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Barnes and Noble Gives Nook More Features, and Games!

nook Bestofthebest f1 490x219 Barnes and Noble Gives Nook More Features, and Games!Whether we like it or not, we have to give Apple some credit for releasing its magical iPad tablet. Despite its shortcomings and minor flaws the iPad has managed to stir up the otherwise sleeping tablet computer industry and the e-reader market. Several brands are now in a rush to come up with something better than than the iPad.

For Barnes and Noble it’s much easier to do this because Nook is already out even before the iPad hit the market. So, what B&N can do right now is update Nook’s features and make it a better e-reader than the iPad. And it is doing this right now as it announces some new features for Nook such as Read In Store and the addition of some games that Nook owners can play on their device. These were made possible via a software update to v1.3.

The beta Read in Store feature allows Nook owners you to read ebooks while your inside a Barnes & Noble store. You Nook will automatically connect to the Nook online bookstore and let you read titles from the B&N online bookstore even if the books are physically out of stock. While inside the store, you can read ebooks up an hour per day. B&N also plans to make some current edition newspapers and magazines available for in-store reading soon.

“Our digital customers will feel at home in our stores with Read In Store, which puts a digital spin on the popular Barnes & Noble bookstore experience that millions of our customers enjoy each day. At no cost, NOOK customers can browse through our robust collection of digital content while enjoying their favorite beverage in our café,” said Tony Astarita, Vice President, Digital Products, Barnes & Noble.com.

In addition to these, Barnes & Noble has also included new games and other entertainment features to Nook including Chess and Soduku.

While the Nook v1.3 software update includes the following new features and enhancements:

  • improved page turn speed, enhanced color touch screen navigation, faster access to previously opened eBooks  and more
  • high-speed connectivity to more hotspots
  • built-in web browser
  • updated homescreen

Nook v1.3 is available to download from www.nook.com/update or you may want to wait for automatic update in the coming weeks.

Facebook Begins its Digital World Domination

facebook1 490x275 Facebook Begins its Digital World Domination

There’s a lot of things going on right now at the Facebook camp, coinciding with their f8 Developer’s Conference. But with the several new things that Facebook unveiled today, one thing is certain, Mark Zuckerberg and his gang is out to conquer the social digital world. You still got time, either you opt-in or opt-out now.

Facebook’s plan of dominating the digital world is a three-point attack right now. This is only its initial salvo. I’m pretty sure there are more to come. In the meantime, let’s take at look at these three strategies which were just announced at the f8 gig.

Docs for Facebook

Zuckerberg knows quite well that Google has already dominated the search dominion and it would take a lot of effort to beat Google into this game. So, why not attack something which Google is starting to dominate – the cloud computing space. Enter Docs for Facebook, which interestingly Facebook is launching in cooperation with Microsoft.

Simply put, Docs for Facebook is like Google Docs, only this time it’s main focus is document collaboration and sharing within the Facebook ecosystem and not just anywhere else.  Docs for Facebook is pretty simple right now. You can create documents or upload existing ones and then share it with your Facebook friends, via Facebook and within Facebook.  Can it give Google Docs a run for its money? We’ll know soon enough, once it becomes available to the public.

Facebook’s Take on Social Recommendation with Yelp

Gowalla and Foursqure might have something to be worried about.  Facebook is finally taking the social recommendation, location-aware social networking space for a spin. And it brought along Yelp, Gowalla and Foursquare’s fiercest rivals.

With the Facebook and Yelp partnership, you will be able to see which among your Facebook friends have reviewed a business and read their reviews. You can also find out who among your friends have like a particular business as well as  view feed of what your friends are doing.

Facebook and Pandora Spike Up the Social Music Sphere

There’s not much details yet about how Facebook and Pandora are teaming up. But one thing is for sure, MySpace which has been dominating the social music niche has something to be worried about.  All we know is that when you log in to Facebook and go to Pandora for the first time, the music site can immediately start playings songs from bands you’ve liked across the web. It will also show you friends who also like the same songs as you while you are playing or listening to a music.

There you go, three major strategies that will trigger the start of Facebook’s digital world domination. Are you ready for it?

Boxee Brings NHL Game Center Live to its Updated Service in Beta

NHL GameCenter Live Home Screen 300x187 Boxee Brings NHL Game Center Live to its Updated Service in BetaFor those of you who are currently using Boxee, which is currently in beta have a reason to rejoice as Boxee announced two new exciting features of its service. First is that NHL GameCenter LIVE is now available on Boxee.  If you are subscribed to this service on a monthly or annual basis, you can now enjoy watching great Hockey games and fights in HD mode on Boxee.

The other part of Boxee’s exciting announcement is related to updates to its service which is currently in beta mode. The latest version of Boxee beta has some interesting new features such as the following:

File Identification Progress – This feature lets you to easily see how many files Boxee is scanning, has identified, and doesn’t recognize in your media collection.  You can check the status of its media from any menu sidebar or from the Media settings menu.

Manual Movie and TV Show Identification – This feature lets you tell Boxee what’s in your media collection. It allows you to change incorrectly labeled files, find and identify unresolved files and select files to label them correctly.

Facebook & Twitter in your Boxee feed – Boxee Beta now lets you see recommendations from your Facebook and Twitter friends and contacts within Boxee. You can see shared videos in your feed with an icon on the right that tells you where they are from.

New & Improved RSS Management - The new version of Boxee Beta also now lets you better manage, discover and play RSS feeds in Boxee. You can search, arrange by category or sort through the most popular, top rated, new and HD feeds available on your Boxee account. You can then use the RSS feeds app to play back your favorites.

Bug Fixes and Fixes and Fixes, and Fixes! – Of course, just like any other version updates, the new Boxee Beta has addressed hundreds of bugs and issued various fixes to these.

Kindle for iPad Available Now, Looks Better than the Original Kindle Interface

Screen shot 2010 04 03 at 8.34.28 AM 490x322 Kindle for iPad Available Now, Looks Better than the Original Kindle Interface

Over at the Daily Bits, I was just discussing about how the iPad can possibly kill the Amazon Kindle, partly because of  the iPad’s rich, colorful display as against the Kindle’s boring grey e-ink display. You want another proof? How about checking the iPad App Store and searching for Kindle for iPad?

Yes folks, Amazon’s Kindle for iPad app is now part of the growing list of early iPad apps releases just in time for the release of the iPad tomorrow. And boy does it look’s awesome? Indeed! Just take a look at the sample screenshots provided on the app’s page on the iPad App Store.

Kindle for iPad features a rich, colorful, and vibrant main app page. Displaying book covers in full color against the old-familiar blue Kindle theme.

Feature-wise, it’s pretty much the same Kindle mobile app for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Mac and PC.

Additional features made specifically for the iPad include:

  • new beautiful interface, tailored to the size, look and feel of the iPad
  • new home library view with pinch, zoom, and scrolling support
  • new page turning animation
  • adjustable screen brightness

Kindle for iPad also supports Amazon’s Whispersync that automatically syncs your last page read , bookmark, notes, and highlights across all of your devices.  The app also lets you purchase e-books from the Kindle Bookstore which you can also use these e-books on your other Kindle apps.

Obviously, Kindle for App does not recommend the iBookstore so it’s either you use Kindle for iPad or the iBooks from getting your e-book fix on your iPad.

Wall Street Journal Offers $17.89 Monthly Subscription for iPad Owners

Screen shot 2010 04 03 at 5.56.26 AM Wall Street Journal Offers $17.89 Monthly Subscription for iPad OwnersWall Street Journal is also diving into the iPad frenzy with a not-so-hard to reject offer for iPad owners. A monthly subscription to the Wall Street Journal delivered to your iPad for a whooping $17.89 monthly fee.

So what do you get after paying that amount? In addition to the freely available WSJ content such as top articles and market data, the paid subscription model to WSJ will also give you access to subscriber-only content including Business and Markets, access to 7-day downloadable archive, personalization and saving features.

Sounds good, right?  Indeed, it is if you’re daily news fare rely heavily on the Wall Street Journal. But as Engadget noted, it may not seem to be cheaper offer though. This is because of the fact that it would only cost you $11.65 to subscribe to both print and online versions of WSJ.

Still, if you don’t mind spending that much for the rightful access to Wall Street Journal Premium content delivered to your brand new iPad, the WSJ iPad subscription seems like a good offer.  I mean, can you just imagine the envy of your colleagues as you read the WSJ from your iPad while waiting for the board meeting to start? You’re earning more than enough anyway so that extra cost shouldn’t matter.

So, what are you waiting for, subscribe to the Wall Street Journal via the iPad now. Click this link to get you started.

Netflix for iPad Lets You Stream Movies and TV Shows on iPad

Screen shot 2010 04 03 at 5.29.41 AM 489x322 Netflix for iPad Lets You Stream Movies and TV Shows on iPad

Right now if you take a look at Techmeme.com, half of the news aggregators page is occupied by news items about the iPad, most specifically about iPad applications. Even Internet giants such as Google is announcing something about their mobile services for the iPad.

For us here in 901am, one of the apps that caught our interest since we used to cover news items about it is – Netflix which also released its own native app for the iPad. Available now from the iTunes iPad App Store, Netflix for iPad lets you instantly watch an unlimited number of TV episodes and moviews streamed directly from Netflix to iPad. Streaming is free of charge for Netflix members on plans starting at $8.99/mo.

The Netflix App for iPad will deliver high-quality viewing experience of a broad array of movie and TV choices through a clean and intuitive interface. TV episodes and movies are organized into a various categories based on personal preferences, popular genres, new arrivals and members’ invidivual instant Queues.

Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said that his company is very excited about the Netflix app for iPad.

“The innovation and consumer appeal of iPad make it a perfect device for instantly watching TV episodes and movies streamed from Netflix,” said Reed Hastings.

If you’re a Netflix member and you bought the iPad, you may want to download the Netflix App for iPad from the iTunes iPad App Store. But wait since you don’t have your iPad yet, just take note of this app.  It’s a free app by the way.

Amazon Preps Up Kindle for iPad, Will Apple Approve It?

Screen shot 2010 03 23 at 5.23.38 AM 229x300 Amazon Preps Up Kindle for iPad, Will Apple Approve It?If you were Steve Jobs running Apple which is about to release a magical and revolutionary product that has one of its features going up against the Amazon Kindle, will you allow the Kindle application on the iPad apps store? I mean knowing pretty well that this will compete with the iPads iBooks application?

Well, it seems Amazon is hoping that Apple will not mind this at all. After all, the Kindle for iPhone and recently Kindle for Mac were approved. But the thing is the iPad iBooks is not yet fully operational and full operation will commence only as soon as the iPad is released to consumers.  Publishers are expected to get into the iPad frenzy, making sure that their e-book catalogs make it through the iBooks app store.

Still, there’s no harm in trying. After all Amazon was clever enough to market its upcoming Kindle app  not as specific to the iPad but for other tablets as well. Hence calling its Kindle Apps for Tablet.

Kindle Apps for Tablet will have the same features as the other iteration of the Kindle app. Be it for the iPhone, BlackBerry, PC or Mac. Specific for Tablets are some enhancement in the user interface including:

  • Tailored to the size, look, and feel of your tablet computer
  • Customize background color and font size to ease eye strain
  • Adjust screen brightness from within the app to make reading easier
  • Page turn animation replicates the look of turning a page in a book. Or choose Basic Reading Mode for a simpler and unadorned reading experience

So there, will you be getting your e-books from the Kindle Store once you get your iPad or will you stick to the plan and get it from the iBooks app store instead?

Apple iPad Will Magically Read E-Books Aloud

Screen shot 2010 03 13 at 6.55.23 AM 490x314 Apple iPad Will Magically Read E Books Aloud

As soon as Apple started accepting pre-orders for the iPad, the product page for one of its most important component, iBooks was also updated. It’s not really surprising that Apple will highlight the iPad’s e-book reading features especially since this is a hot market right now. And besides how good is a new Apple product if it doesn’t have a competitor to taunt? Sorry Kindle fans, but whether you like it or not, Apple is taking on the Kindle’s dominance in the e-book market.

Anyway, so what’s up with iPad and iBooks. Nothing much really, except for the fact that apparently the iPad can actually read e-books to you aloud.  Yes, I know Amazon Kindle has this. But we all know that this feature has been an issue before with the Kindle. So, it’s kind of surprising that Apple decided to have this feature in the iPad.

So, once the iPad starts rolling into the hands of those who pre-ordered it, expect some legal issues to arise once more. But I’m pretty sure Steve and his boys are more than ready for this.

In a related note, another indication that Apple is really prepping up the iPad as a fierce Kindle competitor is the fact that the device will be supporting e-books in EPUB format which will not be sold from the iBooks E-Bookstore. This simply means that you won’t be spending additional money to use your iPad as an e-book reader. You can practically load it up with free e-books that are freely available from various online sources.

This is a welcome feature and is good for both Apple and iPad users who are planning to use their iPad for e-book reading purposes. For Apple, it will be able to capture an already established market – the e-reader market. And for iPad owners, it’s one less cost.

Microsoft Launches the MSN Video Player in the UK, BBC iPlayer Rival

Screen shot 2010 03 11 at 5.27.53 AM 490x185 Microsoft Launches the MSN Video Player in the UK, BBC iPlayer Rival

When it comes to online video watching in the UK, the only service that I know of and keep on hearing and reading about is the BBC iPlayer.  This online video player has been dominating the UK online video scene for quite some time now without a worthy opponent. Until now, as Microsoft just launched its own MSN Video Player in the UK.

The free MSN Video Player is threatening BBC iPlayer’s dominance in the market because of several reasons. For one thing, it will also feature a thousand hours of television programming geared for the young market – youth, young families and professionals in the UK.

The free online video player will also allow viewers to watch full series of various TV shows instead of letting them watch shows a few days after they are aired on TV.

The MSN Video Player which has been in test mode for several months now will be offered for free and that includes watching the TV programs. However, users will be required to watch a single 30-second ad before, during and after a program’s run. If you’re from the UK and you don’t mind these ad setup, then say hello to countless hours of watching TV programmes on your computers.

Interestingly, the MSN Video Player was launched by Ashley Highfield, Microsoft’s consumer and online managing director who also happens to be one of those responsible for the creation of the BBC iPlayer. So Microsoft is hoping that its online video player will get the same success as the BBC iPlayer had.

Techmeme Intros Mediagazer, Media News Aggregator

Screen shot 2010 03 09 at 5.02.40 AM 490x362 Techmeme Intros Mediagazer, Media News Aggregator

From the same people behind tech news aggregator Techmeme comes a similar service called Mediagazer, aggregating your daily dose of media news. Mediagazer is backed by media companies such as WordPress, Seesmic, Zemanta and others.

So, if in your daily browsing of the Internet you encounter questions such as “What do news organizations need to do to survive?”,  ”Will books become extinct?”, “Can video bring television and the internet together?” and other questions regarding new or old media Mediagazer will organize them in a similar fashion as Techmeme. In other words, everything else that don’t fall under Techmeme, you can find it on Mediagazer.

Mediagazer is organized through the same technology and process as Techmeme, that is combining automated aggregation technologies with direct editorial input from human editors. The media news memetracker collects relevant takes on an issue and package these into group of links.

And just like Techmeme, Mediagazer also makes it easier to share headlines via a recently introduced “share” button. A mobile site is also up and running if  need to get your daily fix of media news  via smartphones on mediagazer.com/m or through mediagazer.com/mini for simpler phones.

So there, another site to monitor for daily news coverage. Hopefully, the human editors of Techmeme and Mediagazer will be able to distinguish clearly what should be aggregated on each of these news verticals and duplication of entries will not happen.  Otherwise, they  might as well combined these two aggregators later on.