I don't think anyone has ever accused cable companies of having the best aesthetic sensibilities, but DISH Network's former Android streaming app was a particularly good example of how not to do it. It was a lazy port of the iPhone version, and it showed, covering the basic streaming and scheduling with the bare minimum of effort. The new version... well, I'd be lying if I said it was great, but at least it gets a facelift and a proper tablet interface.
There have been rumblings recently that, adding to its other (perhaps more far-flung) efforts to improve Internet access around the world, Google would eventually deploy its own fleet of satellites. Today, those rumblings got a little bit closer to reality as Google announced its agreement to acquire satellite imaging company Skybox for $500 million in cash.
Skybox's journey so far, according to the announcement on its own blog, has been about revolutionizing "access to information about the changes happening across the surface of the Earth." Having already deployed the world's smallest high-resolution imaging satellite, the company says it's already made "great strides."
We have a second screen problem. The TV may have the largest display in the house, but it fails to consistently hold our attention even during engaging content, let alone commercial breaks. Cable and satellite companies have tried to respond to this phenomenon by releasing companion apps that place their content on both screens at once. Unfortunately, these apps typically aren't that good. The DIRECTV Android app was completely revamped not too long ago, but already a new update is available that changes things around a bit.
Voice Search is everywhere these days. Google's expanding its Search app to pull contact information, Glass is controlled via voice commands, and iOS's Siri is now integrated with the Chevrolet Sonic. With the latest update to the DIRECTV app, customers can now use voice search to find out what's on television.
DISH Network may be hard at work trying to woo Sprint away from the clutches of SoftBank, but in the meantime, they've got a few million TV customers to satisfy. The DISH Anywhere app left a lot to be desired when it debuted, but version 2 adds much-needed features like access to the company's growing library of on-demand content. Of course, most of the on-demand content comes from HBO, Cinemax and the like, and if you're paying for them, you've already got access to the (usually better) dedicated streaming apps.
Google TV still exists. It's important to be reminded once in a while because, while Google TV promised to be our deliverer from the evil world of crappy cable box interfaces, so far the company has yet to deliver. Today's update to the TV & Movies app, though, is a step in the right direction. For starters, Google has finally done what we've all wanted since there were more than three channels: now you can see what shows are on just your favorite channels on a single screen.