Mid-Day News Round Up: Kindle for iOS Updated, Apple Owns ‘Retina’, and Cut The Rope Dishes Out Pudding

While we were focused on the new Gmail for iOS, there was other news going on too. Amazon updated Kindle for iOS with “X-Ray” for books, Apple has to reveal what patents are covered under the deal with HTC, and Facebook has removed the account requirement for Messenger on Android (could iOS be next?).

Kindle for iOS brings a look inside your favorite books with X-Ray

Via TNW, Amazon updated the Kindle app for iOS with “X-Ray for Books – see the “bones of the book”. X-ray helps you learn more about notable characters, places, and phrases with descriptions from Shelfari.com and Wikipedia.”. Like a similar feature in my favorite app Kobo, you can get some additional insight into what you’re reading. Mike Vardy sent over a few screenshots from his Kindle books:

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As Matthew Panzarino points out:

Now it’s here for everyone, proving once again that Amazon has one of the most interesting product strategies in the business right now. It simply wants to provide the best experience possible for its customers. And those customers are simply anyone who purchases Kindle content, not just people who purchase Kindle hardware.

Nice move Amazon!

More on the demise of The Daily

There is still lots of discussion about yesterday’s demise of The Daily, both Daring Fireball and ReadWriteWeb have more analysis. I think John Gruber’s first two main points ring true for me:


The Daily launched with a tremendous amount of publicity, aided and abetted by Apple itself — Eddy Cue was on stage for the announcement. But the app sucked. Daily issues were almost mind-bogglingly slow to download, and even once downloaded, animations and page turning were slow, and navigation was confusing. The Daily garnered a lot of attention right out of the gate but had software that left a very poor first impression. That was a huge mistake and missed opportunity.


They set up an operation with $25 million a year in expenses. But there’s no reason why a daily iPad newspaper needs that sort of budget. A daily iPad newspaper of the scope of The Daily might (but I doubt it), but that simply means the scope of The Daily was ill-conceived. News Corporation went no further than taking the newspaper as we know it — the newspaper as defined by the pre-Internet 20th century — and cramming it into an iPad wrapper. You can’t tell me a good daily iPad newspaper couldn’t be run profitably for $5 million a year.

If you have an app that doesn’t work well and have overhead that is much more grandiose than needed to ramp up, you’re almost destined to fail. On RWW guest author Cameron Yuill points out the obivious:

Across the News Corp. portfolio, the company is producing a ton of content that could have been syndicated to The Daily. The team to run the iPad-only newspaper could have been a whole lot smaller (and less expensive) which would have given it a chance of, at least, covering its costs.

Yeah, why try to reinvent the wheel when you have buckets of content on hand that you can fill the app with. Sure, add more content that is app-specific, but at least you’d have a ton of content that wouldn’t cost additional money to include.

Apple better watch the profit margins

John Paczkowski on AllThingsD comments on something that probable has Apple rather worried:Legacy iPhones Biting Apple in the ASP. That is, average selling price.

What that means is that while Apple is selling tons of iPhones, it’s increasingly selling more of them at lower prices. The implications of that trend, if it is indeed a trend, suggest that by offering consumers the option of purchasing past-generation and lower-capacity devices, Apple is gradually compressing the iPhone’s average selling price (ASP). That’s worth noting because it may have an effect on Apple’s notoriously high profit margins.

Maybe this doesn’t bode well for a low-cost iPhone in 2013, 2014, or ever.

Judge to Apple and HTC: You don’t have to tell how much, but you have to tell what.

From CNET:

In an ruling tonight, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh said that while details of pricing and royalty rates for patents from both companies should be kept under wraps from public view, the same does not hold true for the rest of the agreement.

“This Court has repeatedly explained that only the pricing and royalty terms of license agreements may be sealed,” Koh wrote in a ruling. “There are compelling reasons to seal pricing and royalty terms, as they may place the parties to the agreement at a disadvantage in future negotiations, but there is nothing in the remainder of the agreement that presents a sufficient risk of competitive harm to justify keeping it from the public.”

While Samsung, and only Samsung, has had a look at a lot of the confidential details of the settlement, this ruling opens up a slew of critical information to the world. This could include some things that Apple really doesn’t what other folks to know about:

But the license could also shed light on whether Apple included some of its “unique” user experience patents, which it typically doesn’t share with other companies. In a testimony about that collection during the trial between Apple and Samsung, an Apple patent licensing director referred to that collection as “untouchables,” since it was only shared with a very small handful of other companies.

We’ll have to see how this pans out on appeal.

Loren Brichter talks apps

Like Matt Mullenweg, Loren Britcher has made an indelible mark on our technological world—and at a very young age. The opening paragraph in the GigaOm interview sets the scene:

When is a word game for the iPhone not just entertainment but an experiment into the future of how mobile apps work? When it’s a game made by mobile developer and designer Loren Brichter.

At 28, he’s already left quite a stamp on mobile interfaces: he’s the guy who invented that neat trick where you “pull” down on an iPhone screen to refresh the page of an app. Many of the most popular iOS apps use it now, including Facebook and Apple’s own Mail app. Same with his fast-scrolling technique for apps. Oh, and he sold Tweetie, which the Verge dubbed “the best Twitter app ever,” to Twitter itself, at the age of 25.

I’m a fan of Letterpress (yep, I bought the $0.99 upgrade) and while I didn’t use Tweetie, you have to respect a guy with just so much awesomeness coming out of his head.

Apple Owns Your Retina

Okay, not really, but Apple was given the trademark for Retina as long as it’s for computer screens and other things digital. Your eyes are safe…for now.

Facebook Primed to Challenge iMessage

If you download Facebook Messenger for Android and don’t have a Facebook account, don’t worry, you don’t need one! Yeah, just your name and phone number is all you need to get started. If this feature makes it to iOS then Facebook could woo people to its platform over iMessage. How? Well, if you don’t need a Facebook account you can just invite almost everyone you know with a smartphone to Facebook Messenger and not have to worry that they either don’t have or don’t want a Facebook account. All that will matter is that you want to communicate with them (and not use SMS).

HT: BGR and TechVibes

Makers of Cut The Rope unveil: Pudding

Cut The Rope is a very popular game and via TechCrunch reporting from LeWeb:

Zeptolab’s Cut the Rope is, without doubt, one of the most successful casual games of the last few years. Today, after 250 million downloads of the original game, the company just announced the launch of its newest game at LeWeb in Paris. The new game, called Pudding Monsters, is scheduled to launch in about two weeks and the team remains relatively tight-lipped about the actual gameplay, but I had a chance to give it a try last night.

Pudding Monsters is all about getting pieces of pudding to stick together. Unlike the physics-based puzzler Cut the Rope that made players focus on getting their timing just right, Pudding Monsters is an even more casual game and doesn’t focus on physics. Instead, it’s a more basic puzzle game where players have to move pieces of pudding around a board, but unless they hit an object or another piece of pudding, the pieces will fall of the board and the game is over. There are numerous game elements like pudding pieces that are asleep and wake up when you touch them that will keep surely keep gamers occupied and interested in the game for a while.

Sounds like it could be a fun game to play with friends, we’ll have to see in a couple week (just in time for holiday family time!).

That’s all for the mid-day update. Now if you’ll excuse me Gmail is calling.