Posts tagged Prime

Amazon’s Prime Air Tests Can Finally Get Started In The U.S.

Amazon can finally test its latest Prime Air drones in United States airspace, thanks to a new approval waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a letter dated Wednesday, the FAA told Paul Misener, Amazon’s VP of global public policy, that Amazon may begin testing its latest models of drones provided they don’t fly higher than 400 feet or travel faster than 100 mph.

“We’re pleased the FAA has granted our petition for this stage of R&D experimentation, and we look forward to working with the agency for permission to deliver Prime Air service to customers in the United States safely and soon,” Misener told ReadWrite via email.

See also: Why Drone Regulations Are Taking Forever

Previously, when Amazon asked the FAA for an exemption to test its drones, the department took a year and a half to respond. By then, the specific model of drone the FAA had granted Amazon approval to test had long been obsolete.

The FAA was able to respond more quickly the second time around thanks to an internal loophole that allows it to quickly issue an approval if “it has already granted a previous exemption similar to the new request.

See also: Amazon’s FAA Exemption Doesn’t Make Prime Air Any More Real

While the waiver allows Amazon to test its latest drones with the FAA’s blessing, that still leaves the technology giant at square one. In February, the FAA unveiled a list of proposed rules that would govern unmanned aircrafts 55 lbs or under, and they would require all operators to have a pilot’s license and maintain “line of sight” during operation. It’s unlikely that Prime Air drones could deliver products while maintaining line of sight the whole time.

However, these proposed rules aren’t final. The agency is expected to bring them to a vote later in 2015. 

Photo courtesy of Amazon

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Amazon’s FAA Exemption Doesn’t Make Prime Air Any More Real

The Federal Aviation Administration just granted an experimental airworthiness certificate to one of Amazon’s delivery drone designs. However, this doesn’t make Prime Air any more realistic than it’s been up to this point.

The FAA’s certificate grants Amazon the ability to test its drones, but it’s too restrictive to allow that testing to take place in a realistic environment. The drones must always be operated within line of sight. Tests must take place during daylight hours, at 400 feet or below, during clear weather only. Also, all test operators must have a private pilot’s certificate.

Furthermore, Amazon will be required to report no small amount of data to the FAA on a monthly basis, including “number of flights conducted, pilot duty time per flight, unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links.”

See also: Amazon Tells The Feds It Really Wants To Test Drone Delivery

Amazon has been waiting for the FAA to make a decision since last July, when it first petitioned the federal government for a Prime Air testing exemption.

With this approval, Amazon joins a mere six organizations cleared to test drones in the U.S.: the University of Alaska, the state of Nevada, Griffiss International Airport in New York, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University’s Corpus Christi campus, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

See also: The FAA Finally Suggests Drone-Use Rules—And They Don’t Allow Much

The FAA’s restrictions aren’t picking on Amazon in particular either, but continue the agency’s track record of extremely limited drone-use rules. In its February proposal for the regulation of unmanned aircrafts 55 pounds and under, the FAA required line of sight visibility and a pilot’s license as mandatory for all flights.

The agency is expected to bring this proposal to a vote later this year.

Photo via Amazon

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U.K. Prime Minister Wants In On Your Facebook And Twitter Accounts

British Prime Minister David Cameron will enlist President Barack Obama’s help in accessing user info on Facebook and Twitter’s when the world leaders meet in the Oval Office on Friday, the Guardian reports. Good luck with that.

Cameron proposed on Monday banning encrypted messaging apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime that are inaccessible to Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) eavesdropping center. (Good luck with that, too.)  

 As the first world leader to meet with Obama following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Cameron will ask the president to urge U.S. Internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter to surrender user communications upon request. “Comprehensive legislation” expanding electronic surveillance in the hunt for terrorists is a major part of Cameron’s re-election campaign. And it’s one he’s pushing to gain traction on following the terrorist attack on the Paris office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

See also: Obama To Propose National Data Security Policy

“The prime minister’s objective here is to get the U.S. companies to cooperate with us more, to make sure that our intelligence agencies get the information they need to keep us safe,” a U.K. government source told the Guardian. “That will be his approach in the discussion with President Obama–how can we work together to get them to cooperate more, what is the best approach to encourage them to do more.”

It’s an ambitious goal, given the ongoing revelations from Edward Snowden about the extent of government surveillance on U.S. citizens, as well as other world leaders. Since Snowden first shared classified information from the the National Security Agency (NSA), tech companies continue a public relations offensive to distance themselves from government interference. Published transparency reports detailing government requests for information are now de rigueur in Silicon Vally. 

Last May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed on his Facebook page a phone call he made to Obama to tell the president he is, “confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.” 

Whats more, Cameron’s requests run somewhat counter to Obama’s own call for tech security. On Monday, while Cameron demanded access to Snapchat and the like, Obama called for stronger cybersecurity laws in connection to data breaches, including the recent attack on Sony. The president also champions better communication between corporations and the government in detecting cyber threats. 

Lead image courtesy U.K. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills


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Prime Minister David Cameron: No Encryption Please, We’re British

Prime Minister David Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested Monday that the UK can no longer permit the use of secure messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Apple’s iMessage, which use encryption to shield messages from the prying eyes of government police and spies.

Cameron, who is kicking off a re-election campaign, promised “comprehensive legislation” to ensure that authorities can read all forms of electronic communications in order to protect the UK from terrorism. 

“The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe,” Cameron said, referencing the recent attacks on the Frensh satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. “The attacks in Paris once again demonstrated the scale of the terrorist threat that we face and the need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies and policing in order to keep our people safe.”

“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people … that we cannot read?” he asked. 

The means of communication in Cameron’s remarks would include popular instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Apple iMessage, and Snapchat (but not Twitter). While Cameron didn’t specify any of these services by name nor threaten an outright ban, he did say that in his opinion, Britain “must not” allow people to communicate in ways that don’t allow the government to listen in. 

Government surveillance of electronic communication has come under increased scrutiny since Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA documents in June 2013, although authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have battled against the widespread use of encryption for decades. In the U.S., the NSA and FBI spearheaded a 1990s campaign for the “Clipper chip,” a hardware “back door” that would have let police listen in on encrypted phone conversations. More recently, FBI director James Comey has inveighed against the way Apple and Google now encrypt stored data on smartphones, saying it could impede law enforcement.

Should Cameron’s idea come to pass, it’s not remotely clear how the British government would enforce a ban of messaging apps, the vast majority of which now encrypt messages while in transit.

Photo by Department for Business, Innovation and Skill

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Apple Is Killing Finland, Says Prime Minister

Apple has a habit of sending technologies off into the sunset—see CDs, Firewire, Adobe Flash, and that’s just for starters. 

Running a whole country down, however, is a first.

According to Alexander Stubb, prime minister of Finland, many of the country’s economic woes stem from Apple’s iPhone—the devices that brought about the downfall of Nokia, the country’s former cell-phone champion, now a much-diminished part of Microsoft.

He also, bizarrely, pinned the decline of Finland’s paper industry on Apple’s iPad.

“A little bit paradoxically I guess one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia, and the iPad killed the Finnish paper industry,” he told CNBC on Monday.

See also: Nokia Unveils Three New Lumia Smartphones At Microsoft Build 2014

Finland’s sovereign debt rating on Standard & Poor slid from AAA to AA+ on Friday. But Apple isn’t solely to blame for that downgrade. Numerous factors went into its lowered economic prospects, including an aging population, lackluster business development and other matters. Stubb acknowledges that broader reforms are necessary, while remaining optimistic about making “a comeback.” 

See also: Nokia X Gets Axed By Microsoft

As for Nokia, the company’s phone business now operates under the umbrella of Microsoft, which lopped off as many as 12,500 jobs earlier this year. It still makes good phones—the Nokia Lumia 930, is regarded as one of the best on the market—but Windows Phone remains way behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android in popularity. 

Lead photo by Henkka

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All Roads Lead To Prime: Amazon Introduces Music Streaming Service

Amazon is officially in the music streaming business. Amazon today introduced Prime Music, a music streaming service available to Amazon Prime members. The new service will start with about 1 million songs and 90,000 albums, comprised of mostly older titles and hits from yesteryear. 

As part of Prime Music, Amazon is also consolidating its other music properties under the auspices of Amazon Music. The new Amazon Music will replace (but not substantially change) Amazon music services like its Cloud Player and the Amazon MP3 store. Users that use the Amazon vinyl AutoRip feature will find their music unchanged in Amazon Music. 

Prime Music will allow users to mix the music they own with music from the Prime catalogue to create as well as access hundreds of pre-arranged “Prime Playlists.” The service is completely advertising free for Prime members and will allow users to download songs from Prime Playlists to play on mobile devices. Kindle Fire HD and HDX owners will get Prime Music with an over-the-air update while the app will be available on iOS and Android as well.

Prime Music is available to Amazon Prime members, the company’s subscription service that features two-day shipping on many items in the Amazon store as well as video streaming with Amazon Instant Video and the Kindle lending library. Amazon announced earlier this year that it would increase the yearly fee for Prime to $99 (from $79) starting this year.

Serving The Prime Beast

Prime Music itself is nothing special. The library is relatively limited to older music at launch (much like Amazon Prime Instant Video is limited to older movies and shows) and will launch without any music from one of the largest record labels in Universal Music Group, according to The New York Times. 

If you are a Spotify subscriber, Prime Music is going to be disappointing in its breadth of selection. Amazon doesn’t seem to care as the point of Prime Music is not necessarily to beat Spotify or other music streaming services, but rather to increase the value of Prime to gain and retain users after Amazon hiked up the price. 

Focusing just on what Amazon Music does and does not have in terms of library selection and features would be a disservice to what Amazon has put together with its Prime content strategy. Think about it like this: For basically $100 a year, you get access to unlimited streaming of a variety of movies and television shows, unlimited streaming a good amount of music, the ability to share books with other Kindle users and two-day shipping for almost everything sells. 

Compare all the aspects of Prime with what it would cost to maintain Netflix (starting at $7.99 a month) and Spotify ($9.99 a month) subscriptions, not to mention other services like HBO Go and Hulu Plus or Pandora’s ad-free premium service and Prime looks like a deal. The problem with Prime’s content vis-à-vis the competition is that you are limited to older content, but many users may make that compromise if it saves them between $100 and $200 a month.

In the end, all of Amazon Prime’s content properties are tangential to its real purpose. The real objective of Prime is to get more people on Amazon, buying physical products from its warehouses. Amazon entices with free unlimited two-day shipping and all of the content included in Prime is just a way for Amazon to get more eyeballs on its site, buying more stuff. If music can help achieve that goal, it is an easy feature for Amazon to roll out to its Prime members.

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Google Glass Isn’t Ready For Prime Time, Says, Uh, Google

In case you were wondering if Google Glass is ready for prime time, here’s the final word on that, straight from the horse’s mouth: It’s not.

The Glass team took to Google Plus (where else?) to defend its smart facewear gadget against a whole host of accusations … er, “myths” … that have been circulating about the device. Nestled in among them was Myth 4, an item that speaks to its relative lack of polish and bugs. 

Myth 4—Glass is ready for prime time

Glass is a prototype, and our Explorers and the broader public are playing a critical role in how it’s developed. In the last 11 months, we’ve had nine software updates and three hardware updates based, in part, on feedback from people like you. Ultimately, we hope even more feedback gets baked into a polished consumer product ahead of being released. And, in the future, today’s prototype may look as funny to us as that mobile phone from the mid 80s.

The company’s position should come as no surprise. Google has always been clear that the current model of Glass is an early version—it even dubbed it Project Glass and made it only available as a developer release. The only thing missing was a neon sign slapped on it blinking “prototype!” 

But rounding up this laundry list of issues and adding point-by-point responses is an odd tack to take, especially from a big tech player with a penchant for unleashing beta products and services. It even posted an etiquette guide last month, in the hopes of minimizing any “glasshole” behavior of its users. All that suggests the company’s getting a little tired of the barbs pitched at its pet project. 

The litany of “myths” covers some common critiques, from Glass’ $1,500 priceyness and presumably well-heeled target audience to distraction and privacy. Especially privacy. Out of the 10 myths rebutted by Google, no fewer than five touch on privacy and surveillance concerns: 

Myth 2:  Glass is always on and recording everything

Myth 5: Glass does facial recognition (and other dodgy things)

Myth 7: Glass is the perfect surveillance device

Myth 9: Glass is banned… EVERYWHERE  

Myth 10: Glass marks the end of privacy

Hey, Google—defensive much?

The Google+ post likens Glass to smartphones, the reigning and ubiquitous mobile devices with integrated cameras. What it fails to address is that phones aren’t always poised and ready to shoot photos or video, or that someone holding their phone up in your general direction is usually a pretty good tip off he or she is about to immortalize your likeness. If someone is wearing Glass, it’s pointing wherever they’re looking—and the device still has no LED to alert others when it’s recording. (Its screen may light up, but that’s not remotely the same thing.) 

Here’s hoping the Glass crew can put as much effort into actually resolving these issues as it did defending itself against them.

Image by Flickr user tedeytan

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Amazon Jacks Up The Price Of Prime To $99

Amazon has increased the price of its Amazon Prime membership program today to from $79 to $99 annually. The raise of the price for Prime has been anticipated since Amazon’s last quarterly earnings call when CFO Tom Szkutak said that it was likely that the company would elevate the cost to consumers by $20 to $40.

Amazon Prime allows members free two-day shipping as well as access to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video television and movie streaming service as well as free access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Prime was introduced by Amazon in 2005 and had not seen a price increase since its inception in 2005. The price of Prime for students will remain at $49. Amazon Fresh, the company’s grocery delivery service, will remain $299.

The Prime price increase will go into effect for existing users on their renewal dates. If your Amazon Prime memberships has already been renewed in 2014, the price increase won’t go into effect until the renewal date in 2015.

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That Amazon Prime Price Hike Is Already Happening In Europe

Amazon is raising the price of Amazon Prime subscriptions in the U.K. and Germany by roughly 60% to 70% starting February 26, it announced Friday. The new fee coincides with Amazon’s decision to include streaming video in the deal for its European customers and may be a sign of things to come for U.S. users as well. Amazon said a few weeks ago that it may impose similar increases for domestic Prime users, who have access to free streaming since 2011



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Prime Talk: Prof. Seo Sang-heui on Bird Flu Outbreak – Arirang News

Prime Talk: Prof. Seo Sang-heui on Bird Flu Outbreak
Arirang News
For more on the the threat of avian influenza expanding across the country and ways to contain the potential damage from the virus, we are joined in the studio by Dr. Seo Sang-heui professor of Veterinary Medicine at Chungnam National University.

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