AOL Launches PLAY By AOL For The Kindle Fire


Kindle Fire owners take note: Aol, TechCrunch’s not-so-evil overlord, has a new app for you. Aol just released a retooled version of PLAY By Aol specifically for the Kindle Fire. This reskinned app is optimized for the Fire’s 7-inch 600×1024 screen. Everything from the layout to the iconography to the cover art was redone to look as good as possible on the Fire.

Like the other versions of PLAY, this music app puts the device’s on-board MP3 collection into an immersion environment. While it features a media player, the entire app is built to provide an experience not traditionally found in a simple player including social features and the ability to share songs on Twitter, Facebook, and the PLAY network. Plus, PLAY features a SHOUTcast player with access to 55,000+ stations.

Spiritual guru and AOL Mobile First Senior Director Sol Lipman said in a released statement today, “The Kindle Fire can’t get much more awesome, but somehow we made beautiful babies together with PLAY. It’s the best social music experience on the Fire, and I say that because I’m only mostly unbiased. Look, just stop reading and go try it.”

Aol released the Android and iOS versions of PLAY last summer. Since then the app has been downloaded 1 million times. The Kindle Fire version is the first edition of the app made specifically for a larger screen.

The app costs $.99 on the Amazon App Store or there is an ad-supported version available as well.

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Motorola’s Xoom Wi-Fi Tablets Now Receiving Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean Update

motorola xoom

Move over, Nexus 7 — you’re not the only Jelly Bean-powered Android tab in town anymore. According to a handful of Droid-Life tipsters, it appears that Motorola’s aging XOOM tablet is finally getting its crack at Google’s latest and greatest dessert-themed OS update.

The process has been in the works for about two or three days now, with selected members of Motorola’s Feedback Network receiving the Android 4.1.1 build for soak testing earlier this week. At this point, the floodgates seem to have opened, though not every XOOM owner will be able to enter the fray just yet.

You see, the build currently making the rounds is meant only for the U.S. Wi-Fi model, and there’s no word on when Verizon-flavored XOOMs will get their update. Some folks on the xda-developer forums are holding out hope for a widespread release sometime before the month is out, but still others have a more pessimistic outlook — the Verizon XOOM only got its Ice Cream Sandwich update last month, while Wi-Fi models received it all the way back in January. On top of that, Verizon has been taking the slow approach to pushing out updates for its LTE-capable Galaxy Nexus while the GSM versions are already able to nab Jelly Bean over the air. C’est la vie, I suppose.

While 4G XOOM owners bemoan their choice of hardware, the rest of you can pop into the device’s settings and check for the new update. Don’t fret if it doesn’t appear immediately — some users have reported success in forcing the update by clearing the Google Services Framework (Settings/Apps/All/Google Services Framework/Clear Data) first. It may take a few tries, but it should be smooth sailing from there once that little hiccup is taken care of.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Google Search Gets New Interactive Weather Widget On iOS And Android Tablets


Here is a small but nifty update to Google’s search interface on tablets (both iOS and Android): just search for [weather] and a new tablet-optimized weather widget will show you the current weather at your location (or anywhere else if you add a city’s name or ZIP code to your search), as well as hourly and ten-day forecasts for temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind speed. Google officially confirmed this update on Google+ earlier today.

The new widget looks like the developers took their design cues from Android’s new Google Now feature. Earlier this year, Google launched a similar widget for iPhone and Android phones as well, but its design is significantly different and the feature set is limited to a three- or five-day forecast depending on the size and orientation of your screen. Just like the new tablet widget, though, the phone interface is also interactive.

Interestingly, the desktop version of Google Search currently features the least informative weather widget. On the desktop, all you get is a basic three-day forecast without any interactivity. Instead, the search results link to The Weather Channel, Weather Underground (which The Weather Channel acquired earlier this month) and AccuWeather.

A Bit Of Google Now In Your Search?

Chances are that Google will sooner or later bring these different interfaces together.

It’s worth noting that the tablet interface uses a very similar layout and the same minimalist icons as Google Now, the company’s new opt-in contextual search utility. Google Now automatically learns from your search behavior and other clues to displays relevant weather data, upcoming calendar appointments, scores for sports teams you’ve search for, traffic conditions for your daily commute and more.

For now, these features are just available on Jelly Bean. Looking at the design of this new widget, it’s hard not to think that some of these features could slowly be making their way over to Google Search as well, starting with the overall look and feel.

TechCrunch » android

Research: Samsung Has Sold 10M Galaxy S3′s, But ‘iPhone 5′ Still The Most-Wanted Phone

iphone 5 demand changewave

You know a brand is doing something right when people go a little crazy for its products even before they’ve been announced. A new survey out from 451 Research/ChangeWave on consumer smartphone sentiment found that Apple’s iPhone 5 — whatever that may turn out to be — is seeing an “unprecedented” wave of advance demand — higher than any other iPhone model has had before, with 14 percent of respondents saying they were “very likely” to buy the iPhone 5. In contrast, the S3 from Samsung, got a 2 percent “very likely” response from users planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days. The news comes one day after Samsung noted it has passed 10 million in Galaxy S3 devices in the two months since launch in other markets.

Apple is likely to launch a new smartphone later this year, the 451/ChangeWave researchers note, and that will put it in a perfect position to take advantage of what they believe will be a high-water mark for smartphone purchases. Samsung will also reap some benefits, it notes, although that will be proportionate to weaker demand for its brand. The rest of the competitive lineup may not fare so well.

“Overall smartphone sales should spike to an all-time high this fall, and of course Apple is going to be the number one beneficiary,” notes Dr. Paul Carton, 451 / ChangeWave’s VP of Research. “But besides Apple, and to a lesser degree Samsung, no other manufacturer is likely to benefit from this coming wave of demand.”

Among those other results, overall demand for Nokia is now at 2 percent, up one point from March. Demand for Motorola is now at 4 percent overall, down two percentage points since March. And HTC and RIM were unchanged, respectively at 3 percent and 2 percent — with the latter “all-time low” for RIM.

ChangeWave’s survey canvassed opinion from 4,042 mainly North American buyers in June 2012. In addition to finding that 14 percent of consumers said they were “very likely” to buy an iPhone 5, a further 17 percent said they were “somewhat likely to buy it in the future. As a point of comparison, when the same questions were asked about the iPhone 4s before it launched, 10 percent said they were very likely; and 11.5 percent said they were somewhat likely to buy it. And that’s for a device that is now “considered the most successful smart phone release in history,” Carton notes. The numbers for those “unlikely” to buy the device also went down:

What’s interesting is that ChangeWave doesn’t take into account that before the iPhone 4S launched, many thought it would be the fabled iPhone 5 — when in reality it physically looked exactly the same as the iPhone 4, and had much of the same functionality — with one notable exception being the addition of the Siri voice assistant. So what we may be seeing here is an increased, pent-up demand from people who have actually held off from buying the iPhone 4S in anticipation of a major update and upgrade.

But that’s not to say that Samsung is not doing very well, too. ChangeWave notes that in fact it has been seeing a four-fold surge in demand for Samsung since March — at a time when Android competitors like HTC and Motorola have been more challenged.

ChangeWave puts Samsung’s recent rise down to positive reactions to the S3, which features a bigger screen, more processing power, a better camera and 4G capabilities.

That popularity was spelled out yesterday by Shin Jong-kyun, president of Samsung’s information technology and mobile communication division, who yesterday told reporters that the S3 had passed the 10-million sales mark since launching at the beginning of June. The Yonhap news agency, which quoted Shin, worked this out to sales of 190,000 daily, with sales potentially reaching 40 million by the end of the year.

Still, even with that momentum, it’s not registering at the same level of hype as Apple’s iPhone 5, as evidenced by these two comparative charts that measure “advance” demand for both devices.

A key difference here, which should be noted, is that while Apple has yet to any anything official on its next iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was launched months ago, and so people who are being canvassed would have already known more about what the device had (or didn’t have) when responding — even if the phone had yet to hit the market. In the case of the iPhone 5, ChangeWave says that it presented respondents with a description of “probable” features for the device.

Those included a larger screen, better camera, new OS and 4G capability.

Both the Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5 will likely be sold at the same price points — currently the S3 goes for $199 for the 16GB model on a two-year contract.

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook Air) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod, the…

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Hands-On With The Braun BN0106 High-End Digital Watch


Most people in America know Braun as the maker of some kitchen and bathroom items such as coffee makers and electric shavers. They also make clocks and watches. A new piece from the German brand recently won a Red Dot design award and is produced in collaboration with a clever watch designer from the quirky brand Ventura.

Neo-Bauhaus in fashion, the BN0106 is an experiment in avant garde minimalism. It offers a defined, yet hard to summarize look that ends up being quite comfortable to wear. Nevertheless, the piece is quite polarizing for watch lover. The Braun BN0106 isn’t too pricy in the scheme of designer watches, but is probably one of the more expensive digital watches you’ll come across maxing out at $ 800.

For that you get a unique design, high-quality negative LCD display, and a scroll-wheel style function selector that you’ll not find on watches aside from this Braun and Ventura timepieces.

You can see more images, video, and read a full review of the Braun BN0106 here.

TechCrunch » Gadgets