Amazon gives Prime to everyone in Manchester-by-the-Sea

Good news for Amazon Prime Members!!!!

The online giant is offering a year of free membership to every home in Manchester-by-the-sea. The move underscores the advantage Amazon has by controlling virtually the entire pipeline for its movies. If it wants to boost viewership for a movie, it can offer freebies and discounts whenever it wants instead of negotiating with a third-party service. And of course, it has the luxury of using one of the world’s largest online stores as a billboard. Rivals like Netflix and Hulu could try similar promos, but they still wouldn’t have separate stores to use for marketing.

Also, this serves as a not-so-subtle reminder to studios that their titles may play second fiddle to Amazon’s on Prime Video. They won’t necessarily mind too much given that it’s a subscription service — this is usually the last stop for movies after they’ve exhausted downloads and physical sales, so any viewers they get tend to be icing on the cake. However, it might give pause to smaller outfits sincerely hoping for exposure and revenue through a Prime Video deal.

 

Netflix finally finds a way into China

Finally after spate of hurdles, Netflix has found the way to tap into the vast market.

According to recent reports, The Company has signed the license with the popular video streaming platform iQIYI.

iQIYI is a subsidiary of Chinese search engine Baidu.

After regulators last year Netflix blocked from operating in China. After that company decided that it would license content to local companies instead. The iQIYI deal is the first such agreement.

Licensing deals bring in modest revenue to content providers, but the world’s most populous nation is too big a market to pass up. IQIYI already has agreements with the BBC, Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate, among others.

The company is capitalizing on the growing number of Chinese consumers willing to pay for high-end content. Despite the widespread availability of pirated DVDs and illegally streamed TV shows and movies, iQIYI has managed to sign up more than 20 million subscribers to its service.

Western media and tech companies have been trying to crack China’s lucrative market for years. But content is heavily censored by Beijing, and many services, including Google and Facebook are blocked.

Last year, Apple’s iBooks and iTunes Movies services went offline less than seven months after they were launched. DisneyLife, which gave Chinese customers access to movies, shows, games and e-books via local partner Alibaba was also pulled.

“House of Cards” is one popular Netflix series that has already been streamed in mainland China after online video service Sohu bought exclusive rights to the show.

The political drama was a hit with Chinese viewers, reportedly including Wang Qishan, a powerful member of China’s Communist Party.

But then Beijing tightened its already strict censorship rules on foreign content, and Sohu was forced to pull the show from its lineup.

“House of Cards” — a show about political corruption and a national leader’s obsession with power at all costs — was notably absent from iQIYI’s statement on the new Netflix deal

Google Maps can remember where you parked on Android and iOS.

If you are among those who always forget where did they park the car, than this news is for them.

Google is coming up with a new feature. Google Map’s latest navigational update make things easier after you’ve arrived. App on Android and iOS will now remember where you parked the car once you reach your destination — and it’s literally a no-brainer to use on iOS.

You might be thinking how it will work? Here I tell you. If you are an Android user, than you need to simply tap the blue dot once they’ve parked and then hit “Save your parking” to drop a pin handily labeled “You parked here.” Tapping the pin label brings up another card where you can set a reminder to pay the parking meter, snap a picture of your parking space, share your car’s location or just jot down some parking notes.

Users on iOS will have a similar experience, but they won’t actually have to remember to drop a pin first. If your phone is connected to the car via Bluetooth or USB, Google Maps takes advantage of a feature built for Apple Maps to automatically tag your car’s location once your phone disconnects from the vehicle. The search giant baked a similar feature into older versions of its Google Now app on Android, but it worked using some GPS trickery and algorithmic guessing, so the new method is a more elegant (and much more accurate) solution. Of course, iOS users can also tap the “Parking location” label on the map to bring up or share their parking info and the card also includes Street View images of the nearby area, but you’ll have to set parking meter timers yourself.

Google Photos for iOS beams images to your TV with AirPlay

Google has been improving its Photos app for a while now, adding features like automatic white balance, compensation for wobbly video, social photo editing tools and even improving Apple’s own Live Photos. The one thing it’s been missing, however, is the ability to send your photos and videos to an Apple TV right from the app using AirPlay. That’s been remedied, though, with a new update that’s available to download right now from the App Store.

The Google Photos service and app came out in May 2015. Why it’s taken this long to be able to get those photos and videos to our big screen is beyond us. Sharing vacation videos and photos with a group of buddies is a ton of fun with AirPlay, and now you don’t have to leave the Google app to do so. If you’ve been waiting to go all-in with Google’s system for your visual media, it just might be time to do so.

Amazon is trying to be your one-stop subscription shop

Amazon’s subscription offerings go beyond Kindle Unlimited, Prime and its various add-ons. The retailer has offered magazine subscriptions for awhile too, and now the company has set up Subscribe with Amazon. It’s a hub that gives “subscription providers the ability to offer customers flexible pricing including introductory, monthly and annual pricing options, as well as the opportunity to explore offering Prime exclusive deals,” Amazon said in a press release.

The messaging on the customer-facing portal describes subscriptions as “fun to discover” and leverages the company’s reputation (“relax, we are always here for you”) and ease-of-use as key selling points. As for Prime-exclusive deals, right now you can pick up a free month of Dropbox Plus and two weeks of Amazon Rapids for free, among others.

The requirements seem pretty lax too. As a developer, all you need to get in on the program is to offer an app, website or software; have a US business address and sell a subscription that has recurring fees. Amazon takes the internet-standard 30 percent cut of a subscription’s first year, and that decreases to 15 percent if someone renews.

“You have full control over pricing, with the option to create different tiers of service, offer a free trial or set an introductory price,” according to the Subscribe with Amazon page. “Subscribe with Amazon is a self-service solution that allows you to make your digital subscription purchasable to millions of highly qualified shoppers who trust Amazon to be their primary shopping destination.”

That last line is the key here: Amazon is angling to be everyone’s goto stop for online shopping, and it’s going to use the subscription service to further push that.

Spotify lets thousands of indie labels limit free streaming

With an IPO looming, streaming music leader Spotify has been inking a number of new deals with record labels to ensure it has the content it needs to keep growing. The latest deal comes with Merlin, an agency that represents a swath of various independent record label around the world. In a press release today, Spotify noted that this new multi-year deal would keep ensure that Merlin’s music stayed available on Spotify, something it’ll certainly need going forward. All told, Merlin is the fourth-biggest music provider that Spotify works with, behind the three massive major labels.

But the biggest news from this new deal is that Merlin will also get to restrict new releases from Spotify’s free tier for up to two weeks. Spotify has historically fought long and hard against splitting up its catalog between free and paid users, but it finally relented when signing a new deal with Universal Music a few weeks ago. (Some would say it didn’t have a real choice in the matter anymore.) Now, it seems that two-week window is going to become the standard when new music hits Spotify.

With new deals set for Universal and Merlin, it’s likely we’ll see Sony Music and Warner Music Group also ink new contracts in the coming months. Given that Merlin is able to take advantage of what Spotify sneakily calls its “flexible release policy,” it’s likely that Sony and Warner will also get on board here — which means that basically all notable new releases won’t be immediately available to free users.

Labels represented by Merlin include electronic-focused Armada, Beggars Group (whose sub-labels feature notable artists like Adele, Alabama Shakes, The National, Pavement, Beck, The Strokes and many more), the legendary Seattle-based Sub Pop and the punk-focused Epitaph. If you’re a fan of those labels but aren’t paying for Spotify, be aware you’ll now have to be patient when looking for new releases

Apple has hired two people with intriguing backgrounds in the field of satellite technology: John Fenwick, the former head of Google’s spacecraft business, and Michael Trela, the ex-lead of Google’s satellite engineering group. Bloomberg reports the hires, citing people familiar with the matter.

Fenwick and Trela are apparently joining a team led by Dropcam founder Greg Duffy, though there’s no concrete information about their assignments at Apple. However, there’s precedent for a nascent satellite program: Technology industry giants including Facebook, SpaceX and Google are designing drones and satellites to deliver internet to rural regions of the world.

It wouldn’t be surprising for Apple to dive into this industry, too. After all, more internet users means more potential consumers. Of course, satellite technology can also be used in imaging, another area of interest for Apple as it expands its Maps service and starts dabbling with autonomous cars.

Microsoft has a plan to beat Chromebooks at their own game

Microsoft is holding an education-focused event on May 2nd, and speculation has indicated that we might see Windows 10 Cloud for the first time. The software is pegged as a low-resource platform that could compete with Google’s Chrome OS, which has been making big inroads in EDU markets recently. The latest indication of Microsoft’s plan to take Chromebooks on comes from Windows Central, which published a leaked spec sheet showing Windows 10 Cloud minimum specs and performance requirements as compared to Chromebooks.

Assuming this chart is accurate, it gives us a good idea of what sort of hardware we’ll be seeing from Windows 10 Cloud devices. The relatively modest specs include 4GB of RAM, a quad-core Celeron (or better) processor and either 32GB or 64GB of storage — that all sounds a lot like you’ll find in a Chromebook. Microsoft is looking to achieve “all-day” battery life for “most students” and super-short boot and wake from sleep times, as well.

What we’ve seen from Windows 10 Cloud suggests that machines running this new software will only work with Universal Windows Platform apps you get from the Microsoft Store — traditional Windows software will be out. But for a lot of students, that plus the many web-based apps and services out there will be enough to get a lot of work done. In any event, it looks like we’ll know more in less than two weeks, and we’ll be at Microsoft’s event to cover all the news.