Apple pushed out an update today for the iWork 9 suite that patches a lot of issues within each of the apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote). But the big news as far as I’m concerned is that Apple added native ePub support into Pages, which means that you can use it to prepare eBooks for publication. Up until now, the only real option for full layout control over ePub was Adobe InDesign… . Pages support will make it that much easier to get your work into ePub, and onto your iPad, Nook, or Sony Reader!
No, I’m not talking about Android phones…I’m talking about the new feature in Gmail Chat that allows you to make Domestic U.S. and Canadian phone calls for free with your Google account.
Simply hit the “Call Phone” button in gChat, and a familiar number pad pops up. Dial, hit Call, and Google will connect you, for free. How much easier could this get?
Bonus: if you have a Google Voice account, you can even receive calls via gChat! Follow the instructions on this support page to link the two, and you can have your gMail account alert you whenever anyone calls.
To my knowledge, this is the only way that you can both send and receive phone calls in the U.S. with no connection at all to a phone carrier for free. You can use a service like Skype, but Skype calls to a landline phone have a cost associated with them.
I did a quick test of the service today, and the quality of the calls is very good. Now if Google will make this service Facetime compatible, it could be a serious competitor to Skype on the video call front.
From Aug 24-30, Kaplan study guides are FREE at the iBook store on your Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch! Caveats are: the only way to access the iBook store is via the iBook application, which requires iOS 3.2 or higher. If you or your library have devices that meet this criteria (and if you don’t, you really should update your devices), go take a look!
It appears that Samsung might be the first to launch a tablet that looks like it could actually compete with the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Driven by Android 2.2, it’s an impressive looking setup. They just released a teaser trailer for it, below, and the full story is over at Engadget.
Here’s a neat toy from Google that I hadn’t seen before: Google Search Stories. The concept is that you can create your own story via search terms, in the manner of the Google Superbowl Commercial (and others that they’ve done in the last year or so). If you haven’t seen it, watch the commercial, and then visit the Search Stories homepage to make your own. You get six searches and a final entry to tell your story, and can choose from a series of Google specific searches to highlight the term in the proper way (Web, Image, Blog, News, Map, etc). It’s an oddly compelling way to construct a narrative.
So compelling, in fact, that I’m going to sponsor a contest using it. Use Search Stories to tell a story about libraries … funny, dramatic, horrifying, or anything in between. Just make it about libraries, and post the video or a link to it here in the comments. I’ll assemble a non-partisan set of judges, and the one chosen as the best will win a copy of my latest book, Mobile Technologies & Libraries. I’ll mail it to you personally if your video is chosen as the winner. Deadline for entry is September 30, 2010, and the winner will be chosen and announced right here on Perpetual Beta.
So get those creative juices flowing, people! Wow us with some crazy search stories!
Barnes & Noble is clearly aiming some of their eBook efforts at educational use, something that Amazon and the Kindle have failed to do in any serious way. They ramped up efforts today with the release of Nook Study, a computer program that gives you the ability to view and annotate your Nook books, PDFs, and other files that you throw at it from the comfort of your PC or Mac.
The notes syncing, complete with highlights and everything, works beautifully. It remembers your place from book to book no matter where you are viewing it. And although I wasn’t able to test it, it promises to work with Blackboard:
Barnes & Noble has joined with Blackboard to help you seamlessly integrate eTextbooks into Blackboard Learn, the teaching and learning management system you already use.
Not sure exactly what that means, but it could be a huge benefit to colleges & universities that use the Blackboard system and are experimenting with eTextbooks.
It doesn’t do the one thing I’d hoped, which is sync my local documents (PDFs that I’ve added to my local NookStudy at my computer) to my B&N eReader software on my iPad. But overall, it’s an interesting add-on that might help keep the Nook afloat.
After promising to revolutionize online communication, Google Wave suffered from the same thing that many Google services do: engineers designing user interfaces is a bad, bad idea. Google announced today that Wave will no longer be developed, although pieces of it may be moved into other Google products. Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, said on the Google Blog today:
…Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects. The central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Wave’s innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source, so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began.
I am actually disappointed in this, because I saw huge opportunities for Wave in libraries. Given a better UI, I think it could have changed a lot of things about communication online. Here’s hoping that others do decide to extend the protocols that Google used for this product, and make something even better from it.
Amazon announced today the next generation of their Kindle eReader. Slightly redesigned, the biggest change is that there are now two models of the standard Kindle: Wifi only for $139, and Wifi + 3G for $189. Both models will also come in two different colors, the standard white and a dark grey, which I think looks great (and actually shows off the contrast of the eInk screen a bit more clearly).
There are a number of improvements, including being slightly smaller while maintaining the same 6 inch screen. The controls are more straightforward, the screen has a higher contrast, and Amazon is reporting that the new Kindle will go a full month on a single charge, if you turn off wireless.
All in all, a very, very compelling package. The $139 model is, I think, going to completely own the holiday gift season. Anyone whose been on the fence about trying out an eReader, this looks like the one to take a long look at.
Some amazing new metaphors for organizing your web-browsing, and making it vastly more powerful, are on the way from Firefox. Called Tab Candy, this is a sort of cross between the OS X Expose and Spaces taken to the browser level. I want this right now…my work style is completely driven by multiple spaces for differening projects and functions, and this would be really great for me. I hope that the video excites you about the possibilities, especially the social possibilities…shared workgroups for students would be incredibly useful.
Take a look at the video below, and see what you think:
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “While our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books—astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months.”
And it’s still impossible for a library to purchase a Kindle-formatted book and circulate it…at least according to the License Agreement.