How-to: Setup and Use Chromecast to stream your content from a Mac and iOS device

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The Chromecast, Google’s streaming HDMI dongle came out last summer. It is compatible with any Android device running 2.3 or later, iOS device with iOS 6 or 7, and any Mac or PC. Initially, users were able to stream Netflix or Youtube from an iOS device and Android device, Google Play Movies and Music only on Android, or cast websites using the Chrome browser on a computer. The Chromecast works differently from Airplay in that you can multitask and do other tasks on the device or you can let it go to sleep while streaming.

Very quickly after its release, Chromecast has received support for Hulu +, Pandora, and HBO GO. Last month a major update added ten new apps including Plex, Vevo, Songza, Red Bull TV, Post TV from the Washington Post, Viki, RealPlayer Cloud, Avia, Revision3 Internet Television and BeyondPod. The most recent update the Chromecast received allowed users to stream Google Play Movies and Music directly from the Chrome browser on a computer.

In this How-to, we’ll discuss how to setup the Chromecast, use it with a Mac and iOS device and explore its gaming potential.

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2014: The year of the iPhone-controlled everything

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There are some technologies that happened way earlier than they had any right to. Frankly, putting a man on the moon in the days when the Apollo Guidance Computer really did have less power than a pocket calculator was an insane achievement.

And then there are those technologies that have taken way, way longer than they should have done – with home automation heading the list. The main reason it was such a slow-burn was the lack of a standard interface (X.10 never really established itself in the home).

2014, however, looks set to be the year in which all that changes, with the iPhone the new standard interface. Steve Jobs once said that the Mac was the hub at the center of our digital lives; this year, it looks like the iPhone is taking over the crown …

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Yahoo Screen app and PBS arrive on Apple TV, free SNL, Daily Show, Colbert, live news & public TV now on the big screen

Back in September Yahoo launched a new Yahoo Screen iOS app, a TV remote-like experience for browsing content from Yahoo and sending content to your TV via AirPlay. Today the company announced that it is launching the Yahoo Screen experience directly on the Apple TV.

Yahoo Screen on Apple TV helps you quickly find all the great video Yahoo has to offer —Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, live news and events, music and original Yahoo programs — so you can enjoy on your big screen.

The app appears to be a similar experience as the iOS app, allowing users to browse through content hosted on Yahoo across categories such as news, sports, food and entertainment and instantly stream content to their TV. Yahoo! has made new deals with Viacom that will bring content from Comedy Central and elsewhere, and it will also live stream original Yahoo programs, news, and live events. A few of the shows already available on Yahoo Screen include Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. You’ll also find content from MLB, UFC, The Onion, ABC News, Martha Stewart, and more.

The apps are being pushed out over the air to the Apple TV in the U.S. now, and we’ve also discovered that a new PBS channel has arrived today (pictured above). The app doesn’t require users to have a TV subscription to access content, but it does require users to sign in using Google+, Facebook, or the app’s registration in order to access PBS broadcasts for their location. The app doesn’t have live content, but it does have many of the network’s new shows shortly after they’ve aired.

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Apple TV will get more Chromecast-y in an iOS 7 update next week

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Photo: cnet.com

We mentioned last week that an Apple TV software update would allow owners to stream content from a friend’s Apple TV box elsewhere, and AllThingsD now has a little more info on how this will work.

The new software will allow people who have purchased content from Apple’s iTunes store to play that stuff on other people’s TVs, via its Airplay system.

The key part is that they will be able to tell an Apple TV box they don’t own to stream the media they do own, directly from the cloud. That’s a change from the current system, which requires users to  download stuff to their iPhones and iPads and fling it to the TV from there. It also echoes the way Google’s new Chromecast device works …  Read more

New Apple TV software likely coming next week, but don’t expect fresh hardware (yet)

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Apple won’t announce a new piece of Apple TV hardware next week (as had been previously rumored), but AllThingsD says that Apple will debut some new software for the existing device. Of course, an Apple TV software update is already expected, but ATD says that there could be some neat new AirPlay-related functionality:

Sources say that one new feature in the works will let people who’ve bought content from Apple play that stuff on other users’ Apple TVs, via Apple’s Airplay system. So if you’ve bought a TV show or movie from Apple’s iTunes store, you could watch it at a friend’s house, by calling it up on your iPhone, and telling your friend’s Apple TV to start streaming it.

The new Apple TV software update will also unlock iTunes Radio, the ability to setup an Apple TV over Bluetooth 4.0, and OS X Mavericks multi-display support.

We’ve heard that Apple has some Apple TV related announcements up its sleeves for the coming months, but major hardware changes aren’t expected until at least next year. Sources say that Apple has been working on ways to control the Apple TV (whether that be a full on display – or just a box) via motion…

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Apple acquires Matcha.tv iOS streaming media aggregation and discovery tool

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Popular online media aggregation and discovery app for iOS, Matcha, suddenly disappeared from the App Store in late May without any explanation by the company or Apple. Tonight it became clear exactly what happened.

According to Venture Beat, Apple has acquired Matcha.tv for an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million. Although, the final total could be higher once the deal is completed. Unsurprisingly, Matcha.tv CEO Guy Piekarz declined to comment on the potential acquisition and Apple served Venture Beat their typical canned response that “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Matcha.tv launched in January of 2012 and steadily grew its fan base by providing an easy way to browse streaming movie and TV shows across all the major sources including Netflix, iTunes, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others. During its time on the App Store it amassed a favorable 4.5 star rating from iTunes reviewers and was also received well by tech pundits. At first glance this service would seem as a nice way for Apple to fortify a full-fledged Apple TV service or expand their current offering with deeper airplay capabilities and controller integration. Tim Cook has repeatedly said that TV remains an area of “great interest” so it makes sense that they are arming themselves with the resources necessary to take their “hobby” to the next level.

Apple has already successfully completed several strategic acquisitions this year including Passif, a developer of low-power chipsets, and Hopstop, a mapping service.

FireCore releases Infuse 1.3 with Wi-Fi file transfers, fullscreen TV-out, and more

Our launch video review of Infuse

FireCore has released an update for Infuse, the popular video app for iPhone and iPad. The new update boasts new features such as the ability to transfer videos to your iOS device through a web browser, fullscreen TV-out support, new sharing options, and more.

Infuse 1.3 is a free update for existing owners. New owners can get the app for $4.99 on the App Store. The full change log can be found below.

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New for accessory makers in iOS 7: Open AirPlay audio, Apple-designed hearing aid tech, device management, much more

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We already told you about a few big new features in terms of improvements to Bluetooth coming in iOS 7: Developers will now have a standardized controller framework for hardware game controllers and new features for BLE devices that will bring Notification Center support and always-connected apps. That’s not all Apple has planned for accessory makers in the near future, below developers have reached out to explain some of the other big new features that will be available to accessory manufacturers with iOS 7 and Mavericks… Read more

Apple *could* upgrade the little computer in the Lightning HDMI adapter to do better 1080p

Digital-A-V-connector-Lighting-take-apartWe reported over the weekend that there was some confusion over exactly how Apple’s new Lightning digital AV adapter works and why it lacks the ability to carry a native 1080p signal. One theory is that Apple was using an AirPlay wireless streaming protocol, but we’ve since learned that is not the case. According to a post  that purports to be from an anonymous Apple engineer explaining how the cables function, Apple does not use Airplay protocol. It instead uses the same H.264 encoding technology as AirPlay to encode the output into the ARM SoC. From there, the data is decoded and sent over HDMI:

It’s vastly the same thing with the HDMI adapter. Lightning doesn’t have anything to do with HDMI at all. Again, it’s just a high speed serial interface. Airplay uses a bunch of hardware h264 encoding technology that we’ve already got access to, so what happens here is that we use the same hardware to encode an output stream on the fly and fire it down the Lightning cable straight into the ARM SoC the guys at Panic discovered. Airplay itself (the network protocol) is NOT involved in this process. The encoded data is transferred as packetized data across the Lightning bus, where it is decoded by the ARM SoC and pushed out over HDMI.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Apple could improve the quality with future software updates since the firmware is stored in RAM as opposed to ROM. The poster noted that Apple deemed the quality “suitably acceptable” but *will* make improvements with future iOS updates: Read more

The Lightning Digital AV Adapter doesn’t do native 1080P out, possibly because it is an AirPlay receiver

Digital-A-V-connector-Lighting-take-apartThe hacked apart cable costs as much as a Roku because it has the same kind of horsepower

The fine software developers over at Panic are working on some new AV software, and they are investigating Apple’s new-ish Lightning Digital AV Adapter. What they found is that unlike the earlier 30-pin module, the Lightning adapter doesn’t carry a native 1080p signal. In fact, when mirroring, Apple says the optimum resolution is 1,600-by-900, and, when that signal is shown on a 1080p display, it is likely up-converted, showing artifacts consistent with streaming and uncompressing video data

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 9.40.50 PMBefore it is ripped apart, via Amazon

What’s more interesting is that they split open the cable and found a full ARM processor with 256MB of RAM to process video signals inside the adapter cable. We knew way back in September that the 8-pin adapter wouldn’t carry video natively, but Apple was able to build a cable. How? Panic thinks that it is actually streaming an AirPlay network signal through the cable, and the ARM processor is decoding it.

Why would Apple do this? It’s likely Apple wants to move people to AirPlay wireless streaming to Apple TV, so this is just a stopgap solution. Rather than making a larger Lightning cable, it sacrificed on wired video-out quality and HDMI (And VGA?) cable costs.

Update: Our friends at Braeburn and an anonymous Apple Engineer sent along their takes on the situation below:

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Spotify, Tweetbot, PanoPerfect for iPad, Waze, Bad Piggies, AppHero 2.0, more

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In addition to a new Cloud Player app for iPad from Amazon and the roll out of iTunes in the Cloud features to new countries, below we have put together our usual list of notable apps and updates hitting the store today:

Spotify version 0.6.0: Perhaps the biggest update today goes to the Spotify iOS app which, on top of receiving a “shiny new interface” equipped with a sidebar, includes a “Now Playing” bar, a new Track menu, and a number of other new features and fixes:

• New: Shiny new interface. You can navigate around the app with a new sidebar. Check it out by swiping left-to-right, or by pressing the ≣ button in the top left of the app.
• New: Now Playing bar. You’ll always see what you’re listening to along the bottom of Spotify. To switch tracks, just swipe along it. Tap or drag to see more information about the current track. Tap the cover art in the extended view to use AirPlay, and disable/enable shuffle and repeat.
• New: Track menu. Tap the … button on any track to see a redesigned context menu.
• Fixed: “Track only available online” issues. This would sometimes appear after start-up, or when you’d been offline for a little while. Not any more.
• Fixed: Lock screen will now always display the correct track.
• Fixed: Shuffle now switches off after you’ve used “Shuffle Play” on an album or playlist.

Waze version 3.6: Waze, one of Apple’s Maps partners and an app CEO Tim Cook recommended as an alternative during the iOS 6 Maps controversy, gets some nice new features today. Among the new features is real-time road closure reporting and routing, a refined map with only relevant road names, and much more:

✓ Report road closures in real time. Waze will close off the road and route others around it
✓ Report pins tilted on map to better indicate direction of event
✓ Reduced map clutter by showing only relevant road names
✓ New moods!
✓ New inbox with multiple message selection
✓ Update gas prices popup: When in gas station users prompted to update price (Europe only)
✓ Optimized performance and multiple bug fixes

PanoPerfect for iPad: We’ve told you about the PanoPerfect app before– an Instagram type experience designed specifically for sharing panorama shots. Today the developers have released its first iPad version of the app and also revamped the iPhone app.

PanoPerfect is a free, fun, and simple way to share beautiful panoramic photos on your iPhone. Find, follow, and share gorgeous panoramic photos with friends. Panorama’s go into a stream where you can comment and like your favorite ones.

Bad Piggies version 1.2.0:  Rovio’s popular Bad Piggies franchise gets updated today with 30 new “Flight in the Night levels,” 6 Road Hogs levels, new achievements and much more. The free apps and HD iPad versions receive the same update today.

Tweetbot version 2.7.3:  The iOS versions of the Tweetbot apps get a few tweaks. The iPad version gets the same update: Read more