'Amazon Flex' begins in Seattle
Amazon is hiring everyday or 'average' people who can do 2, 4, or 8 hr shifts (and even 12 hour ones) on days they choose, delivering packages for Amazon, described by reporters as similar to the Uber system.
Drivers must be over 21, pass background checks, have their own car, and an Android phone (iPhone won't work for this at this point). Amazon's offering $18-$25/hr.
While it's been launched only in Seattle at this point, they plan to expand this service soon to (in alphabetical order) Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, New York, and Portland.
The original order shown is: New York, Miami, Portland, Ore., Baltimore, Austin, Dallas, Chicago and Indianapolis.
The illustration they use is for Prime Now, which is a current service for 1-2hr service for Prime members.
I wonder what happens, on 2-hour or 2-day service, when an average person (not an employee) doesn't feel well and calls in (or doesn't call in), sick. But they must have thought of that. People can apply to provide Flex delivery at flex.amazon.com
Early reactions to new lineup of tablet and streaming-tv
(Note that the original or first (main) post about the new Yr 2015 Amazon devices was updated several times,
and if interested in that, you can read the continuing updates at the original blog article.
For updates for this News Roundup that you're reading, see Update1 and Update2.
1. From mainstream articles, a couple of points made that might not have been clear in early reports.
Wired: "Amazon Has 6 New Devices — And an Actual Plan for Hardware"
' ...Next to the carousel-filled, dark-on-dark interfaces Amazon’s built before, Fire OS 5 is a refreshing and desperately needed change. Now, you get a light background and a grid of content; your favorite stuff on one page, your recent stuff on another, all your movies on another yet. It feels usable, really for the first time.
On the TV side, the Fire TV has been maybe the best set-top box on the market since the day it came out. (Or at least since whatever day it finally got HBO.) Now, with Alexa, the voice search should be even more useful.
And not only do the new set-top boxes offer 4K streaming, they use a better kind of video encoding (called HEVC) that uses less bandwidth to stream video. That means you’re more likely to get a high-definition stream, even when you have a bad connection...
... When Amazon does its job well, it makes finding and consuming stuff easier than anyone else. '
The $99.99 Fire TV box now uses Amazon's cloud-based personal assistant Alexa (the voice for the Echo device), which will allow viewers to check the weather, look up sports scores and play music by request.
Amazon said that Fire TV viewers could soon also control home appliances through Fire TV, a function available on that Echo, which has been able to regulate thermostats and lights -- and today it was announced that the Echo will also be able to let you know if your garage door is open, without having to go outside. Of course that requires a gizmo for it:
SIDE item - New Echo feature, using Alexa (which means it'll come to the FireTV also) :
The new Echo feature - Garageio Garage Door Controller - announced today
' Garageio is a simple and convenient way to control and monitor your garage door--without needing to replace your existing opener. With the Garageio Smart Garage Controller, and the new Garageio Alexa skill, you can now check if you left the garage open (and close it) using just your voice. ...
To get started, install the Garageio controller, enable the Garageio skill using the Alexa App, then ask "Alexa, ask Garageio to begin setup." Next, connect Garageio to Alexa by following the instructions in the Alexa App and ask:
- "Alexa, ask Garageio if any of my doors are open."
- "Alexa, tell Garageio to close my door." '
2. First reactions in Kindle customer forum
This one on the Fire 10.1" tablet is the first discussion I've seen on the Kindle forums of any of the new tablets. Pro and con.
And here's the second discussion, this one about the $50 Fire 7" tablet.
Also, as of about 6pm on Oct 2, Amazon began posting customer reviews on the product pages for these new tablets.
The product page customer reviews for the $50 Fire tablet is topped currently by a very honest, blunt, and also hilarious review, another one below it that has good pros and cons, and a third one that is mostly a very-informative video review that shows what the tablet display is like, for videos, and for text, as well as giving example of the this $50 tablet's functioning. [End of Update1]
3. Re the new dedicated game controller for the Fire TV, it was noted in a couple of articles that Apple had insisted that developers use the Apple TV remote for its new unit rather than a dedicated controller.
4. Amazon has made readily available the higher-resolution and speedier Yr 2014 HDX 8.9" Fire Tablet and even the Yr 2013 one (!) -- the latter is the one I still use daily after two years -- while the UK seems to have both the Yr 2014 HDX 7" and 8.9" tablets available.
I have no idea whether this is until they run out (they were unavailable for a bit after a huge 1 day sale just before the announcement).
For the Amazon links to these earlier-Kindle pages whenever you need them, you can always see this blog's current Kindles table, which itself includes links to the OLDER tablets table.
NOTE: Those earlier or older Kindles have higher-resolution and speedier chips but are more expensive, but they are also ON SALE today, I just noticed, probably for a limited time, the way Amazon works. The prices had been reduced for these but they were further reduced today. At these lower prices, they can be a good deal for those preferring higher resolution and a somewhat faster experience.
The new Yr 2015 devices have been shipping the last 3 days, so we'll get a closer look at these. I saw one tech-site review yesterday that lamented that these budget-oriented models are not as fast as the more expensive ones of previous years. Notice their expectations seem to be the same as for much more expensive tablets.
Amazon halts sales of Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast
Bloomberg reports that
' The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t "interact well" with Prime Video. No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29, Amazon said. Prime Video doesn’t run easily on its rival’s hardware. 'See the Bloomberg story for more details and an analysis of what it means for Amazon and consumers who've looked to Amazon to buy these.
Update2 ... Adding an interesting set of points from the Amazon Kindle Forum on this, although there is obviously the danger for Amazon that it is sending paying customers to Google Store, benefiting Google more than Amazon in the long run:
' HJ Leonard says:
Keep in mind that Apple and Google refuse to sell the Amazon equivalents in their stores, too. It's just another step in their battles.
T. J. Hawkins says:
Not only do they not sell the Amazon equivalents they do not allow the Amazon video app on their devices. So anybody who bought one thinking they could watch their prime video... well I guess you are just going to have to pay to buy it in the Google or Apple store or else subscribe to an alternative like Netflix.
It's true that Neither Google Play or iTunes are available on the Fire either. But when you buy a product from a company you will likely expect that the companies services will work on that product. If I bought something from Apple I would expect iTunes to work on it. If I bought something from Google I would expect the Play store to work on it. So Amazon would be completely brainless if they continued to sell a product that Prime Video did not work on.
That's why I prefer Roku. Both Amazon and Google Play work on it. iTunes doesn't of course since Apple will never allow their service to work on any streaming device except an Apple product. '
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