Tech News

Amazon Fire TV, Windows Phone Cortana, Indiegogo GoBe, Binge Watching PSA [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 03-04-2014

Today in Tech News Digest, the Amazon Fire TV, Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana, Windows 8.1 Update 1 for mouse and keyboards, GoBe on Indiegogo, Rdio, Vudu, and Crackle on Chromecast, and a PSA about the dangers of binge watching.


Amazon Launches Fire TV Set-Top Box

Amazon has unveiled Fire TV, a powerful set-top box for streaming content and playing games. The Amazon Fire TV is available immediately and priced at US$99. The remote control is included, with a custom controller for playing games priced at $39.99.

The Amazon Fire TV is an Android-powered set-top box with a quad-core CPU, a dedicated GPU, and 2GB of RAM. The hardware is small and unassuming, and the UI is slick and filled with images; looking like a slightly improved version of Netflix How To Access Netflix On Almost Every Platform Known To Man I don’t like horror movies. Classic horror I can cope with; I enjoy Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological horror, for instance, but I’m not a fan of scares and gore, as a rule. My wife, on the... Read More .

Streaming content comes courtesy of Amazon’s own Prime Instant Video, as well as Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, VEVO, and Showtime to name just a few. As well as using the remote, Fire TV owners can use voice commands to control the action.

As for gaming, some titles will be playable using the remote, while others will require the (rather ugly and uncomfortable-looking) controller. There will be plenty of free-to-play titles on the Fire TV, with others such as Minecraft and The Walking Dead being paid options.

You can hear initial reactions to the Amazon Fire TV on Technophilia 107: Apple Cookbook. This episode of the MakeUseOf podcast also includes an interview with Yukari Iwatani Kane, author of the controversial book, Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs.


Microsoft Details Windows Phone 8.1

On the first day of Build 2014, Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8.1. The biggest new feature is Cortana, Microsoft’s long-awaited answer to Apple Siri 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do Siri has become one of the iPhone’s defining features, but for many people, it’s not always the most useful. While some of this is due to the limitations of voice recognition, the oddity of using... Read More and Google Now OK, Google: 20 Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone Google Assistant can help you get a lot done on your phone. Here are a whole bunch of basic but useful OK Google commands to try. Read More . Cortana is being launched as a beta, and rolled out around the world through 2014 starting in the U.S.

Other features of Windows Phone 8.1 include a new Action Center tracking notifications, wallpapers on the Start Screen, a customizable tile layout for larger phone, and a Swype-style keyboard Swype For Android, Reviewed: A Hassle To Install, But Is It Worth It? I've long since fell in love with sliding/swiping keyboard, as my SlideIT review from a year ago shows. But when people hear "swiping keyboard," SlideIT isn't usually the first name that comes to mind: Swype... Read More called Word Flow.

This may only be numbered like a minor update but Windows Phone 8.1 looks to have made Microsoft’s mobile operating system 10 Secrets of Windows Phone 8 To Super Power Your Smartphone Experience Your Windows Phone is awesome. Forget the naysayers – it might not be as popular and fashionable as Android and iOS, but Windows Phone 8 is an awesome platform. These ten secret features prove why. Read More a much more desirable alternative to both Android and iOS. Devices with Windows Phone 8.1 will start shipping in May 2014.

Microsoft Details Windows 8.1 Update 1

On the first day of Build 2014, Microsoft also unveiled Windows 8.1 Update 1. Again, this is seen as a minor update but it’s one that Microsoft believes will increase the appeal of the beleaguered operating system The Pros & Cons Of Running Windows 8 On Your Desktop & Mobile Windows 8 isn't just about Windows anymore. It's integrated with Microsoft's online services, including Bing, SkyDrive,, Skype, Xbox Music, and even Office. Is it worth working exclusively on the Windows 8 platform? Read More .


All of the new and improved features are as expected, with an improved Taskbar including pinned Windows Store apps, and an improved Start Screen including power, search, and settings options. Microsoft is making no secret of the fact that the changes are designed to accommodate mouse and keyboard users.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available via Windows Update from April 8, which just happens to be the day Microsoft ends support for Windows XP 4 Ways To Bulletproof Windows XP Forever Windows XP is slated to be exterminated for good by Microsoft in April of 2014. It is the last stage of a multi-year effort to kill off the operating system. Windows XP is one of... Read More . In other words, Microsoft wants you to stop using Windows XP and jump straight to Windows 8.1 Upgrade From Windows XP to a Modern OS in 7 Simple Steps It's time to say goodbye! Microsoft is ending official support for Windows XP on April 8 2014. Are you at risk? If you are still running this ancient operating system, it's time to upgrade. Read More .

Is GoBe Too Good To Be True?

A controversial fitness tracker being crowdfunded on Indiegogo is on course to raise $1 million. The campaign creators claim the Healbe GoBe is capable of automatically measuring calorie intake, calories burned, stress levels, and hydration levels, all through the skin without any need for user input.

Enough people have believed the claims for the GoBe to raise $916,000 at the time of writing, with 13 days left to go. But several doctors have disputed the claims, and Pando has gone as far as calling for Indiegogo to pull the campaign for fear it’s based on nothing but “bullshit.” Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Rdio, Vudu, Crackle Come To Chromecast

Rdio, Vudu, and Crackle have all joined the ranks of services supporting Chromecast Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway We're giving away a Google Chromecast, so read through our review, then join the competition to win! Read More , with the individual apps being updated to add Chromecast support Rdio, Vudu, and Crackle Add Chromecast Support Chromecast is picking up steam with users, and more companies are launching support for it. Rdio, Vudu, and Crackle have just joined the ranks of Chromecast supporters with updates for each of its services. Read More . Google’s $35 media streaming device needs more support from services such as these if it’s going to continue gaining in popularity.

PSA: The Dangers Of Binge Watching

And finally, with all of these video streaming services and devices launching, it’s easy to get sucked into binge watching your new favorite TV show. But perhaps you shouldn’t. Perhaps you should think twice before embarking on this dangerous pastime. You have been warned!

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.

Related topics: Chromecast, Rdio, Television, Windows 8.

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  1. Justin P
    April 3, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    I'm not addicted to binge watching. I can quit anytime I want. I just don't want to.

    • Poppamunz
      April 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      That's what they all say...

  2. Tom W
    April 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Will Windows Phone 8 users get a free update to Windows Phone 8.1?

    I'm still waiting for Microsoft to officially announce the Neo One, or whatever it'll call it's VR offering.