According to a report in the New York Times, producers and executives who have met with Apple recently said the company is targeting sometime between March 2019 and summer 2019 to launch a video service. With about a dozen shows signed in the past several months, the Times says Apple is on track to spend significantly more than the $1 billion or so that it told TV executives last year it had budgeted to spend on programming. The report says the turning point came last summer:
The week after “Planet of the Apps” made its debut, Mr. Cue greatly improved the company’s standing in the entertainment industry by hiring the veteran television executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht away from Sony Pictures Television, the studio behind “Breaking Bad” and “The Crown.”
The two executives moved quickly to build Apple Worldwide Video from the ground up, expanding its staff to roughly 40 people and opening divisions for adult dramas, children’s shows and Latin American and European programming. In putting together its slate of 12 projects (and counting), Mr. Van Amburg and Mr. Erlicht made deals with big names including Reese Witherspoon (for three shows), Steven Spielberg, Damien Chazelle, M. Night Shyamalan, Jennifer Aniston, Octavia Spencer and Kristen Wiig.
As reports have trickled in about new shows that Apple has signed, it’s become clear that the company has plans to launch a full slate of original programming. Although it remains unclear how Apple intends to roll the shows out to consumers, the New York Times' report provides an interesting peek at where the project stands today and when it might launch.
Today The Sweet Setup launched 'All the Things', a video course primarily aimed at explaining how to get the most out of Things, the popular task manager for Mac and iOS.
Like they did for their Ulysses screencasts last year, the folks at The Sweet Setup have produced a series of videos covering Things with walkthroughs of its basic features, project organization, as well as more advanced options such as iPad drag & drop and workflows. The videos included in the $29 'All the Things' Basic package are:
- Walkthrough of Things on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone
- Anatomy of a Task
- All the ways to Capture
- Anatomy of a Project
- Anatomy of an Area
- Cloud Sync & Backup
- iPad drag & drop
- AppleScripts & Workflows
In addition to the screencasts, the Basic package includes setup interviews with Things users who rely on the app to get work done. I was honored when Shawn asked me to participate in the course, and it was fun to answer his questions about my decision to switch to Things and how I use the app. You can find my interview here.
I'm a fan of The Sweet Setup's screencast courses. I like Shawn's style of demonstrating features and how they work in practice, and I think the Basic video package is a great deal at $29 if you're looking for a way to get started with Things and learn how other people use it.
There's more, though. In the Pro version of the 'All the Things' package, available at $39 for a limited time, you'll also get access to Shawn's productivity training videos that contain general tips that work for any task manager. So whether you use Todoist or OmniFocus or something else, videos such as 'How to Schedule Your Day' and 'Weekly Planning & Reviewing' will likely give you something you can apply to your own workflow. And if you just want these videos without the Things screencasts, that's also an option at $35.
I watched nearly every video of the 'All the Things' Pro bundle over the past week, and – I don't say this because I was interviewed for this series – I think $39 for the discounted Pro package is great value whether you want to learn Things or optimize the way you work. You can find all the details about 'All the Things' and purchase the course here.
Today, VideoLAN, the non-profit organization behind VLC, released version 3.0 of its media player app across several platforms, including macOS and iOS. The update, known as Vetinari, supports a long list of modern video, audio, and streaming technologies such as:
- hardware decoding by default to allow for 4K and 8K video playback on supported hardware
- 360 Video and 3D audio
- HDMI passthrough for HD audio codecs
- Streaming to Google Chromecast devices
- Blu-Ray Java menus
- Local network browsing of drives and NAS
- Improved subtitle rendering
There are many other additions and refinements to VLC 3.0, which you can read about on VideoLAN’s website. The iOS update to VLC should be available later today as a free download on the App Store. The Mac version is already available on VideoLAN’s website.
Becky Hansmeyer started building Snapthread to combine Snapchat videos. What she ended up creating is an elegant way to combine Live Photos and videos into short movies that are greater than the sum of their parts and perfect for sharing with friends and family.
What I love about the origin story of Snapthread is how much the app changed from its inception to launch, yet how close the resulting app remains to Hansmeyer’s original vision. That’s because at its core is a great idea: creating a better way to share life’s fleeting moments.
With version 1.5, Snapthread has grown into a mini iPhone video studio with a focus on making it as quick and simple as possible to assemble a video from several Live Photos or standard videos. The approach is smart. It’s easy to get caught up in filters, effects, and transitions when you’re editing video. There’s a place for that sort of app, and Snapthread lets you add things like a title card and overlay music, but what I like most about it is that the app’s focus on the basics prevents me from obsessing about my creation. It’s a design choice that makes me far more likely to create and share a clip.
It’s clear that Apple is building a video service. That much was obvious the moment it hired veteran entertainment executives Zack van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. But you can’t flip a switch and create a streaming service—not even if you’re Apple. (You could buy one, but Apple has apparently chosen to build, not buy, at least for now.)
What has to happen between now and the day we all sit down and watch the first episode of van Amburg and Erlicht’s first major acquisition to play through our Apple TVs or on our iPads and iPhones?
Great article by Jason Snell on the challenges Apple is facing in building their video streaming service – which, if you've been keeping an eye on entertainment news, is perhaps the company's worst kept secret. (Jason Snell and Myke Hurley have a regular segment about this topic on their Upgrade podcast, which you should listen to.)
Unlike Snell, though, I have a hard time believing Apple will not offer their service on multiple platforms. If the company's goal is to generate more Services revenue with this product, it's only reasonable to expect as many people as possible could sign up for it.
Also, from a cultural perspective, I think it'd be wrong to have TV shows (and eventually movies too?) be locked to Apple devices. I was watching the Grammys last night, and there were plenty of Apple Music mentions (and ads) throughout the show; Apple Music, of course, is available both on iOS and Android, which meant everyone watching could access Apple's Grammys page and playlists. If Apple hopes to create shows that become cultural phenomena like Game of Thrones or Stranger Things, wouldn't it be best to ensure everyone can enjoy them?
There are few macOS utilities I’ve tried that take a potentially complex, multi-step process and boil it down to a simple task as well as Softorino YouTube Converter 2 does. That’s because it’s a difficult technical and design challenge to hide complexity without creating an inflexible app with too many compromises. Softorino YouTube Converter, also known as SYC, does an excellent job avoiding the pitfalls and striking a balance between utility and simplicity. It only takes a few steps to go from a URL to a downloaded video or audio file, but SYC still allows for just enough tweaking along the way that it preserves a level of versatility that should make it attractive to a wide range of users.
Apple has announced that Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg are joining the company to lead the company’s worldwide video programming efforts as part of Eddie Cue’s team:
“Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We have exciting plans in store for customers and can’t wait for them to bring their expertise to Apple — there is much more to come.”
Erlicht and Van Amburg were responsible for hits such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, The Crown, Rescue Me, and more while at Sony Pictures Television. Apple has been ramping up its video production efforts for quite some time now and if there was any remaining doubt that the company is serious about getting into original content creation, the hiring of Erlicht and Van Amberg should put those doubts to rest.
An excellent new utility called PiPifier was just launched by developer Arno Appenzeller. PiPifier may sound familiar, as it was originally released as a macOS app on the Mac App Store. But now the app had made its way to the iPad.
PiPifier is a tool that enables viewing any HTML5 video using the iPad's Picture in Picture feature. It works as an action extension from the share sheet that you run within Safari. Simply load a site containing a video, then run the PiPifier action extension, and the video will instantly enter Picture in Picture mode. This is tremendously useful on sites like YouTube that do not support Picture in Picture by default, and in my testing has worked perfectly.
PiPifier is a free download on the App Store.
Apple announced today that it is launching a new video app called Clips in April. The app lets users combine video, photos, music, and more and then share their creations with Messages, Instagram, Facebook, and other social networks.