Amazon Fire Phone Launch

Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.

This week we highlight the highly-anticipated launch of the Amazon Fire Phone, the purchase of OpenTable by Priceline, the real launch of Slingshot by Facebook, and Udacity’s announcement of nanodegrees.

Amazon unveils new phone, the Amazon Fire

To nobody’s surprise, Amazon has launched the Fire Phone, the company’s first foray into manufacturing smartphones. And it’s all Amazon, all the time.

While the phone boasts really cool features like a sensor system that facilitates 3D viewing, an advanced camera with unlimited cloud storage for photos and earbuds that don’t get tangled (I’m dubious about that one), the phone is really a portal into all that Amazon has to offer.

A feature called “Firefly” lets the user press a button to obtain information about almost anything viewed on the phone and purchase that item on Amazon. You can send video viewed on the Fire Phone to your TV, and access Prime Music, Prime Video, and more. And of course Amazon makes it easy to read or listen to books with Immersion Reading and WhisperSync for Voice.

The phone is available exclusively at AT&T.

Check out CNET’s in-depth review of the phone here.

Priceline buys OpenTable

Priceline has agreed to purchase OpenTable, the leader in online restaurant reservations, for $2.6 billion in cash. William Shatner is pleased.

Travel and dining go hand in hand, and the online travel booking site looks to be the single place for travelers to make reservations across the entire trip cycle. Similarly, TripAdvisor acquired European restaurant reservation site La Fourchette (or “The Fork”, for you non French-speaking readers) last month.

Read more at the NY Times.

Facebook releases Slingshot, for real this time

After accidentally leaking the app last week, Facebook has now officially launched Slingshot, its version of Snapchat.

Just like Snapchat, Slingshot allows users to send images and videos that disappear after they’re viewed. But the interesting differentiator is that you have to reply with your own message before you can view the message that was sent to you. This eradicates one-sided sharing by forcing every user to create messages, which may either lead to an amazing level of user engagement or an app download-and-delete scenario.

Read more at TechCrunch.

Udacity introduces nanodegrees

I have three degrees, which means I spent almost 8 years in college and have a buttload of debt. Udacity is trying to avoid all that waste by launching nanodegrees.

Nanodegrees are exactly what they sound like – compact educational programs that are designed for efficiency. Nanodegrees can be achieved in 6-12 months without having to take time off from work and will include hands-on coursework, a capstone project and career guidance. They will focus on helping students obtain the skills to advance their careers in today’s tech world, with the first nanodegrees preparing students for jobs as Android developers, iOS developers, front-end web developers, back-end web developers, and data analysts.

The world is changing, and jobs are changing, why shouldn’t education change?

What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.

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Image courtesy of Yahoo!