updated 02:00 am EDT, Fri April 6, 2012
ICS finally up to iOS security, stability standard
A product manager for Time Warner cable has announced that the company expects to finally bring a live video app to Android before Memorial Day, but the app will be limited to Android 4.x (Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS) due to it being "the only version of the Android OS that allows us the security and stability necessary to distribute video over our private network." The cable giant created a live video app for iOS early last year.
Saying that developing a live video product for Android is like "tweezing one's eyebrows while using a disco ball as a mirror," author Jeff Simmermon admitted that the challenge of coding the product for a wide range of devices did not compare favorably to iOS saying it was "much easier" to develop a live video app on Apple's platform. He pointed out the advantage that iOS is made by the same company that manufactures the hardware, making it easy to make the experience consistent across devices.
The post expresses some frustration with the fragmentation aspects of Android, cautioning users that "it's up to the device manufacturer or sometimes the data carrier when or if ICS will be deployed" to their devices. He gave an example that a Motorola device user on Verizon might get an update at one point, while a Samsung owner on AT&T may get the ICS upgrade in a very different timeframe. "We're going to get there," Simmermon said, "but it's going to happen one facet at a time."
Android 4.0 is thus far only on just under three percent of all Android devices, and while some devices are still awaiting updates, the majority -- particularly those running on the 2.x version of Android -- will likely never be updated, as carriers and manufacturers have a strong incentive to keep newer updates for newer devices, both to ensure the best experience as well as providing an inducement for users to keep upgrading hardware.
Simmermon's reference to "security and stability" likely refers to the digital rights management that makes live streaming possible on mobile devices, suggesting that earlier versions of Android will not be considered for future expansion of any video apps. Users whose devices came with or have been upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich will, however, be able to watch live video over a Wi-Fi and perhaps an LTE connection (the company didn't specify) with "no problem at all" when the app is released, sometime in the coming month or two.
Time Warner has an existing, free TWC TV app for Android that doesn't handle live video but does offer a program guide, DVR management, set-top box tuning and program searching.