Community projects are fantastic - just look at how strong Android's aftermarket community is, creating custom ROMs and launching entire operating systems and companies in the process. Now Amazon's getting in on the action, rebranding developer Sam Machin's Alexa in the Browser project as Echosim and bringing Alexa to everyone in the process.
Amazon has announced that the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, the company's two streaming devices, are receiving updates to the latest version of the software, 5.2.
The main thing version 5.2 brings is viewing restrictions, which enables blocking of content in Amazon Video and 'selected third party apps,' although Amazon has declined to list which third-party apps are included. Other new features include Watch Live for video subscriptions, so if you have an add-on subscription from Showtime or Starz, content can be watched at the same time as it's broadcast. Alexa is also seeing some improvements; she can now be asked for local restaurant, shop, or business information with the new Local Search feature.
Voice control is all the rage these days, and Amazon is pushing its Alexa voice engine hard. The Fire TV already had Alexa built-in, but today it's getting some new features. You can control video playback, launch apps, and more.
The Huawei Honor 7 may be a flagship device, but compared to some of the competition, it doesn't cost all that much. The same can kinda be said for Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. That makes each device an okay one to muck around with.
Before you start flashing ROMs, you need a decent custom recovery. The Team Win Recovery Project is more than decent. In many ways, this is the top option available right now.
Late last year, Amazon started to allow hobbyists and developers to integrate the Alexa virtual personal assistant into their own products through the developer preview of Amazon Voice Service. This effort has already borne fruit with Invoxia's Triby.
Looking a bit like an FM radio from yesteryear, the Triby immediately loses points in the looks department, especially when compared to the sleek, futuristic aesthetic of the Amazon Echo. It packs a magnetized back, allowing you to attach it directly to any metal surface, such as a refrigerator or knife rack, as well an E-Ink display for showing messages and notifications.
Not only can it be controlled through voice commands, but there's also an official companion application available for Android and iOS.
Here's a bit of a blast from the past. A federal judge has decided that Amazon was in the wrong when it billed parents for in-app purchases made by their kids on its Appstore platform. Both Apple and Google settled this case with the Federal Trade Commission two years ago, but Amazon wanted its day in court. It didn't go so well.
Amazon Fire tablets are not devices geared towards stock Android-loving enthusiasts with an unquenchable thirst for whatever they can get from Google Play. They're more casual devices aimed at people who enjoy a simpler experience and Amazon services. New models are also very cheap—buy six for $250 cheap. The 8GB 7-inch tablet starts at $49.99.
At this point asking people to support your crowd-funded concept device is kind of like asking them to support your "sure-fire multi-level marketing system." Sure, it could be legitimate, but it's better to just treat that money as if it's gone forever. That said, smartwatches might be the one exception. Pebble, arguably the legitimate dark horse in that small market and one of the first to successfully market itself, got started on Kickstarter. So maybe it wouldn't be fair to dismiss the CoWatch, a new smartwatch that features interoperability with Amazon's Alexa voice control system, out of hand.
Sometimes you can't stomach the idea of paying a big yearly subscription price upfront, either because it feels like a big expense or because you're not ready to commit for a full year to a service that you're not sure you'll enjoy in a couple of months. That's why, despite having to pay a little bit more, companies offer a monthly subscription to make it easier for users to pay in small increments and feel like they are free to walk away anytime they want.
Amazon's Prime subscription used to be a yearly affair: pay $99 and get all the services for 12 months straight.