Analyst: Apple HDTV coming this year with ‘iRing’ motion controller & ‘mini iTV’ second screen experience

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iRing concept by Victor Soto (via YankoDesign)

We’ve seen predictions for an Apple HDTV and a revamped Apple TV experience come and go over the last couple of years. Analysts have predicted several times since as far back as 2011 that we’d see Apple introduce its own full-fledged TV set by the end of the year, and the most vocal analyst, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, was still calling for a full HDTV by the end of the year with an innovative new remote control last we checked in. Today, in a note that sounds like it should have been scheduled for an April 1 release, another analyst has backed Munster’s claims that Apple will launch a full TV set (not a set-top box) in the second half of 2013.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White issued a note to clients today, following checks with supply chain sources in Asia (via BGR), claiming Apple’s “iTV” project will launch this year in 50- to 60-inch variants and come with a ring-shaped motion controller dubbed, get this, “iRing”:

The “iTV” ecosystem represents a major innovation for the $100 billion LCD TV industry that will revolutionize the TV experience forever, in our view. First of all, we believe “iTV” will be 60-inches in size (but could also include 50-55 inch options). Secondly, we believe Apple will release a miniature device called “iRing” that will be placed on a user’s finger and act as a navigation pointer for “iTV”, enhancing the motion detection experience and negating some of the functionality found in a remote.

White continued by saying Apple will include a “mini iTV” with iTV that will allow users to have a second-screen experience on a smaller, iPad-sized display: Read more

Chevrolet kicks off new ad campaign highlighting Siri Eyes Free feature in 2013 Sonic

GM announced in November 2012 that it would bring the Siri’s Eyes Free feature to the Chevy Sonic and Spark vehicles in 2013, and it officially became the first company last month to offer the enhanced Siri integration in its vehicles. GM has today kicked off a new marketing campaign to highlight the feature that allows drivers to activate Siri through a dedicated button on the steering wheel in its 2013 Sonic.

Apple originally announced a number of automakers that would include support for the feature in future vehicles, including: BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda. Honda confirmed earlier this year that Siri Eyes Free would be available in its 2013 Accord, Acura RDX, and ILX models.

Some more videos showing off Siri Eyes Free are below:

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HBO considers U-turn on cable-free access to HBO Go

Reuters reported that HBO might consider a reversal of its previous position of not allowing access to HBO Go without a cable subscription.

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HBO Go launched 3 years ago to allow subscribers to watch shows on tablets, but the service is so far restricted to those who have a cable TV subscription with an HBO partner and pay a top-up HBO fee. Co-President Eric Kessler had previously, and rather naively, said in a video interview at VideoNuze that those abandoning cable TV for purely online viewing was “minimal” and a temporary response to the economy, and he said there was no reason to offer a standalone mobile service.

This position now appears to be softening, with CEO Richard Plepler recognizing that a growing number of consumers want to choose both content and viewing platform at will.

“Right now we have the right model,” Plepler told Reuters on Wednesday evening at the Season 3 premiere of HBO’s hit TV show “Game of Thrones.” “Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve.”

Companies like HBO are faced with a difficult tightrope act. While they earn billions of dollars from their existing sales model, any new offering that risks cannibalizing revenue is a frightening prospect for the company. Equally, however, it’s clear that ‘cable-cutting’ —giving up cable TV subscriptions in favor of online viewing— will only increase. Failing to respond to this is not an option.

One number will be looming very large in front of HBO: 25 million. That’s the number of illegal downloads of its hit show “Game of Thrones”. While some substantial proportion of those people would download pirated content for free no matter what options were available, there is a growing phenomenon of illegal downloads by those who would be willing to pay for content simply because existing deals don’t allow them the freedom to simply pay for the content they want on the device they want.

T-Mobile TV ad compares iPhone 4S on AT&T to its 4G network

As part of its new “Alter Ego” ad campaign, T-Mobile posted the above TV commercial comparing the speed of the iPhone 4S on AT&T to devices on its 4G network. The carrier recently did a similar comparison when launching its Test Drive tool for comparing its 4G devices with the iPhone on other networks. In related news, yesterday we reported T-Mobile was preparing to rollout an iPhone-compatible 4G HSPA+ 19000 MHz network to various markets by the end of the year.

Although many thought the comparison of the 3G iPhone on AT&T to 4G Android devices on T-Mobile was unfair, Apple is rumored to launch a new LTE iPhone following the introduction of the new 4G iPad last March. Recent reports indicated Qualcomm was having trouble meeting demand for LTE chips likely to land in the next-gen iPhone, indicating T-Mobile will likely have to take a new approach to its ads come October.
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Apple researching universal remote that customizes UIs intelligently

This is not the first time we have received hints that Apple is working on an innovative universal remote control for controlling TV and video content. In January, we told you that Apple was researching a touchscreen remote with adaptable user interfaces. The invention would essentially allow button layouts stored in the cloud or in a device (such as a TV) to be wirelessly and seamlessly beamed to the controller’s UI. The concept would alleviate the “table full of remotes” scenario Steve Jobs described at D8.

Today, a new patent application published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple gives us even more insight into what Apple’s universal remote concept could become. In the newly discovered patent application, Apple details a remote that is capable of displaying customized controls for various devices by simply taking a picture of the device. Apple would send the picture to iCloud, analyze it, and beam a UI or button layout to the remote that works for your TV. PatentlyApple explained:

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DirecTV iPad app update adds video streaming on the go

In October, the “DirecTV” app added the ability to stream video over home networks. Today, an update to the app adds the ability to stream shows and movies over 3G and Wi-Fi anywhere. The new feature is limited to video content, meaning live TV streaming still requires a Wi-Fi connection on your home network. Engadget points us to an early review of the new feature that is apparently called “DirecTV Everywhere” from The Solid Signal Blog (below).

According to the video, it looks like available content for the feature is limited to DirecTV’s Audience Network, HBO, Cinemax, Encore, Sony Movie Channel, and Starz. The update also adds a “social module” that lets you check which friend’s on Twitter and Facebook are watching, as well as Miso check-ins and the ability to resume watching programs on the iPad where you left off. You need to be a DirecTV subscriber to get access to the content, and you will find a long list of requirements for various features on the iTunes page with version 1.5.0

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Apple researching universal touchscreen remote with adaptable user interface for future TVs

A patent application published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office earlier today reveals Apple is flirting with the idea of a universal touchscreen controller capable of controlling multiple devices including a “television, a video tape player, a video disk player, a stereo, a home control system, or a computer system.” The patent application is titled “Apparatus and Method to Facilitate Universal Remote Control” and was filed Sept. 30, 2011.

The patent application’s background covers many of the issues with current controllers for televisions and the devices mentioned above. It noted current universal remotes are “complex to operate” and unable to adapt to incorporate every command or control functionality supported by a device or future device. It also mentions the fact that users are often “confronted with multiple” remotes, which is the classic “table full of remotes” scenario described by Steve Jobs when talking about the Apple TV at D8. The patent application explained:

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Showtime begins streaming video to iPad as Comcast rolls out ‘AnyPlay’ live TV service

In September, leaked documents emerged revealing Comcast was working on a live TV streaming service for iPad called “AnyPlay and now the company announced the service will roll out today. To start out, AnyPlay will only be available to Xfinity HD Triple Play subscribers located in Denver and Nashville, but the company plans to roll out to additional markets “in the coming months”.

The service will be accessible through the current Xfinity TV app. Comcast revealed exactly how it works:

the AnyPlay device works the same as any other set top box in the home, but instead of delivering the incoming channel lineup to a television, AnyPlay delivers the lineup to the Wi-Fi router on the home network. The router then distributes the secure video signal to the iPad or Xoom over your home’s wireless network. So as long as your tablet is within range of the home wireless router, you can turn it into another television screen.

In related iPad video streaming news, Showtime announced the Showtime Anytime iPad app today that brings Showtime Anytime subscribers over 400 hours of content. The app appears to only be available to AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS customers, but the press release does mention Comcast support “will be launched soon” and others will be added in the future.

Some of the content accessible form the app includes TV shows “Dexter,” “The Big C,” “House of Lies,” and movies “The King’s Speech,” “The Hurt Locker,” and “Inglorious Basterds.”  The company plans to launch an iPhone app for Showtime Anytime sometime early this year.

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Apple airs new iPad 2 “Love” ad, showcasing how the tablet is used in daily lives

Apple has begun airing their new “Love” iPad 2 ad, which showcases how the device is used in the daily live of people. In the ad you can see people using Apple’s iMovie to edit video, a basketball coach showing his team new plays, a band mixing their music, a designer, and more. The narrator remains the same as their other new ads like the iPad 2 “Learn” ad that aired in August. Expect more ads like this as Apple begins ramping people up for the holidays.

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Flipboard to bring TV shows to iPad? iPhone app in the works

A report from Reuters suggests Palo Alto-based Flipboard is considering taking on Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and others by attempting to land deals that would allow them to offer TV shows.

Flipboard is currently only available as an iPad app and as it stands provides limited content (albeit in a stylish manner) in magazine format from a number of publications including Economist and Oprah.com. It also takes a unique approach of integrating social updates from Twitter and Facebook into the layout. The report claims Flipboard is currently in talks with studios in order to land the deals necessary for rights to add TV shows as well.

It’s unclear exactly who the company has approached and how far along talks are, but the report says Chief Executive Mike McCue wants to start on the project “at the end of the year”. He also has plans to sign up book publishers and release an iPhone version in the near future. This comes on the heels of competitor Zite being snatched up by CNN, and a number of other high profile alternatives getting deals with studios in place.
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