Amazon to Resume Selling Apple TV and Chromecast

Amazon has decided to once again sell the Apple TV and Google Chromecast in its online store, reports CNET. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the company is officially offering the two products as of today.

"I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast," CNET was told.


There are new product pages for the 32GB fourth-generation Apple TV, the 32GB Apple TV 4K, and the 64GB Apple TV 4K. There are also two listings for the Chromecast and the Chromecast Ultra.

All of the products are listed as "Currently unavailable" right now, but that is likely to change soon after the listings are completed and propagated to Amazon's site.

Amazon first stopped selling the Apple TV and the Google Chromecast in its online store in 2015, claiming the reason for the removal was incompatibility with the Amazon Prime Video streaming service.
"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said in the e-mail. "It's important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."
Since then, the Apple TV has been unavailable on Amazon's site, but Amazon's original reason for not selling the Apple TV was invalidated with the launch of the Amazon Prime Video app for Apple TV.

Amazon last week introduced a long-awaited Amazon Prime Video app for the Apple TV. The new app is available on third, fourth, and fifth-generation devices.

The return of the Chromecast to the Amazon site comes after Google once again removed YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show and the Fire TV. Google said Amazon's refusal to carry the Chromecast and Google Home and its refusal to make Prime Video available for Google Cast was a key reason that it stopped supporting YouTube on Amazon's products.

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Amazon Prime Video App Launches on Apple TV

It's been six months since Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Amazon Prime Video would be coming to Apple TV later this year, and now that app is officially beginning to roll out to tvOS devices in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and possibly other regions.

Similar to other versions of Amazon Prime Video, the Apple TV app allows Prime subscribers to sign into their accounts and watch Amazon Prime exclusive TV series, as well as browse a collection of movies. Users can add shows and movies to a watchlist, sync their watchlist across devices, and use Amazon's X-Ray feature to look into the actors and crew members behind each show and movie.

Universal Search is now supported in the updated iOS Prime Video app, allowing users to search for videos using the native Search function on their devices, while version 5.0 of the app also supports iPhone X displays. The tvOS app is obviously a separate component of the installation, but Amazon Prime Video should be available on third-generation Apple TVs as well as fourth-gen and 4K Apple TVs, according to the release notes. (We're waiting for clarification on generational support.)

Prior to its official launch, there were numerous release date rumors surrounding the Amazon Prime Video tvOS app. The first pointed to its launch on the day of the iPhone X keynote event, and then a separate report from Recode countered that rumor with sources that claimed the app would not be ready at that time. Later in September, the next rumor predicted its launch alongside Thursday Night Football, and when that date came and went the most recent rumor -- sourced from a Redditor claiming to work for Amazon -- predicted an October 26 debut.

Yesterday, a redditor opened up the App Store and saw an Amazon Prime Video story as the top feature in the "Today" section, after he had manually turned his device's clock forward by a day. He linked the section on reddit, which other users were able to see temporarily before the content was pulled by Apple. The "Today" App Store description in question specifically referenced Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV, which was finally launched today.

Amazon Prime Video was one of the last remaining streaming service holdouts to release a tvOS app, so users will now be able to rely on the 4th and 5th generation Apple TV devices a little more without having to use a PlayStation 4, Fire TV, or Roku to jump to Amazon's video catalog. In terms of other Apple products with Amazon Prime Video apps, users can also watch Prime shows on iPhone and iPad with the company's iOS app [Direct Link], which also supports downloading select videos to view offline.

Tim Hardwick contributed to this article.

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Apple Accidentally Promotes Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV in App Store, Launch Could Be Imminent

There are 26 days left until the end of the year, which is the deadline for when Apple said the highly-anticipated Amazon Prime Video app would be coming to the Apple TV. A launch could perhaps come as soon as this week, and maybe as even as early as tomorrow, based on an App Store leak spotted on reddit.

After setting his iPhone date to December 6, a redditor opened up the App Store and allegedly saw an Amazon Prime Video story as the top feature in the "Today" section. He linked the section on reddit, which other users were able to see temporarily before the content was pulled by Apple. The "Today" App Store description in question specifically referenced Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV.

Apple pulled this a few minutes ago. (Hi Apple?)

As said, my time/date is set to tomorrow. That is relevant because I saw the story at the top of the "Today" tab when I opened the App Store. That is how I obtained the link.

Thus my guess is that the story is ready for launch on the App Store tomorrow, and sometime around midnight Eastern or PST, both the story and the updated app itself will go live. That's approx 9-12 hours from now. We'll see.
If the App Store leak is genuine, and it appears to be based on multiple reports from different reddit users, it means Apple already has content written up for the Amazon Prime Video release. That the content was visible on December 6 suggests a launch could be imminent.

Apple first announced the Amazon Prime Video app for Apple TV at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. At the time, Apple said the app would be coming later this year, but months have passed since then with no sign of it. There have been continual launch rumors, though, all of which have been incorrect.

Amazon Prime Video is one of the only major streaming video services absent from Apple's set-top box. The service is provided as a benefit to Amazon Prime members who subscribe to Amazon's $99 per year Amazon Prime service. Amazon Prime Video features thousands of TV shows and movies, along with original content produced by Amazon.

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Amazon Aims for Echo Speakers in Every Office With ‘Alexa for Business’

Amazon's aim to bring its highly popular at-home Echo smart speaker into the workplace got underway on Thursday with the launch of Alexa for Business. The announcement, made at the company's annual Amazon Web Services Summit in New York, sets the stage for Amazon's vision to make its virtual assistant the essential office accessory, able to book conference rooms, launch meetings, and order stationery.

Alexa already has features amenable to an office environment, such as the ability to make calls, operate lights, and check security camera feeds. Now Amazon wants developers to build the virtual assistant into apps that manage work calendars, find open meeting rooms, and order supplies.

As an intelligent assistant at work, Alexa for Business makes starting a conference call as simple as asking Alexa to "start the meeting." Alexa for Business can help workers manage calendars, keep up with to-do lists, and make phone calls. Around the office, Alexa for Business can handle tasks like notifying IT of an equipment issue, or finding and booking an open conference room—all with just a few words.
However, it's unclear how many companies will want to buy Echo speakers for every conference room, given the potential security implications of an "always listening" device. Amazon says its Echo speakers don't send anything to the cloud until users wake the devices by invoking them by name. However, Amazon does store requests in the cloud, which it says are used to help improve AI and develop new skills for the speakers.

Amazon sold "millions" of Alexa devices over the holiday shopping weekend, according to a company press release, with previous estimates suggesting it has sold more than 20 million Alexa devices over the last three years. RBC Capital Markets predicts that by 2020, Alexa device installations could reach 128 million. Over the same period, sales of the virtual assistants could result in more than $10 billion in revenues for Amazon, according to the firm.


Amazon has reportedly added hundreds of engineers to its Alexa program to maintain its edge over rivals like Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana, and Apple's Siri, all of which are in the process of building out their voice-activated offerings.

However, Apple will be even further behind after it recently delayed the HomePod's release until early 2018. The device was originally slated to launch in December, but the delay means the $349 speaker won't be ready in time for the holiday shopping season, which could lead customers to look at Echo or Google devices instead.


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Amazon ‘Echo Buttons’ Trivia Game Accessories Now Available to Pre-Order

Amazon has made its Echo Buttons, the company's "first Alexa gadgets", available to pre-order on its U.S. website. First announced in September, the $20 accessories come in packs of two and are designed to allow Amazon Echo owners to play family trivia games with the voice-activated smart speakers.


About 3 inches (76mm) wide and 1.5 inches (38mm) tall, the Echo Buttons each have a multi-color LED on top that lights up the push button. The devices are powered by two triple-A batteries and connect to Echo speakers via Bluetooth.

Amazon says the buttons will work with four Alexa skills when they ship on December 19 in time for the holidays, including name-that-song game "Beat the Intro" and "Fourth Down Football Trivia", with support for more sound effect and quiz games expected further down the line.


The Echo Buttons are compatible with all old and new Echo devices as well as the forthcoming Echo Spot, but they don't work with the Amazon Tap, Amazon Fire TV, or any other non-Echo device.

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Google Allows YouTube to Return to Amazon’s Echo Show Smart Speaker

Google has seen fit to return YouTube to Amazon's display-based Echo Show smart speaker, two months after the video service was pulled from the device. The original removal angered Amazon and led to conflicting public statements by on both sides over the move, but the two companies appear to have resolved the dispute.

The return of YouTube is particularly timely for Amazon, which is expanding its video services on the Echo Show with additional support for Vimeo and Dailymotion. An Amazon spokesperson gave the following statement to The Verge:

"We're excited to offer customers the capability to watch even more video content from sources such as Vimeo, YouTube, and Dailymotion on Echo Show. More video sources will be added over time."
According to Google, the reason for the service's removal on Echo Show devices back in September was because "Amazon's implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience."

That issue now looks to have been resolved with a UI change – the new version of YouTube on Echo Show has a completely different interface that is much more in keeping with how the service appears in a desktop web browser, as shown in a video uploaded by VoiceBot.ai, embedded below.


YouTube account holders accessing the device using an Echo Show can now see their subscriptions, video recommendations, and control autoplay – all of which were missing in the Amazon-designed, voice-control optimized interface.

However, The Verge reports that there are now issues with YouTube's voice-control integration, and the Echo Show still doesn't automatically play videos fullscreen, with an "Alexa, zoom in" voice command required to display videos in that way.


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Amazon Working on Free Ad-Supported Version of Prime Video as Content War With Apple Intensifies

Amazon is developing a free, ad-supported version of its Prime Video streaming video service, according to Ad Age.


The free tier will complement Amazon's ad-free, on-demand Prime Video service that is included with an annual $99 subscription to Amazon Prime, which provides free shipping, deals, and other perks to its online shoppers.

Amazon is reportedly in talks with TV networks, movie studios, and other media companies about programming for the service.
For the ad-supported service, Amazon wants to dive into back catalogs of TV and movie studios, looking to beef up its children's programming, for example, one TV industry insider says. It is also going after lifestyle, travel, cooking and other shows that are a good fit for an e-commerce platform.
Amazon, which is reportedly already estimated to have spent almost $5 billion on content by the end of the year, is said to be doubling down on its content efforts as Apple and several other tech companies push into original programming.

Last week, for example, Apple reportedly outbid Netflix for a new TV show that will star Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. The series is said to revolve around the lives of morning talk show hosts, based on journalist Brian Stelter's book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.

Apple's push into original content is being led in part by former Sony executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who joined the iPhone maker back in June. Van Amburg and Erlicht are known for their work on many popular TV shows, including Breaking Bad, The Crown, and Better Call Saul.

Of note, Amazon Prime Video is still not available for the Apple TV. Apple said the app will be released by the end of 2017.


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Amazon Has $50 iTunes Gift Cards on Sale Right Now for $42.50

As we get closer to the holidays, iTunes gift card discounts are beginning to get more frequent, and today the latest sale comes from Amazon. The online retailer has marked down the $50 App Store and iTunes gift card by 15 percent, so you can get the $50 credit added to your account for just $42.50 while supplies last. The gift cards are physical versions and are limited to 1 per order.


No other price tiers for the gift card are on sale as of now, so the $25, $100, and $200 options are all priced as expected. Like with any App Store and iTunes gift card, you can spend the money on an Apple Music subscription, app downloads or in-app purchases, iBooks, iTunes movies and tv shows, and more.

If you're looking for any more sales going on this week, make sure to check out our Deals Roundup.

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Amazon Updates iOS App With ARKit Support for Augmented Reality Holiday Shopping

Amazon is preparing its customers for the busy holiday shopping season, posting a detailed plan today on how it aims to help you get the items you want through Alexa voice shopping, curated gift guides, and a new "AR View" in the official Amazon iOS app. AR View was built using Apple's augmented reality developer framework called ARKit, and the company said it's meant to help customers "make better shopping decisions."


Similar to IKEA Place, Amazon's AR View lets you place virtual versions of real-world products sold on Amazon right into your home, helping you decide whether or not you like the item in a specific living space before you buy it. AR View can be found on the camera icon in the Amazon iOS app, which now has a new "AR View" option. Then you can select from "thousands of items" sold on Amazon, which includes home furniture, toys, Echo products, kitchen electronics, decor, and more.
Amazon’s latest augmented reality offering within the Amazon App launched today for customers with iOS 11 installed on their iPhone 6S or later. Using Apple’s ARKit, AR view helps customers make better shopping decisions by allowing them to visualize the aesthetic and fit of products in their own living space. Customers simply open the Amazon App, click on the camera icon and choose AR view.

They can then select from thousands of items – from living room, bedroom, kitchen and home office products to electronics, toys and games, home décor and more. Whether customers are buying a sofa or a kitchen appliance, they can overlay it onto their existing living space, move it and rotate it to get a full 360-degree peek in a live camera view to make sure it fits their style and aesthetic.
ARKit debuted in iOS 11 in September, and you'll need an iPhone 6s or later running iOS 11 to use the new AR View feature in Amazon's iOS app. Target also launched an augmented reality shopping feature last week, but it wasn't in its iOS app and instead debuted in the Target mobile website. Additionally, Target's new "See It In Your Space" option doesn't use ARKit.


Amazon is available to download for free from the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]

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Amazon Debuts New ‘Cloud Cam’ Security Camera and ‘Amazon Key’ In-Home Delivery Service

Amazon today announced its latest device, called the Amazon Cloud Cam, which keeps track of your home using an intelligent security camera that syncs up with the company's new iOS and Android apps. Amazon said that the $119.99 Cloud Cam was built to help you check on pets while at work, monitor the front door when you're on vacation, or look into your kids' room from another room in the house.

Cloud Cam features 1080p full HD resolution video, night vision, two-way audio, a wide viewing angle, and activity clips from the last day synced with the Amazon Cloud Cam app. Of course, the new security camera will work with Alexa devices like the Echo, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Amazon Fire TV, and Fire tablets. You can say, "Alexa, show me the [camera name]" and the assistant will bring up the requested feed from anywhere in your house.


When on the go, the iOS and Android apps let you stay in touch with the Cloud Cam, as well as receive customizable notifications for alerts detected by the device's motion detection and computer vision technology. When it detects motion, Cloud Cam sends out a push notification and stores a clip securely for you to review. Amazon said that the camera will get smarter over time with more advanced detection, alerts, and other new features -- like advanced audio alerts and pet detection -- will launch down the line.
“Cloud Cam has all the features you need to monitor your home, including a 1080p Full HD camera, night vision, two-way audio, and free storage for clips—and with the secure AWS cloud powering Cloud Cam’s advanced computer algorithms and intelligent alerts, the service is always getting smarter,” said Charlie Tritschler, Vice President, Amazon Devices. “All of this is just $119.99—Cloud Cam is a premium product at a non-premium price.”
Without a subscription, three Cloud Cams are supported in one home, and with a subscription you can have up to ten cameras in one home. Subscriptions also enable additional storage for video (beyond just 24 hours), unlimited downloads and shares of video clips, Person Detection to flag specific human activity instead of general motion, and Zones to ignore certain areas of motion (like a ceiling fan). Amazon's Cloud Cam subscription tiers are listed below:
  • Basic ($6.99/mo, $69/yr) offers access to the last 7 days of motion detection clips for up to 3 cameras

  • Extended ($9.99/mo, $99/yr) offers access to the last 14 days of motion detection clips for up to 5 cameras

  • Pro ($19.99/mo, $199/yr) offers access to the last 30 days of motion detection clips for up to 10 cameras

Additionally, Amazon today announced a new "Amazon Key" service that works in conjunction with the Cloud Cam. Exclusive to Prime members, Amazon Key allows you to have your order securely delivered inside your home when you're out of the house. Amazon Key will be a new checkout option for Prime members in 37 cities across the U.S. beginning November 8, and will be available for "tens of millions of items" on the site.


Amazon Key combines Cloud Cam with one of several compatible smart locks by companies like Yale and Kwikset. The process begins with Amazon verifying that the correct delivery driver is at the right address at the right time, using an encrypted authentication process. Then, Amazon Cloud Cam begins recording once that process is complete and the door is unlocked for the driver, without giving them any access code or key, and they place the package in your home and then leave.
“Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President of Delivery Technology, Amazon. “Now, Prime members can select in-home delivery and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones.”
You can pre-order the Cloud Cam today by itself for $119.99, a two-pack for $199.99, or a three-pack for $289.99, and the device will ship November 8. The company is also offering an Amazon Key In-Home Kit with a Cloud Cam and a compatible smart lock for $249.99.

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