Samsung rolled out the world’s largest 4K ultra-high definition TV (UHD TV) Monday at CES 2013, offering four times the resolution of 1080p high-definition d… Video Rating: 5 / 5Related Posts:
Microsoft is making a big push to bring more content to Xbox and some of the more recognizable names in entertainment have responded by building apps for the console, bringing their services into your living room. Two weeks ago, ESPN arrived on Xbox with WatchESPN, allowing anyone who has a cable subscription with Time Warner, Bright House, Verizon FiOS, XFINITY (Comcast) or Midcontinent to access ESPN and all of its properties on their Xbox.
Microsoft is further adding to its catalog, as a handful of new apps will begin rolling out today worldwide, including Rhapsody, Blip.TV, IGN, LOVEFiLM, RTL XL and TOU.TV.
Rhapsody first announced its availability to Xbox 360 users yesterday afternoon, bringing its on-demand music service to Xbox LIVE. The company tells us that the new app comes with a UI designed specifically for the platform, which takes advantage of HD displays and integrates voice commands and gestures for Kinect. The app is available now on Xbox LIVE and is free for current Rhapsody members and Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers.
Similar to the company’s apps for LG, Panasonic and Samsung smart TVs, the new Xbox app allows users to quickly find and play their favorite music from Rhapsody’s catalog of one million-plus songs. Radio play, popular albums, new releases and playlists are also featured prominently, along with featured editorial stations picked by Rhapsody’s staffers. The app is initially launching for U.S. subscribers and will roll out worldwide in the coming months.
Blip.TV also launches on Xbox today for U.S. subscribers, allowing users to discover, watch and share original web series from both up-and-coming and professional content producers. Blip works with production companies (and is probably best known for its work with those in the gaming world) to bring comedies, sports, arts and dramatic series to users through its content and distribution network. The new app has a familiar layout to users of Blip’s web interface, offering an experience and dashboard that’s similar to its Windows 8 UI. It’s simple and straightforward, focusing on smooth playback, and enables users to login directly or via Facebook authentication.
IGN’s new app is now available to subscribers in Canada, and brings the company’s original video content, reviews, live streams and shows like Pro League, Daily Fix and Strategize to Xbox LIVE. Users can watch reviews, previews, news and demos of popular games and easily navigate directly to those games for download. IGN’s app also integrates with Kinect so that you can play, rewind and pause that content with voice and gestural commands.
LOVEFiLM, the international Netflix competitor, is today updating its Xbox app for users in the U.K. and bringing its app for the first time to those in Germany. This means that subscribers can now watch thousands of films, streaming them directly to their Xbox. Subscribers who pay LOVEFiLM’s $ 7 fee can check out movies instantly and get access to what the company claims is the U.K.’s “largest selection of DVDs and Xbox games.” For those already using the service, the new Xbox packages comes as part of the subscription, meaning it’s free.
As part of the content roll-out, RTL XL will also be launching its programs on the Xbox, beginning in the Netherlands, and TOU.TV (the French-language entertainment service) will be launching in Canada to give users access to 2,000 hours of fre video content (serial dramas, documentaries, soap operas and web series, etc.) from the French-speaking world.
Now that both Netflix and LOVEFiLM are on Xbox 360, it will be interesting to see if Rhapsody’s arrival will encourage Spotify to push onto the Xbox platform. Rhapsody is an old hand in the on-demand, streaming music world (after all, it acquired Napster) and has been quietly moving out across platforms. While Spotify has become one of the most popular music streaming services out there over the last year, it’s been lagging behind a bit in this regard. And no doubt there are more than a few Xbox users who are eager to get access to Spotify in their living room.
More on the announcement here.
Apple made a big deal about the iPad mini providing an uncompromised iPad experience for users, and it’s standing by that by making it impossible for web developers to detect whether a web page is being read on an iPad or an iPad mini. Usually, devices provide a means with which developers can determine physical screen size, allowing them to create different wrappers for web content depending on what screen they’re being viewed on. Apple has made sure that’s not an option with the iPad mini, in an interesting move that’s very much in keeping with the company’s aims with the new, smaller tablet.
The inability to detect the Mini’s screen size is what a thread on Hacker News today uncovered, and what I spoke to iPad-friendly web content formatting company Onswipe about in an interview. The Onswipe guys echoed what I already suspected: Apple wants to do this in order to keep the web experience across iPads (both Mini and regular) consistent. The company stressed during its iPad mini launch event that it was “every inch an iPad,” and emphasized how apps would require no modification to work on iPad mini, which has the same screen resolution as the original iPad, just in a 7.9-inch package instead of an 8.9-inch one.
“There are always going to be developers who want to fine tune their experience,” Onswipe Chief Product Officer E.J. Kalafarski told me. “Obviously a button that’s designed to be finger-sized on the large iPad is going to be a little bit smaller than finger-sized on the mini. But all else being equal, the fact that it’s the same resolution, the same aspect ratio, the same number of pixels, Apple probably felt that was a worthy trade-off, to avoid any sort of ecosystem fragmentation, any need for developers to write or re-write second versions of their websites for the mini.”
If you start allowing developers to tweak web experiences for iPad mini, there are some definite implications in terms of consistency of experience. You could have users finding a different site than the one they’re used to on their existing iPads, and that might frustrate some users who are just looking to replicate what their iPads can already do, except smaller. Imagine if you were forced to use only a mobile site on iPad mini, the ones designed for smartphones, if some developers felt that provided a better overall experience. I’m sure more than a few users would be less than thrilled in that situation.
On the downside, developers will likely feel somewhat babysat by this move, since it ties their hands in terms of developing custom web experiences for what is still a different-sized device, which has definite UI implications. On the other hand, Apple avoids any uncertainty in what users expect from an iPad mini web-browsing experience. And, as Onswipe CEO Jason Baptiste pointed out, there’s the added benefit that Apple doesn’t have to worry about a situation where the iPad mini eventually becomes more popular than the iPad itself, which if you’re dealing with multiple types of content layouts, will require much more rework on the part of developers down the road.
Onswipe says its product still works perfectly well as-is, and suspects that’ll be the case for most web-based products targeted at the iPad, so this isn’t a huge issue. And for end users it’s probably ultimately a very good thing. But it does provide an interesting look inside Apple’s philosophy with the iPad mini, and just how much the company is intent on making sure it’s not a compromised version of the standard iPad experience.Related Posts:
With certain exceptions, HBO has developed a reputation for being protective of where and how its content goes digital. That makes Louis CK’s plans for a 2013 comedy special a slight jolt to the system, even though it’s not his first digital release linked to the channel. While HBO will get a first crack at airing the show, which will be recorded during Louis’ ongoing tour, the comedian now plans to post the production online a few months afterwards using the same successful formula that has become his calling card: $ 5, no DRM and no region restrictions. The offering doesn’t overhaul the industry, but it undoubtedly wrests control from the network as soon as the download link goes live. Think of Louis as making a small crack in cable TV’s content wall.
Sky’s war against its VOD rivals could be won before a single shot is fired in anger, thanks to the company’s practice of signing exclusive contracts with major Hollywood players. Today, it’s extended its contract with NBC Universal, giving Sky exclusive distribution rights to the studio’s movies and access to Universal Network’s TV offerings such as E!, Movies24, SyFy and Universal UK. When new films like Snow White and the Huntsmen, Les Misérables and The Bourne Legacy leave cinemas, Sky Movies (and Now TV) customers will have an exclusive rental window before they’re available to everyone else, as well as full access to a back-catalog that contains childhood favorites like Jurassic Park and Back to the Future. As we’ve mentioned before, such deals are great news if you’re a Sky customer, and not if you’re not.
CBS has been the lone Hulu refusenik among the biggest US broadcasters — even with rumors of licensing discussions underway at least two years ago, we’ve usually had to visit the network’s own site if we wanted a CSI fix without paying by the show. The deadlock is over at last now that CBS and Hulu have struck a deal. The agreement isn’t quite what we’d hope for, focusing almost exclusively on back catalog titles like Medium and Star Trek, although celebrity gossip junkies will like knowing that Entertaintment Tonight segments will be viewable the day they air on regular TV. We’ll have to wait until January 2013 for the selection to be ready — not to mention shell out for Hulu Plus to get full access — but there’s at least an end in sight to one of the longer content droughts in streaming video.
Building off of the web search capabilities of its research pane for Docs, Google is now giving users the ability to search for and insert their own personal content. For example, if you’re working on a presentation in Drive and want to add a photo from your Picasa album, or a quote from a friend’s Google+ profile, you’ll now have the option of adding personal content from within the research pane without leaving your project. This new search feature pulls information from your personal Picasa albums, Drive and Google+ accounts, and users will also find that the research pane has been extended to Presentation and Drawings. Unfortunately, Google Apps customers will still be limited to web-only search results, as personal content search is intended for individual accounts. However, if you’re a starving student heavily embedded in Google’s ecosystem, this time saver just might shave a few minutes off of your weekend cram session and that’s always a good thing.
Please visit www.windowsphonedevelopments.com. I have managed to create a Tiled(TMX) Map Loader on the XNA Content Pipeline for Windows Phone 7. At the moment, it transfer all the information from the XML file, through to the different stages of the content pipeline (importer, processor, writer, reader). There are a few extra bits I need to do before I share the code. Please be patient and visit my website www.windowsphonedevelopments.com for the latest post and up-to-date information.Related Posts:
We had a bit of a laugh with Google’s Kevin Bacon calculator. Not everyone needs to tie their searches to the star of Footloose, though, which is partly why Google is pushing out an update to its Knowledge Graph that explains how searches turn up related items. The effort is starting with actors, celebrities and their links to any movies and TV shows they’ve starred in. Looking for Orson Welles and mousing over Rita Hayworth’s portrait reminds us that the two luminaries were married for years, for example. We won’t know when the more intelligent searches will expand, but at least we won’t be quite so confused if the animated Transformers movie appears next to Citizen Kane.
Filed under: Internet
Twitter has ruffled a few feathers recently, so when CEO Dick Costolo took the stage at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco, he took the opportunity to put some minds at rest. First he dismissed the idea that the service would become a media company by forcing users to the site or official app for content, before reasserting his belief in syndication. Costolo then went on to imply that the reason behind the tighter (and unpopular) API controls was ensuring quality — stating that Twitter would reach its full potential now there’s more control over how tweets are delivered. With boots strapped, we can look forward to some new features, such as the option to curate messages that are published (such as during live events) plus tweets with interactive features like polls during live sports games. The famous 140 character limit is to remain, but will also serve as a “caption for additional functionality.” Perhaps of most interest to disenfranchised developers, however, was the mention of application functionality in tweets, where short messages could contain small interactive apps. Something for devs to get potentially get back on board with? We hope so. But until further details unfold, we’re still left considering our options.
Filed under: Internet