television Stories October 3, 2013

Amazon ‘Firetube’ to take on Apple TV and Chromecast for living room supremacy?

It appears that Amazon’s long-rumored TV product may be called ‘Firetube’ according to recent Trademarks filed in the US and Canada. There are, of course, rumors of an Amazon TV that stretch back quite awhile. Lots of rumorsBloomberg thinks Fall 2013 is the planned launch window. That’s right now.

As for Amazon on iOS products, Amazon has pushed out a lot of updates, including Airplay last month, but noticeably absent is an Apple TV app.  Currently, the best way to watch Amazon content directly on a TV is through a Roku box or Google TV.

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television Stories August 22, 2013

Apple-hdtv2

A new report from Quartz today offers some details on Apple’s content negotiations for a much rumored revamped Apple TV. Most of the report echoes what we’ve heard several times in the past– Apple is apparently talking with HBO, Disney, MTV and others about a new TV service. According to Quartz, it could include a pay TV service that would see Apple “essentially becoming a cable company itself,” as well as the release of a “full-fledged television set”:

One alternative being considered is that Apple could essentially become a cable company itself. Under that scenario, sources say, Apple would launch what is formally known as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor. Apple is still interested in striking deals with cable companies that would allow people to plug their cable lines into the back of the TV set, bypassing a cable box, sources say. But at least two years of negotiations haven’t progressed very far.

Sources say Apple has concluded that it doesn’t need all, even most, content providers on board before it can release a TV set that people would buy. It just needs enough good programming to distinguish the new product, which will try to simplify the experience of connecting internet video to the TV.

The report doesn’t offer up any details that we didn’t hear around this same time last year (and the year before that), but it appears Apple could be closer to reaching the deals it needs to launch the next-generation of Apple TV. Earlier today we reported that former Hulu SVP Pete Distad has now officially started his new role at Apple as Product Marketing VP and is thought to be leading Apple executives through negotiations with cable and media companies.  expand full story

television Stories August 14, 2013

Plants vs. Zombies 2 hits US App Store

As we noted last month when it launched in Australia/New Zealand, the popular Plants vs. Zombies 2 launched today.  [Free iTunes]

Unlike the original title, which is currently available for 99 cents on the App Store, PopCap is making the new game entirely free to play with some in-app purchases available, but not necessary to enjoy the full game:

Free to download, Plants vs. Zombies 2 will expand and extend the classic gameplay of the original and provide players with dozens of all-new levels, plants and zombies across multiple worlds at no cost. While the vast majority of the game will be entirely free to play (players can face every zombie and access every level in every world at no cost), Plants vs. Zombies 2 players will also be able to purchase upgrades and other in-game items.

PopCap adds that “New worlds with new levels, plants, zombies and new ways to play will be released on an ongoing basis.”

Designed from the ground up as a live service, the ever-expanding universe of Plants vs. Zombies 2continues the epic struggle of plants defending your brainz against zombies from your backyard through the vast reaches of time, both past and future. New worlds with new levels, plants, zombies and new ways to play will be released on an ongoing basis. Leveraging the touch interface of Apple’s popular mobile devices, Plants vs. Zombies 2 includes all-new touch-screen power-ups that enable players to “break the fourth wall” and interact with zombies directly, as well as via plant defenses.

television Stories July 2, 2013

USA TV network lands on iOS with new app to watch full show episodes

The NBC-owned USA TV network has launched its own iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch application to bring the USA show viewing experience to the small-screen. The application, like many TV network apps currently on the App Store, allows customers to watch shows the day after they air. The application also includes a backlog of past show episodes.

Like some other applications of the same category, users will need to authenticate the application with their credentials for their home TV provider. If a user does not subscribe to USA on their home TV setup, they can still watch some exclusive content via the application. Besides TV shows, the application can access behind-the-scenes clips, a full programming guide, interviews, and more.

USA today airs popular shows such as Burn Notice, Graceland, and Suits.  The new app is free on the App Store.

According to reports from Bloomberg, Apple is close to reaching a deal with Time Warner to offer TV shows on Apple TV, while also apparently recruiting Hulu exec Pete Distad to lead negotiations for content:

The companies plan to announce an agreement within a few months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The iPhone maker is also hiring Pete Distad from online-video service Hulu, where he was senior vice president in charge of marketing and distribution, to help Apple executives in negotiations with media and cable companies, two people with familiar with the matter said.

Distad is currently SVP of Marketing and Distribution at Hulu and in charge of content distribution and customer acquisition/retention on the company’s management team. According to his bio Distad’s current duties at Hulu include “subscriber acquisition and retention, paid, on-channel, and brand marketing, distribution and promotional partnerships, and content marketing.” expand full story

television Stories May 15, 2013

DirecTV has updated its iPhone app that allows users to access live and on demand programming, as well as manage their DIRECTV DVR, with new voice recognition features today. Accessible from a new tab called “Voice” within the app, the Voice Search feature allows users to “speak to the app just as you would to a person” in order to find and play specific programs.

As you can see from the screenshot to the right, DirecTV has created a UI similar to Siri and other voice-based apps that allows users to see their dialogue as they speak. The app will also let users switch to a TV mode in order to view dialogue and results from Voice Search on their TV instead of the iPhone’s display.

With Voice Search, DirecTV said users will be able to “search for programs by mentioning title, channel, keyword, actor, time frame, genre and more,” and also “change the channel, record, and play content” at home. The new TV Mode also offers a view of personalized recommendations on the big screen.

The update has not yet hit the iPad app and the TV Mode will require users to have an Internet-connected HR24 DVR model or above.

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