These two indie platforms are partnering to help authors produce audiobooks at affordable prices

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Indie authors who publish through platforms like Amazon or CreateSpace usually don’t have the resources to publish an audiobook, which can be an expensive endeavor with production costs that self-published or first-time authors cannot afford. Now, self-publishing platform and ebook distributor Smashwords has teamed up with production platform and audiobook distributor Findaway Voices to give these indie authors a cheaper way to make audiobooks.

In an announcement, Smashwords CEO Mark Coker said today the deal would give “greater control over pricing and distribution” to authors and publishers, making it more “economically feasible” to get into audiobook production even with short or cheaper books. By using Findaway, Smashwords’ authors…

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Microsoft and Xiaomi are partnering to make AI-powered speakers, smartphones, and more

Microsoft and Xiaomi have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work closely in cloud computing, AI, and hardware. It has so far been uncommon for a US company to partner with a Chinese company on artificial intelligence, but it definitely makes sense as both countries are the biggest markets for those products and services.

Microsoft is planning to allow Xiaomi to use its cloud computing products, including Azure, to develop upgraded phones, laptops, and smart devices to bring them to an international market. At the same time, the partnership will also give Microsoft more reach and access to the Chinese market.

Xiaomi

The two are also in discussions about possibly integrating Microsoft Cortana with the Mi…

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Partnering with the mobile industry to connect people and businesses with RCS

We’ve been partnering with the mobile industry to improve the messaging experience on Android with RCS (Rich Communication Services), bringing more enhanced features to the standard messaging experience on mobile devices. As of today, we are working with 43 carriers and device manufacturers to bring better native messaging to every Android user.

Rich messaging for brands

Last year we created an Early Access Program to make it easier for brands to start participating in RCS business messaging (the mobile industry’s term for rich business-to-consumer messages). Today companies across food, travel, retail and delivery services in the U.S. and Mexico are starting to have better conversations with their customers using RCS as part of our Early Access Program.

With RCS, businesses can send more useful and interactive messages to their customers. This means, for example, that a retailer can send beautiful images of their products, rather than a text message, and even let the customer select and buy something, all without leaving the messaging app. Best of all, customers who have already opted in to SMS messages from a business get this upgraded experience automatically in Android Messages.

In the U.S., we’ve collaborated with Sprint to enable campaigns with 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel and Subway, among others, along with messaging partners 3C, CM.com, Mobivity, OpenMarket, Smooch and Twilio. We’re also working with Telcel to bring campaigns to Mexico soon with 5 Piso, Broxel, DHL Mexico and Secretaria de Salud along with messaging partners Airmovil, Auronix, Aldeamo and Tiaxa.

In the coming months alongside our partners, we’ll bring RCS messaging to businesses in more regions. And next week at Mobile World Congress, our partners will demonstrate how businesses can change the way they engage mobile customers using RCS.

RCS messaging growth in 2017 across Europe and Latin America

To help make RCS truly universal and give Android users a consistent and familiar experience with access to all that RCS messaging offers, we’ve been working closely with carriers and device makers around the world.

Over the past year, carriers across Europe, North America and Latin America including America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company and Telefonica joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint and Telenor Group in their commitment to launch RCS messaging, powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.They will also preload Android Messages as the default messaging app for their subscribers. Vodafone Group RCS service also supports Android Messages and has already launched across 10 of its 14 RCS markets globally. All carriers are committed to interconnecting through the Jibe RCS Hub to bring RCS messaging to users across networks. Collectively, they represent more than 1.8 billion mobile subscribers worldwide.

To bring better default messaging to hundreds of millions of users, device manufacturers including TCL/Alcatel/Blackberry, Transsion, BLU, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential are joining Huawei, LG, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, HMD Global – Home of Nokia Phones, HTC, Kyocera, Lanix, Lava, Micromax, Motorola, MyPhone, QMobile, Sony Mobile, Symphony, Vodafone, Wiko, ZTE, along with Pixel and Android One devices in preloading Android Messages as the the default messaging app on their new devices.

We’re excited to see Android Messages and RCS connect more people and businesses, and look forward to expanding our collaboration with the industry to bring better messaging to every Android user.


Android

Magic Leap is partnering with the NBA to bring virtual basketball games to its goggles

Lightfield-display technology company Magic Leap is partnering with the NBA to create digital basketball games that people can watch through its goggles – whenever it is that people are able to get their hands on said goggles, which have been years in the works and are supposed to ship this year.

In a video showed on stage at Recode’s Code Media conference earlier today, retired NBA star and current NBA analyst Shaq was seen wearing a pair of Magic Leap glasses and vouched for the product. “When I went to Magic Leap, I watched a full court game right here,” Shaq said in the video, gesturing towards the empty space on his right. “Lebron was right here. Then I went over here [gesturing to his left] and watched Atlantic play the LA…

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Apple, Cisco partnering for enterprise cybersecurity insurance program focused on iPhone, iPad, Mac

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A new "industry-first offering" from Cisco, Apple, Aon, and Allianz has been launched, allowing businesses small and large to utilize Apple devices, and Cisco security hardware, and in doing so, qualify for a "enhanced cyber insurance" program protecting the company from the financial impact of a cyber attack.
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Report: Tesla is partnering with companies to build on-site charging stations for its Semi truck

Reuters is reporting that Tesla is collaborating with several companies that have placed large orders of its Semi truck to build on-site charging stations to charge the vehicles when they’re rolled out next year.

Details of the partnerships haven’t been disclosed, but they reportedly include design and engineering from the electric vehicle company. The companies include Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Loblaw Companies Ltd, and United Parcel Service, each of which have placed large orders for the trucks. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed that the company was working with customers to build stations, but didn’t divulge details. We’ve reached out to Tesla for comment, and will update if we hear back.

The charging equipment will reportedly precede…

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Disney Partnering with Established Mobile Developers for Slate of Upcoming Mobile Games

Disney senior vice president Kyle Laughlin announced today that his company will be pursuing game development relationships with four established mobile partners. This may seem like quite a sharp turn for some fans hoping to see further console and PC related titles but it makes a lot of sense to put eggs in a basket as versatile and successful as the mobile platform. Venture Beat’s Dean Takahashi broke the story earlier today.

The game titles have not yet been announced but the big 4 to take the helm on each of these Disney franchises have been. RPG maker PerBlue, Franchise game veteran Ludia, and celebrity game heavy weight Glu have all been tapped. Of course any list of the usual mobile suspects would feel incomplete if Gameloft wasn’t in mix, but they are and we have a surprisingly diverse roster of developers that all have a very specific area of expertise. These devs are responsible for a whole lot of chart topping games. Glu’s Design Store [Free] still has 8.7 million daily active users despite being released over a year ago. Gameloft’s Sonic Runners [$ 2.99] garnered a “best original Sonic game on mobile” from our own Shaun Musgrave. Gameloft’s current Disney title, Disney Magic Kingdoms [Free] is still soaring high on the charts. Other games you might see climbing are Ludia’s Jurassic World: The Game [Free] and Glu’s Kim Kardasian: Hollywood [Free].

What this line up tells us is that there is very likely going to be a panoply of options for Disney fans who aren’t PC or console gamers. With the closure of titles like Marvel Heroes and Disney Infinity, we are less likely to see much diversity on those platforms. Of course Kingdom Hearts is going to continue to be a juggernaut. For folks hoping to see replacements for the less successful games, time and patience may be the only writing they receive on the wall today. Even though we aren’t seeing Disney step boldly out in multiple platform directions today I think this bodes really well for everyone. They are showing a commitment to working with “partners that have had success before” according to Laughlin and I would whole heartedly agree. We are going to see less work from unproven game studios and that means higher quality games and the better the games are, the more Disney will be willing to branch out in the future. Disney may not have an iron in every fire, but these ones are bound to light up their sales figures and propel their game business in a great trajectory.

TouchArcade

Qualcomm is partnering with AMD to power a new line of Always Connected laptops

At Qualcomm’s conference on Tuesday, AMD’s corporate vice president and GM Kevin Lensing made a surprise guest appearance, announcing that the two companies were working together to power a new line of HP and Asus PCs, powered by Snapdragon 835. The Always Connected PCs are powered by gigabit LTE, to stay connected without relying on Wi-Fi.

AMD has had a lot of new releases this year, including the launch of the flagship desktop AMD Ryzen ThreadRipper in the summer and the Ryzen mobile chips with integrated Radeon Vega graphics launched in October. But the partnership with Qualcomm can be seen as the next big move for AMD, and a way for the semiconductor to challenge Intel.

Lensing didn’t give many details on what AMD’s work on the new…

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The World’s Largest Retailer Is Partnering with Google in an Effort to Beat Amazon

The Enemy of My Enemy…

Amazon is the dominant force in the online shopping sphere, and now, Google and Walmart have decided to join forces in an attempt to take on the massive online retailer.

The two companies announced their partnership on Wednesday, August 23. Starting in September, Walmart products will begin appearing on Google Express. Customers will be able to link their Walmart account to Google to receive personalized shopping results based on previous purchases and shopping habits. The longterm goal is to allow them to order products using just their voice through Google Assistant or Google Home, the Android equivalent of the Amazon Echo.

According to a blog post written by Walmart President and CEO Marc Lore, the companies hope this partnership will make shopping easier for their customers now and in the future:

When it comes to voice shopping, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers. That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google. They’ve made significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience. We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be. An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers.

A Long Road Ahead

This joint announcement marks the latest step the two companies have taken to compete with Amazon, a company that offers hundreds of millions of items, free shipping options, and digital music and video streaming.

Both Google and Walmart have their own free shipping options, with Walmart going so far as to provide free two-day shipping without the $ 99 subscription fee Amazon requires — as long as minimum purchase requirements are met. Meanwhile, to compete with Amazon Music and Amazon Instant Video, Google uses YouTube and Google Play Music, while Walmart has Vudu.

However, Amazon’s overall convenience and the speed with which it gets people from browsing to checkout is still unmatched, according to Erich Joachimsthaler, chief executive of brand consulting firm Vivaldi. As he told The New York Times, “Convenience — convenience is where the game lies.”

Walmart may be the world’s biggest retailer overall, but based on customer numbers, Amazon is just simply the online retailer of choice. In July, Walmart.com drew in 83.6 millions visitors, which is only about half of what Amazon pulled in during the same time. Those customers could choose from about 67 million items on Walmart’s website, and although that is a 10 million increase from early last year, hundreds of millions of items are sold via Amazon.

While this Google partnership likely won’t be enough to push Walmart ahead of Amazon online, Craig Johnson, president of retail researching firm Customer Growth Partners, thinks it could make the retailer “a strong No. 2.” That might be the best Walmart can hope for as Amazon appears to have no plans to give up the crown any time soon.

The post The World’s Largest Retailer Is Partnering with Google in an Effort to Beat Amazon appeared first on Futurism.

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Google and Walmart are partnering on voice shopping in a challenge to Amazon’s Alexa

What do they say about the enemy of my enemy?

Alexa, how do you spell “competition”?

Google and Walmart have entered into a partnership to make hundreds of thousands of Walmart products available to purchase through the Google Home voice-controlled speaker, the tech giant’s answer to the Amazon Echo, the companies told Recode on Tuesday.

Owners of the Google Home gadget will be able to order one item at a time from Walmart completely by voice, or add multiples items to an online shopping cart for larger orders, and complete the purchase via the Google Home app later on.

Google first introduced voice shopping to Google Home earlier this year with partner retailers like Costco, Walgreens and PetSmart in a bid to offer commerce functionality like Amazon’s Alexa voice service already did.

In late September, Walmart will join those retailers in the program as well as on the Google Express shopping marketplace, which started out as a same-day delivery service in a handful of markets but has since expanded to include more traditional shipping speeds from partner retailers so that the service could cover the entire contiguous U.S.

Code Commerce is coming to New York on September 13-14 — join Jason Del Rey to talk the future of retail and commerce.

Featuring unscripted interviews, networking and on-location visits.

On both sides, the partnership seems like a smart hedge in the event that shopping by voice actually takes off. For Google, Amazon has already emerged as an unlikely foe as more and more online shoppers start their product searches on Amazon instead of on the traditional search engine, where Google is used to placing lucrative ads alongside those type of search results. A study last year found that 55 percent of U.S. adults start their online shopping trips on Amazon.

And if voice commerce becomes popular and shoppers actually start searching for products by speaking to a device, Walmart is perhaps the only retailer in the U.S. that comes close to offering the breadth of Amazon’s product catalogue.

“More competition, more choice is great for consumers,” Google’s commerce and ads chief Sridhar Ramaswamy told Recode in an interview when asked about Amazon’s own voice-shopping capabilities.

For Walmart, adding its products to Amazon Alexa’s voice-shopping platform was obviously out of the question since the two companies are fierce rivals and Amazon’s voice commerce approach appears to be more closed off. So Google Home is the only legitimate alternative, and the two companies know each other well because of existing advertising relationships.

Shoppers will be able to link their Walmart account to Google Home to receive personalized product recommendations by voice based on purchases they previously made on Walmart.com and in Walmart stores. For example, Google Home may recommend a specific brand of toilet paper you’ve previously bought at a Walmart store when you simply request the purchase of toilet paper.

While customers will only be able to order one item at a time completely by voice, Google exec Brian Elliott said that’s because the tech giant has found that people want to review larger orders on a phone or computer before completing a transaction.

Along with this development, Google is eliminating the $ 95 annual membership fee for the Google Express shopping service that powers its voice-shopping platform and that was introduced nearly three years ago.

Going forward, customers who place product orders through Google Express or Google Home won’t pay a fee as long as they hit the partner retailer’s free shipping threshold. Orders that don’t qualify for free shipping will carry a $ 4.99 fee. Google charges retailer partners a commission on each transaction that happens on Google Express or through Google Home.

Starting next year, the Walmart-Google partnership will expand to include the ability to place orders for in-store pickup at Walmart stores through Google Home, as well as order fresh grocery items.


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