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A New Chapter For Reading Rainbow

Reading and kids don’t always go together—in fact, it can be downright impossible.

So how do you get kids excited about reading? Well, if you grew up in the ‘80s and ’90s, you might remember a little show called Reading Rainbow.

The beloved TV show stopped airing in 2009, but it’s next chapter started in earnest with the launch of a new iPad app.

Reading Rainbow’s iPad app was created by RRKidz, a startup co-founded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and producer Mark Wolfe. The duo licensed the Reading Rainbow name and content from WNED.

“Television was an ‘80s medium,” Burton said. So after the show ended, he and Wolfe asked themselves, “What would today’s technology be?”

The obvious answer was tablet technology, specifically the iPad.

The Reading Rainbow app is very true to the original TV show, keeping the focus on books and dialing down the bells and whistles normal apps would have to keep users engaged.

While the Reading Rainbow app does have animation and games, the books are still the “heart and soul” of the experience.

The app also features “video field trips”—basically showing new video segments in the style of the old show—and users explore content through floating islands with different themes.

The Reading Rainbow app is available for free, and which gets kids access to one book and one video per island. After that, a subscription fee of $9.99 per month for unlimited access applies.

Now a whole new generation can explore the wonders of reading.

Take a look, it’s in a book. The Reading Rainbow!

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro, iOS 6

Apple kicked off its week-long World Wide Developers’ Conference with a bang.

A slew of announcements took the tech world by storm, and had critics and fans buzzing.

Apple showed love to its faithful MacBook Pro followers with long-awaited updates to the laptop computer.

The new line of MacBook Pros will boast the third-generation Ivy Bridge processors, as well as the new “retina display”—more than 3 million more pixels than a hi-def TV.  It will also include a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 support.

Apple’s new MacBook Pro line starts off at $1,199 to $1,499 for a 13-inch option, and $1,799 to $2,199 for a 15-inch option.

Apple is also planning an update to the relatively new MacBook Airs, with a processor update up to 3.2 GHz. Better graphics and USB 3.0 will also be part of the upgrade.

Mac OS X will also receive an update with Mountain Lion, which will offer 200 new features including more cloud services. Mountain Lion will be available in the App Store in July for $19.99

Mobile was not left out of WWDC, though. The latest iOS 6 features were also announced, and the mobile operating system gets over 200 news updates, including updates to Siri and the new Apple maps.

Sony Launches eBooks Web Store

Sony has decided to join the web-based shopping party, launching an online eBooks store.

E-books purchased from the Sony Reader Store will arrive ready-to-read on any e-ink reading devices or the Reader app.

The new Reader Store will allow you to access your Reader Store account from any web browser, and purchase content without having to install any software to your computer.

The launch of the Reader Store hopes to compete with other popular eBook sellers, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Sony has also launched a new update for the Android Reader App, now available for download at Google Play.

The new Reader app offers the same user-friendly reading experience with new improvements such as a sharper user interface, landscape viewing and an overall improved stability.

Facebook Considers ‘Under 13’ Users

Facebook is hoping to tap into a brand new audience: those under the age of 13.

Currently, Facebook bans anyone under the age of 13 from joining the social network. However, it is estimated that nearly 7.5 million preteens have circumvented this rule—even with their parents’ approval.

This week it was leaked that Facebook is considering allowing kids younger than 13 to use the service with parental supervision.

Among the options would be to connect kids’ accounts to their parents’ accounts and giving mom and dad control over what their children can do on the site, such as who they can “friend” and what apps they can use.

Of course, the benefits of “Under 13” users are not lost on anyone, including Facebook executives. Lowering the age limit would help the social networking giant tap younger users, who advertisers are eager to reach.

Kids are also avid gamers—a huge moneymaker for Facebook. About 12% of Facebook’s $3.7 billion in 2011 revenue came from games such as Zynga’s FarmVille or Tetris Battle.

Although lowering the age limit is not official, Facebook is drawing ire from parents and Internet regulators alike.

Many are worried that kids under 13 are not ready for the grown-up world of social networking, where older children have already fallen prey to online predators, bullies, or exposed to inappropriate content and online ads.