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Audio Books is a free iPhone and iPad app from audiobooks.com with a collection of over 60,000 audiobooks including 2500 free titles. New Audio Books users can claim one paid title for free after signing up for an account including the new Becoming Steve Jobs biography. The interface for Audio Books presents both saved books in your library as well as featured books from the service. You can also easily navigate through genres of audiobooks and quickly find free titles to listen to on your drive without signing up for an account.
Apple has only a small set of App Store apps to support its CarPlay feature with iPhone Audio Books today joining that list. The latest version of Audio Books adds integration with CarPlay head units for easily finding audiobooks to play through your car stereo on your drive.
The days of the flagship iPhone only being available in black, silver and gold are long behind us. The next version of Apple’s primary handset could come in pink, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The top-of-the-line iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are currently available in silver, gold and space gray. A bright pink iPhone 6 varient would be a big departure from the relatively muted color schemes that mainline iPhones are known for. However, it would fit the design aesthetic of the iPhone 5c, Apple’s budget phone that comes in colors such as yellow, blue and, yes, pink.
In addition to a pink casing, the Journal reports that Apple plans to incorporate pressure-sensitive screens in the new iPhones that can differentiate a hard tap from a soft one. The new devices will reportedly keep the same dimensions of the iPhone 6 (4.7-inch screen) and 6 Plus (5.5-inch screen).
Google has officially announced Android 5.1, about a month after it started shipping Android One phones with it. Better late than never, right?
The release was detailed on the Official Android Blog, and should start rolling out to Nexus devices this week. Don't get too excited; this release is mostly about fixing the plethora of bugs in Android Lollipop. There are four new features worth mentioning, though.
Multi-SIM support: Have a phone with more than one SIM slot? Now you can use them both!
HD Voice: On networks with HD Voice like Verizon and T-Mobile, you can now actually use it on supported devices (such as the Nexus 6).
Device Protection: If your phone is lost or stolen, you'll need to log in with your Google account to unlock it—even if it is factory reset.
Quick settings: Select which Wi-Fi network to join or Bluetooth device to pair with, right from a drop-down list in the quick settings menu.
Most of those features won't be of much use to people who don't use stock Android phones (Nexus, Google Play Edition, or Android One). Most manufacturers enhance Android with their own quick settings menus, support for carrier features like HD Voice, or dual-SIM support. But the new device protection feature should be a welcome deterrent to theft for all phones that ship with Android 5.1.
Perhaps the best to come from its release will be more rapid updates from manufacturers, who have not been as speedy in updating their phones to Android 5.0 as we hoped. This is in part due to all the bugs in the initial release—this major bugfix release might help grease the wheels on Android updates.
I've tested one of the first cars to use Apple's CarPlay and Android Auto – briefly – and I'd say smartphone users will think it was worth the wait when cars with the systems hit the road at some point this year.
It's been nearly a year since Hyundai and a handful of other automakers announced deals to use CarPlay, which will more or less mirror your smart phone on a car's touch screen. Work continues to get Apple's system – CarPlay – and the similar Android Auto feature into production.
A lot of that work is being done at Hyundai Kia America Technical Center just outside Ypsilanti, Mich., about 40 miles west of Detroit. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is on track to be one of the first cars with the systems.
"Launching is a challenge," John Robb, Hyundai senior manager of electronic systems development, said. "This is a very tight coupling between automotive and consumer electronics. We're very concerned with stability, reliability and usability." Translation, Hyundai won't green-light the system until its engineers are convinced it works consistently and does not distract drivers.
Contrary to early reports, the system will work with either an iPhone or Android phone; buyers won't have to commit to one type of phone for as long as they own the car. The system is complementary to Hyundai's Bluetooth system, so you can stream music and use voice recognition with just about any phone.
To have your phone's screen and apps recreated – selectively; no Angry Birds or reading Wikipedia behind the wheel – you must connect the phone to the car's USB port.
From that point, everything will feel very familiar to a smart phone user. Familiar icons for music, phone, navigation, messages and more will appear on the vehicle's touch screen. You can use them by touching the screen or with voice recognition.
A brief trial with iPhone and Android phones during a drive was encouraging. Ask Siri to find museums and the virtual assistant generates a list, from the closest to furthest away. Tap an address on the screen, and Apple maps will plot a course and provide turn-by-turn instructions. Sorry Google map fans; if you're using an iPhone and Siri, it's like your Google Maps app never existed, although Apple Maps can access your previous destinations from it.
My test drive provided a reminder of why I use Google rather than Apple maps on my iPhone 6. The directions were consistently quicker testing with Hyundai's Android phone than an iPhone
CarPlay and Android Auto will also read text messages to you and take dictation for replies. If a text message includes an address, tap on the address and the nav system will plot a route.
You can also ask general questions, like sports scores or weather forecasts. Your car will be able to do anything your phone's virtual assistant can do.
Honda, Jaguar, Mercedes and Volvo have all announced plans to offer CarPlay soon.