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We know most of you are probably locked away playing Plants vs. Zombies 2, which finally hit the App Store late Wednesday night after numerous delays. But hey, everyone needs a break once in a while, so why not spend a few minutes catching up on the rest of the news you might have missed while you were taking care of those pesky zombies…?
It's a date! Microsoft's Blogging Windows announced Wednesday that the Windows 8.1 update will be available for download in the early morning hours of October 17, with retail availability to follow the next day. Current Windows 8 users will be able to download the free update from the Windows Store, which sorta, kinda restores the Start button as well as a host of other improvements to personalization, Internet Explorer 11 and cloud connectivity with SkyDrive.
The folks at Roku are feeling pretty cocky this week, announcing Wednesday that their little black boxes have been ranked as the most-used media device for streaming video in the U.S., with 37 percent of the market compared to Apple TV's 24 percent. The data released by Parks Associates doesn't quite jibe with Roku's own sales figures — despite Roku having more than 1,000 channels on its platform, the Apple TV continues to outsell it. But it's good news for both companies regardless, since they're effectively leaving competitors way behind, with only Sony nipping at their heels in a distant third place.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Foxconn parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry has posted a 41 percent increase in net profit for the second quarter, buoyed by healthy sales of Apple's iPhone. Curiously, Apple's own net profit for the same calendar quarter dipped by 22 percent from the previous year due to the ongoing gap in its own product release schedule. While Hon Hai's Foxconn division assembles iPhones and iPads, other subsidiaries like FIH Mobile have been reporting losses from manufacturing handsets for Nokia and Motorola, but racked up a $17.2 million net profit — the first in four years — thanks to new clients such as Huawei and Vizio.
The Google Official Blog announced Wednesday that the company's Voice Search is now adding a number of Google Now-style features, including the ability for English-speaking users to ask information on flights, restaurant reservations, purchases, upcoming plans and even photos uploaded to Google+. The feature is rolling out to all U.S. users throughout this week on all desktop, tablet and smartphone platforms, so if you're not seeing it just yet, check back in a bit.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced that developers will now be able to implement the cross-platform Amazon Simple Notification System (SNS) with Mobile Push, which is free of charge for the first million notifications per month. One big advantage of the service is its ability to send push notifications across platforms, including Amazon's own Kindle Fire as well as iOS and Android. Notifications can be sent to individual users or broadcast to any number of subscribers at the same time, with affordable pricing for developers who need more than the one million free per month.
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