17
Apr
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So, here's a bit of good news for Time Warner customers: the company just updated its Android app with support for streaming TV on Android 4.0 devices. Fantastic right? Yeah... no. There's a catch: it won't work for rooted users. Boo, Time Warner!

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Of course, TW isn't the first company to shun rooted users when it comes to streaming media: Google itself did the same thing with Play Movies back when it first launched the service (long before it was called "Play Movies"). I'm sure that both companies were left without choice, otherwise the media providers would have probably just walked away from the deal.

The bad news doesn't end there, though; if you plan on using the new feature in CM9 that allows you to effectively toggle root access, that won't work either - the app still blocks the stream. Life's tough for a renegade Android user just trying to stay under the radar, no?

While this is a pretty nice update for non-rooted users (are there really any of those left?), it sucks to see companies turn their back on rooted users this way.

Thanks, Barry!

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • fonix232

    Someone will solve it within days, then in a week or two, the workaround will be built into the root apps, after that Time Warner and others will update (in a month or more) their own side, a new solution spreads, and so on. It is a totally hopeless fight.

  • Michael Kirkland

    And piracy was solved forever.

  • oomatter

    Do jailbroken idevices have this kind of issue too, or is this idiocy restricted to Android. What do you think would happen if someone informed these morons that just about everyone has root access on their PCs?

    • MvP77

      Just with Skype on jailbroken ios. At least thats the only app i noticed.

  • moelsen8

    it's such ignorant sh*t.  why aren't they blocking laptops and other computers from accessing content?

  • Mr. Mark

    i suppose everyone who's rooted could install it and downvote it.  that'll teach them so good!

    • Tyler Chappell

      Good idea, installed, left my ,,|,, 1-star review, uninstalled.

    • Dan

       That's brilliant.  It's not likely to "teach them" anything, but it does feel good.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    I think the real trick will come along when companies start having to choose between blocking root users and making money on the apps they put out.  Right now the ones blocking it aren't really facing serious losses and there aren't quite enough root users to really push the issue.

    • OldSkoolTech

      "aren't quite enough root users to really push the issue."? Really? We're talking ICS (required) here. Prior to last week, there was only one phone with ICS. Almost everyone else running ICS (who isnt using a G. Nexus) is rooted!

      You dont honestly think more than...say...25% of current ICS users are running stock...do you?

      For a software engineer, you don't get out much.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        I wasn't talking about THIS app specifically, I was talking in more general terms (Play Movies for example).  Considering ICS makes up ALMOST 3%, it's hardly relevant to count regardless of root status.  I suppose I should have been more clear, though I thought it pretty obvious if read in context.  Btw, there were Nexus S's that got the ICS update earlier (even if it was pulled after some people already updated) and there are currently 3 tablets officially running ICS...so if you really want to nitpick, there's considerably more than just one phone.

        I stand behind my point, overall the percentage of users running root is pretty low.  Much like jailbroken iPhones back in the day, it's not an inconsequential number and warrants developers to pay attention, but it's still a small enough group that companies want to believe they can intentionally exclude them.

  • marcusds

    You'd think there would be a way to prevent apps from seeing you have rooted your phone. Like you do have root access right? Please?

  • Chris Hardewig

    This app sucks and doesn't even work correctly anyway. On my unrooted Transformer Prime, the app keeps telling me I need to be connected to my home network (I already am). I can't even stream content to my PC (which is hardwired to the network) through their website because it doesn't think I'm on my home network. TWC blows.

  • raindog469

    Next up: programs that refuse to install on Windows computers with an Administrator account present. Oh wait, I forgot, mobile devices are somehow not computers as far as Hollywood is concerned.

  • jayarmstrong

    I still haven't seen an explanation as to how a rooted phone presents an easier option for bypassing DRM than a Windows, Mac, or Linux PC which, by the way, have been rooted since before DVDs existed.

  • TomasHunter

    I would be booing Time Warner for more then the root access issue. First I would take issue with the fact that it is only supported on Ice Cream Sandwich. 3 percent of all Android devices have Ice Cream Sandwich on them. How many of those users actually have Time Warner cable? This is an update that almost no one can use. More important would be the fact that they made this great mobile streaming app and then they restrict users to their home network. Boos all around. I suppose I could have been spoiled by my Dish Remote Access app. My family has it on nearly every phone or tablet in home so compatibility doesn’t seem to be an issue. My wife and kids use it when and how they like. Personally I like to take a tablet down to the park so I can watch Rockies games while I play chess. I wouldn’t be able to do that with Time Warner.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      I was thinking about something kinda funny...Since international editions of phones always get updates first and carrier variants always take longer, logically the devices running ICS are more heavily weighted outside of the US.  Just ballparking, but with worldwide ICS adoption at 3%, inside of the US it's probably closer to 1.5% or 2%.  Considering TWC is US only (and only in some regions)...the graph is made up of the cross-section of that 2% of ICS users in the US who happen to be TW Cable customers running supported devices and aren't rooted.  As OldSkoolTech put it (and I do agree on this point), with so few officially supported devices running ICS in the US, the numbers are probably even more significantly skewed to rooted users.  TWC has almost 12 million "video subscribers" (http://www.timewarnercable.com/Corporate/about/highlights/default.html bottom of the page)

      So, narrowing this down a bit (btw, all of these estimates are generous, trust me I fudged in favor of TWC):
      12 million subscribers
      subtract ~50% who don't have smartphones = 6 million
      subtract ~50% who don't have Android = 3 million
      subtract ~98% for non-ICS users = 60,000 (lol)
      subtract ~20% for rooted devices (no stats available, just guessing) = 48,000
      Out of that, I expect most TWC customers won't have heard of this or won't install it.  I'd be shocked if this app reaches more than 200 people...yay...

  • Mike

    Rooted users: using your favorite file manager, go to /Settings/Apps and rename Superuser.apk to anything else.apk.