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Posts tagged with "movies"

Infuse 2

Speaking of the Apple TV, the app I used to stream movies to my television wirelessly was Infuse. Developed by FireCore, Infuse is a good-looking video player with support for multiple formats, Dolby Digital Plus sound, integration with the TheMovieDB and TheTVDB for metadata, and AirPlay.

I wasn’t interested in features like trakt, social sharing, or subtitles – I just wanted an easy way to stream videos from my iPad to the Apple TV without loss in terms of quality and smoothness. I downloaded Infuse, connected the iPad to my Mac (my movies are on an external drive), and used iTunes’ file manager to drop files into Infuse. Seconds after the copy was finished, Infuse would see the video, collect metadata, and display a gorgeous artwork preview with cast information and technical details on the file.

To stream videos with AirPlay, you need to unlock the $4.99 “Infuse Pro” In-App Purchase, which I bought immediately and didn’t regret. I gave Infuse various formats including MKV and AVI at both 720p and 1080p and streaming to my second-gen Apple TV was always smooth and fast.

I’m impressed by Infuse because, once it had my videos, it didn’t require me to fiddle with any setting or file conversion – it just worked with AirPlay and videos looked great. Infuse is free on the App Store and you can read more about supported formats (for video, audio tracks, and subtitles) here.

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Macworld’s Review of “Jobs”

Philip Michaels reviews “Jobs” (opening in US theaters today):

But the script abandons these elements almost as soon as they appear, and the movie makers’ focus returns to marking off spaces on the Steve Jobs biography bingo card. Jobs sitting enraptured during a class about fonts? Check. Jobs tricking Woz out of his share of a bonus for developing Atari’s Breakout? Check. Jobs showing off the “1984” Macintosh commercial in its entirety? Check and mate. “This is like a video Wikipedia entry,” my colleague Armando Rodriguez told me after we finished screening the movie. That’s a harsh but not entirely inaccurate critique.

This is a common critique I’ve read in other reviews of Jobs as well. It would have been great to have something more than a documentary of Steve’s life and mannerisms starring Kutcher. I’ll still watch the movie, but I’m hoping Sorkin’s take will be something different and deeper.

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Limelight: A Beautiful Showcase of Movies for the Discerning Film Lover

I’ve been watching more films this year, although all of them predate 2013 as I play catch up with 2012 box office hits and similarly popular movies from the past few years. But this has made a nice jumping off point for someone who’s now regularly keeping track of movies seen and unseen, helping me avoid articles from some film fanatic’s website titled, “20 best movies of ‘x’ year!” which, I’ll be frank, doesn’t help me that much.

Then there’s Limelight, a social bookcase for displaying film posters and ratings for movies you’ve seen and want to see. It’s an app that’s inherently social, meaning anyone who knows your username can follow you to discover new films and garner recommendations for their To Watch lists. Which is why I say it’s an app for discerning film lovers — for people who genuinely enjoy watching films, who want to proudly share their collections with the world. Limelight is very open – at least, it’s meant to encourage you to discover something new within its small social network. Social is mandatory.

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WSJ: Apple Negotiating with Hollywood Studios Over Movie Streaming

According to an article published by The Wall Street Journal last night, Apple is reportedly in talks with Hollywood studios to add streaming of movies to the iTunes Store.

Apple Inc. is negotiating with Hollywood studios for deals that would let people who buy movies from the iTunes Store watch streaming versions of those movies on Apple devices such as iPads or iPhones without manually transferring them, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Los Angeles Times has a similar report:

Representatives of the iPhone and iPad maker have been meeting with studios to finalize deals that would allow consumers to buy movies through iTunes and access them on any Apple device, according to knowledgeable people who requested anonymity because the discussions are private. The service is expected to launch in late 2011 or early 2012.

With the just-launched iCloud platform for media and data syncing, there are a few differences to consider when covering the subject of “streaming” and online storage. Whereas the WSJ mentions “streaming versions” of movies, the LA Times (at least initially) simply refers to access on any device. Considering the current iCloud model, the rumor seems to fall in line with the LA Times’ report – iTunes in the Cloud, a feature of iCloud for iTunes Store content, lets users buy once, re-download at any time, and store previously purchased items in the cloud. With iTunes in the Cloud there’s no “streaming version” of a song or TV show, as iCloud is effectively enabling users to access items on any device from a unified interface (you can read more in our iCloud overview). However, in the same article, the LA Times also states:

Under the plan Apple is proposing, users could stream movies they buy via iTunes on any device the company makes, such as the Apple TV, iPhones and iPads, as well as on PCs.

You may remember that ahead of iCloud’s announcement in June, a number of reports suggested Apple was working on a music streaming service – such service didn’t materialize at WWDC as Apple unveiled iTunes Match, a music service that scans & match music, but doesn’t allow for streaming in a way companies like Rdio or Spotify do. iTunes Match matches songs with Apple’s servers and uploads the rest to a cloud locker, enabling users to download their music on any device.

Technically, the difference between streaming and access shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whereas devices like the iPhone and iPad can store downloads in their local storage after they’ve pulled media from iCloud, the Apple TV, which works with iCloud but has no local storage, streams everything from Apple’s iTunes Store, keeping small portions of data in a local cache.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the technical difference between streaming and download. Movies in iCloud have been rumored since May, and Apple went ahead and launched a service with online storage for apps, music, TV shows and documents but no movies. It’s unclear how movies will be stored in iCloud when a deal between Hollywood and Apple eventually happens, but when it does, the technical aspect of the system shouldn’t matter to the end user.


Flipboard Considering TV Shows and Movies, iPhone Version Launching “In A Few Weeks”

According to a report by Reuters, the iPad app of the Year 2010, Flipboard, might add support for movies and TV shows by the end of the year. If the company and its CEO, Mike McCue, will manage to cut deals with studios and other content providers, Flipboard will expand beyond aggregating articles from social networks such as Twitter and Facebook or RSS services like Google Reader, becoming an all-in one solution to read, share, and watch.

Flipboard mixes articles from a growing list of brands like Oprah.com and the Economist with social media feeds from sites like Facebook into a personalized online magazine. It has received $60.5 million in venture capital funding and its app has been downloaded 3 million times.

Chairman and Chief Executive Mike McCue said he will tackle the video project at the end of the year. He declined to say which studio partners he has approached. He also hopes eventually to cut deals with publishers to sell electronic books through Flipboard.

Just when the concept of “consuming content” starts making less sense now that the iPad has turned into a full-featured platform and device capable of doing things like reading, writing, sharing news, and watching movies, the evolution of Flipboard towards broader audiences and media seems appropriate. The app was launched in 2010 featuring direct Twitter and Facebook integration to display stories from these networks, visualized through an elegant layout with beautiful typography that made great use of the iPad’s screen to present multiple stories at once, and allow readers to re-share them or comment of them without opening a separate client. The app went through a series of updates to further refine the interface, add more services like Google Reader for RSS feeds and Instagram for photos, recently receiving another major revamp to introduce visual search, a popular section, and a completely new UI to browse popular articles and get recommendations from the Flipboard team’s curated list of stories and sources.

We’re big fans of Flipboard here at MacStories, and I believe choosing to diversify the app’s offerings to include more content is step in the right direction. Obviously, as Reuters says, this may never materialize if deals aren’t reached with studios, but it’s reassuring to know Flipboard has been considering video as the next major addition to their social magazine. In the same report, Reuters also says the iPhone version of Flipboard is expected to hit the App Store in a few weeks, although no further details are available.

You can read more about Flipboard and our thoughts on it in our previous coverage, and check out the fantastic original promo video featuring Adam Lisagor below.
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Report Claims No New Apple TV In Third Quarter

According to a report by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo relayed by AppleInsider, Apple may not release an updated model of the Apple TV in the third quarter, instead focusing on software updates to extend the AirPlay features of the device and make it compatible with the upcoming next-generation iPhone. Earlier this month, AppleInsider reported they had been hearing rumors of a new HD+ format for movie content set to bring full 1080p capabilities to a version of the Apple TV. Such new Apple TV, according to “people familiar with the matter”, would run Apple’s latest A5 chip to bring the necessary horsepower to play 1080p movies without playback issues. However, if Ming-Chi Kuo’s industry checks are to be believed, it appears Apple may instead roll out new version of iOS for the Apple TV, rather than a hardware refresh.

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, Kuo said his industry checks have turned up no evidence that Apple plans push a hardware revision to the Apple TV into production during the third quarter. Instead, the Cupertino-based company will reportedly take a more measured approach to advancing the platform in 2011, relying instead on an Apple TV Software Update this fall that will allow devices such as the iPad 2 and upcoming iPhone 5 to beam their content to the big-screen.

Apple doesn’t disclose exact sales numbers of iPod touches and Apple TVs, but Ming-Chi Kuo believes the company sold approximately 480,000 units in the second quarter. In the past months, the second-generation Apple TV has proven to be a successful “hobby” for the company: whilst Tim Cook at the Q3 earnings call said they still don’t consider the Apple TV “another leg of the stool”, in the first three months of availability the Apple TV sold over 1 million units, with allegedly 2 million units placed by April 2011. Meanwhile, similar Internet-connected devices failed to capture the attention of the market partly because of non-competitive prices and lack of streaming features – whereas the Apple TV can stream movies and TV shows using iTunes, and can be integrated with iOS devices thanks to AirPlay. Apple is indeed baking a new feature into iOS 5 that will allow users to beam the full contents of an iPad’s screen to the Apple TV, thus making it an interesting solution for wireless gaming and business presentations. Most recently, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the Apple TV was “more important” for them as Netflix keeps expanding to new devices, and an experiment by Mac Mini Vault successfully managed to host a webpage on a jailbroken Apple TV 2nd gen.


An Analysis Of Apple’s Adjustment Of International App Store Prices

UPDATED: Included a discussion on various sales taxes to clarify some of sections of the analysis, also corrected a mistake regarding Denmark prices.

For those of you who aren’t located in the United States, Wednesday’s news of Apple re-adjusting their prices in the App Store for international stores might have been pretty big news. For many the headline was welcome news, indeed when I woke up Thursday morning and saw they had finally re-calibrated the iTunes ‘exchange-rate’ I was pretty happy about it. We first discussed the great disparity in global iTunes prices back in January and I was pleased to see Apple eventually act and restore some fairness for international consumers.

Unfortunately I soon figured out it wasn’t all good news; Apple had only adjusted the iTunes ‘exchange-rate’ for apps. For their other stores such as for music, movies, TV shows and books the prices remained unchanged. Nonetheless I have revisited my January analysis, updating that data and doing some further analysis of what the price changes actually bring, what it means for individual countries and who is better or worse off.

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iCloud To Feature Films and TV Shows Too?

After today’s press release that confirmed Apple will hold a WWDC opening keynote on Monday, June 6, to officially unveil Mac OS X, iOS 5 and iCloud, Cnet reports the launch of the new cloud service from Apple next week may see a last-minute surprise that will make movies and TV shows available on the online “locker”. No details on how users would be able to upload, stream or purchase films and TV shows they don’t own have been posted, but it sounds like iCloud would provide a solution to store files on Apple’s servers to stream them later to a variety of devices.

Feature films could be part of Apple’s iCloud launch next week.

In the past several weeks, Apple executives have stepped up their attempts to convince some of the major Hollywood film studios to issue licenses that would enable Apple to store its customers’ movies on the company’s servers, two sources close to the negotiations told CNET. Apple began discussing a cloud service with the studios over a year ago.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Cnet also reports content providers and Hollywood studios will be harder to convince than record labels and publishers, mainly because of the deals that in the US tie some studios exclusively to a cable company that airs films and shows. For instance, Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and NBC Universal have an exclusive distribution deal with HBO that would prevent Apple from making their films available through iCloud immediately. As Time Warner’s CEO Bewkes (Time Warner is parent company of HBO and Warner Bros) has made several positive remarks on the new Ultraviolet video standard in the past, however, industry sources claim a deal with Apple and other cloud services could get done, and the exclusive HBO deal reworked to accommodate more distribution methods.

So if Bewkes is a believer what is the holdup? Film-industry sources have say that there’s nothing to worry about, that a deal with Time Warner to relax the HBO window will get done. But can something be completed before June 6?

Whether it can or not, Apple could still roll something out with the other three studios that are without HBO blackout agreements: Disney, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures.

Apple has officially announced the iCloud name today, referring to it as “upcoming cloud services offering” that seems to suggest it will go beyond music to offer a broader set of tools for online sync and storage. With the launch of the Apple TV 2nd-gen last September, Apple began offering rentals from ABC and Fox at $0.99 only through streaming, as the Apple TV doesn’t allow for local movie storage.


Phone, Tablet Owners Willing to Pay for Media Subscription Services

With rumors floating around about Apple’s upcoming cloud music service (especially after last night’s report on the company signing a deal with EMI) and others like Google and Amazon moving forward on the streaming bandwagon with products to upload and stream music at any time with smartphones, tablets and desktop web browsers, subscription-based payment systems are often seen as the only feasible solution to guarantee a continuos cloud service without interruptions, always available anywhere you go. Just like Spotify and Rdio let users stream large collections of music they don’t necessarily own by paying a monthly or annual fee, Apple is rumored to extend the iTunes subscription system it created for magazines to music, movies, and a combination of both for the ultimate iTunes Store cloud experience. But just how much are phone and tablet people willing to pay for these new cloud services based on subscriptions? That’s what research firm Nielsen takes a look at in its latest survey, asking users of “connected devices” how much they would pay for media subscriptions that would give them access to a variety of content on their mobile devices.

It turns out, music, movies, magazines, books and TV shows are something people would pay for – sure, there are different results, but take a look at the graph above and you’ll see that these 5 categories are the ones with less orange, which stands for “not willing to pay.” On the other side, sports content, streaming radio and news are something people would be less prone to subscribe to. Overall, the sweet spot for subscriptions seems to be around $4.99 - $9.99 per month, which is what most cloud services ask for these days. There’s an interesting difference about music, however: people would pay for “downloaded music”, and not for “streaming radio.” Assuming “downloaded music” stands for “music you own”, and people care about having online access to music that’s ultimately theirs, services like Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music Beta should be exactly what people are looking for, as they let you upload your own music to the cloud. Also assuming Apple is working on a similar solution, this survey suggests the company should allow for both uploads and Spotify-like streaming, enabling users to lock their own collections in the cloud, and get access to stuff they didn’t buy as well. Maybe that’s what these deals with music labels are all about.

Tablet and smartphone owners with proper Internet access on the go are willing to pay for online media available through apps, and if that’s their own media, there’s an incentive to subscribe. A report in the past weeks suggested Apple was considering offering a free initial trial for its new cloud music service, with a $20 yearly subscription once the demo is over.