Tech News

Amazon Echo Is The New Siri, Free Microsoft Office Mobile, & More… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 07-11-2014

Also, Taylor Swift hates Spotify, CBSN goes online, Scribd adds audiobooks, and riding the world’s first ice bike.


Amazon Echo Is Listening

Amazon has launched the Amazon Echo, an always-on, smart speaker which owes a considerable nod of appreciation to Siri If You're Not Using Siri By Now, You Should Be Most of the commercials, jokes, and media hype about Apple's iOS voice assistant, Siri, have subsided, but I still run into iPhone users who don't take advantage of this powerful feature. Just the other day... Read More . Amazon Echo is a small speaker with a big sound, capable of playing music from Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio, as well as any device connected via Bluetooth.

More interesting than the speaker are the virtual assistant elements built into Amazon Echo. As can be seen in the video above, Echo will respond to questions, answering simple queries sourced from the cloud. These features lift Amazon Echo above the competition it faces as a connected speaker 7 Rugged Bluetooth Speakers To Bring On Your Next Outdoor Adventure Most Bluetooth speakers are designed to sit on a night stand rather than a fallen tree. There are, however, some portable Bluetooth speakers that can meet the challenge of the great outdoors. Read More .

Amazon Echo costs $199, with a $100 discount currently being offered to Amazon Prime subscribers Is Amazon Prime Worth Your Money? We Help You Decide! Amazon Prime is a big deal. But is it worth the money you pay for it? We answer your questions and concerns. Read More . Unfortunately, buying one requires being invited to do so by Amazon itself, but this could just be a limited time thing enabling Amazon to cope with demand and iron out any kinks.

Microsoft Office Free On Mobile


Microsoft is releasing a free version of Office for mobile devices, and its comprehensiveness means this free version will be all most people ever need. Office is already available on the iPad, but Microsoft is now bringing the same app to iPhone, Android, and, eventually, Windows 10.


This constitutes a seismic shift for Microsoft, which has always been extremely cautious about opening Office up to devices outside of the Windows ecosystem. Microsoft hopes this will only increase the number of people subscribing to Office 365 Students Can Get Microsoft Office 365 for Free Starting on December 1st, Universities that license Office Education for their faculty and staff can offer students Office 365 ProPlus for free. Read More , so it’s a gamble, but one which Microsoft needed to make in the face of falling PC sales Dead PCs, Gmail Stalking, Bitcoin Overstock, Kindle Kiosk [Tech News Digest] Desktops are declared dead, Gmail stalkers love Google+, Overstock starts accepting Bitcoin, scanning irises for passwords, Snapchat apologizes, Amazon starts selling hardware from a vending machine, and two companies fight over the right to pin. Read More .

Taylor Swift Is The New Lars Ulrich

Taylor Swift recently disappointed her legion of fans by removing all of her music from Spotify Mozilla Teases Browser For Developers, Who Is Alex From Target? [Tech News Digest] Also, Taylor Swift dumps Spotify, Disney Movies on Android, Apple flies high with Beats, and the movie which looks like a video game. Read More . There was speculation at the time that this was designed to add value to her record label, but it turns out she just hates Spotify and the effect she thinks it’s having on the music industry. She explained her reasons for hating Spotify in a recent interview with Yahoo:

Music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music.

I try to stay really open-minded about things, because I do think it’s important to be a part of progress. But I think it’s really still up for debate whether this is actual progress, or whether this is taking the word “music” out of the music industry.

[Spotify] didn’t feel right to me. I felt like I was saying to my fans, “If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it’s theirs now and they don’t have to pay for it.

The museum analogy makes no sense, as an artist’s music remains their property and remains whole no matter how many people listen to it. Swift also ignores the fact Spotify pays the artists and their record labels, whether through advertising or subscription fees, so no one is stealing anything from anyone in this scenario. Unlike music piracy, which is stealing. And which is the way fans will get hold of Taylor Swift’s new album when they discover it isn’t available on Spotify Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide Spotify is the biggest music streaming service around. If you're not sure how to use it, this guide will walk you through the service, as well as offer some crucial top tips. Read More .

CBSN Is Live and Online

CBS has launched CBSN, an online news outlet delivering network-quality broadcasts over the Internet. CBSN, available on and via selected set-top boxes, is free and supported by advertising, with Microsoft and Amazon being early sponsors. CBSN will also be available via the CBS News mobile apps by the end of 2014.


Scribd Adds 30,000 Audiobooks

Scribd has added 30,000 audiobooks to its eBook subscription service. People paying the $9-per-month fee for unlimited access to thousands of eBooks can now listen to those audiobooks as well for no extra charge. Which gives Scribd an obvious advantage over Kindle Unlimited, Oyster, and Entitle, its biggest rivals in this emerging space The 6 Best Ebook Subscription Services for Unlimited Reading Ebook subscription sites allow for unlimited reading for a flat monthly fee, similar to Netflix and Spotify. Should you subscribe? Which site is best? Read More .

The World’s First Ice Bike Is Cool

And finally, Colin Furze is either a genius or a fool, depending on how you choose to see this eccentric British inventor. His latest creation is a bike which has wheels made out of ice, which is as stupid as it sounds.

The ice bike struggles on steep inclines, obviously, but looks like being a lot of fun when ridden on an ice rink. The wheels made of frozen orange juice look rather tasty, but the bits of grit embedded in them puts me off ever actually eating them.

Your Views On Today’s Tech News

Will you be buying Amazon Echo? Is Microsoft sensible to release Office free on mobile devices? Is Taylor Swift right to hate Spotify?


Let us know your thoughts on the tech news of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

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  1. likefunbutnot
    November 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I have home-wide connectivity between my devices using Plex clients for video content and multiple bluetooth-capable receivers for audio. Only a few of them actually have microphones like the Echo, but it is a pretty nifty idea. I'm not sure it's worth $100, but, like the Kindle Fire ecosystem in general, it's probably absolutely fantastic for someone who isn't a tech nerd in the first place.

    I think free MS Office on mobile is a fantastic thing, if only because it will keep more people who should not have responsibility for a personal computer from having to purchase one. I think Google Docs is a fantastic tool and I highly recommend it for a lot of people, but for example I don't assume that it's the best idea for school-age children to begin their lives by handing over access to everything about their lives to the world's biggest advertising company just so they can write a book report.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      At $100 I must admit I'm tempted. At $200, not so much.

      I suspect the free mobile version of Office requires you to give up just as much information as Google Docs. If it's free, it's probably stealing your data (with your permission, of course!)

  2. dragonmouth
    November 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I don't think too many people would consider Taylor Swift the sharpest tool in the shed. Taylor certainly is not too swift.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      I actually laughed out loud. Which is a rarity. Thank you, Dragonmouth.