Tag Archives: Apple

Google Announces Chromecast

chromecast-hed-2013Less than two months after launching experimental internet balloons into the Earth’s stratosphere, Google is once again taking another step toward dominating the digital world.  Last Wednesday (24 July), the digital media giant announced the release of its video streaming device Chromecast.  Compatible with laptops, tablets, and mobile phones (Android and iOS), the 5 cm-long gadget plugs into an HDMI port on an HDTV and streams video from the mobile device (acting as a remote) to the TV. 

Although Chromecast lacks the breadth of content (it’s currently only able to stream YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix) that other streaming devices such as Apple TV have, it comes at a fraction of the cost.  The thumb drive-sized device has a retail price of US$35 (S$45), compared to Apple TV’s price of US$99 (S$125).  With more streaming content expected to become available for Chromecast – such as Pandora – we shouldn’t be surprised to see it compete with the big dogs of video streaming.

However, Chromecast’s real advantage over other devices is its multi-screen capability, says Janko Roettgers:

“Chromecast synchronizes media playback across multiple devices, making it possible for you to launch the playback of a Netflix movie on your TV with the help of your phone, then turn off that phone and launch the app on your iPad to pause the movie. That’s simply not possible with [Apple TV's] AirPlay today, and it puts pressure on Apple to add more features.”

Google obviously modeled Chromecast’s simplicity after AirPlay, but, naturally, made improvements.  AirPlay only works with Apple products, and even then there are certain software requirements (I know from experience how frustrating it is to find a cool video on a Macbook and not be able to stream it through AirPlay).

Chromecast sold out on both Amazon and the Google Play store within a day of the release, and is still out of stock on Amazon.  However, Amazon will ship the device anywhere, so we Asian consumers must only wait until Amazon gets another shipment to have one of our own.

Referenced from CNN.com, gigaom.com, and asia.cnet.com

Slo-Mo Filming for iOS 7?

1373426908Alongside the anticipation of Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system (still in beta testing) is the widespread expectation of the iPhone 5S’s US release this fall.  And if we know anything about iPhone releases, we know that the months leading up to them are fraught with rumors of the phone’s new features, and this time is no different.

The feature that most people expect to be included in the 5S/iOS 7 is a new camera mode, called “Mogul,” that can shoot video in super-slow motion.  Although slo-mo video apps already exist for current phones and operating systems, Mogul would be integrated directly into the phone’s camera, making slo-mo filming as easy as flicking a switch (so to speak).

John Koetsier says the new feature could be an avenue for Apple to one-up the Samsung Galaxy S4′s existing slo-mo capability:

“Typically slow-motion video capture requires lower-resolution capture — the Galaxy S4′s 13-megapixel camera captures slo-mo at only 800-by-450 pixels, almost certainly due to the massive flood of visual data pouring into the camera, CPU, and Flash memory at 120 individual frames every single second…One way Apple could differentiate itself with a coming iPhone 5S, of course, is allow full-frame slow-motion, which would be spectacular.”

If the new feature does end up on the new iPhone, imagine what kind of implications that would have for Instagram or Vine, especially if the videos are in HD.  If so, I really hope somebody decides to re-create Bo Derek’s slo-mo beach run.

Referenced from VentureBeat and cnet.com

Apple May Add Live TV

1126-apple-tvAmid growing anticipation of the new iOS 7 operating system, there are reports that Apple is looking add a live TV feature to its wildly popular OTT device, Apple TV.

Although the move by itself would require a huge amount of resources and undertake substantial risk, the reports do not stop there.  The pièce de résistance of the premium service, Jessica Lessin reports, would be the ability to skip over advertisements.

From a business standpoint, ad-skipping within TV broadcasts would seem to make no sense, as broadcasting companies would undoubtedly notice and would almost assuredly rain down lawsuits.  However, Apple’s solution is to compensate networks directly for all lost ad revenues, thereby avoiding conflict and expensive court proceedings.

The idea looks good in theory, but how much would compensating for ads really cost? According to tvb.org, TV ad spending in the US totaled almost US$18B (S$22.7B) in the first quarter of this year alone.  Needless to say, Apple would have to charge a pretty penny for the service if it were to turn a profit.  However, Laura Hockenson writes that it could be part of Apple’s master plan:

“The rumblings that Apple’s big push to the living room may finally be happening could be the boon that Apple TV has been set up for all these years, but carefully balancing unwanted disruption from the cable companies is critical to the plan’s success.”

Controlling over half of the market for OTT set-top boxes, Apple certainly has the chops to pull off a plan like this.  But finding a way to financially appease both its customers and broadcasting companies is a task that could baffle even Apple’s highly creative executives.

Referenced from GigaOM and examiner.com