A few years ago, a profusion of personalized-magazine apps debuted. These apps for the iPad and other platforms wove together content from the web into a good-looking, magazine-like form. The two that turned out to matter most were Flipboard (which defined the genre) and Zite (which was acquired by TIME’s corporate cousin CNN in 2011). Now they’re becoming one. Flipboard is announcing that it’s acquiring Zite from CNN, in a deal that also involves the Flipboard app getting access to CNN content and the two companies working together to sell ads. They’re not disclosing the money involved, but CNN.com’s own Laurie Segall is reporting that the purchase price was $60 million. The bad news for Zite fans is that Flipboard is going to discontinue development of the app it’s acquiring. It is, however, planning to keep employing Zite’s engineering team and integrate Zite technology into Flipboard. That makes sense: Zite has always had more of an emphasis on using artificial technology to help figure out which sorts of stories each reader is likely to care about. Flipboard is also going to give Zite users the ability to log into its app using their Zite credentials. For those who chose to use Zite over Flipboard, the news is a bummer. But it might result in a product that’s better than either has been on its own: Flipboard has the more polished user experience, while Zite has impressive technological underpinnings. And though Flipboard is the highest-profile, most ambitious contender in the category, it’ll continue to face competition from apps such as Feedly, News3360, Pulse and Google’s Currents.
Dish Network may be trying to win back cord cutters with its planned Internet TV service. A report by Bloomberg claims that the streaming video service could be cheaper than the company’s satellite offering: The company aims to offer the service as soon as it can get enough programming deals in place, and is considering charging $20 to $30 a month, said people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. “We think there is a group of individuals, 18-to-34-year-olds, who would love to have a lower-cost product with some of the top content out there,” [Dish chief commercial officer Dave] Shull said. “That’s who we’ll be targeting.” Dish’s satellite service currently starts at $30 per month for the first 12 months, but jumps to $55 per month after that. The Internet service would be much cheaper as long is it isn’t just an introductory rate. One problem, however, is that networks still aren’t keen on unbundling their channels, and Dish’s recent deal with Disney doesn’t allow Dish to pick and choose which Disney-owned channels to carry, according to Bloomberg’s sources. If a subscriber wants ESPN, he or she may have to get the Disney Channel and ABC Family as well. That could make it tricky for Dish to keep prices down while offering a good selection of channels that 18-to-34-year-olds actually want.
If you’re in the market for an iPad, Best Buy has them this week (through Saturday) starting at $289 through $849 – normally $299 through $929. The discounts range from $10 off the first-generation iPad Mini to $100 off the iPad 2, with all other models discounted as well. What’s more, CNET’s Lance Whitney reports that a customer buying a cellular-enabled iPad in a Best Buy store apparently gets a $30 discount on the tablet itself and, if a data plan is activated in-store, another $100 is lopped off at checkout. The $35 activation fee is also waived, and people activating an AT&T or Verizon iPad get a $100 bill credit. Not too shabby if you’re willing to jump through a few hoops. Click here for the list of discounts on Best Buy’s site. You’ll apparently have to go to a store for the bigger discounts, though. Best Buy sale trims price on cellular iPads [CNET]
Self-inflating tires aren’t new, though if you didn’t know better, you might think they were. So I’m not clear why Aperia Technologies’ Halo Tire Inflator is generating buzz, when for all intents and purposes it does what similar-sounding commercial- and military-grade self-inflation systems already can: detect when pressure in a tire is low, then automatically aid air to keep things grooving. Newsworthy (to me, anyway) would be if such technology had found its way into the sort of car I drive, which, without revealing or favoring a manufacturer, I can say is at the low end of the automotive spectrum. But at this point, Aperia’s Halo sounds like another entry in the list of systems available for commercial vehicles like tractors and trailers. Perhaps Aperia’s technology is less expensive than existing self-inflation systems, or easier to install, or more efficient, or longer-lasting. It’s not clear in the company’s overview, though it may be the mechanism for air generation that’s novel here: The Halo is essentially a five-pound self-sustaining pump that’s able to generate pressure by channeling energy generated from tire rotation — Aperia says it’s fully mechanical, so there’s no external power source. The company compares it to a self-winding watch: in this case, a pendulum-like object oscillates as the tire moves, generating energy that’s then translated into pumping power. There’s no minimum speed to generate power, the system doesn’t interfere with external inflation sources and Aperia says its regulation system is designed to ensure it’ll never over-inflate the tire. In its sales pitch, the company makes expected points about proper tire inflation, like that it saves you gas money (your fuel efficiency drops when your tires are under-inflated, and that’s big money if you’re a commercial driver), that it’ll increase the life of your tires and that it helps prevent blowouts and reduces emissions. The company claims it takes “5 to 10 minutes” to bolt the system onto a tire, and that it’s maintenance free thereafter. While the Halo doesn’t include a system for transmitting tire pressure information to the cab, wirelessly or
Originally introduced in early December, Quirky’s “Refuel” app-connected propane tank sensor is now entering production. Quirky estimates the product will cost around $18. For that, you get a ring-shaped apparatus that sits under your grill’s propane tank and is connected to a gauge that adheres to your grill with a magnet. Take a peek at the gauge when you’re near the grill, or instead fire up the smartphone app that connects to Refuel to see how much gas you have left before you need to drag the tank back to Strickland Propane for a refill. It’s a smart solution to a lazy man’s problem, but Hank Hill would be proud. Refuel [Quirky.com via Uncrate]