch Targeted Advertising CBS Helps Launch Dish Hopper with Sling, What is Miracast?,Mobile TV at NAB 2012, Mobile TV Handsets: Two Flavors

Amazon Buys Twitch for $1 Billion

Amazon today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Twitch Interactive, the leading live video platform for gamers for approximately $970 million in cash.

Google was in talks to acquire Twitch for more than $1 billion. But Google did not close the deal on anti-trust fears, according to Forbes. Google already owns YouTube, the world’s most-visited content streaming site, which competes with Twitch to broadcast and stream live or on-demand video game sessions.

It’s one of Amazon’s biggest deals. Twitch lets users watch other users play video games. Content on Twitch can either be viewed live, or viewed on an on-demand basis.

Amazon says more than 55 million unique visitors viewed more than 15 billion minutes of content on Twitch produced by more than 1 million broadcasters, including individual gamers, pro players, publishers, and stadium-filling esports organizations.

“Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

Twitch is by far the leading live-streaming site in the United States, at over 43% for all live-streaming traffic by volume, more than ESPN, Major League Baseball, and the WWE combined. In February 2014, The Wall Street Journal ranked Twitch as the 4th largest website in terms of peak internet traffic in the U.S.

Twitch launched in June 2011 to focus exclusively on live video for gamers. Twitch really took off when it struck deals with Microsoft and Sony to power live streaming on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 consoles. Twitch is used for both live and on-demand distribution for the entire video game industry, including game developers, publishers, events, and user generated content.

Electronic sports (or esports) is a term for organized video game competitions, especially between professionals. The International e-Sports Federation is a global organisation based in South Korea that attempts to get Electronic Sports recognized as a legitimized sport.

Tour de France 2014

The 101st Tour de France (NY Times, Wikipedia and Twitter), began on Saturday July 5, 2014 and continues until July 27, 2014.

The 21-stage race began in Yorkshire, U.K., and stretches across Europe including Spain and Belgium. The race spans a total of 3,664 kilometers (or approximately 2277 miles).

Some 3.5 billion people watch some part of the 4,700 hours of television coverage. It’s the most-watched sports event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Unlike the other two, the Tour de France does not stay put in a few stadiums.

Broadcasting live to more than 180 countries from 21 stages over the course of a month is one of the most difficult challenges in broadcasting. Almost 200 riders compete over huge distances, many of which snake up and down isolated mountain passes.

This year they have experimented with fitting small cameras to riders, even though the footage can only be accessed after the race. Virgin Media used Siklu’s tiny Gigabit 60GHz radio for backhauling WiFi hotspots in Leeds, England.

Orange, a French communications multinational supplied infrastructure for the event. Cycling fans can follow live each of the stages directly on their PCs via the Orange portal. There are lots of apps, of course, on the Google Play and Apple’s Appstore

Fans have been risking life and limb to snap a selfies at the 2014 Tour.

Comcast’s NBC is charging $4.99 a day for live coverage.

Every morning, 25 engineers start building a communications headquarters from scratch, based in four trucks that travel from town to town. One truck is for the press, the second for photographers, and the third for broadcasters. The fourth truck is the heart of the communications infrastructure for the world’s media. The Orange Event trucks connect fiber to the France Telecom network and via satellites.

The feed is sent to one of two identical trucks provided by Orange, which provides all the communications infrastructure for the Tour. It is piped into high-bandwidth fiber optic lines and sent back to France, from where it is beamed to 185 countries and broadcast live with a delay of less than a second. Networks can add their own commentary on top.

Orange in partnership with EuroMedia France (formerly SFP), manages the Tour’s TV broadcasting.

EuroMedia provides motorcycle cameras, helicopters and aircraft in order to ensure broadcast (especially in the mountains). Images from motorcycle cameras are transmitted via high-frequency links to helicopters flying at 600 meters altitude that then retransmit them to aircraft flying at 3000 meters.

The aircraft then broadcast the image to the town where the finish line is located, via 4 HF aerials mounted on a crane 50 meters up. Out of the 4 aerials, 2 are used exclusively to receive images, while the other 2 are used to coordinate helicopters and motorcycle cameras with the production team.

Coverage of the race inside the 1750 m long Croix-Rousse tunnel in Lyon was made possible thanks to the special receiver system installed inside the tunnel.

NBC has online coverage of the Tour de France. Live video is shown in the upper left, but one can toggle the video to full screen.

The text column on the right has frames showing the peloton and other rider groups and a curated, Twitter-like news feed. The graphic frame at the bottom has five optional modes.

Orange telecom customers can access exclusive content on their mobile phones and tablet. Orange launched LTE-A this month in select cities, utilizing carrier aggregation encompassing frequencies in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, which will provide downlink transmission speeds of up to 75Mbps (800MHz) and 150Mbps (2600MHz) respectively, to deliver a combined download rate of 225Mbps.

Orange is installing Ericsson RBS 6000 base stations in Paris, as well as in the south-west and north-east regions of France. Orange plans to deploy LTE-A in early 2015 in 14 of the most densely populated cities, and expand outward. Orange expects 4G roaming will be available across Orange’s European footprint by the end of 2014.

The announcement came on the back of the commercial launch of rival Bouygues Telecom’s LTE-A network in Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Vanves, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Malakoff and Rosny-sous-Bois in June. It aggregates frequencies in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands. Residential users can access the LTE-A network using the Bbox Nomad mobile hotspot (above).

France is forecast to hit 10 million LTE connections within five years, accounting for close to one in eight of the country’s total connections by 2017.

More Tour de France news is available from Cycling News, BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, Reddit’s Page, NBC Facebook page and NBC’s $15 app. Digital Trends explains how to watch the 2014 Tour de France.

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.”

YouTube Buying Twitch for $1B?

Google’s YouTube has reached a deal to buy Twitch, a popular videogame-streaming company, for more than $1 billion, according to sources familiar with the pact.

The deal, in an all-cash offer, is expected to be announced imminently, according to Variety. If completed the acquisition would be the most significant in the history of YouTube, which Google acquired in 2006 for $1.65 billion.

Microsoft and others have reportedly made serious offers, but YouTube was deemed the better fit. Twitch would probably not want to tie the service to Xbox, as it’s embedded in Sony’s rival PlayStation console as well.

San Francisco-based Twitch.tv lets users upload and watch free, live gameplay videos that can be streamed from Microsoft Xbox and PlayStation 4 consoles.

Initially available on PC, Twitch claims about 45 million visitors to its site each month, with more than 1 million members who upload videos each month. It also has deals to distribute shows from partners including CBS Interactive’s GameSpot, Joystiq and Destructoid.