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Amazon Local Register mobile card reader and app combo launches

Amazon has launched its own card reader and accompanying app to allow small businesses to get paid. The Amazon card reader is called Amazon Local Register and it is aiming directly at Square and PayPal. One of the big features of the Amazon offering is that it has lower costs than Square and PayPal.

 

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Amazon offers a flat charge of 1.75% per payment until the beginning of 2016, which is 1% lower than the fees required by both of the competing providers. On January 1 2016, the fees will increase to 2.5%, which is still lower than both competitors current pricing.

 

The card reader and apps are available for Fire OS, Android, and iOS devices. No monthly fees are charged and the card reader hardware will cost $10. Buyers of the card reader will get a $10 credit in processing fees making the reader free.

Continue reading 'Amazon Local Register mobile card reader and app combo launches' (full post)

Apple making stronger play in the healthcare market with HealthKit

Tech giant Apple is promoting its HealthKit personal health-tracking application for iPhones, speaking with several companies specializing as health organizations and electronic record companies. Apple already works with Allscripts, Nike and Mayo Clinic, while speaking with Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic and Mount Sinai about its service.

 

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HealthKit will be released on the iPhone 6 next month, and will provide instant access to blood pressure and other critical medical data available - which can be monitored by patients and easily shared with doctors.

 

"Apple is going into this space with a data play," noted Skip Snow, Forrester Research health care unit analyst, in a statement. "They want to be a hub of health data."

Continue reading 'Apple making stronger play in the healthcare market with HealthKit' (full post)

Uber employees allegedly ordered and canceled over 5000 Lyft rides

Competition is fierce in the car hailing app realm with Uber and Lyft among the two most popular firms in the market. Lyft is claiming that Uber is resorting to underhanded tactics in the effort to come out on top. According to Lyft, Uber employees have ordered and canceled over 50000 rides using the Lyft app since last October.

 

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Some may think that only a couple employees are doing this, but according to Lyft over 177 Uber employees have booked and cancelled rides during that time frame. By booking and cancelling rides using the app, it reduces the avialbitiy of Lyft drivers. Presumably, that could make real riders looking for a Lyft ride look to Uber instead.

 

Lyft drivers also report that when the Uber workers do actually get in the car and ride, the rides are short and unprofitable. Lyft workers go so far as to say that the main crux of the ride isn't to get somewhere for Uber workers, but to try to talk the drivers into coming to work for Uber. Lyft says that the data was gleaned by cross-referencing a list of known Uber recruiters with cancelled Lyft rides.

Facebook told by court to hand over info on underage account holders

Mega-social network Facebook is being told to disclose just how many of its users are underage, at least in Northern Ireland.

 

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Belfast's High Court has ruled that Facebook must provide records for all account holders under the age of 13 in Northern Ireland or the UK between 2011 and 2014. It comes as part of a lawsuit against the company for negligence, as a young girl allegedly published inappropriate photographs on the website from the age of 11, reportedly leading to the girl receiving extreme sexual content from men. Her accounts were deactivated when Facebook was notified, the BBC says.

 

Although a judge blocked wider requests for information from Facebook, it was asserted that if the company has details on underage users, they "should be discovered". "If they do not have them, then obviously they can properly indicate that they do not have such information in their possession, custody or power," the judge said. It was claimed gaining access to this information could be important to understanding the risk posed to young children on Facebook.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issues warning about bitcoins

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued an advisory against the use of bitcoins and cryptocurrencies, saying there are far too many uncertainties. As such, bitcoins are popular targets for hackers and may lead to higher costs than cash and credit cards because of exchange rates and other considerations.

 

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Furthermore, there is an increase in the amount of bitcoin-related fraud, and bitcoin wallet companies are struggling to stay secure from attack.

 

"Virtual currencies are not backed by any government or central bank, and at this point consumers are stepping into the Wild West when they engage them in the market," said Richard Cordray, CFPB Director, in a statement.

Continue reading 'Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issues warning about bitcoins' (full post)

Amazon stops offering pre-orders for some Disney films

Amazon is one of the most likely places that many movie fans go to pre-order a DVD or Blu-ray before the film launches. Amazon is so popular that it has used its popularity for pre-orders in contract disputes with companies in the past. Amazon has recently stopped taking pre-orders on some Disney films as part of a contract dispute with the company.

 

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Pre-orders for some popular coming Disney films like Muppets Most Wanted, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Million Dollar Arm, and Maleficent are unavailable in physical form. Amazon didn't want to cut off its own nose, so digital versions of these films via Amazon Instant video are still available.

 

In the past Amazon has used this same tactic with Warner Home Video and pulled pre-orders for The Lego Movie, Transcendence, and 300: Rise of an Empire off the site. The etail giant has also done something similar with publisher Hachette. It's unclear exactly what part of the contract between the two has led to the dispute.

FCC questions carriers on throttling practices for subscribers

A lot of the mobile phone users out there aren't happy with the throttling that their carriers perform when they go over what the carrier feels is fair use for data. Late last week FCC chairman Tom Wheeler dismissed Verizon's reason for throttling some users and announced that the commission will be questioning other carriers as well.

 

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Verizon plans to throttle the top 5% of LTE users on unlimited plans starting in October when the network is under heavy load. Verizon claims that speed for these users would go back to normal when the network is less congested. Verizon noted that this practice is widely accepted in the industry.

 

Wheeler said "All the kids do it" isn't a good reason. "My concern in this instance-and it's not just with Verizon, by the way, we've written to all the carriers-is that it is moving from a technology and engineering issue to the business issues ... such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them ," Wheeler said.

Twitch CEO apologizes over changes, says that improvements are coming

Twitch has landed itself in some hot water in the last 48 hours, with some changes after its acquisition by YouTube. 24 hours ago, the company announced it was undergoing some serious changes that would see the use of unauthorized music in Twitch streams silenced for 30-minute periods.

 

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Emmett Shear, Twitch's CEO, took to Reddit to answer some questions from users. The new rules about the use of unauthorized music don't apply to live broadcasts, and it will not affect games that feature original compositions. Reddit users were firing off some good points, that will see Rock Band playthrough videos muted because of the music that is copyrighted within the game.

 

The company was quick on pushing through changes though, where Twitch took to a blog explaining the new changes, that come after the news of the changes from yesterday. The maximum time limits applied to highlights have now been removed, and the company has said it is rolling out an "appeal" button for videos that have been flagged as violations. What do you think of these changes? Do you think Twitch has been sucked up into the big bad world of mega corporations that is Google?

Netflix now has more subscription revenue than HBO

Netflix has been clear that it wants to be like HBO, the company is working hard to make that happen. Netflix announced in its most recent earnings report that it has more subscription revenue than HBO, indicating it is well on its way to being more like HBO. That isn't to say that Netflix has profits on the same order as HBO though.

 

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Netflix currently has about one-seventh as much profit as HBO rakes in. As far as subscription revenue goes, Netflix racked up $1.146 billion compared to HBO pulling in $1.141 billion. "They still kick our ass in profits and Emmys, but we are making progress," CEO Reed Hastings wrote. "HBO rocks, and we are honored to be in the same league."

Vizio recalls TVs due to faulty stands increasing tip over risk

We hear plenty about recalls of faulty cars for defects that can cause injury to owners, but we rarely hear about TVs being recalled. TV maker Vizio has done just that with a recall that has been expanded to cover 245,000 E-Series TVs that were sold between late 2013 and mid-2014.

 

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The TVs covered in the recall are 39-inch and 42-inch units and the recall is due to faulty stands that cause an increased risk of tip over. This can be particularly problematic for homes with small children who are more likely to be injured if the TV tips over.

 

The TVs in the recall include model numbers E390-B0, E390i-B0, and E420i-B0 sold between December 2013 and June 2014. Vizio says that the defect that can lead to tip over isn't visible on the outside of the TV. No injuries have been reported, but 51 TVs in the recalled line have tipped over.

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