News from the video game industry for the week of March 9
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista takes a moment to round up a collection of stories from the world of gaming into one post. In this week's Weekly Game Replay, the second game in the Titanfall series will be heading to more than the Xbox consoles and PC, BAFTA held its annual game awards show, and the trials and tribulations of the development of Grand Theft Auto is being turned into a BBC drama.
Free computer hardware heading to students this fall in BBC coding effort
The BBC is continuing in its attempts to promote digital literacy in the United Kingdom, by providing approximately 1 million devices to children. The broadcaster will be providing the Micro Bit, a compact electronic board inspired by the BBC Micro from the 1980s, to students in secondary schools this fall, which it hopes will encourage a new generation of coders to create software.
Simple, useful radio streaming app for Macs
It used to be so much fun, tuning in to radio stations from around the world. Shortwave radios -- who has those any more? Sitting in central Paris, just about able to pick up BBC Radio 4 from the UK -- it's just no thrill now that you can listen to any station, anywhere in the world, on a whim. Snowflake, a new app born from the ashes of radio recorder Snowtape, makes it even less of a thrill: it is an extremely easy-to-use radio app that streams music from around the world right to your Mac.
TV From Sky app goes live on PlayStation 4 in UK
British broadcaster Sky has added its streaming app to the PlayStation 4. Named TV From Sky instead of the usual Sky Go brand, the app provides online access to a number of live Sky television channels, as well as a wide selection of on-demand and catch-up TV shows via the console, for subscribers of the satellite television service.
Microsoft releases digital TV tuner for Xbox One in Europe
A digital TV tuner for the Xbox One has gone on sale in Europe through the Microsoft Store. Priced at Â£25 ($40) in the UK and 30 euros ($38) in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the tuner will allow owners of the Microsoft game console to view free-to-air HD television through the device, complete with Snap Mode video, pausing and rewinding of live TV, and OneGuide program listings.
Samsung Gear S will have Opera Mini browser available at release
The Samsung Gear S, a smartwatch with its own 3G data connection due to go on sale in the near future, will be able to access the Internet via its own browser, Opera has revealed. Owners of the standalone smartwatch will be able to download Opera Mini for the device via the Samsung Gear Apps store, with the browser said to be made more user friendly for the small screen by making website shortcuts into larger buttons, and by including a single Smart Page collecting together various social updates onto a single screen.
LinkedIn retires visualization tool InMaps
Professional networking platform LinkedIn has discontinued its InMaps visualization tool. Citing the need to focus on new ways to visualize users' professional network, InMaps officially retired September 1. The feature was first launched in January 2011, and allowed for viewing different clusters in one's network and color code them as to see where crossovers and separations appeared.
Broadcaster to perform closed Ultra HD content trials this summer
The BBC will be trialling broadcasts of Ultra HD content during the World Cup in Brazil this summer. The broadcaster revealed its research and development labs will be performing the tests on 4K video shot during the tournament by Sony, in order to "better understand the latest UHD distribution technologies and standards in a live outside broadcast."
Bug may possibly be affecting other apps
Several UK-based iOS apps -- including BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, and Now TV -- have suddenly stopped streaming video, the BBC reports. The issue began last night, and is still ongoing; the source of the problem is so far unknown, as is whether other apps are also being affected. The director of Now TV, Gidon Katz, indicates that the issue can be temporarily fixed in Sky and Now by rewinding iOS' clock by a day, but that triggers other problems -- including preventing access to the App Store -- and doesn't solve the flaw in iPlayer.
BlackBerry will update iOS, Android BBM apps over Heartbleed security flaw
BlackBerry has added itself to the list of companies working to fix issues caused by the 'Heartbleed' OpenSSL security flaw. Senior vice president Scott Totzke told Reuters that, though the majority of BlackBerry products are unaffected, by not using OpenSSL, it will still need to issue updates to Secure Work Space corporate e-mail and the BlackBerry Messenger clients for iOS and Android.
BBC extends iPlayer catch-up video from week to 30 days
The BBC is extending the time British viewers will have to watch recently-broadcast shows on iPlayer to 30 days. Up from the previous seven-day limit, Pocket-Lint reports the popular catch-up streaming service will allow for downloads or streams of shows from any of the BBC's television channels up to 30 days after being broadcast, with the changes set to take place from this summer.
BBC iPlayer Radio update adds Favorites, recent searches and more
The BBC has updated its iPlayer Radio for iOS today, offering new features such as Favorites for users in the UK. The iPlayer Radio app provides live steaming access to all BBC Radio stations, with browsing of hundreds of on-demand "Listen Again" programs. Users can download podcasts to listen to on the go, discover new music with Playlister, connect to AirPlay or Bluetooth audio devices, and more. Version 1.5.0 offers a new Favorites feature, offering a save function for desired shows. Also included in the update is a recent searches history, schedules both seven days in the past and future, improved lock-screen function, and other minor improvements. Requiring iOS 6 or later and a UK iTunes account and IP address, BBC iPlayer Radio is free to download.
New version of iPlayer from BBC features program Collections
The BBC is rolling out a new version of its iPlayer today, available for use online, with consoles and connected TVs for UK citizens. The changes to iPlayer have been made in an attempt to move away from being a static service, and aims to offer a more interactive experience. When an episode of a series finishes playing, iPlayer now automatically lines up the next episode in sequence, while suggesting other content that may be relevant to the viewer.
Tesco claims 400,000 Hudl sales since September launch
British retailer Tesco has revealed it has sold approximately 400,000 of its Hudl tablets in the United Kingdom. The increase means that Tesco managed to sell around 100,000 of the Android tablets in the holiday sales, having already reported 300,000 sales at the start of December and 35,000 a few days after its launch. The company plans to release an upgraded version later this year.
BBC adds five free HD channels to high-definition lineup
The BBC will be adding five new channels to its lineup in the United Kingdom tomorrow for Freesat, Freeview, Sky, and Virgin Media users. The broadcaster will be adding HD versions of BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, CBBC, and CBeebies to its existing high-definition channel lineup, with the BBC advising that this brings the total subscription-free HD channel range from the corporation to seven. Earlier this year, the BBC revealed it would be shutting down its dedicated 3D channel, due to a lack of viewers.
Yelp adds review submission option to Android app
Yelp has updated its Android app to allow users to submit reviews to the service. The update, coming after a similar update for the iOS version, also adds photographs taken at businesses to be shown directly underneath its review. Yelp also reveals that reviews submitted by mobile users closely mirror those of website submissions, with 80 percent of reviews scoring three stars or more.
Now available worldwide, presumed lost for over 45 years
Fans of Doctor Who are celebrating the recovery of nine previously-thought-lost 1960s episodes of the classic sci-fi fantasy show, with the recovered material already exclusively available on iTunes less than a day after the find was publicly announced. This is the first time that newly-rediscovered episodes of the pioneering BBC space drama have been made available in digital form before being (re) broadcast or made available on DVD, and comes just over a month ahead of the show's 50th birthday.
BBC adds podcast download options to iPlayer Radio app
The BBC has updated its iPlayer Radio app for iOS and Android, adding the option to download podcasts from the broadcaster. Downloaded shows will appear under the new "My Downloads" part of the app, with the option to force the app to only download podcasts while connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, in order to avoid potential extra data charges from carriers.
BBC releases new iPlayer Downloads app for Mac, PC without Adobe Air
The BBC has released a new version of its iPlayer Desktop for Mac and PC that offers improved downloads of BBC television programs. BBC iPlayer Downloads, which now no longer uses Adobe AIR nor offers Windows Media files for security and cost reasons, will let users download shows from the on-demand service for later viewing, with users able to cue a download of a show in the client using links on the iPlayer website itself. Existing BBC iPlayer downloads will continue to work until their scheduled expiry dates.
Hulu gains 144 BBC shows in multi-year, non-exclusive deal
Hulu has signed a deal with BBC Worldwide to bring 2,000 episodes from 144 different BBC shows. The multi-year deal will bring titles such as Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Luther to the streaming service, with hundreds being made available this week. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is not an exclusive deal, due to similar arrangements with Netflix and Amazon.
Amazon redesigns Silk web browser with new start page, UI
Amazon has updated the Silk web browser for the Kindle Fire tablet line with a complete overhaul. Users will see a new Just-In-Time tutorial screen pointing out new parts of the user interface, a new start page with "Most Visited" links being more prominent, redesigned tabs, new Bookmarks views, and according to TechCrunch, simpler navigation and quicker access to Reading View.
Doctor Who, natural history shows last created in 3D trial
A trial of television broadcasts in 3D in the United Kingdom is going to be put on hold at the end of the year. The BBC intends to stop creating new shows in 3D for a three-year period, citing a combination of disappointing viewing figures and an overall viewing experience that is expensive and difficult for many viewers to undertake.
BBC shows final matches of UK tennis tournament in 3D for third year
The BBC will be broadcasting the finals of the Wimbledon tennis tournament in 3D for the third year running, despite the low numbers of 3D-capable HDTV owners in the country. The finals and semi-finals in both the men's and women's competitions will be shown live on the broadcaster's "Red Button" service in the United Kingdom in 3D, as part of the corporation's trials with 3D content.
Overall iPlayer use equals 272M January record
Usage of tablets to view BBC content on its streaming service has beaten that of smartphones for the first time. Information published by the BBC saw 200,000 more iPlayer requests from tablets than mobile phones, with the combined usage of mobile devices making up 30-percent of all requests, namely 81 million requests for March alone.
Doctor Who, Top Gear named in Twitter video agreement
BBC America has signed a deal with Twitter to of the first "in-Tweet branded video synced to entertainment TV series." The announcement, made through Twitter itself, provides little detail in the way of what exactly the service entails, but does mention popular shows Doctor Who and Top Gear in the message, suggesting that video advertisements for upcoming episodes of BBC properties could soon appear on the microblogging service.
British streaming service to also show Amazon Studio pilots
Amazon's Lovefilm service in the UK has signed a deal with BBC Worldwide to continue offering BBC content to its customers through Lovefilm Instant. The announcement comes at the same time as the Lovefilm app reaches Sony Bravia televisions, as well as news that it will also stream 11 original TV series test pilots from Amazon Studios.
Year-long trial to allow 40-hours of online programming
The BBC Trust is allowing the BBC to put some of its television programs onto the BBC iPlayer on-demand service before being broadcast. The 12-month trial will consist of up to 40 hours of assorted TV shows appearing on iPlayer ahead of their scheduled transmission through normal channels, as the corporation tests it's effectiveness.
Doctor Who, Chris Moyles highest requested shows
The BBC has seen its iPlayer service receive its highest ever number of requests in a month. Over 199 million requests were made to the UK-only on-demand service through the month of September. This beat the corporation's previous record set during the London Summer Olympic Games, where it set up 24 live HD feeds in order to cover every event.
Doctor Who, Top Gear first to get downloadable treatment
The BBC will be releasing its first UltraViolet-enabled DVD and Blu-ray titles in time for Christmas. The corporation is working with Flixster in order to offer the downloadable versions of the shows, which will include a stand-up comedy title from John Bishop, as well as the first part of Doctor Who Series 7.
UK broadcaster puts entire 57 radio station roster into app
Shortly after revealing two new YouTube content channels, the BBC has announced a radio app for iPhone users in the UK. The iPlayer Radio [Free, UK App Store only] functions as a standalone app from its highly-praised iPlayer service, allowing users to listen to the corporation's live radio programming and on-demand content from an iOS device. An Android version of the app is currently in development.
BBC said to be in talks with Spotify, Deezer, Apple
The BBC is looking to leverage its own music archive holdings into a digital streaming service that would be known as Playlister. The Telegraph carries word today that the BBC has been in talks with a number of bigger names in the streaming and online music industry in efforts to circumvent potential licensing issues that would arise from the use of its vast archive of music recordings. Should the BBC be able to clear the rights issues surrounding its archives, it would then roll out a service in the vein of Spotify, wherein license fee payers would be given access to the BBC's hundreds of thousands of recordings.
Media Player app launches video on website, iPlayer
The BBC is rolling out a way to help it's Android apps to function without Flash, by using Flash. A custom app called BBC Media Player (Google Play) will allow British users to watch and listen to BBC on-demand content from their mobile device, even when Adobe pulls Flash from Android for the second, and potentially final, time.
Apps mirror information and feeds provided by BBC website
As expected, the BBC has launched several mobile apps that will offer live streams from the London 2012 Olympic Games. Available for both iOS (Free, App Store) and Android (Free, Google Play), the apps will mirror the information and streaming content offered by the BBC website to UK-based users throughout the summer events.
Update allows for up to two-hour lag on live channels
The BBC has altered its iPlayer on-demand service to include Live Restart. Live streams of BBC channels can be paused, rewound, or even re-commenced within two hours of the original air time, according to the BBC. The feature, which is said to be a first in the UK, follows requests from iPlayer users to further improve the television streaming functionality.
UK national broadcaster adds online simulcast to Olympic coverage
The BBC has explained how it will cover the London 2012 Olympic Games. The home-nation broadcaster will stream 24 live feeds in HD to cover every event, matching the increase in video feeds for digital broadcasts in the UK during the event.
Nokia TV bows in Finland first
Nokia has quickly confirmed brief rumors by launching a new TV service for Lumia owners. Nokia TV will let Windows Phone users stream TV shows from "catch-up" services among local broadcasters without needing an account. Similar to the BBC's iPlayer, it's not intended as a live service but can help users watch shortly after a show airs if they missed the original broadcast.
Player can be controlled using gestures, voice
The BBC has finally brought its iPlayer streaming video player to the Xbox 360 for UK residents. The app enables users to access many of the latest BBC television content, along with the company's radio stations and select programs from other broadcasters.
Endeavor still in proposal stage
BBC director Mark Thompson has reportedly confirmed that the company is considering its own digital video store. The video portal, which is currently referred to as Project Barcelona, would serve as a repository for the company's archived content, enabling viewers to purchase digital copies of older programs or new content.
Users charged per download
The BBC is reportedly developing a video download store that is expected to serve as a competitor to iTunes. The service, referred to as Project Barcelona, is said to allow users to download BBC television shows, including new programming and older content.
Networks may offer taste of 3D viewing experience
British residents will soon be getting the 3D experience broadcast into their homes. The BBC has announced that it will offer limited coverage of the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London in 3D. Sky, another British content provider, has disclosed that it may show some of the auto races covered by its new Formula One channel using the technology.
Philips ships media player box in the UK
Philips has entered the set-top media player segment with its own HMP2000. It connects to displays using HDMI and home networks over integrated Wi-Fi, though there is no Ethernet connection. It does sport a USB port for local media playback, however. Preloaded apps let users connect to Netflix, YouTube, and BBC iPlayer in the UK.
Content to be aired on BBC HD channel
The BBC has reportedly committed to broadcasting some of the London 2012 Olympics Games in 3D. Events to be aired in 3D include the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the closing ceremony, the men's 100m final, and the nightly highlights program, among others.
Lovefilm to begin streaming ABC TV show seasons
Online UK movie service Lovefilm has signed a deal with Disney UK to bring a library of TV series from ABC Studios to its subscribers. Branded as ABC TV On Demand, the portal will give members access to full seasons of shows such as Lost, Castle, Desperate Housewives, and more. Shows will air as full seasons soon before the next one airs on UK paid or free TV networks.
Netflix gets streaming for past BBC episodes
Netflix on Tuesday gave British and Irish viewers access to BBC shows. A new deal will stream all past seasons of key TV shows, including Doctor Who, Spooks, Top Gear, and others. For many, the subscription will act as a way to catch shows after they leave the BBC iPlayer.
Takes less sentimental approach to Jobs
BBC HD and Two are tonight airing a new documentary on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, titled Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy. The special goes on at 9PM local time, and is said to include insiders like Steve Wozniak and John Sculley, as well as other personalities like actor Stephen Fry, and an inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It is however described as presenting a more "ruthless image of Jobs," for instance revealing that Wozniak cried after he learned through a book that Jobs had scammed money from him during a game project for Atari.
App also gets AirPlay, 3G streaming
Following changes to the Global iPlayer app, the BBC's core UK iPlayer app has also undergone a significant update. The title is now universal, supporting not just the iPad but the iPhone and iPod touch. In its iPhone form the app's interface has been simplified to cope with smaller screen space.
Goes beyond web, iPad, set-tops
Global iPlayer will make it to the iPhone and iPod touch on December 8th, the BBC has announced. The paid video-on-demand service has been available on the iPad for about five months. A list of countries getting the iPhone app on the 8th includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Microsoft outlines launch plans for X360 live TV
In sync with the fall Xbox 360 Dashboard update, Microsoft has provided a listing of TV providers that will be ready to go this week. Along with existing access to ESPN, Hulu, and Netflix, the December 6 update will also bring EPIX authenticated video in the US, Lovefilm in the UK, MediaSet's Premium Play in Italy, Sky Go in Austria and Germany, Telefonica España's Movistar Imagenio, and MSNBC's Today in the US.
Should reach US shortly after 'pilot' effort
The BBC has expanded its Global iPlayer service for the iPad to Canada, says The Hollywood Reporter. Users can access BBC TV shows on demand, something normally reserved for UK license fee payers, who can tap various forms of iPlayer for free. In Canada iPlayer access costs $9 a month, or $85 a year. Content is based on local demand and rights, but some initial shows include Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Whitechapel, Hustle and MI-5.
Xbox 360 live TV goes available worldwide
Microsoft as repeatedly rumored has kicked off its Xbox 360 live TV option. Cable and fiber TV providers such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, as well as individual TV stations such as Bravo, Epix, HBO, and SyFy, are all promising apps for the new Xbox Dashboard to watch TV online. Most if not all of the services will require that viewers authenticate to get access and will still need to have traditional TV.