Amazon Alexa can now play Audible books in Australia and New Zealand

Alexa’s available skills Down Under are on the rise. Starting today, Aussies and Kiwis with an Audible membership can ask their Alexa-powered smart speaker to play their favourite audiobooks for them.

All you need to do is say, “Alexa, read [name of book]” and you can listen to your heart’s content, allowing you to relax, whip up a meal in the kitchen, or keep up with your chores without missing out on any reading.

If you need to pause or resume the narration, just say “Alexa, pause” or “Alexa, resume my book” and Amazon’s digital assistant will do the needful. By saying, “Alexa, go back” or “Alexa, go forward”, the digital assistant will skip 30 seconds in the requested direction. You'll even be able to skip chapters, and know that Alexa will begin playing your audiobook where you left off the last time.

With hundreds of thousands of audiobook titles to choose from, and more being added every day, your book choices are plenty. For new members, Audible offers the first audiobook on the house, with memberships costing $16.45 per month after a free 30-day trial.

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Lime, Bird and Spin have to temporarily remove scooters from SF

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has officially made available its permit application for electric scooters to operate in the city as part of a one-year pilot program. Part of that means companies like Bird, Lime and Spin will need to at least temporarily remove their scooters from city sidewalks while their applications are being processed.

Lime, Bird and Spin — all of which deployed their scooters in March without permission from the city — have until June 7 to submit their applications. At that time, the SFMTA will review all the applications and aim to let companies know if they qualify by the end of June.

As part of a new city law, which goes into effect June 4, scooter companies will not be allowed to operate their services in San Francisco without a permit. Given that the SFMTA won’t start reviewing applications until the 7th, that means scooter companies will need to remove their scooters from city sidewalks by June 4. If they don’t, each companies respective scooters will be at risk of impound and fines of up to $100 per scooter.

“San Francisco supports transportation innovation, but it cannot come at the price of public safety,” SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera wrote in a press release. “This permit program represents a thoughtful, coordinated and effective approach to ensure that San Francisco strikes the right balance. We can have innovation, but it must keep our sidewalks safe and accessible for all pedestrians. We can have convenience, but it can’t sacrifice privacy and equity along the way. This program is a strong step forward. It provides the framework to ensure that companies operating in the public right of way are doing so lawfully and are accountable for their products.”

And if any company violates the law by operating electric scooters without a permit will automatically be denied a permit. The SFMTA’s application asks about things like scooter availability, proposed fleet sizes in disadvantaged communities, options for low-income people, processes for charging and deploying scooters, insurance and rider education. At a Board of Supervisors meetings in April some supervisors and members of the public expressed concerns around the lack of helmets and people riding on sidewalks. That’s where rider education would come in.

In order to submit an application, each company must make out a $5,000 check to the SFMTA to cover evaluation costs. If issued the permit, companies must then pay an annual permit fee of $25,000, as well as a $10,000 public property repair and maintenance endowment. Companies must also share trip data with the city.

Earlier this month, the city of San Francisco laid out its requirements for companies seeking to obtain electric scooter permits. The city will issue permits for no more than five companies during the 24-month pilot program. The program would grant up to 2,500 scooters to operate, but it’s not yet clear how many scooters each company would be allowed to deploy.

Since Bird, Lime and Spin deployed their scooters, a couple of other companies have signaled their interest in electric scooters. Lyft, for example, is looking to launch a service in San Francisco. And Uber also has its eyes on electric scooters. In April, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told me the company plans to “look at any and all options” that would help move transportation options in ways that are city-friendly. And just earlier today, a company called GOAT launched some electric scooters over in Austin.

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Best laptop sales in Australia: Cheap laptops to buy in May 2018

If you're looking for a cheap laptop or a mammoth saving on a premium portable computer, you've come to the right place. We've scoured the web for savings – from the usual suspects to the niche deal sites – and rounded up all the genuine and worthwhile specials in one neat place. We've covered everything from budget browsing machines to high-performance powerhouses, so you'll no doubt find something to match your needs.

Up the top, we've highlighted a selection of the latest deals that we've sniffed out, so you can reap the rewards of having your finger on the pulse. Below that we've covered some of the more popular laptops that often come up on special, and then included a quick list of the best prices on TechRadar's pick of the latest best laptops.

If you're from the US or the UK, check out our selections of the top laptop deals in the US or in the UK.

Best laptop deals this week

laptop deals

We'll keep on updating the list of deals as and when we find them. Below, you'll find up to date prices on TechRadar's favourite laptop, so keep an eye out for those savings.

The best deals on our favourite laptops

Over the years we've reviewed plenty of laptops and, as a result, we've seen what to avoid and what to jump on when there's savings to be had. We'll keep track of the prices of some of the best we've seen so that you can snatch up a bargain when they do show up. Check out the prices below and see if anything has dropped enough to tickle your fancy.

Best laptops

Saying that we're very happy with Dell's XPS 13 is a huge understatement. The slim profile, revolutionary design and small frame bely its powerful performance and gorgeous 13-inch screen. Typically you'd have to weigh up portability and performance, but the XPS 13 has managed to strike a fine balance between the two. With Intel's latest Skylake processors plus lighting, quick storage and memory, the XPS 13's starting price is certainly an impressive one. We're so chuffed with it that it's taken the top slot as the best Ultrabook, the best Windows laptop and the best overall laptop.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

There are some seriously expensive gaming laptops out there, once you get involved in the optimisation and the latest GPUs, things start get pricey. But if you're after a capable machine on a budget, try out the Dell Inspiron 15-inch gaming laptop.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15-inch gaming laptop

cheap laptop deals

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A seriously sleek all-aluminium chassis, a higher resolution than the discontinued Asus ZenBook UX305, and an impressive swath of ports, including the latest USB-C interface, the latest UX310UA ZenBook is a serious contender for the MacBook Air and, if you're a Windows person, is much better value.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX310

Although the specs are modest, the forward-thinking design of Lenovo's Yoga Book makes it a decent option for creative types and those that want a little more out of their laptops. Sacrificing a bit of raw power means you'll get an innovative digital touchpad and drawing surface for a much more intuitive and precise approach to graphical art.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Book

cheap surface pro deals

We know this is technically not a laptop, but it does come close to being a 2-in-1 (if you get the Type Case) and, most importantly, it has the power to get in the ring with some of its non-tablet competitors. Running the full-blown version of Windows 10 and having the option for a powerful Intel Core processor, this is by far the laptoppiest tablet available, and the price certainly isn't that bad.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

If you're after some more further info on the best laptops, check out some of our other dedicated articles:

Watch the video below for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop. 

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