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EU antitrust regulators stand down as Apple ends exclusive audiobook deal with Audible

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When the long-running antitrust case against Apple over ebook price-fixing was finally settled last year, one chapter ended and a new one began – this time in Europe. German regulators objected to Apple agreeing an exclusive deal with Amazon-owned Audible for the supply of audiobooks, stating that this reduced competition and thus harmed consumers …



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Apple and Amazon under investigation by German antitrust body over audiobook deal

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Reuters reports that the Germany antitrust body the Federal Cartel Office has opened an investigation into the arrangement by which Apple purchases audiobooks from Amazon subsidiary Audible for sale in iTunes.

“The two companies have a strong position in the digital offering of audiobooks in Germany. Therefore, we feel compelled to examine the agreement between these two competitors in the audiobooks in more detail,” cartel office chief Andreas Mundt said in a statement.

The piece notes that Apple declined to comment, while Amazon could not be reached for comment.

Apple lost a separate U.S. case in which it was found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour in its ebook sales.  The U.S. Justice Department recently agreed that Apple had now properly addressed the issues, though this may not be the end of the battle: Apple is appealing that case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

CarPlay support added to popular Audible audiobooks app

CarPlay Audible

The popular Amazon-owned Audible audiobooks service is the latest app to gain support for Apple’s CarPlay feature. The new version of Audible’s iPhone app released today now will automatically appear on CarPlay head units once installed on your iPhone so you can find and control audiobook playback from your library using the interface optimized for driving. The update includes a long list of other changes as well including:

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Amazon’s Kindle for iOS app updated w/ Goodreads integration, Audible progressive play, more

Amazon pushed out an updated version of its Kindle for iOS app today bringing a list of new features to the reading app.

Kindle for iOS now includes integration with Goodreads, the social cataloging service it bought last year, allowing readers users to share book progress and completion status, quotes, and more Kindle to Goodreads. iPad Kindle app users now have access to Amazon’s Book Browser to view book descriptions and customer ratings; Kindle Unlimited customers (30-day free trial) can download books directly from the Book Browser. The new version also adds a feature called Audible Progressive Play, which allows audiobook listeners using the Amazon-owned Audible service to play content as it downloads.

The update also adds new ways for users to access information and details about Kindle books. Check the extensive change log of the latest version below for more information:


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Apple iPad Air 16GB WiFi $400 (Reg. $499), iPad mini w/ Retina display 32GB WiFi $430 (Reg. $499)

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Best Buy slashes $100 off new MacBook Air, deals as low as $650 with .EDU email

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Amazon integrates Audible audiobooks directly into Kindle mobile apps

Amazon announced today that it’s integrating the Audible audiobook service it purchased back in 2008 directly into the Kindle apps for both iOS and Android. After installing a free update landing today for the apps, users will be able to listen to Audible audio books without ever having to leave the app.

“We continue to hear from a growing number of Whispersync for Voice converts who tell us the innovation has profoundly changed the way they read—in fact, switching back and forth between reading and listening has become their preferred way of experiencing stories,” said Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz. “And the feature has gotten easier and easier to use, as this exciting integration into Kindle apps attests.”

The service is an extension of the Whispersync for Voice feature that Amazon recently launched. That feature allowed users to switch “seamlessly” between reading and listening but required users to have both the Kindle and Audible apps. With the updated Kindle apps, users will be able to get narrations for 45,000 Kindle books and growing as well as purchase Audible upgrades for previously purchased Amazon Kindle books ranging from $1 to $4. The audio and text versions of the book will stay in-sync, pages turn automatically, and narration includes a x2 speed mode and sleep timer option. The best part is that you won’t be pulled out of Kindle and into the Audible app now when switching between text and audio. 

The update includes other new features too, including: improvements to the X-Ray reference tool for textbooks and the ability to download an entire collection with a single tap. A full list of new features is below.

The updated Kindle app for iPhone and iPad is available on the App Store now.

What’s New in Version 4.3

Listen to Audible audiobooks! Customers owning both the Kindle and Audible versions of a title can now listen to the audiobook right in the Kindle app.

Now you can use the Kindle app to switch back and forth between reading a Kindle book comfortably at home and listening to the story while driving to work.

Additional Features Include:
•Access to more than 45,000 Kindle/Audible title pairs, including best sellers
• Find audiobooks compatible with items in your Kindle library – audiobooks are delivered by Audible, an Amazon company
• Whispersync for Voice automatically synchronizes reading progress between the Audible and Kindle versions of a book
• Read and listen to a Kindle book at the same time; pages turn automatically
• Narration speeds up to 2x and a sleep timer
• Download an entire collection – gives customers the ability to download an entire collection with the tap of a button, making it easier for readers to download in bulk and load their favorite books on a new iOS device
• Students can now find terms that are in X-Ray for Textbooks by using search – occurrences in X-Ray are shown right above occurrences in the book
• Finding where an X-Ray term occurs on a textbook page is now easier – tap a page thumbnail in the X-Ray feature and you will see the term highlighted in the page of the book
• Performance and stability improvements

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Google begins rolling out revamped conversational Voice Search features in Chrome

During its Google I/O keynote earlier this month, Google announced that it would be bringing conversational, Google-Now like voice search to the desktop. Using a UI similar to voice search and Google Now in its mobile apps, Google would soon allow Chrome users to search and drill down further into results using only their voice.

Today, Google appears to have finally started rolling out the feature for Chrome users on the stable and beta channels of Chrome.

After updating to the latest version 27.0.1453.93 of Chrome, users can navigate to Google.com, click the microphone icon, and choose to allow the new Google Voice search feature to begin listening. Google will only ask for permission to listen once and from then on users can simply speak in order to search. For certain search results such as questions Google will also provide audible results.

Not all of the functionality seems to be available as of yet. For example, when Google first showed off the feature users weren’t required to click at all. Google execs were activating the feature by simply saying “Ok, Google” and were able to continue searching with their voice, hands-free, from on the search results page. The feature as it’s currently implemented now requires users to click the mic icon in order to start a voice search.

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BMW app integration, Plants vs Zombies 2, IM+, Pac-Man, StreamBoard, deals, more

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News:

BMW iOS app integration: Following some recent Siri Eyes Free news from Chevrolet, BMW announced today that it has partnered with handful of developers to bring similar eyes free experiences for a number of third-party iOS apps to its vehicles. BMW has partnered with Audible for audio books, Glympse for location sharing services, Rhapsody for subscription music and TuneIn for internet radio, all of which will be updating their apps in the weeks to come for compatibility with the BMW Apps system.

Plants vs Zombies 2: PopCap announced today that part two of its incredibly popular Plants vs Zombies title is finally going to land on iOS in additional to all the other usual platforms “early summer.”  No clues on what might be included in the second installment, but in the meantime PopCap will launch a new version of the game on Facebook.

App Updates:

IM+ Instant Messenger version 7.7: A nice update to the very popular IM+ service today offers Beep mobile-to-mobile service as an in-app purchase, the ability to preview transferred images directly in chats, and the usual bug fixes and performance enhancements. iPad users will also now be able to capture photos and videos in the app.

StreamBoard version 5.0: The Twitter client that lets you track keywords and hashtags in real-time is updated to version 5.0 with many new features and enhancements:

For this incredible milestone, StreamBoard has been rewritten from the ground up bringing to you:
– A brand new streamlined interface powered by gestures
– A reimagined filter view featuring real-time graphs that you can interact with
– Much improved engine for faster speed!
– and many more!

Pac-Man version 3.5.0: iOS 6 support and new features for the Pac-Man iPad app.

Added support for iOS 6
Fixed Game Center issue for iOS 6
Updated More Games functionality

Deals:

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