TIME video streaming

Apple TV Just Got an Upgrade That Makes It Way Better

Apple TV
Apple

Apple TV scored a big get today with the arrival of ABC News on the set-top box. The new app will function as a kind of online network, delivering ABC News content to Apple TV users 24 hours a day. The video coverage will be a mixture of live news updates, original programming and edited clips from TV properties such as Good Morning America. In nine major markets such as New York and Chicago, news reports from the local ABC affiliate will also be available. In total the new channel will have about eight hours of live programming each day, according to Mashable. Unlike many online apps from TV networks, this one won’t require users to prove that they have a cable subscription in order to use it.

In addition to the new ABC app, Apple TV also added AOL On today, a video network by the Internet company that features mostly short-form web video. PBS also added a kids’ network, PBS Kids, and cricket broadcaster Willow TV also added an app. Yahoo’s Flickr app also got a redesign to make it more appealing for the big screen.

Apple TV has sold more than 20 million units since it first launched in 2007, beating out competitors such as Roku and Amazon’s new Fire TV set-top box. Rumors persist that Apple will eventually launch a streaming or pay-TV service that competes more directly with cable.

TIME Gadgets

Aereo Arrives for Chromecast As Supreme Court Decision Looms

Google Chromecast
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Delayed by a week, Aereo's TV-streaming service is finally available for Google Chromecast players.

Aereo, the Internet television streaming upstart currently embroiled in a historic Supreme Court showdown with broadcast companies, is finally available for Google Chromecast. Its arrival on Google’s streaming media dongle Thursday comes one week after its intended debut.

Aereo wrote on Twitter last week that it was delaying Chromecast support until June 4 “to work out a few kinks.” Make that June 5 then: the Aereo app is live now on the Google Play store. The move adds another significant Aereo player to a lineup that includes browsers for Windows PCs, Linux PCs and Macs, iOS devices, Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes.

If you have a Chromecast dongle, you live in an Aereo coverage area and you’re willing to pay the company’s monthly subscription fee ($8 for 20 hours of DVR space, $12 for 60 hours and the option to record two shows at once), you can connect online to Aereo’s local antenna bank to receive and record live broadcast TV. There’s no additional subscription fee — Aereo handles all storage of recordings on its end and you don’t need to have an existing cable subscription to view the antennae-captured shows.

The catch — and this is why signing up today isn’t risk-free — is that Aereo is smack in the midst of a momentous Supreme Court battle, squaring off with indignant broadcast companies for its right to exist. Since Aereo streams over-the-air content it intercepts via antennas — each the size of a dime and leased to one user — it claims it’s doing nothing you couldn’t yourself, and thus it owes broadcast companies nothing.

The broadcast companies (naturally) disagree. They claim Aereo is in violation of federal copyright law. At issue is whether Aereo’s service qualifies as a public or private performance: if SCOTUS deems it public, Aereo’s in trouble, whereas if it’s deemed a series of private transmissions, the company may be able to continue unperturbed.

A ruling is expected any day now.

TIME video

Here’s How Netflix Is About to Change Radically

The Netflix company logo is seen at Netf
AFP/Getty Images

Using Netflix will not always involve scrolling through endless lists of movies served up by genre or because you watched one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer last summer. A Netflix executive says in the future, the streaming service may not throw hundreds of choices at people all at once.

During a keynote speech during an Internet Week event in New York, Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said Netflix was going to focus on developing more personal recommendations to help alleviate the paradox of choice users feel when trying to sift through thousands of movies and TV shows. “You won’t see a grid and you won’t see a sea of titles,” Hunt said. The company could automatically serve users three or four viewing options based on their tastes. Still, Hunt said it was “somewhat unrealistic” to believe Netflix would ever deliver a completely linear, algorithm-driven experience, the way Pandora does with music.

Netflix has already been experimenting with more efficient recommendations. The company last year introduced Max, a recommendation assistant that serves users up a single movie after they answer a few questions about their mood. Netflix is also working to improve its recommendation algorithm to better tease out what emotional elements people like about certain shows instead of just offering suggestions based on genre or actor.

At TIME, we’re still hoping Netflix heeds our suggestion and allows for user-generated playlists of its content, so people can mix and match television episodes the same way they assemble mixtapes. Such a feature could yield lists that are actually useful.

TIME Technologizer

United’s In-Flight Video Streaming: More Evidence That Apple Won the App Wars

United Movie Streaming
United Airlines

Last month, I wrote that iOS was still the dominant mobile platform when it came to important apps. Actually, I did more than that: In my headline, I said that the smartphone app wars were over, and iOS had won. Some folks agreed with me, but plenty of others said I was being extreme.

Since I posted that piece, I’ve talked to lots of companies with apps, at home in San Francisco and at SXSW Interactive. Even more than usual, my brain has been attuned to obsess about their prioritization of iOS and Android. One of the companies I’ve chatted with lately — Cyberlink — has released Android versions of some of its multimedia apps, with the iOS editions following along a bit later. Another, PPLConnect, is Android-only for now, but it’s doing things with phone numbers and text messages that I don’t believe iOS permits.

In a few cases, iOS and Android apps shipped at the same time. But in every other instance, iOS came first.

This morning, United Airlines announced a cool-sounding system for streaming movies and TV shows for free on what it calls “your personal device.” But if that personal device happens to run Android, it’s a second-class citizen:

1. Download the latest United app from the iTunes® App Store if you’ll be using a mobile device. Laptops do not require the app. (Android™ and other mobile devices are not fully supported at this time.)

2. Charge your device fully.

Once you’re onboard, you’ll see two types of media. Some programs require a browser plug-in on your laptop or the latest United App on your Apple® iOS. This can be downloaded at any time during your flight without purchase of United Wi-Fi. Other programs can be watched through the United Portal on your browser with no plug-in or app required.

Again, I’m not claiming that the app situation on Android is terrible. It’s very solid overall, and (I really don’t need to mention this) radically better than that of any mobile operating system that isn’t iOS. Stuff such as United’s new offering generally arrives on Android sooner or later, and there are whole categories of apps — such as alternative keyboards — that are Android-only.

Much of the time, I’m an Android user myself, so I’m happy when something is available for Google’s operating system and sorry when it isn’t. But despite the fact that iOS’s market share is much smaller than that of Android, and has been for years, Apple devices are still nearly always first in line when a major company or hot startup has to decide where to allocate its development resources. That’s a dynamic that pundits keep telling us makes no sense — but it’s happening, and it’s an enormous competitive advantage for Apple. Sounds like a victory to me.

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