Fire TV companion apps, Second Screen and Remote, hitting iOS soon

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 9, 2014

Tucked away as a side note in Amazon’s Fire TV announcement last week is an interesting confirmation of a companion iOS app for the set-top box that’s scheduled to launch later this year in the App Store.

The software will act as a second screen solution allowing Fire TV owners to fling Amazon TV shows and movies from their iPhone or iPad to the $99 set-top box, providing remote functionality with playback controls, support for Amazon’s X-Ray technology that pulls media metadata from the web and more.

In addition to Second Screen, the official Fire TV app for smartphones and tablets will launch soon, providing virtual controls for touch-enabled games… Read More


Amazon unveils its Apple TV competitor: meet the $99 Fire TV set-top box

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 2, 2014

Amazon has just taken the wraps off its new media-streaming device designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s $99 Apple TV hockey puck, Roku devices and other media-streaming boxes available to cable-cutters today.

It’s rather predictably called the Fire TV in a nod to the successful Kindle Fire tablet brand, costs $99 and runs a forked Android version code-named ‘Mojito’.

Powered by a quad-core processor with 2GB RAM and a dedicated graphics processor, the set-top box is capable of streaming full HD 1080p resolution video (1,920-by-1,080 pixels) and Amazon claims it’s three times more powerful than the Apple TV.

It supports 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound via HDMI and optical audio-out, has dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi, comes with a Bluetooth remote and ties into Amazon’s vast ecosystem of digital content licensed from Hollywood majors and broadcasters.

I don’t think Apple should be concerned because the Fire TV’s user interface appears clunky (I even like Chromecast’s better) and it’s hard to see much that isn’t already out there, though I have no doubt in my mind that the Fire TV is here to stay and tie existing Amazon customers even deeper into its ecosystem.

Read on for the full reveal… Read More


Report: upcoming Apple TV refresh to serve as full-on cable box replacement

By Christian Zibreg on Mar 25, 2014

Two months ago, the reliable blogger Mark Gurman was first out of the gate with a report painting a pretty rosy picture of an upcoming Apple TV hardware refresh, said to include full-blown downloadable games via an Apple TV App Store of sorts.

He also learned from sources that the box could sport a built-in TV tuner to effectively control your existing cable boxes and TV stations, helping put the real TV into Apple’s $99 set-top box.

A new report yesterday by former WSJ writer Jessia Lessin’s new outlet, The Information, provides additional tidbits regarding the gaming and cable box functionality… Read More


Steve Jobs told executives Apple would not release a TV

By Cody Lee on Mar 17, 2014

When the magic dust of the iPad settled, pundits and analysts alike began to wonder out loud what Apple was going to do next. What product category was the company going to revolutionize next? And for the longest time, a lot of folks thought it was going to be televisions.

Some even believed that’s what Steve Jobs was referring to when he said he had “finally cracked” the secret of TV. But according to a passage from Yukari Kane’s new book ‘Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,’ the co-founder never wanted Apple to release its own TV set… Read More


Amazon’s TV box apparently arriving next month

By Christian Zibreg on Feb 21, 2014

We’re expecting a major Apple TV update in March said to bring refreshed hardware that should support iOS 7 controllers and downloadable games. And now, word on the street is that the online retail giant Amazon is about to counter Apple’s announcement with a set-top box of its own.

Amazon has been selling music, movies and television shows for years now, it rules the e-book space and has entered the tablet market so adding another piece of hardware that ties into the Amazon cloud should be a no-brainer… Read More


Rumor: next-gen Apple TV has gaming functionality, TV tuner, built-in AirPort router

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 28, 2014

Piggy-backing on a report last week by iLounge which heard from sources that the next Apple TV set-top box will support wireless game controllers and possibly an app store for games, another reliable blogger has chimed in with additional tidbits.

Long story short, a much improved Apple TV hardware refresh is thought to include an 802.11ac wireless router functionality by way of AirPort Express integration. It should also come with a built-in TV tuner to control your existing cable boxes and TV stations and include gaming functionality.

Some hobby, eh? Read More


60Hz gets bumped to 3.0, arguably the best TV show tracker for the iPhone and iPad

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 20, 2014

60Hz is one of those apps that make it easy and fun to keep track of your favorite TV shows and movies. There’s certainly no shortage of such software on the App Store as, for example, we previously told you about iTV Show 3, TeeVee 2, Done Not Done, ToDoMovies and a few others.

Like other apps, 60Hz notifies you when your favourite shows are playing and makes it easy to browse TV schedule, find out what others are saying about shows, episodes and movies and lots more.

Suneth and Dineth Mendis of M2D2Apps asked me to take a look at the latest 3.0 update for the iPhone and iPad and I was pleased with the overall changes and enhancements, despite minor UI inconsistencies and one nagging omission. Read on for the full breakdown… Read More


Sky Sports channel with daily passes now available to UK’s Apple TV owners

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 17, 2013

If you live in the United Kingdom and own Apple’s $99 Apple TV, turn on your media-streaming box and look for a newly-added content source, the Sky Sports channel from Now TV. There’s a total of six different Sky Sports channels to choose from, including F1 racing, Barclays Premier League football matches, cricket and more.

And cable cutters, check this out – you can purchase rather pricey daily passes from within the app, without the need for a cable subscription, thanks to Now TV and Sky Sports both sharing the same parent company, British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (BSkyB)… Read More


Apple TV picks up ABC, Bloomberg, Crackle and KOR TV channels

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 11, 2013

After adding Yahoo Screen and PBS channels last month, Major League Soccer and Disney Junior channels in September as well as Vevo, Weather Channel, Disney, Smithsonian and a bunch of other content sources earlier this year, Apple’s again expanded on the device’s content sources.

The $99 media-streaming box is now even more useful with four additional channels from ABC, financial organization Bloomberg, Sony’s streaming movie and TV show service Crackle and Korea-based on-demand video service KOR TV, all now accessible from the Apple TV‘s Home menu… Read More


iTV Shows 3 lets you track your favorite TV shows in style

By Lory Gil on Nov 29, 2013

For some people, watching television is a ritual that cannot be disrupted. I have a few friends that won’t even go out on certain nights because they don’t want to miss their shows. Keeping track of past and future episodes can be a daunting task if you are an avid TV viewer.

iTV Shows 3 is a powerful TV tracker that uses multiple comprehensive databases to help you keep a schedule of shows you want to watch. Plus, TV tracking has never looked so good with this interface… Read More


Kuo: A7-driven Apple TV in 2014, iTV in 2015-2016

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 12, 2013

Citing supply chain sources, DisplaySearch yesterday shattered analyst Gene Munster’s ‘Apple-televison-set-due-this-Christmas’ pipe dream to pieces by claiming Apple has put the iTV project on the back burner as it focuses on wearable projects, a new priority for Tim Cook & Co. And guess what reliable analyst restrains himself from making wild Munster-like iTV predictions?

That’s right, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities.

Thus, it goes without saying that Kuo’s note to clients in which he analyzes Apple’s television plans hasn’t gone unnoticed with us. In short, he’s suggesting that with the technological pieces all in place now Apple is about to introduce significant improvements to the existing $99 Apple TV set-top box.

Bonus: I also get to deconstruct some of the outrageously inaccurate predictions by crazypants Apple analysts Gene Munster! Read More


Curved-glass full-on Apple television concept

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 11, 2013

A report by DisplaySearch may have dashed hopes for an imminent Apple television introduction as Apple turns its attention to wearables, but there’s no stopping prolific 3D artist Martin Hajek from imagining what a full-on television set with the Apple logo could/should look like, all over again.

Taking cues from Bloomberg’s report which calls for curved-glass iPhones in 2014, Hajek is now seemingly torn between a flat and curved-glass iTV variant. I know which one I’d take in a heartbeat, but how about you? Read More


DisplaySearch: Apple prioritizes wearables, puts iTV on the back burner

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 11, 2013

So what’s up with the supposed Apple television set, that elusive iTV? According to the latest chatter, the iTV plans have been put on hold as wearables take priority inside the 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino walls. The notion jives with Tim Cook’s recent assertion calling for new a Apple product category in 2014 and a bunch of patent filings and high-profile hirings pointing to an iOS-powered wearable device with health and fitness sensors, the rumored iWatch.

Of course, that a non-Apple product is delayed by another unannounced product isn’t necessarily newsworthy in and of itself, but given the source – DisplaySearch – we thought you should at least be informed about what’s making the rounds across Apple’s components and supply chain in Far East… Read More


Twitter unveils ‘See This’ button: watch TV shows and change the channel from a tweet

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 9, 2013

Ending weeks of speculation, Twitter today announced a new feature that has the potential to take social television to the next level.

Twitter users will soon start seeing a new See It button embedded in tweets that, when clicked, lets folks immediately tune into live programming through their set-top box or a mobile devices such as a smartphone or a tablet.

To replace your remote, Twitter partnered with cable provider Comcast and its fully-owned subsidiary NBCUniversal, giving Xfinity customers the ability to also schedule DVR recordings on-the-fly, directly from Twitter. The feature will debut with NBCUniversal offerings including The Voice and Sunday Night Football.

Go past the fold for the full reveal… Read More


ESPN’s News and Deportes channels added to Apple TV and iOS

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 28, 2013

Less than 48 hours after Apple added new video content from Vevo, Weather Channel, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Smithsonian Channel to its $99 Apple TV set-top box, ESPN announced Wednesday it’s enabled access to two new channels – News and Deportes - on the Apple TV and iOS devices, through the WatchESPN software for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

This is important because ESPN is a global powerhouse.

Owned as a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation, the U.S.-based cable and satellite television channel is a lot of people’s go-to source for all things sports… Read More


Apple TV gains apps from Vevo, Weather Channel, Disney and Smithsonian, we go hands-on

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 27, 2013

Just as we’ve been expecting, Apple has updated its $99 Apple TV set-top box with 24/7 music video streaming by way of Vevo TV. But that’s not all, Apple has surprised us all by adding support for several other premium content sources. In addition to Vevo, the update has brought out four additional apps: Weather Channel, Disney Channel and Disney XD, as well as Smithsonian Channel, co-owned by CBS and the Smithsonian Institution.

What’s really interesting is that Weather Channel seems to be the real app rather than just a simple streaming channel, although both Smithsonian Channel and Weather Channel offer on-demand clips. Go past the fold for the full reveal and Jeff’s video hands-on.

UPDATE: people who use a DNS trick called PlexConnect to stream media to their non-jailbroken Apple TV through the Trailers app should be aware that this morning’s update appears to have broken the hack. More on that here Read More


iTV said to come with pay-TV service

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 22, 2013

The Apple television saga continues with a new report by Quartz today offering a fresh insight behind the curtain of Apple’s ongoing negotiations with content owners. The crux: while the talks have stalled as Apple’s faced significant hurdles, the company is cunningly hoping to get at least a few content providers on board for a rumored iTV launch.

Afterwards, Apple is hoping to get cable companies to play along, the report notes. Apple’s ultimate goal is to have the rumored standalone television set launch with a pay TV service that would see Apple “essentially becoming a cable company itself”Read More


Foxconn starts selling own TVs in Taiwan

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 19, 2013

The New York Times in May said Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer Foxconn was looking beyond the iPhone due to slowing sales of the Apple smartphone caused by the broader tech biz slump. As you know, Foxconn also builds consumer electronics for Sony, Amazon, Dell and many other Western brands.

Conventional wisdom says the manufacturer’s been growing concerned about its reliance on Apple orders accounting for well over half of its total revenues. Today, The Wall Street Journal is out with a report saying Foxconn has teamed up with the convenience store chain 7-Eleven to push its own television sets in Taiwan.

Interestingly enough, it was reported last year that Apple had been working with Asian suppliers on several designs for its rumored TV sets that Foxconn was supposed to buildRead More


Intel’s TV box to include server-side DVR that records everything for at least three days

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 30, 2013

We’ve been hearing for months how Intel’s been hard at work developing its own Apple TV contender, which sources claim includes a television service of sorts. Conceivably frustrated enough with “everyone doing a half-assed Google TVs,” the world’s top chip maker reportedly set on to engineer a set-top box itself “and do it right.”

These rumors may soon prove true: according to a new report, Intel aims to turn the industry upside down by introducing supercharged DVR functionality said to tap a powerful server farm that records and stores every piece of programming for at least three days.

Now, TiVo devices have had a similar patented DVR feature called Trick Play for years. But Trick Play doesn’t hold a candle to Intel as it relies on local TiVo storage to record just up to half an hour tops of recently viewed television… Read More


WSJ: Google working on own set-top box with Kinect-like motion gestures

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 26, 2013

The Google TV project has seen modest success (and that’s putting it nicely), but nowhere near the level of interest of Apple’s set-top box which holds more than half the world’s market for streaming boxes.

People who are serious about software make their own hardware, Alan Kay once famously said. In this regard, Google is just as eager to become a hardware maker as Apple is adamant to double-down on online services.

That being said, it’s no surprise Google is rethinking its approach to the living room. Earlier this week we were offered a glimpse of Google’s renewed living room effort as the search giant announced a $35 TV dongle called the Chromecast, alongside the second-gen Nexus 7 tablet.

That’s just the beginning, though. The Wall Street Journal now reports that Google is working on its own set-top box hardware with built-in motion recognition technology akin to Microsoft’s Kinect… Read More

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