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Amazon Studios to roll out seven pilots early next year

Amazon Studios to roll out seven pilots early next year

Early next year Amazon Studios will be launching seven pilot episodes for several series that may then go on to become full series productions. As expected, the pilots -- and eventual series -- will be available to Amazon's subscribers via Prime Instant Video. There's a total of six pilots for fictional series, as well as one for the docuseries The New Yorker Presents, which will showcase the New Yorker's history in bite-sized documentary style episodes. We've got a rundown on each pilot for you after the jump.

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Amazon will offer Ultra HD streaming free for Prime members

Amazon will offer Ultra HD streaming free for Prime members

If you’ve got a high-end TV and Amazon Prime, you’re going to like this news. Earlier this year, Amazon announced a deal to bring 4K Ultra HD programs to Prime members. In collaboration with Warner Bros., Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Samsung, and Disney, Amazon’s goal was to be the class-leading provider of Ultra HD content. They faced stiff competition from the likes of Netflix, but Amazon just confirmed they’re not going to charge Prime members for Ultra HD content streaming. At all.

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How private is Amazon Echo?

How private is Amazon Echo?

Put a microphone in your product, and someone is going to assume you're listening to them. That's one of the challenges Amazon Echo - the online retailer's "Siri in a totem pole" - faces, with suspicion about just how much Jeff Bezos & Co. (or his algorithms, at least) are actually eavesdropping on. Given the power of Amazon's recommendation engines and the amount of data it gathers just from casual browsing, you can certainly see where some of the paranoia might come from, too. A microphone-mute button takes pride of place on top of Echo, but will it be enough to persuade potential users that the virtual assistant is working for them and not for Amazon itself? I went hunting for some answers on just what Echo shares and how you can tame it.

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Amazon Echo puts Siri-style smarts in a column of cloud

Amazon Echo puts Siri-style smarts in a column of cloud

Amazon has revealed its latest hardware project, Amazon Echo, an unusual always-listening home assistant that promises Siri or Google Now style virtual PA features from a cloud-connected totem for your home or office. Woken with a spoken keyword - "Alexa" or "Amazon" initially, with more to come - rather than pressing any buttons, Echo can be asked for information on anything from current news or weather conditions, to play music from a particular artist, to set alarms or add items to shopping or to-do lists, or just to get the answers to questions.

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Scribd Audiobooks: expanding beyond Amazon

Scribd Audiobooks: expanding beyond Amazon

The team behind Scribd want to make their service as accessible as possible. To do this, they've seen it necessary to expand beyond the Kindle - to move past the Amazon environment. To do this, they've decided, they'll need to open their platform to Audiobooks. According to Scribd, this $1 billion a year market is just ripe for expansion - 30,000 audiobooks are on the way to their service right this minute. This will be the single largest unlimited-access offering of e-books and audiobooks available in the world today.

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Amazon Prime shipping now available outside of Amazon

Amazon Prime shipping now available outside of Amazon

You love Amazon Prime because it brings you stuff quickly, right? Amazon has a whole lot of stuff, too, so you’re likely not left wanting for much, or even waiting long for it. Still, sometimes you find something via another site that Amazon doesn’t have, and you really wish that Prime shipping was available. today, Amazon is announcing a partnership that would bring their popular free next-day shipping scheme to another site, British retailer AllSaints. Shipping may only be the first step, too.

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Amazon Prime photos unlimited storage’s big caveat

Amazon Prime photos unlimited storage’s big caveat

So you're considering picking up an Amazon Prime account because you heard you get unlimited storage space for photos, yes? There's a reason you might not want to do that. When you get an Amazon Fire Phone or Fire tablet or Kindle device, you may get Amazon Prime as well. Once it expires - if you allow it to expire, that is - you might have a tough time looking at those photos you've been saving for months and months. Those photos will start disappearing.

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Prime Photos adds unlimited galleries to sweeten Amazon’s cloud

Prime Photos adds unlimited galleries to sweeten Amazon’s cloud

Amazon is offering unlimited photo storage to all of its Prime subscribers, adding Prime Photos to the list of perks included in the shipping service. Launched first on the poorly-selling Amazon Fire Phone, Prime Photos automatically uploads images not only from the retailer's own handset and its Fire tablets, but from iOS and Android devices in general thanks to new apps for each platform. Desktop apps for Windows and Mac throw photos from there into the cloud too, and the combined gallery can then be accessed across multiple platforms including consoles and set-top boxes.

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Amazon’s new diversity report tells a familiar tale

Amazon’s new diversity report tells a familiar tale

We've seen many diversity reports this year, and they all have one thing in common: a relative lack of diversity. Amazon has joined Facebook, Twitter, Google and others by posting its own numbers, and in them we see that same familiar tale comprised of people who are mostly white and mostly male. The company revealed its workforce statistics in a total of four categories, both for the overall company and for its managers when it comes to gender, and the same narrowed down to just those in the US when it comes to race.

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Amazon: Yes, we screwed up on Fire Phone

Amazon: Yes, we screwed up on Fire Phone

Too expensive, glitchy early software, and missed expectations: Amazon got burned with the Fire Phone, and the company's execs are owning up to that fact - though that doesn't mean it's the last smartphone the online retail behemoth will be doing. Amazon took a $170m hit on the little-loved Android phone - which includes face-tracking cameras, and can be used to visually scan products and then hunt for them on its virtual shelves - confirming a huge write-down on unsold stock in its recent financial results. According to its devices chief, not only is Amazon ready to take the blame for the disaster, but it thinks the problem was incredibly simple.

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