Amazon’s original series ‘Catastrophe’ premieres 3rd season today and ‘Z’ renewed for 2nd season

The third season of Amazon’s original series Catastrophe premiers today. The short but sweet 6 episode season is now available for Prime members to stream. The show was recently nominated for Best Comedy Series by the Critics’ Choice Awards. The new season features one of Carrie Fisher’s final roles, since the Star Wars actress passed away late last year, just days after filming had wrapped. Catastrophe has already been renewed for a 4th season.

Speaking of renewals, Amazon’s original series Z: The Beginning Of Everything, which premiered its first season earlier this year, has been renewed for a second season. The show “tells the story of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the brilliant, beautiful Southern Belle who became the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age.”

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New developer options now allow Alexa to whisper, change pitch, and more

Amazon is making Alexa sound more human with new options for developers to vary its speaking speed, volume, bleep out words, and even whisper. This is an extension of the Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) that Amazon recently adopted. A couple of months ago, Alexa skill developers gain the option to use expressive words to give Alexa more personality. The new SSML options will allow Alexa users to have a “more natural voice experience.”

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Amazon Echo with built-in screen rumored to launch next month

The long rumored new Echo device with a built-in screen might be launching next month, according to CNET. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the new device last year and then Bloomberg later said it would have a 7-inch touchscreen. It definitely seems the new Echo, codenamed “Knight,” is at least real and very close to launch. CNET’s source says Amazon might be speeding up the launch to stay ahead of Google’s Home speaker.

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Amazon Underground “Actually Free” appstore is shutting down

Amazon has decided to shut down the Underground Appstore, in part this summer, and completly in 2019. The Fire and Android device appstore, which offered “actually free” apps and games, was launched in August 2015 as an experiment to pay app developers based on the amount of time their apps were used, instead of through upfront app and in-app purchases. All apps and their in-app purchasable items in the Underground appstore were free to the user and monetized by Amazon through other means, such as advertisements. Read more ›

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Fire TV Edition televisions are codenamed “Margo/Rita” and confirmed to have “AFTRS” build name

I just started digging deeper into the guts of the Fire TV 5.2.4.1 software update and discovered that it’s the first version of Fire OS to include support for the upcoming Fire TV Edition televisions from Westinghouse, Seiki, and Element. Additionally, I can now definitively confirm that the “AFTRS” build name, which I found traces of earlier this month and guessed was a Fire TV Edition television under testing, is in fact the build name for those TVs.

Since I like keeping track of Fire TV codenames, I dug around for new ones in the 5.2.4.1 update and found that the Fire TV Edition televisions are codenamed “Margo” and/or “Rita.” Most of the code referred to the TVs under the “Margo” codename, but there were a few places that used “Rita.” It’s a little odd to find two codenames, but perhaps one is the codename for the Fire TV Edition project as a whole, which I’m guessing to be “Rita,” and the other is the codename for the specific hardware being released later this year, which I’m guessing is “Margo.”

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Amazon’s fight against Fire TV resellers by deregistering devices is hurting regular customers

Image: Instagram

Amazon started the practice of deregistering Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks, that they believed were registered to reseller accounts, back in October of last year. This has been happening periodically to customers who have around 10 or more Fire TV devices registered to the same Amazon account, but this week, it seems Amazon has gotten much more aggressive with logging out devices. I’ve been flooded with messages this week via Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, the comments on this site, and email from people who have spontaneously had their devices deregistered. Some of them have as little as 3 devices and others have been logged out twice this month alone. Read more ›

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Amazon Music Unlimited promo gives you 30 days free plus $10 credit

Amazon is running a promotion for Music Unlimited where you’ll get 30 days for free, plus a $10 credit applied to your account after the free trial. The promotion is targeted, but thankfully it’s easy to know if your account qualifies. Those who qualify will see the text “$0.00 per month – The following promotion applies after your free trial: $10 promo credit” displayed on the page. If you don’t qualify, it’ll simply say “The promotion is not valid” in red near the top of the page.

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Samsung 64GB microSD card capable of fast 100MB/s speeds for $22.99

Amazon is selling the Samsung 64GB microSD card for $22.99. This is a good deal considering the blazing fast 100 MB/s read speeds this card is capable of. I don’t know if the improved speeds that this UHS 3 rated card is capable of would make a difference on the Fire TV 2, compared to an average microSD card, but if you’re storing apps on external storage, it’s always best to use as fast of a card as you can to reduce load times and improve app responsiveness. That’s why Amazon recommends USB 3.0 drives for the Fire TV, even though it only has a USB 2.0 port. This microSD card also comes in a 128GB version for $44.99, but those are in very high demand so are backordered for 1 to 2 months. If you’re interested in the 64GB version, get your order in quick before they too get backordered.

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Amazon’s original series ‘The Tick’ to premiere August 25

Amazon’s upcoming new original series The Tick has been assigned a premiere date. The first season will debut on August 25th for Prime members to enjoy. A new, and very short, promo video for the announcement has been published on Amazon’s YouTube account.

The series will premiere almost one year to the date after the pilot was released. The series was greenlit, along with Jean-Claude Van Johnson and I Love Dick, a month later, making the turn around from approval to debut quite short. Not as short as I Love Dick though, which will be premiering 3 months sooner on May 12, despite both being greenlit together. No word yet on when Jean-Claude Van Johnson will premiere.

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Amazon releases Echo Look “style assistant” camera with Alexa

The Alexa capable camera that I discovered is called the Echo Look and has just been launched. Turns out it’s not a home security camera like I assumed, but rather, an Alexa powered “style assistant” that acts as a smart mirror, of sorts, to rate your outfit. Using your voice, you can use Echo Look to take pictures of your outfit, which can be catalogued in a “lookbook,” shared to friends on social media, or judged for how flattering it looks. Read more ›

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