Amazon will develop Fire phone sequels despite the first’s failures

Amazon’s Fire phone has been doing so badly on the market, that the company took a $170 million hit in the third quarter of 2014 and is currently sitting on $83 million worth of unsold devices. But even all those millions aren’t enough to make the retailer throw in the towel — Amazon SVP of Devices David Limp told Fortune that the execs are moving forward with their plans to develop and release more phones in the future. According to Limp, the company blames the Fire phone’s originally steep pricing for its failure to sell. In fact, the 32GB model used to cost $200 on contract until Amazon was forced to drop its price to just 99 cents in September.

Limp said:

We didn’t get the price right. I think people come to expect a great value, and we sort of mismatched expectations. We thought we had it right. But we’re also willing to say, ‘we missed.’ And so we corrected.

He also pointed out that the first Kindle was just as critically panned when it came out, but that the product evolved into something a lot of people love — a scenario Amazon wants to replicate with the Fire phone. While Limp didn’t get into specifics about future models, he said that the company will continue releasing new software features for the current handset. Amazon hopes to learn from people’s reactions to these software updates and to get their devices “better and better” in the process.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/amazon-fire-phone-sequels/?ncid=rss_truncated

Oh, the irony: Facebook works on the world’s biggest anonymity network

Facebook, the site where people share their entire personal lives for everyone to gawp at, is now available on the anonymity network that’s designed to do precisely the opposite. Follow this link in your Tor browser and you’ll be able to tell friends you’re at the Park Row Starbucks without the feds finding out where you are. Until now, Facebook saw Tor’s global network of proxies as a malicious botnet, making it difficult for people to poke each other under cover of darkness. With this experiment, however, users can connect directly to Facebook’s core infrastructure, providing end-to-end communication straight into one of the company’s data centers. At the moment, Facebook’s olive branch to the privacy mob is just an experiment, but software engineer Alex Muffett hopes that even the mobile site will be accessible in the same way.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/facebook-is-on-tor-whut/?ncid=rss_truncated

Starbucks’ new app will let you skip the line and sort delivery

Love your morning coffee break, but hate having to wait in line amongst the masses? Well, Starbucks will allow you to skip the line entirely with its new app. Just place your order via that trusty smartphone, and you’ll be able to walk in and pick it up. Of course, the company’s mobile software sorts payments too, which certainly helps expedite the process. What’s more, plans for a delivery option are in the works for folks who belong to its loyalty program — but only in select markets. “Imagine the ability to create a standing order of Starbucks delivered hot to your desk daily,” CEO Howard Schultz said. “That’s our version of e-commerce on steroids.” The new version of the bean-slinging mobile app is set to arrive in December, beginning with Portland, Oregon before a nation-wide rollout in 2015.

[Image credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/starbucks-app-line-skipping-delivery/?ncid=rss_truncated

Virginia court says fingerprint-locked smartphones are fair game

Here’s some trivia for your next trip to the pub. Did you know that, in Virginia, you don’t have to tell the cops your phone’s unlock code, but you’re obliged to open it if you use a fingerprint based passcode? It’s a quirky piece of legal precedent that’s just been established in the state after a key piece of legal evidence was believed to be trapped on the defendant’s smartphone. According to The Virginian-Pilot, the court ruled that the fifth amendment’s provisions against self-incrimination protect against giving up your passcode, but that since a fingerprint is already taken by the police – same as DNA or handwriting samples – it’s fair game. Naturally, this is just one circuit court judgment in one state, but we imagine this is the sort of thing winding up at the supreme court in a few years time.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/virginia-fingerprint-security-fair-game-cops/?ncid=rss_truncated

Microsoft releases new Outlook for Mac to Office 365 subscribers

Already using Office 365 on your Mac? Well, if you fancy Microsoft’s email software too, you’re in luck. The new version of Outlook for Mac is now available to the aforementioned subscribers, and it carries a smattering of new features. Aside from the usual performance boosts, there’s a tweaked UI to bolster productivity, online archive support for Exchange searches, Master Category List syncing across platforms and more. In addition to that app, the company also mentioned that it plans to release a public beta for the next version of Office for Mac in early 2015, with the official arrival planned for the second half of the year. And as you might expect, Office 365 customers will get the new goods as part of the paid plan.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/outlook-for-mac/?ncid=rss_truncated

Sky could soon launch its own mobile network with help from Vodafone

When BT finally gets round to launching its own-brand mobile network running on EE’s 4G infrastructure, it’ll join Virgin Media and TalkTalk as a provider of all four main telecoms services: TV, internet, fixed-line telephone and mobile. This would leave Sky as the only rival telecoms company without a mobile offering, but a new trial with Vodafone suggests it, too, could be adding mobile to its product portfolio in the near future. As Mobile Today reports, 200,000 allegedly “handpicked” Sky customers were offered Vodafone’s services as part of trial launched last month. It’s not unreasonable, then, to hypothesize that this is the preliminary stages of Sky launching its own MVNO based on Vodafone’s network.

The two companies already have a working relationship, with Sky Sports Mobile TV one of the optional perks bundled with Vodafone’s 4G tariffs. While an MVNO partnership is still just speculation, Sky’s CEO Jeremy Darroch hasn’t exactly been subtle about how close the pair could potentially become. Speaking recently about the company’s latest financial results, he said the alliance “could grow into something more meaningful,” and commenting on BT’s impending mobile launch, he declared: “If an opportunity arises we are well placed to respond.” Kinda sounds like a done deal already.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/sky-vodafone-mvno/?ncid=rss_truncated

AT&T and Verizon are upping bandwidth on select data plans

These days we could all use a little more mobile bandwidth, and the folks at ATT and Verizon are giving us some. Let’s break it down, shall we? If you’re on an ATT single-line plan or have two to three devices, the company is now offering 3GB of data as opposed to the prior 2GB for $40 per month. And now, the carrier’s $70 tier will net you 6GB of bandwidth instead of 4GB. This new allocation starts November 2nd, and as Gigaom points out, the double-data promo for higher-tier plans runs until November 15th. Verizon has a sorta similar deal going, but it’s for plans that have higher bandwidth to start. Big Red is bumping its $80 per-month customers from 6GB to 10GB and the previous 10GB, $100 per-month tier is getting a bump to 15GB of data. This is apparently a limited-time offer, but, hey, at least it extends to both new and existing customers starting this Saturday.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/atandt-and-verizon-are-upping-bandwidth-on-select-data-plans/?ncid=rss_truncated

Researchers find a way to listen in on vehicular vibrations

The steady flow of vehicles is noisy enough as it is, but it also gives off a type of noise the human ear can’t hear: seismic noise, or the vibration of the ground. Thus, vibrations given off by cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes on the runway among other modes of transportation haven’t really been studied in depth — until now. A team of researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have recently found a way to “hear” those vibrations using 5,300 geophones, screwdriver-like devices used to record ground movements. They placed a geophone every 300 feet in Long Beach for their study and soon realized that thanks to the devices, they could count airplanes and measure their acceleration on the runway and even detect larger vehicles like trucks on a highway. In the future, the same method could be used to monitor traffic, which could then lead to better roads and more road signals where they’re most needed.

[Image credit: Vincent_St_Thomas/Getty]

http://www.engadget.com/2014/11/01/seismic-noise-scripps/?ncid=rss_truncated

Not really into the iPhone 6? Sprint lets you rent the Galaxy S5, too

If you prefer to carry Samsung’s most recent handset instead of that newfangled iPhone 6, Sprint is now offering the Android option for lease. Until now, the carrier allowed customers to rent Apple’s phone for $20 a month for two years. After that, you can either continue service month-to-month or send it in for something new. It’ll be interesting to see how popular the option is with a phone that’s been out for a bit, but the Galaxy S5 Sport is available for lease, too. If you’re on the fence, or have a tight budget, Sprint’s unlimited everything plan is $10 per month cheaper for iPhone 6 users/lessees.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/sprint-gs5-lease/?ncid=rss_truncated

Google Play Movies & TV arrives on Roku devices

If you’ve committed your streaming dollars to one of Roku’s recent offerings, you’re about to get access to a load of new content. The company announced today that Google Play Movies TV is now available in its Channel Store for folks in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada. Similar to the mobile app, pausing when an actor is on screen will allow you to bring up his or her name via those handy Info Cards. You know, in case you’re having trouble remembering. Mountain View’s library of film and television episodes is accessible from current-gen gadgets (that’s all devices after June 2011) now, and support for Roku TV is on the way.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/31/roku-google-play/?ncid=rss_truncated