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04.05.16 | 7:54 pm

Amazon’s new Kindle may come with a snazzy rechargeable case

The Kindle that Jeff Bezos teased yesterday could include a "protective case for extended battery life," judging by a Wall Street Journal report. It's unclear whether this is in fact the Kindle Bezos was talking about, but both parties referred to the device in question as an upscale product.

Also in the pipeline, according to the WSJ: a solar-powered battery case, allegedly dubbed "Sunkiss" internally. Talk about a head-scratcher. 

04.28.17 | 22 minutes ago

Sidewire, where the political elite chat, turns on reader reactions, hopes for the best

Sidewire, the chat app for newsmakers, is making its first big step towards integrating readers into these dialogues with the launch of Reactions. Sidewire readers, who have heretofore been limited to marking favorite comments with a heart, can now add one of four reactions (a smiley or angry emoji, and a question mark or exclamation point) as well as add a question or comment. The difference for Sidewire is that newsmakers will still control whether to include responses or inquiries. They will be able to decide whether and how much to pull reader participation into chat. "You don't have to see it unless you want to," says Sidewire CEO Andy Bromberg. Sidewire is celebrating Reactions today with several high-profile chats, including ones with the bestselling author of the Hillary Clinton campaign tell-all Shattered, Silicon Valley's darling House Rep. Ro Khanna, and former Democratic campaign vet Bob Shrum.

Bromberg says that the Sidewire community of political professionals, elected representatives, and journalists has seen an uptick in interest along with almost every other form of media covering the new Presidential administration. Reactions, then, is both a natural evolution and a big risk. As I learned when reporting on Sidewire last year, newsmakers like it because there aren't any trolls. Readers could become disillusioned if they feel their voices aren't being heard and included. Sidewire has built a very civil, engaged community of pros talking to each other; now we'll find out if the audience is as professional.

04.28.17 | an hour ago

It’s Friday, so why not apply for a membership to Mar-a-Lago?

If you're looking to play a few rounds of golf and hobnob with the president this summer, today is your lucky day. A new website is offering membership "applications" to Donald Trump's favorite Florida estate and private club. Why? "Because you're already paying for it," say the anonymous folks behind mar.alago.me. The website got some attention this morning after a few journalists tweeted that they received a mysterious envelope and application in the mail. The site is a joke, but with a serious point to make. It includes links to several stories about Mar-a-Lago's security issues, its cost to taxpayers, and how it's used to pedal political influence. Check it out here—or just go ahead an apply now.

  

04.28.17 | 2 hours ago

Facebook complies with over 83% of U.S. law enforcement requests for data

In its latest Global Government Requests Report Facebook revealed a ton of stats about requests from law enforcement and other government agencies for user data across the world. For the July 2016 – December 2016 period global requests for data shot up 9% from the previous six-month period. Some highlights:

• In the U.S. there were 26,014 government requests and Facebook provided "some data" in 83.46% of those requests

• In Canada, there were 773 government requests and Facebook provided "some data" in 84.48% of those requests

• In the U.K. there were 6,366 government requests and Facebook provided "some data" in 88.69% of those requests

• In Germany, there were 4,422 government requests and Facebook provided "some data" in 54.03% of those requests

• In France, there were 4,478 government requests and Facebook provided "some data" in 68.38% of those requests

• In Australia, there were 657 government requests and Facebook provided "some data" in 63.93% of those requests

• In Russia, there were 4 government requests and Facebook provided "some data" in 0% of those requests

• In Iraq, there was 1 government request and Facebook provided "some data" in 0% of those requests

• In Vatican City, there was 1 government request and Facebook provided "some data" in 0% of those requests

04.28.17 | 4 hours ago

Apple is now providing the song snippets for popular music video app Musical.ly

The third-party app allows users to create their own music videos using song snippets, which made it a natural fit for Apple to augment Musical.ly's existing song snippet content, reports Recode. The deal gives Apple a whole new, young audience for its Apple Music subscription service and Musical.ly benefits from now being able to expand from 30 countries to 120 thanks to the licensing rights working with Apple provides.

04.28.17 | 5:51 am

Facebook’s Messenger Lite is now available in another 150 more countries

The stripped-down, mobile data and processor friendly version of Facebook's chat app makes its debut in dozens and dozens of countries around the world, David Marcus, head of Messenger at Facebook announced today. That's up from the five countries it was available in upon its launch last year. Some of the countries where Messenger Lite is now available include Germany, Colombia, Italy, Vietnam, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

04.28.17 | 5:41 am

Here’s United’s 10-point plan for not being the worst airline ever

After dragging passengers off planes and letting cute, cuddly, large bunnies die on their flights, United Airlines has posted a new 10-point plan "to improve customer experience":

• Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.

• Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.

• Increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000. 

• Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines, or ground transportations to get customers to their final destination.

• Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.

• Provide employees with additional annual training.

• Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.

• Reduce the amount of overbooking.

• Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.

• Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a "no questions asked" policy on lost luggage.

Still might be a good idea to keep an eye on your rabbits though.

04.27.17 | 6:11 pm

With India’s success, Amazon has more plans for international domination

Amazon's most recent earnings report was a blockbuster. The company saw revenue increasing 23% to $35.7 billion. Of the company's net sales this quarter, 32% was from its international businesses. At the earnings call CFO Brian Olsavsky said the company sees huge potential with these markets. India, specifically, is one area Amazon is investing heavily in. The company launched Amazon Prime, original Indian programming for the country, as well as devices tailored specifically for India customers. Olsavsky described international markets as "important investment areas."

While he wouldn't go into more details, the CFO said the company is going to continue investing heavily in these non-U.S. markets. This includes expanding global Prime benefits, launching new internationally targeted devices, as well as investing in more warehouses. Needless to say: Expect to see more announcements and investments in this vein. 

04.27.17 | 5:52 pm

Anthony Levandowski will no longer oversee self-driving tech at Uber

Anthony Levandowski, the man over whom Google and Uber are squabbling, is stepping aside from his role as head of the company's Advanced Technologies Group. Eric Meyhofer will now lead those efforts, according to an email obtained by both Business Insider and Bloomberg. The reason? Waymo's lawsuit accusing Levandowski, a former employee, of stealing intellectual property and infringing on its lidar-related patents. The email goes on to distance Levandowski from the company's lidar technology, a refrain we've been hearing for a while from Uber: 

As you know, I currently don't provide input on detailed LiDAR design choices. But making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic. 

04.27.17 | 5:31 pm

Google is getting ready to put its voice assistant everywhere

While Amazon is already getting its Alexa voice assistant into all kinds of products, Google is now in hot pursuit. The search giant has just released a software development kit for the Google Assistant, allowing anyone to create their own voice-controlled hardware prototypes. Google says it will open the SDK to commercial device makers "across a wide range of hardware" later this year, but for now the kit is mainly for hobbyists who want to tinker. If you've been pining for a Google version of the Alexa Big Mouth Bass, now's your chance.

[Photo: Google]

04.27.17 | 5:05 pm

Jeff Bezos just made $2.7B in one hour

Amazon's quarterly earnings numbers were just reported, and the company beat analyst expectations. The stock is now seeing a huge surge in after-hours trading. It's been hovering close to a 4% increase for quite a while now. 

Doing quick back-of-napkin arithmetic, I looked at how much Jeff Bezos's 80.9 million Amazon shares were worth when markets closed ($918.38/share) compared to what the price is now at 5 p.m. ET ($952/share). In these 60 minutes alone the Amazon founder made a jaw-dropping $2.7 billion. 

04.27.17 | 4:29 pm

Amazon handily beat expectations in Q1 earnings 

Amazon is having a pretty good year so far. The company just released Q1 2017 earnings, and it beat analyst expectations on nearly every count. Revenue went up 23% to $35.7 billion, compared to $29.1 billion the same period last year. Earnings-per-share hit $1.48, exceeding analyst expectations of $1.13. Retail subscriptions saw a huge boost, too, so we can expect to hear great things about Prime. Unsurprisingly, the stock is seeing a surge—it's currently up about 4% up in after-hours trading. Here's a quick rundown of the stats:

We'll be listening to the earnings presentation later this afternoon, so stay tuned!

04.27.17 | 4:18 pm

What YouTube boycott? Alphabet shrugs off Google ad exodus with higher-than-expected revenue in Q1

Last month, it looked like YouTube had a real problem on its hands, what with numerous big-name marketers pulling out due to concerns that their ads were appearing alongside extremist videos. Companies like PepsiCo, Walmart, Starbucks, GM, and Dish Network all pulled out. But it doesn't appear that the advertiser exodus hurt YouTube parent company Alphabet's bottom line.

Today, Alphabet released its first-quarter earnings report, just beating analysts' expectations. For the quarter, the company brought in revenues of $24.75 billion, while analysts had predicted $24.19 billion, and earnings per share of $7.73, higher than predictions of $7.40. And Google's ad revenues came in at $21.41 billion, up 18.8% year-over-year