While Android TV doesn't enjoy the wide support that Chromecast gets, and its current app catalog can't hold a candle to competitors that have been in the market for much longer like Roku, it's slowly and surely getting better. The latest major network to offer an official Android TV app is PBS, the United States' government-funded Public Broadcasting Service. The free app is available to download on Android TV units now.
PBS Video uses the same Google Play Store listing as the phone and tablet version of the app, it's just been expanded to Android TV with additional API support. The app allows users free access to streaming some, but not all, of the channel's currently-running shows, plus segmented versions of NewsHour and Austin City Limits and at least some shows from local markets. Read More
Right now there are three Android phones and four Android tablets within arm's reach of my desk, and another half dozen or so in my closet. (It's OK, I don't have a problem. This is my job.) If you're in a similar situation, you can put some of those gadgets to use: they work great as remotes for set-top boxes like Android TV or Roku, or you can cobble them together into a sort of poor man's Sonos multi-room speaker system. Here's one more option: turn it into a home security camera. Read More
HBO Now is the premium cable service's olive branch to cable-cutters, an attempt to reach out to the IPTV crowd before competition from Netflix an the like starts to seriously impact their bottom line. So why they chose to limit HBO Now to Apple devices in the first place is a bit of a puzzle - surely you'd want to make a paid service available to as wide an audience as possible? Read More
As expected, Google is launching a new, more colorful Chromecast and updated app. It has improved hardware compared to the first-gen model, and that enables a cool software trick called Fast Play. This feature cuts down on the waiting when you want to watch something on your Chromecast by preloading in the background. Read More
It seems awfully strange that services like Hulu and the various TV apps require you to pay or log in to access content, especially when that content originally aired for free on terrestrial television. They broadcast the shows with ads in the first place, and they're making money on the ads embedded in the streaming video too, so why put up any barrier to entry and lower your potential revenue? CBS, the self-styled "Most-Watched Network in America," takes this one step further with a full, Netflix-style paid service just for its shows. It's called CBS All Access, and it costs $5.99 a month. Read More
Commercials on Hulu getting on your nerves? Now there's a way to skip them, provided you're willing to pay a little more each month. Hulu has announced a commercial-free version of the service that will cost $11.99 per month rather than the usual $7.99. Read More
AMC, the American cable channel that's home to shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, has more apps than you might think. There's AMC Extras, a bunch of DVD-style content to promote various shows, AMC Tablet, which is basically a companion app for said shows, specialized apps for half a dozen other shows, and even a Christmas movie app. Now they've launched one that's just for watching new episodes... which makes sense, considering that's what most people want to do with their content in the first place.
Episodes that are currently available to stream go in and out on a rolling basis, but the important ones (new episodes of currently-airing shows) appear a day or so after the episode has aired on cable television. Read More
Android TV is a thing these days, but Google TV is dead as a door nail. Taking this into account, Amazon has decided to stop supporting Instant Video streaming to Google TV devices. The service will stop working on September 14th, at which point any remaining users of Google TV will have an excuse to stop using it. Read More
Most apps for cable and satellite TV providers suck. They tend to completely ignore user interface standards, throw up artificial limitations, and have poor performance. DirecTV's app seems to be an interesting exception - while customers aren't without complaints, the primary Play Store listing gives it a 4.1-star rating. Today it gets a handful of improvements, making the app better in some notable ways. The update is also being applied to the tablet version of the app, which has admittedly poorer ratings.
According to the change log, version 4.2 adds some considerable new functionality to the DIRECTV app home screen, which doubles as a remote control for a connected receiver. Read More
Don't think I'll find where a show is available online? Just watch me. There's an app or two for that, and now that JustWatch has brought its search engine to Android and iOS, there's another one. And it's capable of searching through Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, HBO Now, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, Play Movies, PlayStation, Showtime, Vudu, Xbox, and a couple other online streaming services.
JustWatch's grid layout looks like those of the services it interacts with, and it feels like a natural companion, like the modern-day equivalent of a TV guide. You can create a watchlist without having to create an account or provide any credentials. Read More