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USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham gives his list of what he thinks are the coolest tech innovations of 2017.
If you haven’t gotten your act together to buy gifts yet, this Talking Tech newsletter is for you. It’s the procrastinator’s edition.
Amazon wants you to know that you can still get stuff in time. Saturday is the last day to order with free one-day shipping if you’re a member of the Prime service, the $99 subscription for expedited shipping and online entertainment.
Amazon says it has over 1 million items available this way, but to qualify, you’ve got to spend over $35. (The offer is good in 8,000 cities and towns, according to Amazon.)
If you’re really lazy and want to wait until the day before Christmas, Sunday would be your last day for free same-day delivery if you’re a Prime member. But come on, people. You have to get to ordering by noon, local time, to do it. So set your reminder notices now: shall we say by 11 a.m. Sunday to start the process?
That said, the pickings are rather slim. Readers, what do you think Amazon has available for one-day and same day deliveries? Do I hear a question being posed to Alexa, the Amazon digital assistant?
You guessed right.
There are every variation of the Echo speaker (there are 7 of them) along with Fire TV streaming players, the Kindle e-book readers, and such non Amazon items as waffle makers, electric razors and pillows.
Not to be outdone, retail giant Walmart says if you order products by 4 p.m. on Saturday, you can still pick it up at the store by closing time Sunday, which is 6 p.m.
For our readers who are willing to brave the crowds and shop the old-fashioned way, please note: Best Buy stores close at 6 p.m. Sunday and are closed on Christmas. Best Buy, Target and Walmart reopen Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.
Meanwhile, the bargain hunters who got through Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the many other days of holiday deals can look to another big sale coming Friday: Amazon’s second annual Digital Day, offering discounts on movie rentals, e-books, graphic novels and PC software.
You may have the day off from work, or get off early–a good time to watch the movie Wonder Woman for $1.79 instead of $2.99, right?
That’s a bargain? Exactly. Onto the New Year sales to really save some money.
In other tech news of the week
Apple finally admitted it. Your older iPhone really does slow down. On purpose. Apple said such slowdowns were a deliberate effort to keep older phones running longer as the battery wears down — not a push to buy a new model. “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple’s statement said. So if your phone slows down, you don’t need a new model. Just replace the battery. This is not good news for Apple. Two consumer lawsuits have already been filed, with Friday’s demanding $5 million on behalf of all those consumers who went out to buy new, faster iPhones.
Chrome users may see fewer ads. Good news for those of us who use the Google Chrome Internet browser. The company said this week that in February it will begin blocking ads that fail to meet its standards. The idea is to push out “low-quality” ads, such as auto-playing videos with sound and full-screen ad rollovers. We have another suggestion: Please get rid of those ads that show up instantly after doing an Internet or Amazon search. Those are creepy!
In this week’s installment of Amazon vs. Google, does the e-tailer really want to take on Google’s YouTube with its own video service? Amazon filed to get trademarks for two rather telling items, “AmazonTube” and “OpenTube.” The filing is for “providing non-downloadable pre-recorded audio, visual and audiovisual works via wireless networks on a variety of topics of general interest,” said Amazon. To recap: Google yanked YouTube off Amazon’s FireTV and video speaker, because Amazon wouldn’t sell the Chromecast streaming player and Nest thermostat. This week Amazon announced a workaround to get YouTube to FireTV, by introducing a web browser to FireTV that would enable users to type in YouTube’s address and watch it that way.
Maybe now it will be okay to sing Ed Sheeran songs on Facebook. The social network has been diligent about not allowing Facebookers to sing their takes on copyrighted songs and post them, suspending some members for violating copyrights. But this week, Facebook announced an alliance with Universal Music Group that allows fans to post licensed music and offer their covers as well. Universal artists include Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Sheeran records for Warner Bros., but if Universal is willing to make nice with Facebook, surely WB will soon follow as well.
Your Tech Week in Audio
Looking to buy a streaming player before the end of the year? You’ve come to the right place. Our Shopping Guide to Roku, Amazon, Apple and Google’s choices.
Two tech products changed our lives in 2017. At least they did for the interviewer and interviewee. Major gearhead Peter Pham, the president of tech incubator Science, Inc., and Talking Tech reveal their choices on this fun episode.
Is the camera on new iPhones that much better than older models? We get that question a lot, and on this caller edition of Talking Tech, we aim to answer it once and for all.
Apple Maps finally has something to brag about. An also-ran to Google Maps for five years, Apple Maps has a really useful new feature, indoor mapping at airports. We explain why this is helpful on #TalkingTech.
Tech breakthroughs of 2017 — From the DJI Spark drone to flying cars, we run them down.
USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham takes a look at the new features in Apple’s Map app that give users a detailed look at 35 airports.
Look for me on Twitter (@jeffersongraham) and Facebook and if you haven’t checked out the daily #TalkingTech podcast yet, now’s the time. You can listen on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to online audio.
Jefferson Graham shows the many options for finding audio podcasts to listen to, from apps to connected speakers, TV and the car, on #TalkingTech.