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Apple, Amazon and Google in the bidding war to acquire Toshiba’s flash chip unit

Although Toshiba saw strong overall results from its HDD/SSD business in 2016, it’s spinning off the lucrative NAND flash unit into a separate company. It’s a last-ditch effort to plug a gap after the firm reported a heavy one-off $6.3 billion loss in December 2016, prompting its chairman to resign.

Korean Herald cited yesterday’s report in Yomiuri Shimbun Daily claiming that Apple, Amazon and Google are engaged in a bidding war to acquire the Japanese giant’s NAND flash unit. A very diverse conglomerate, Toshiba is Apple’s top supplier of memory chips for iOS devices and files as the second-largest flash chip maker in the world after Samsung Electronics.

Alexa comes to the iPhone

Siri competitor Alexa has come to the world’s most popular smartphone via an incoming update for Amazon’s shopping app for iPhone and iPad. The release marks the first time Amazon’s personal assistant has supported non-Alexa hardware.

Just tap the mic in the app’s search bar to ask Alexa questions, get weather updates, shop and search items, order and track products, play music, use Alexa Skills and Smart Home features, and much more.

By sneaking Alexa into its iPhone app, Amazon’s made it possible for Apple customers to experience its Siri rival in full glory without needing to buy an Echo speaker.

Apple and others join Google in resisting FBI warrant seeking emails stored outside US

Business Insider reports that Apple has joined Amazon, Microsoft and Cisco in filing a joint amicus brief in support of Google’s opposition to a warrant by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeking to extract emails stored on non-US servers.

In response to the FBI warrant, a court in Pennsylvania recently ruled that Google must hand over emails stored on non-US servers. The joint filing claims the warrant could set a troubling precedent and force Google to violate foreign data privacy laws.

See how Alexa compares to Siri with Reverb

If you missed our post nearly a year ago about a web app at Echoism.io that lets you try out Alexa in a web browser, you’re going to like a new app, called Reverb, that brings Amazon’s personal assistant to your Mac desktop, as well as iPhone and iPad.

The brain child of developers at digital consultancy agency Rain, Reverb is available at no charge from App Store and Mac App Store or in your favorite web browser.

Reverb takes advantage of the fact that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service is now available as a web service to access through a web browser and other thin clients, with the recent API 2.0 update having enabled a richer set of features.

Apple may not be building Siri-powered Amazon Echo rival after all

Tim Bajarin, writing for Time magazine, is claiming that Apple may not be building an Amazon Echo rival after all. Instead, he said, the company could be more interested in turning Siri into a ubiquitous feature across its device lineup.

“After talking with Apple executives, I’ve come away with the impression that they’re more interested in turning Siri into an omnipresent artificial assistant across devices, rather than designing a single device specifically to serve as a Siri machine,” he said.

Amazon launches VoIP and video conferencing service Chime

Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon, today announced it’s launched Chime, a new Voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing platform for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows and Android.

Aimed at business users, Chime allows you to host or join virtual meetings, take advantage of content and screen sharing across platforms and more.

Amazon promises noise-cancelling wideband audio and crystal clear high-definition video with the new service. Chime for iPhone is available at no charge from App Store. The Mac client can be downloaded directly from Amazon.

Apple hires former Netflix executive and Amazon Fire TV chief to head up Apple TV business

Apple appears poised to shake up its Apple TV business amid data showing that sales of the media-streaming box saw a year-over-year decline. Apple TV was last refreshed in October 2015.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple in February hired Timothy D. Twerdahl to lead Apple TV operations and beef up teams seeking content deals.

Twerdahl is the former head of Amazon’s Fire TV operating unit. Prior to his tenure at Amazon, he served as an executive at Netflix and later as a Vice President in charge of consumer devices at Roku. He was also Vice President of Products at smartwatch startup WIMM Labs from 2009 to 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Amazon and Apple end Audible exclusivity deal to avoid antitrust probe by German government

Quietly announced two weeks ago following discussions with both the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office, Apple and Amazon have decided to end their deal which made Amazon-owned Audible an exclusive provider of audiobooks for iTunes.

According to a Reuters report Thursday, the move puts an end to antitrust complaints by the German government and is likely to boost competition.

The agreement had been in place for over a decade, since 2003.

Amazon’s shopping app is now available for Apple TV with purchasing support for Prime members

Online retail giant Amazon today rolled out a tvOS version of its existing shopping app for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple Watch.

With Amazon App for Apple TV, you can browse Amazon’s entire product catalog on a big screen TV from the comfort of your couch using Siri Remote and your fourth-generation Apple TV.

The app lets you get product details and watch videos for products that are available on Amazon.com and from other merchants. And if you’re a Prime member ($99 per year), you’ll even be able to make purchases on your Apple TV.