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Posts tagged with "tv"

Hands-On: Belkin’s USB-C to HDMI Adapter for the 2018 iPad Pro

As I mentioned earlier this week, I have been looking forward to Belkin's USB-C to HDMI adapter for the new iPad Pro since I discovered the accessory was announced on the same day of Apple's Brooklyn event. The unique proposition of this adapter is support for 4K @ 60Hz video-out with HDR and HDCP 2.2, which, as I noted in yesterday's iPad Diaries column as well, I haven't been able to find in other USB-C adapters so far. I just spent 30 minutes playing with the iPad Pro connected to my 4K TV through this adapter, which arrived this morning, and I'm happy with the purchase, even though there is one significant drawback.

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Sofa Review: A Simple Tool for Tracking Movies, TV Shows, Books, and Podcasts

We live in a time when media options are growing at a fast pace. It's a golden age for television, with great shows debuting all the time; the film industry is being transformed by the infusion of new competition from streaming giants like Netflix; podcasts are becoming more mainstream by the day; and despite books not being in a similar growth phase, new titles are still being written constantly. In this crowded media landscape, it's hard to keep track of all the great content waiting to be enjoyed.

In the past I've kept notes in Apple Notes containing lists of TV shows, movies, podcasts, and books to check out. Lately, however, I've been using an app called Sofa.

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Apple Is Building a Media Platform Like Never Before

Have you ever watched the construction of a new building while knowing nothing about what the finished product would be? You track its progress a piece at a time, clueless about the end goal until finally there comes a point when, in a single moment, suddenly it all makes sense.

Apple's media ambitions have been like that for me.

In recent years, Apple has taken a variety of actions in the media space that seemed mostly disconnected, but over time they've added up to something that can't be ignored.

  • 2015: Apple Music and Apple News launched.
  • 2016: Apple Music redesigned; TV app debuted.
  • 2017: App Store revamped with dedicated games section; Apple Podcasts redesigned; TV app adds sports and news.
  • 2018: Apple acquires Texture; iBooks redesigned and rebranded Apple Books.
  • 2019: Apple's video streaming service launches?

Apple already has control of the hardware that media is consumed on, with its ever-expanding iPhone business and suite of complementary products. It has invested significant effort into building the apps media is consumed in, as evidenced above. And finally, it's also building the paid services media is consumed through.

And the company is doing these things at a scale that is unprecedented. Once not long ago, Apple's primary media platform was iTunes. Now, hundreds of millions of users consume media every day through Apple's suite of spiritual successors to iTunes:

  • Apple Music
  • Apple TV (the app)
  • Apple Podcasts
  • Apple Books
  • Apple News
  • And the App Store

Apple has one unified goal, I believe, driving all its media efforts: it aspires to utilize hardware, software, and services to provide the entirety of a user's media experience. If you consume media, Apple wants to provide the full stack of that consumption, from media delivery to media discovery. My aim in this story is to share an overview of how that goal is being fulfilled today.

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What Is Apple’s Video Strategy?

Pavan Rajam shares a broad look at Apple's video-related efforts, evaluating the company's current position and its potential for greater impact in the fast-shifting market.

Today, there is no meaningful exclusive video content on Apple platforms. Apple, thus far, has relied on its design and engineering prowess to differentiate its video offerings.

It’s clear this strategy isn’t working.

The iTunes Store is arguably the best transactional video storefront, but that alone is not enough to stop consumers from adopting subscription services. The TV app has a great UI and cross app integration, but that does not justify the $150 price to get it on your TV. Apple TV is the best designed, most capable streaming video box on the market, but that isn’t enough to justify its premium pricing when the same streaming services are available on every other platform with a significantly lower cost of entry.

Rajam's overview makes clear the significant challenges Apple faces in this market. Though the company is making heavy investment in developing original content, it's unknown what the plan for distributing that content will be: will it be widely available across all platforms, or exclusive to Apple hardware? Both approaches have clear benefits and drawbacks, so the question goes back to what the bigger goal is.

Apple ultimately has to decide what is more important: Apple TV as a premium hardware product line or a streaming video service that runs across all of its platforms.

I expect that by the end of this year, whether Apple's video content is released by then or not, we will at least have the answer to that question.

Currently, a big reason video services like Netflix thrive is that they're available to a huge number of customers – regardless of what TV, phone, or computer you own, you can get Netflix. It would be against industry practice for Apple to create a video streaming service that's exclusive to its hardware. Hollywood likely wouldn't appreciate that either, as creators want their work shared as widely as possible. For those reasons, I have a hard time seeing Apple launch a service that isn't, at the very least, available to users on some other platforms.

If Apple did make its service available on select other platforms, such as Android and the web, it could still position Apple TV as the only way to watch its shows on the big screen. Non-Apple users would still have access to the service, but if Apple does its job and creates truly compelling new shows that people love, many of those users may then be willing to splurge for a premium set-top box. Asking anyone to pay $150 for access to a streaming service is a hard sell, but if you can first hook people on shows they love, they'll eventually want to watch those shows in a way that's most comfortable: on their TV.

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Carpool Karaoke: The Series Now Available on Apple Music

Last night Apple launched the premiere of its second original television series, Carpool Karaoke. Like Planet of the Apps before it, Carpool Karaoke will release new episodes every Tuesday for Apple Music subscribers. It can be accessed from the ‘TV & Movies’ section of the Apple Music app’s ‘Browse’ tab. Alternately, you can also find it in Apple’s standalone TV app, which Apple Music has a direct integration with.

The premiere episode of Carpool Karaoke is twenty minutes and features James Corden and Will Smith. The concept for the series comes from the popular segment on “The Late Late Show” where Corden rides around with a celebrity singing songs and exploring the city. Based on previews for the series, Corden will only appear in one other episode of Apple’s spinoff this season, while other episodes will contain a host of other celebrity groupings.

You can see a six-minute clip of the series’ first episode below, followed by an extended preview of the upcoming season.


Carpool Karaoke: The Series Launches August 8th

Apple announced today that its next original TV series, Carpool Karaoke: The Series, will premiere on August 8th and air new episodes every Tuesday from that point on. Like its first show, Planet of the Apps, Carpool Karaoke will be released exclusively for Apple Music subscribers.

A new promo trailer for the series was released today alongside the date announcement. It features short clips from many upcoming episodes, showing off a variety of guest star pairings including:

  • James Corden and LeBron James;
  • Ariana Grande and Seth MacFarlane;
  • Planet of the Apps advisors Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, and will.i.am;
  • Shaquille O’Neal and John Cena;
  • Alicia Keys and John Legend;
  • And several more.

Planet of the Apps Launches Worldwide with Season Premiere

Apple launched the premiere episode of Planet of the Apps last night, at the end of the second full day of WWDC. Planet of the Apps features app creators who compete to receive funding for their apps with the help of the show's celebrity mentors. The first episode runs just under 50 minutes, and is available free of charge for a limited time to all viewers on the show's website. Future installments of the 10-episode series will only be available to Apple Music subscribers, and will release weekly.

Timed to coordinate with the launch, the Apple Music app for iOS has received a new 'TV & Movies' section inside the 'Browse' tab. The section is headlined by Planet of the Apps, but it also features some of Apple's previously released original video content, such as Drake's 'Please Forgive Me' and the '808' documentary. If you tap through to the Planet of the Apps informational page, it contains more info about the show, a listing of all currently available episodes, and also a selection of bonus video content featuring the series' celebrity personalities.

If anyone sets out to locate Apple's new original series, they won't even have to visit the 'TV & Movies' section to find it. Apple is heavily featuring it in the top section of Apple Music's 'Browse' tab with six featured banners. The show is also being featured inside of Apple's TV app (assuming Apple Music has been given user permission to integrate with TV). Additionally, the show's website is linked to from the front page of Apple.com, and a wide array of press stories have been released in the last 24 hours covering the launch.

Clearly, Apple wants the world to know that Planet of the Apps is different from its original video work of the past; the tech company is now officially in the TV content business.


Carpool Karaoke Will Be Released Every Tuesday Starting August 8th

Apple announced that Carpool Karaoke: The Series will debut for Apple Music subscribers on August 8th. According to Apple’s press release, the show, based on James Corden’s popular segment from The Late Late Show with James Corden:

…will welcome a different group of superstars every Tuesday, with new episodes available exclusively to Apple Music subscribers in more than 100 countries. Celebrity pairings include Will Smith and James Corden; Miley, Noah, Billy Ray and the entire Cyrus family; Shakira and Trevor Noah; Game of Thrones stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams; Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith; John Legend, Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson; LeBron James and James Corden; and many more.

Originally anticipated to be released earlier, Apple pushed the debut of Carpool Karaoke back last month.

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iShows Adds ‘Watch Now’ Feature to Stream Episodes in Other Video Apps

A few days ago, I asked on Twitter for a TV show tracker that could sync with Trakt.tv and show where each episode could be legally streamed. I've been using Trakt.tv to organize my TV show library and keep track of new episodes for a couple of years now, but I couldn't find a Trakt-compatible app that also supported showing streaming sources for episodes – like Apple's TV app does, for instance. In the few weeks I spent using the TV app, I thought that was one of its best options.

Today, iShows – a longtime MacStories favorite – has added this feature, which is called Watch Now. After selecting the country you want to use for streaming (useful, for instance, if you live in Europe but use a VPN for American streaming services like HBO Now), iShows will display where each episode can be streamed or, alternatively, purchased or rented.

I tested Watch Now with the dozen of TV shows I'm tracking in iShows/Trakt, and it works as advertised; with one tap, iShows will open the link for an episode's streaming source, which thanks to Universal Links on iOS will deep-link directly into the associated video app (if installed). It couldn't be easier, and I appreciate that I don't have to look up each show's information on the web to learn where it can be streamed.

While there are a number of great Trakt-compatible apps at this point (some favorites of mine include Couchy and Television Time), iShows has regained a spot on my devices because of the addition of Watch Now.

You can get iShows 2.9 from the App Store.