Oct 16 2012

News - TiVo Launches Developer Channel and SDK for Third-Party Apps

TiVo Developer Channel It can be difficult to spend time on the Internet these days without running into the phrases "Post-PC Era" and "app economy", usually in the same sentence. TiVo may not necessarily be "Post-PC", but the company has long understood the potential for apps to differentiate a platform. Unfortunately, though TiVo started adding apps to its platfom for thrid-party services relatively early on, the company has never been partiularly prolific. Presumably to help fill the gap, the company has opened the TiVo Developer Channel and released the TiVo Client SDK for AS3 to spur thrid-party develpers to create apps for the TiVo platform. TiVo isn't just looking for apps to run on their boxes either. The company is also encouraging the development of apps that center on web services that talk to the TiVo device and companion apps for mobile devices. The Developer Channel forums are quiet, to be generous, so it is difficult to guage how much interest developers have shown in building for TiVo at this point, but there are few mainstream environments so heavily dependent on Adobe Air, so there might be an opportunity to garner interest from Adobe-centric developers who may be feeling a bit left out these days.

Other than what feels like a very slow pace of updates, one of our gripes with TiVo's Premiere DVR platform has been a relative lack of new apps being released. Hopefully that could change soon, now that the company has opened up its Developer Channel to allow interested parties access to its SDK and tools to build their own apps. 


Oct 05 2012

News - Rhapsody Aims for Smart TVs with Panasonic, LG, and Samsung

Microsoft isn't the only company looking to conquer the living room with a streaming music service this month. Rhapsody has been quite prolific, developing apps for just about every mobile device ecosystem one can think of, but now the company is looking to engage consumers in their living rooms. Rhapsody has announced that their music app is now available for Smart TVs from Panasonic, LG, and Samsung, with Sharp and the Xbox 360 to come later. This is an unusually diverse mix of Smart TV platforms to launch on simultaneously, so one would assume that the app is pretty similar across the board, but it probably won't mirror the online and mobile device experiences, but will instead serve to complement those experiences. It sounds like the Smart TV version of Rhapsody will be focused more on the company's streaming and subscription service rather than on purchasing individual tracks in the music store. This includes highlighting a radio version of the Rhapsody service that selects songs and editor-curated playlists based on music preferences, a move that suggests that Rhapsody isn't content competing with Spotify and wants to take on Pandora on its turf as well.

 Rhapsody on Smart TVs

Rhapsody's music service is turning your living room into a jukebox, announcing today that its music app is now available on LG, Panasonic, and Samsung Smart TVs.

Though the company provided few details about what the Rhapsody TV app will entail, it said that the technology has been optimized for convenience, fast playback, and a rich visual interface maximized by high-definition displays.

PC Magazine

--Press Release After the Break--

Oct 01 2012

News - FAVI SmartStick Announced

FAVI SmartStickA big part of the appeal of the forthcoming Roku Streaming Stick is the idea of having the power of a full Roku box plugged in and hidden away behind the TV itself. Roku has already begun talking up their Roku Ready branding logo which serves to underscore the reality that the MHL-enabled Streaming Stick is going to be reserved for newer TVs and receivers. For anyone running an older TV or receiver, or not necessarily interested in joining the Roku-verse, then FAVI Entertainment would like to introduce you to the FAVI SmartStick. The FAVI SmartStick is an Android media streamer squeezed up into a small package so that it can be plugged in and hidden away behind the TV. One end plugs into an HDMI port and on the other end is a micro-USB port. The included micro-USB to USB adapter is intended to plug into the TV's USB port to power the device, though the company also sells a USB power adapter in the event one's TV lacks a USB port. The SmartStick will come in 4GB and 8GB capacities for $49.99 and $79.99 respectively and should be available by the end of October. The Wi-Fi-enabled SmartStick will be running Ice Cream Sandwich and have full Google Play Store access and DLNA support. The company has a video of the FAVI SmartStick in action up on their website which suggests that the SmartStick UI is going to be a pretty thin layer, so things will be largely cursor-driven once one gets into an Android app, though is not uncommon among Android-based media streamers. Interestingly enough, the SmartStick comes with an infrared remote control, so using the SmartStick should be fun for anyone who actually takes FAVI up on their offer of installing the SmartStick behind their TV. Good thing the company is also selling a mini wireless keyboard for $39.99.

If you thought smart TVs were only for the privileged few, think again — a technology that once cost hundreds of dollars can now be had for the low price of $50. The FAVI SmartStick is a small dongle that can be plugged into any HDTV, instantly transforming the device into a full-blown Android-powered smart TV with the ability to stream music and movies or browse the Web. The stick runs Ice Cream Sandwich and is equipped with 4GB of storage, Wi-Fi connectivity, DLNA support for media sharing and access to the Google Play Store.

Boy Genius Report

Sep 29 2012

News - Apple TV Updated to Version 5.1, Adds iTunes Account Switching and Enhanced AirPlay

Gen 2 and gen 3 Apple TV devices have received an update to version 5.1. It marks the first substantial update we have seen to the Apple TV in some time and it brings with it some long-awaited features. For many folks, the most exciting new feature will probably be the iTunes account switching feature that allows the Apple TV to save multiple Apple IDs and makes it easy for users to switch between accounts. There is also support for new screensavers, more advanced networking configurations, and an option for subscribing to shared Photo Streams. There are also a couple of surprising new features, particularly the ability to reorder the app icons on the second screen and the ability to use the Apple TV to send AirPlay content. The inability to customize the apps icons on-screen was a major issue when the new UI launched alongside the gen 3 Apple TVs, so it is nice to see Apple finally respond, but hopefully it is also a sign that Apple might be preparing to offer more Apple TV apps. As for expanding the AirPlay capabilities, the Apple TV's role as an AirPlay receiver makes perfect sense, but using the Apple TV as an AirPlay broadcaster seems like a rather limited use case.

Apple TV 3

Apple TVs of the second and third-gen variety are getting update 5.1 today, which brings two long-awaited features. Both shared photo streaming and iTunes account switching are now part of Apple's set-top box -- the combination of those two finally freeing parents from the potential nightmare of discovering their child's "not safe for parents" photo streams, of course. 



Sep 15 2012

News - Ceton Companion Released to Amazon App Store, Kindle Fire

Ceton Companion on Kindle Fire

Ceton has announced that their Ceton Companion app for Windows Media Center is now available on the Amazon App Store, which is good news for Android-lovers who like to stray from the Google Play corral and for Kindle Fire owners, of which Amazon is hoping there will soon be many more. It costs the customary $4.99, and although the version on the Amazon App Store is lagging some of the other releases, an updated version is inbound. With this release, the Ceton team has rounded out their initial wave of launches. There is a Windows 8 app in the works, and I wish there was a Nook release lurking in the wings, but for now the team can turn their attention to the rapidly growing list of feature requests that the team is soliciting from the community on the Green Button.

The Ceton Companion has now been approved and is available on the Amazon App Store for $4.99

Ceton Forum on

Sep 15 2012

News - Hulu Plus, MAX Go, and HBO GO for iOS Add Closed Caption Support, Hulu Plus Overhauled for Playstation 3

The big iOS news of the week may have been Apple's iPhone 5 announcement and the opening of the preorder floodgates, but some big names in the streaming media business have been sneaking around releasing updates to their apps. The Hulu Plus, MAX GO, and HBO GO iOS apps have all received updates to offer support for closed captions. That this feature is only just coming to these mobile apps surprises me, even leaving aside the obvious issue of accessibility for the hearing-impaired. For one thing, these companies already deal heavily in closed captioned content, Hulu on their website, and Cinemax and HBO through their cable channels, so the need for support in their apps should not have been a surprise. On top of that, watching streaming media on a mobile device seems far more likely to put one in a noisy situation where one would desire captions to supplement the audio. Hopefully the other mobile platforms will be seeing similar updates soon.

In a move that should please the hard of hearing and anyone trying to watch a video quietly sans-headphones, the Hulu Plus, HBO Go and Max Go apps for iOS devices have all recently been updated with support for closed captions. 



Hulu Plus on PS3

Hulu wasn't devoting all of their attention to their iOS app this week. The Hulu Plus iOS update comes with more than just closed captioning support, but it is not nearly as radical an update as the Playstation 3 got his week. The Hulu Plus app for the Playstation 3 received a significant overhaul that fundamentally changes the browsing interface, slims down and simplifies the playback controls, and offers improvements to search to make accessing results easier. The greater emphasis on artwork certainly helps to make the new interface pretty, as well.

We’ve implemented a tray-style format that allows you to scroll through recommendations based on your viewing history, or check out popular shows and movies, the top 100 clips on Hulu Plus, movie trailers and more. We’ve also included a “Shows You Watch” feature that highlights the content you regularly enjoy, and lets you jump straight to the latest episode.

Playstation Blog

Sep 07 2012

News - Ceton Updates Ceton Companion Services, Releases Ceton Companion for Windows Phone

Ceton Companion for Windows Phone

Ceton released the Ceton Companion apps for iOS and Android just yesterday. Given the level of anticipation in the WMC enthusiast community for these apps, I would have thought the fine folks at Ceton had earned themselves some time off to celebrate, but evidently there is just a bit too much dedication flowing in the veins of their programmers for that. Ceton has already released some updates for their Ceton Companion Services PC software bringing it to version and our own Michael Whelter has taken to the comments to encourage users to keep checking as there are evidently more on the way. Ceton has also released the Windows Phone version of the Ceton Companion app. Ceton Companion is available from the Windows Phone Marketplace at the same $4.99 price point as the iOS and Android apps. We look forward to seeing what tomorrow might bring.


  • Recorded Movies show up in Gallery
  • Recorded Movies show more metadata
  • Remote on extenders is full remote, working at 95% (only buttons that don't work are 30 second skip ahead/8 second skip back, but FF & rewind working)
  • UAC issues when launching configuration
  • Remote shares fix (user name/password fix)

Next build will have:
  • Local movie metadata fix
  • 30 Second skip/8Second back on Extenders remote

 Ceton Forum on

Sep 06 2012

News - Ceton's Media Center Companion Apps for iOS and Android Now Available

 Ceton Companion

It has only been a few weeks since we received word that the Ceton Companion app for controlling Windows Media Center from mobile devices had hit Release Candidate stage, and now comes word that the Ceton Companion app is officially available. At this point, Ceton Companion is available as a universal app on iOS and for Android through Google Play for $4.99. Looking ahead, Ceton is planning on releasing a version for the Kindle Fire and Windows Phone. Ceton Companion allows for remote control of any WMC-equipped PC or media extender, including the company's own upcoming Q and Echo devices. Windows 7 PCs are officially supported now, but the company plans to have full support for Windows 8 on October 26 when the new OS becomes generally available. The app not only provides a standard remote control button layout for basic interaction, but also allows you to manage and schedule DVR recordings, control live or recorded TV viewing on any associated device, and browse your TV and movie collection in one location, all combined with unified search across media types. To enable Ceton Companion to communicate with a PC, Ceton is also offering their Ceton Companion Services software as a free download. With TV streaming to devices on the roadmap for the Ceton Companion app and the Ceton Echo beta expected to begin this month, Ceton is certainly giving us a lot to look forward to as we dive into their new release.

The Ceton Companion is a family of mobile apps that bring the Ceton experience to Apple iOS, Android and Windows phones and tablets.  The apps let you manage your Windows Media Center PC experience on these devices both inside and outside your home.

Ceton Companion website

Sep 05 2012

News - Samsung Adds Chrome, YouTube, and Google Play to SmartHub

Samsung Smart TVSamsung's relationship with Google has been on a slow burn for quite some time and Samsung's first Google TV device is still hovering on the distant horizon, but that hasn't stopped Samsung from continuing to flirt with Google. Samsung has added Chrome, YouTube, and Google Play apps to the Samsung SmartHub app store. Collectively, these three apps bring just about all of the Google experience one could hope for to the living room. It will be interesting to see how many of the Google TV apps in Google Play will play nice on Samsung TVs, but either way, it is a surprisingly bold move for Samsung to provide access to such a prominent app store competitor given how hard Samsung has worked to build up its SmartHub collection.

But those three apps arguably make up the entire Google TV experience: Chrome (without Adobe Flash support), YouTube (updated from its previous version to be much snappier and support keyboards), and most importantly the Google Play store (with "most but not all of the Google TV apps," according to a Samsung representative we spoke with).

The Verge

Aug 31 2012

News - LG Announces Smart TV Game Portal, Expands Smart TV Alliance

LG Game World

LG continues to make waves in the Smart TV arena. Earlier this week, the company announced their new Smart TV game portal called Game World. Game World will provide a central app interface for purchasing and launching free and premium games on LG Smart TVs. LG is planning on limiting the selection of games in Game World to family friendly and casual games, some of which are being designed exclusively for LG and the LG Magic Remote motion sensing remote control. In addition, some of the games will be available in 3D.

LG will initially offer games in the action, adventure, arcade, puzzle, RPG, shooter, simulation, sports, and strategy categories. The company didn't mention any specific titles in its announcement, though the promo image suggests Air Penguin 3D, Shadowgun, Cut the Rope, Plants & Zombies, and Frisbee Forever will be part of the lineup.

PC World

Smart TV AllianceWhile Game World will be exclusive to LG Smart TVs, the company is continuing to work on developing cross-platform Smart TV apps as part of the Smart TV Alliance that LG and Philips parent company, TP Vision, announced a couple of months ago. Since that initial announcement, the Smart TV Alliance has added a number of members, including Toshiba and Qualcomm. The first cross-platform apps from Accuweather and Vilanoise, along with other apps being developed by Obigo, should be available for Smart TV Alliance member sets in September. This initial wave of apps are being developed with the Alliance SDK 1.0, but the SDK 2.0 specifications are expected to be published to the Smart TV Alliance website later this year in anticpation of being used to support 2013 sets from Alliance members. Admittedly, even combined, the manufacturers represented by the Smart TV Alliance do not add up to a single Samsung, but it seems like the Smart TV Alliance has gotten off to a good start.

The Smart TV Alliance consisting of LG and TP Vision (Philips) is still hammering away at its dream of platform-independent Smart TV apps, and as IFA 2012 gets under way it has a few new announcements. After promising Japanese manufacturers would join back in June it has welcomed Toshiba to the fold, as well as other supporters like Qualcomm, Mstar, Onigo and YuMe.


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