Microsoft’s SmartGlass gets official: app brings AirPlay-esque streams to Android, iOS and Windows Phone
Microsoft may not be introducing a next-gen console at E3 this year, but it is teaching its venerable Xbox 360 some new tricks. SmartGlass brings AirPlay-style wireless technology to Xbox and Windows 8 by letting you send video from your tablet or phone to your TV. It then turns that second screen into an information window giving you data of the content you’re watching. Plus, it updates the info on your mobile device as the content on the TV changes. The app also enables peripheral controls for games you’re playing — so you can scroll through different plays on your tablet while playing Madden on your big screen, for example.
In addition to providing your peripherals with contextual awareness, the SmartGlass app turns your phone into a remote and trackpad for your Xbox, in case using Kinect and regular controllers aren’t something you’re into. So, you can pinch to zoom, move the onscreen cursor and scroll to your heart’s content in Xbox’s new web browser using your tablet or phone. When will we be seeing SmartGlass in living rooms? Unfortunately, not until this fall, so our liveblog photos of the app in action will have to suffice until then.
Android and PlayStation Vita owners have felt the Music Unlimited love on their respective devices for quite some time now, but the Spotify / MOG / Rdio competitor has finally made its way to the App Store, bringing with it yet another option for streaming music on iOS. The free app appears to be optimized for iPhone and iPod touch (though it’s also compatible with iPad), and will enable on-the-go jammin’ with a $4-per-month Basic subscription over 3G, 4G or WiFi connections. You can pull in tunes from the millions of tracks in Sony’s collection, or access songs on your PC using the Music Sync service. The app is currently only available in the New Zealand App Store, but it’s expected to hit other Music Unlimited countries soon. For now, you can hit up the source link for the Kiwi App Store preview, or head over to the Music Unlimited site to sign up.
DirecTV’s still-in-beta “Everywhere” streaming package only arrived on the iPad a month ago, and now the company has updated its app for Android phones with access to the same set of video-on-demand streaming movies and TV shows for viewing wherever subscribers might be. Interestingly this feature is arriving on Google powered devices before it hits the iPhone (neither one so far has added the in-home live TV streaming feature from the iPad app, however the iPhone does have a player for the Nomad transcoder which Android and the iPad lack), in opposition to the usual trend of video streaming apps from cable and satellite TV providers, often for DRM and compatibility reasons. On Google Play the app was still installable on our various tablets and phones alike, although YMMV on what happens when you select the “Watch on Phone” tab to stream from HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Encore or DirecTV Cinema. Of course the usual DVR scheduling and remote control features are still present and accounted for, so hit the link below to grab the free app and try it out yourself.
Gaikai has launched a new beta service in Facebook this week allowing Facebook users to play PC game demos, directly from within the social network. Without the need to download or install the game or any software on their local computer.
The Facebook Gaikai gaming service is currently in a beta testing phase and available to Facebook users within the U.S. and Europe. Offering them the ability to enjoy 5 playable PC games.
The games currently available from within Facebook using the Gaikai streaming service include: Orcs Must Die (USA & Europe), Farming Simulator 2011 (USA & Europe), Magicka (USA & Europe), Saints Row The Third (USA) and Dead Rising 2 Off The Record (USA).
Other popular games including : Sniper – Ghost Warrior (USA & Europe) and The Witcher 2 – Assassins of Kings (USA & Europe) will also be made available very soon, says Gaikai. If the testing all goes to plan Gaikai is hoping to roll out popular MMOGs through the service for Facebook users in the future. Gaikai CEO David Perry explains:
“People don’t want to leave Facebook to play games – Zynga’s phenomenal success is proof of that,”-”Cloud Gaming means that the game doesn’t need to be downloaded and run on your computer, it literally means the game runs out on the internet, in the cloud, with the experience being streamed to the players. Most video game publishers are now seeking to grow their digital customer base and unlike movie and music services like Netflix and Spotify, Gaikai gives the game publishers relationships with the customers.”
To give the new Gaikai PC game Streaming service a go, jump over to the Facebook Gaikai beta test page now. Enjoy!
Source: Toms Hardware
We’re still waiting for the Comcast Xfinity TV app to appear on our Xbox 360 dashboards, but word is its beta tests have expanded to cover more Microsoft and Comcast employees, and it could launch as soon as the next week or so. In case you’re wonder exactly what its capabilities will be when it will arrives, a post over at AVSForum points out a support page that’s already live and details both the requirements for service and content available. Customers that have Xbox Live Gold and both internet and video services from Comcast will be able to log into the app with their ID and view video on-demand (no live TV) including free videos, national broadcasters and premium channels. That includes access to HBO Go (which will already have an app) and additional content from Max Go, as well as other premium stations — basically the same lineup currently available on the Xfinity website. Also notable is confirmation that the cross-provider content search Microsoft is so proud of will apply here, and that any video viewed through the app won’t count against those 250GB data caps Comcast has in place. Hit the link below for all the answers currently available, we’ll wait until its actually launched to try out the promised Kinect voice and gesture control features.
Sonos has this week announced that they will soon be rolling out new Sonos applications for both Mac and PC systems. The new Sonos Mac & PC applications will be rolling out next week and should definitely be worth getting if you already own any Sonos equipment, as they brings a number of new features.
Including and redesigned user interface, together with improvements to the included drag-and-drop facility within the apps. Providing users with a much improved way to organise and maintain songs and playlists.
Another useful addition to the newly designed applications is the new mini-player that allows you to access your systems without swamping your desktop. Watch the video below to see the new features added by Sonos, and how they improve the accessibility and usability.
The Apple TV might still be a hobby, and thus not the main event at Tim Cook’s Apple presentation today, but Apple’s participation in the living room has had its fair share of rumors, speculation and dreams. The fact that the user experience has been streamlined is the big news today, but there is also a modest spec bump that includes the ability to play and output 1080p. Other than that you can easily see after the break how well the new Apple TV matches up with its predecessor.
Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich Android-running hardware has had access to HD resolution YouTubestreams since launch (as seen above), but an update to the app that rolled out yesterday finally brings HD to some devices running Froyo or Gingerbread. The catch is that YouTube HD res won’t work on every Android 2.2 or 2.3 phone or tablet, as we’re told it is set dynamically based on screen size and resolution. Another quirk is that some devices still won’t install the updated version directly from the Market, like our Epic 4G Touch. Still, assuming you can snag the update — through official or unofficial means — if you have the pixels to spare you should see upgraded video quality from now on.
Texas Instruments dual WiFi module lets your tablet connect to your TV and the web simultaneously (hands-on)
Texas Instruments is helping to lead the way when it comes to mobile computing — when we want an early look at what’s to come months and even years down the road, TI is always one of our first stops. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, the semiconductor leader wasn’t shy about showing off its latest innovations, including those from its manufacturing and design partners. Today’s demo focused on wireless video streaming — a concept that engineers are approaching from every imaginable angle, and that is bound to make its way to consumers in a very big way within the next few years. TI’s flavor is based on WiFi, and offers a dual-connection solution, letting you pair a tablet with a TV using peer-to-peer while also creating a second link between the tablet and a wireless router for Internet.
We took the tech for a spin using one of TI’s development platform tablets and an external WiFi dongle (shipping versions will be integrated), and everything worked as described, though the video stream was noticeably choppy and compressed. TI reps explained that they dialed down the bitrate in order to maintain a connection at the MWC expo hall, which, as you might imagine, probably had a wireless signal density greater than any other room in the world. The tablet we saw was running a very slick context-aware UI that displays one of three home screens based on your current location — there’s one for work (that displays your calendar), one for home (media and home automation controls) and another for travel (restaurant reviews and weather). Pushing content from the tablet to the TV seemed to be seamless, and while both the UI and wireless functionality may appear to be ready to make their way into your home, TI isn’t making any announcements about availability. There’s no need to wait for a teaser, however, which you’ll find just past the break.
UK pay TV service Sky has just announced its quarterly results, and despite adding 100,000 subscribers as well as notching its “highest ever first-half adjusted operating profit” it will launch a new internet TV service, available to anyone in the country with a broadband connection. Sky describes the new over the top (OTT) service as being aimed at the 13 million UK households who don’t currently subscribe to pay TV, with access available via “PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone, games console or connected TV.” Initially, it will offer Sky Movies on demand joined by sports and entertainment options later, with access based on either monthly unlimited subscription or “pay-as-you-go” pricing. As far as the company’s basic services, it will continue to develop its existing Sky Go product for standard pay-TV subscribers and zeebox iPad companion app, although this seems to initially be a worth competitor for things like Lovefilm and recent UK entrant Netflix. We have plenty of questions about what it will offer cord-cutters and cord-nevers in the UK when it launches in the first half of this year, we should find out more on the earnings call shortly. Until then, hit the PDF link for more detailed financial breakdowns, or check out the IPTV service press release after the break.
Update: Still waiting for Sky Go on Android? The company mentioned during its presentation that the app will finally arrive on Google’s platform in February. It will also have new channels, including Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky Arts, plus, of course, the new Sky Sports F1 HD channel. The company is also expanding its broadband reach, with plans to cover a million more homes by June 2013, and add a Sky Broadband Unlimited Fibre option. For 20 a month, it offers 40 megabit download speed with no usage caps based on BT Fibre.
Busy days at Broadcom, which has already forgotten about its earlier 5G WiFi announcement and launched a barrage of new chips for set-top boxes and home networking. The line-up supports the latest MoCA 2.0 standard for greater network bandwidth over coax wiring, but even more interesting is what some of the SoCs can do for smart TV and streaming. The BCM7425 dual-tuner HD gateway SoC will support Sling Media’s “place-shifting” platform, potentially making it easier for set-top manufacturers to enable TV streaming to mobile devices. A similar deal has been inked with Myriad over its clever Alien Vue software (shown above), allowing Broadcom-equipped boxes to run apps designed for Google TV and HTML 5 without the need for extra dedicated hardware. In short, if your service provider fails to make TV content smarter or easier to access in 2012, they won’t be able to blame it on Broadcom.
While it’s hardly pulling the curtain back on its entire CES 2012 slate of products, Samsung’s earliest preview for your AV pleasure is an updated range of HTIB systems and sound bars, as well as two new Audio Docks that support Apple devices as well as its own Galaxy S phones and players. The DA-E750 Audio Dock (pictured above) is the first to include Samsung’s “hybrid vacuum tube amplifier technology” which it claims raises the bar for mainstream audio products, by delivering the clear sound output of digital combined with the natural sound of a vacuum tube in its preamp. Both docks will play from and charge both Samsung and Apple hardware, as well as stream music wirelessly via AllShare or AirPlay, although the DA-E670 lacks that high end vacuum tube tech.
For your entire home theater needs, the new HT-E6730W 7.1 Blu-ray 3D HTIB features the same vacuum tube tech as the DA-E750, while the HT-E5500W boasts an iPod dock and 3D sound effects.Finally the HW-E550 Surround Sound Bar also produces 3D sound with vertically mounted speakers and comes with its own wirelessly connected subwoofer. One other new feature this year is the “Disc to Digital” integration in the HT-E5500W’s Blu-ray player which will give users access to streaming copies of eligible discs just by registering into the player. It sounds like it’s powered by Ultraviolet, although we’d expect to hear more about that closer to the show. Check after the break for press releases, and the gallery for a few pics of all this hardware — if you know anything about Samsung, you know the onslaught has only just begun.
Couch potatoes may soon be able to get a more complete Android app experience without leaving the living room, or picking up a tablet or smartphone. Myriad’s new Alien Vue is a customizable OEM platform that enables TV and set-top box manufacturers to bring Android to their existing products, adding support for apps designed for Google TV and HTML5. Myriad is the developer behind Alien Dalvik, which allows you to run Android apps on non-Android devices, including iOS and MeeGo. Alien Vue brings that concept to the living room, and includes a branded app store, web browser and portable device control, letting you control your TV and other home theater devices using a phone or tablet. But unlike Dalvik, it’ll be up to manufacturers to add support for Vue — you won’t be hacking your TV and installing the software yourself. We’ll be bringing you a full hands-on from CES, but jump past the break for a quick video demo.
Sony’s connected Music Unlimited offering is already available online, on gaming devices, on Android phones and tablets, so nice to see it’s finally available on its, you know, Walkman music players. In what feels somewhat like an afterthought, “compatible Walkman devices” (currently just the NWZ-E465) can play your favorite channels and playlists on the move — no connection required. Only those paying the $9.99 premium, however, get to add songs from the actual Unlimited music catalogue. Plug-in at home, sync the music, and listen at your leisure offline via the dedicated app, but with so many other competing ways of enjoying your music from the cloud, on a plethora of connected devices, it really is surprising this wasn’t already possible. Still, if you own an NWZ-E465, and subscribe to the Music Unlimited, you can feel all gooey knowing Sony has your back. Hit the PR after the break for more info.
Yep, HP’s on a tear today. In addition to unleashing a trio of redesigned Envy laptops, a refreshed dm4 and one aggressively priced Ultrabook, it has some news to share on the accessories front. The outfit unveiled its Wireless Audio system, which lets you stream audio files from your PC to as many as four compatible speakers. In terms of setup, that photo up there says almost everything: you plug a thumb-sized dongle into your USB port and a larger receiver into the speaker. In the box, you’ll also find a software CD to fill in the missing UI piece. The big caveat here (aside from the relative messiness of connecting two intermediary pieces of equipment) is that the system only works with speakers that are compatible with KleerNet’s wireless audio technology. In all, the system uses three frequencies (2.4, 5.2 and 5.8GHz) to cut latency and interference, and also supports 5.1 audio. You can pair it with up to four speakers, as we said, so long as they’re within 100 feet of your laptop. It’ll go on sale next month for $100, with one receiver and transmitter per box. If you’re curious, we’ve got the full PR after the break, along with a short promo video.
We’ve officially entered the silly season of pre-CES rumors, so take this with a grain of salt, but the Wall Street Journal reports Sony has approached “several big media companies” about distributing their channels over the internet. This comes on the heels of its report on comments by CEO Howard Stringer about significant R&D efforts going into a “different kind of TV”, and the four screen strategy Sony would like to implement. According to the report, Sony’s idea is to offer small bundles of channels over the internet to its TVs, Blu-ray players, and the PS3. Still, cutting deals with companies like CBS, that doesn’t want to jeopardize its cable and satellite TV-based revenue, could be difficult. As for the competition, similar rumors about Microsoft turned into an effort that mostly works with partners like Comcast, U-verse, and FiOS, while Google is also pursuing a route of adding to, but not necessarily replacing, cable TV. Sony has positioned itself well, adding IPTV services including sports to the PS3 and live TV tuning capability, and its tested the waters of going over the top before, but so far whether it will actually pursue this new plan is unknown.
Is that 2GB of free storage from Dropbox just not enough to house all of your mobile music habits? Don’t fret, as Pogoplug Cloud now offers 5GB of secure space for all your storage, sharing and streaming needs. The service offers Dropbox-esque folder sharing and automatic uploads for all those vacation pictures without time lost to manual syncing. If that’s not enough extra space for your coveted Jericho episodes (and the Season 3 comics), you can spring from the 50GB and 100GB paid plans at $9.95 and $19.95 per month. You’ll also be able to post your cloud activity, should you so desire, to Facebook, Twitter or Google+ via native smartphone apps. All of the aforementioned services are available now via the coverage link below — after you install the free Android or iOS app, of course.
In case you haven’t noticed, HP’s really pushing this newfangled 3D thing right now. In addition to the TouchSmart 620, its first 3D desktop, the outfit just announced the 2311gt monitor, along with its second-generation Wireless TV Connect box, which now streams 3D content. Starting with the display, you’ve got a a 23-inch, 1080p panel that uses Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) technology to create 3D visuals by aligning every other row of pixels with the left or right eye. It’s a passive technology and indeed, we came away from our brief eyes-on with the impression that the 3D rendering isn’t as convincing as what you’ll get on the TouchSmart 620 and its active shutter glasses. Still, HP says when it comes to viewing there’s a sweet spot of 20 to 30 inches from the screen, and we have to admit we got the sharpest view from that vantage point. Also, HP threw in Cyberlink’s PowerDVD software for 2D-to-3D conversion, which makes this a potentially tempting deal. Moving on, the Wireless TV Connect box now streams 1080p movies in 3D, and HP claims to have lowered its latency, especially compared to Intel Wireless Display. Look for it in December with a $180 price tag. As for you, gamers, that 2311gt monitor will ring in at a reasonable $299 and go up for grabs mañana.