New Roku 4 can stream 4K content from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube
The latest generation of the Roku streaming set-top box is finally offering support for 4K-resolution content. The Roku 4 is now able to push the high-resolution content to Ultra HD televisions at up to 60 frames per second, with the device able to stream 4K TV shows and movies from Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, and YouTube with HEVC and VP9 support, as well as upscaling 1080p content to 4K resolution.
Link phones to share streaming music in sync
We were only thinking the other day that music used to be something you shared, and now it's something that works its way into our heads via white earbuds. Everyone able to listen to anything they want is great, but somehow it has meant that so often we don't listen to anyone else's choice. AmpMe 1.4 is about bringing the sharing back to streaming. There are clear features we'd like to see added, as this is limited, but still rather exciting.
Claimed songwriters receive approximately $90 per million streams
The debate over royalties paid by streaming music services became more intense, after a songwriter revealed how little they were paid for a major hit. Speaking at a roundtable discussion about music copyright hosted by the House Judiciary Committee, it was claimed by a co-writer of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" that he received under $6,000 in royalties from streams, a figure he insists is not enough to live on.
Painless ways to pay for subscription service, or avoid getting a charge
Decision day is coming: we talked about this on the podcast and in print, but for people who signed up for the three-month free trial of the subscription component of Apple Music on its first day, the deadline to opt out of it (or the day your card will be charged for October's service) is September 30, a week away. In this Pointers, we will show you how to make sure you are not charged accidentally, how to pay for it without a credit card, and more.
Gaming news summary for September 20, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, Nintendo delays the next Star Fox game until next year, rumors suggest Konami is pulling away from AAA game development, Twitch ranks its most-played games, and details of a contest for you to win a game for your Mac.
Tax affects Amazon Prime, Hulu, other services as well
Lawsuits have been launched in Chicago to combat the area's new "cloud tax," which hits users of Apple Music, Netflix, Hulu Plus, XBox Live, and other streaming services. The claim by the citizens alleges that not only does the tax violate the US Internet Tax Freedom Act, which is intended to prevent Internet-only taxes, but the city comptroller's decision implements a new tax by fiat, which otherwise would have required a wider city official vote, as well as public debate.
Local media streaming app Plex being ported to tvOS
Users of the local network streaming movie and music service Plex will have more incentive to purchase an Apple TV, with an app for the latest model said to be in development. Days after the revelation that the latest generation of Apple TV will be able to run third-party apps, Plex co-founder Scott Olechowski confirmed developers are working on a version of its app that will be downloadable to the set-top box in the future.
Company getting 'a lot of feedback' on problems, music buying 'still healthy'
Oliver Schusser, an Apple vice president for iTunes International, was recently interviewed by the UK's The Guardian newspaper and admitted that the company is getting "a lot of feedback" on issues ranging from the design of the iOS Music app to sometimes-severe problems with iTunes 12.2 on Macs, as well as both compliments and brickbats on the overall Apple Music paid subscription service and the free features that accompany it.
Hulu offers commercial-free subscription for $12 per month
Hulu has implemented it's rumored advertising-free subscription option to its streaming service. Priced at $12 per month, the new tier offers the same content as its standard $8 subscription but users will be able to watch shows without interruptions from commercials during the show itself, though TechCrunch notes pre-roll advertising for some shows will continue due to licensing agreements. The service advises that the existing $8 service will continue to show "fewer commercials than scheduled television."
Epix licensing deal lapses as Netflix plans bigger original content push
Subscribers of Netflix in the United States will be seeing considerably fewer movies in the streaming service's catalog, as it has decided not to renew a five-year agreement with Epix. A number of major titles will be available until they are removed at the end of September, including Hunger Games: Catching Fire, World War Z, and Transformers: Age of Extinction, as Netflix works to expanding its roster with more exclusive content.
Artist manager denies Apple caused Tidal stream interference
Tidal has claimed Apple pressured the music service to take down a stream for a charity concert during one artist's set. Viewers of the Tidal stream of Lil WeezyAna Fest for children affected by Hurricane Katrina were greeted by an image claiming Apple is "interfering with artistry" and preventing Drake from being broadcast, but reports suggest Apple may not have anything to do with the temporary takedown at all.
Heavy streaming focus in Google gaming video service
Google has launched its attempt to take on the Amazon-owned Twitch in the gaming video market, with a section of YouTube specially created for gamers. YouTube Gaming is a subsection of the main video service that purely serves video game-related videos to its viewers, including "let's play," walkthroughs, speed runs, and other content, as well as a greater focus on streaming gameplay live from players to their followers.
Sports content, language learning offered as part of TuneIn subscription
TuneIn has joined the ranks of other streaming services, by offering users a paid subscription option. TuneIn Premium will provide its users a streaming service free of advertising, with over 600 commercial-free music stations, along with extra content including unlimited access to over 40,000 audiobooks, 16 stations dedicated to learning languages, and live play-by-play coverage of a number of sporting events.
Comcast makes Xfinity Share streaming app available to all subscribers
Comcast is extending access to an app that allows users to stream from their mobile devices to an X1 DVR-ready set-top box to all subscribers. The app, Xfinity Share for iOS and Android, can be used to broadcast photographs, recorded videos, and live video streams from a smartphone to a suitable cable box, and it is also possible to share the stream with another subscriber's TV. Slashgear reports the app was originally available to just Triple Play package customers, but now it can be used by any Comcast voice, video, home, and Internet subscriber.
High-resolution audio codec and Apple Music incompatible
While many of us were looking forward to the launch of Apple Music, it has been far from a smooth launch. Making the biggest headlines, of course, has been the woes of experienced by Jim Dalrymple. We've also highlighted issues with shared iTunes libraries, and other library corruption issues. I recently wrote about the way Apple Music works with DRM and handles ALAC files, and in that piece we promised to get back to you when we heard from Apple about how Apple Music handles your own ALAC music files -- and now we have an answer.
Report claims slow negotiations delaying rumored Apple Internet TV service
Apple's rumored Internet TV service may be coming later than first anticipated, over claims the company is having trouble negotiating with broadcasters and content producers to license their programming. A report claims the supposed streaming service will not be coming out this fall, as previously speculated in rumors, with customers potentially waiting until long into next year before it being able to subscribe to it.
Free Spotify users could potentially find certain album tracks blocked from playback
Spotify may be considering a move that will limit what free users will be able to listen to, if a rumor is correct. It is claimed Spotify may change its service to a "gated access" model, which will only allow certain releases to be available to paid subscribers without restriction, with free users facing the prospect of either being denied access to the song altogether, or limited in terms of time or the number of plays of specific tracks.
New subscription service did nothing to interfere with rivals, investigation found
An investigation into whether Apple's deals with major record labels did anything to hurt or impede its competition has concluded that no such collusion took place, according to a new report from the European Commission. The body said it would continue to monitor the streaming industry overall, but cleared Apple Music of any alleged wrongdoing.
High budget, creative freedom attracts Clarkson team to Amazon
Amazon's latest content acquisition may put more of a strain on its finances than expected. The team formerly behind popular BBC program Top Gear, is being provided with a budget of £160 million ($250 million) to produce a new show exclusively for Amazon's Prime Instant Video streaming service, making it not only the most expensive UK TV shows ever produced, but also an extremely expensive endeavor compared to other streaming-only shows.
Transaction fee, rules for music streaming services in App Store under examination
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly launched an investigation into how Apple treats other music streaming services in the App Store. Continuing from earlier reports that the FTC was merely making queries rather than performing a full investigation, the government agency has allegedly moved into an investigatory phase, looking into whether or not Apple is behaving anti-competitively with regards to the App Store's fees.
Discover Weekly generates playlists every Monday based on user listening habits
Spotify will be providing its users personalized playlists on a regular basis, to try and combat the human-curated playlists offered by Apple Music and Google Play Music All Access. Discover Weekly aims to create a highly customized "mixtape" for each subscriber, based on the user's previous listening habits combined with songs listened to by other users with similar tastes in genres, artists, and songs.
Amazon Fresh reportedly close to launch in United Kingdom
Amazon is preparing to launch its grocery delivery service in the United Kingdom later this year, according to reports. According to the Times of London and also Recode, the subscription-based Amazon Fresh service, where customers can order a selection of groceries and other consumable items, is apparently at an advanced stage and could start as soon as September, with London said to be the initial launch area.
Potential service allegedly will cost more than Netflix, Hulu Plus
Hulu is looking into offering its users with an advertising-free service, the Wall Street Journal claims. The streaming service may offer an extra tier of service that removes advertisements from view, one that costs even more than the existing premium subscription option, as Hulu faces increased pressure from Amazon prime Instant Video and Netflix, two competing services that do away with advertising completely.
Apple's not done the very best of jobs with iTunes
The smart money said if anything were going to go wrong, it would be Beats 1: something live is automatically the most likely to fall over in some way. If someone had already taken that bet, you'd settle for guessing that massive demand would overload the streaming servers. Yet instead, the bit of the Music app and Apple Music launch that caused problems -- and continues to cause them -- is good old iTunes for OS X. We've had iTunes for nearly 15 years, and every thing else in Apple Music for a fortnight but it's iTunes for the Mac that has fallen down and can't seem to get up.
Paid app requirement removed from updated Slingbox M2
An updated version of an entry-level Slingbox streamer is being offered by Sling Media, this time with a change to the way it deals with apps. The Slingbox M2 is effectively a tweaked version of last year's Slingbox M1, providing remote access to home TV channels, but now instead of levying a charge for each mobile device connected to the set-top box, Sling is instead allowing users to do this at no extra charge.
Complains about stream quality, but retains music on download stores
Increasingly erratic Canadian rock legend Neil Young has announced that he is planning to remove his music from all streaming services, including Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify due to "the worst sound quality available in the history of broadcasting," despite the fact that Apple Music and Spotify both stream at 256kbps AAC, and Tidal in a 1.4mbps lossless format. Young also appears to have forgotten about vinyl, AM/FM radio, cassette and 8-track.
Company expands streaming option ahead of 'legal Aereo' option
Owners of several TiVo DVR models, including the Roamio line and the TiVo Premiere with TiVo Stream now have the ability to access recorded content through Apple TV via AirPlay, a first for the company. The new ability comes through an updated TiVo iOS application, available today, which allows the AirPlay transfer. The Roamio DVRs had been able to stream directly to iOS devices previously, but can now stream to other devices not directly connected to the DVR.
Negotiations with local stations allegedly being handled by TV networks
Despite rumors pegging an Apple streaming television service announcement for the last World Wide Developer's Conference, and then walked back, new information from "sources familiar with the matter" are now claiming that negotiations between the networks are going well, and the service is still on track for a fall release. Reportedly, the broadcast networks are negotiating on behalf of Apple for affiliate (local) feeds, and this has removed friction from the process.
Music videos in Facebook feed still being negotiated
Facebook is not planning to launch its own streaming music service in the coming months, a company representative has confirmed. The social network has spoken out about a recent report claiming it was working to offer its users an on-demand music service, and though it has outright denied offering anything similar to Spotify, there are still rumors that Facebook will be doing something music-related in the future.
Standard, lossless plans offer 50 percent discount for extra users in group
Tidal, the artist-owned music streaming service, is attempting to increase its user numbers by introducing a family plan for the first time, something main competitors Apple Music and Spotify already offer to subscribers. The new family plans will provide a lower cost of service to users that club together under the same account, with both the standard and lossless audio tiers offering similar plan discounts.
Movie channel will offer direct subscriptions for $11 per month
On Tuesday, Showtime began offering direct subscriptions to its service through Apple TV that no longer require an existing cable or satellite service, the company revealed. The network, which features shows such as Dexter and Weeds, is also bringing the standalone service Showtime Anytime to iOS users soon, likely by July 12. Like its rival HBO, the streaming service will offer both a wide back catalog, along with current movies and original programming.
TiVo offers discounted Roamio DVR to ex-Aereo customers
Customers affected by the shutdown and bankruptcy of streaming live TV service Aereo are being offered assistance by Tivo, in the form of a small discount until the end of the month. The set-top box company is providing the TiVo Roamio OTA for use with HD antennas as well as the TiVo Stream for no upfront cost, with a monthly subscription of $20 for two years.
Spotify, Rdio, Deezer all pull Prince songs from services
The battle for musicians to receive payment for their music from streaming services has resulted in an unusual move by one artist. Prince has started to request that all streaming services pulls his back catalog of tracks from their collections, with Spotify being one of the first to remove the singer's music, though according to a report, the struggling Tidal will apparently continue streaming Prince's songs to subscribers.
Scrabbling around for reasons to diss the service
It's not compulsory to like anything, and the world would be a dull place if everybody thought the same way. Plus, there are criticisms you can make of Apple Music's launch, its various limitations, and how iTunes 12 is still complex, some of which we delved into earlier today. Only Apple Music is getting a bad press primarily for being good, and for doing what you'd expect a streaming music service to do. It has honestly been criticized for being fun. Damn those Apple people, how dare they make something fun? Don't they know music is serious?
Online complaints prompts backtracking by Sprint over bandwidth policy
Sprint has backtracked on its decision to limit the bandwidth of video streams in a recently launched plan, following online complaints. The All-In plan, launched just yesterday, will no longer have the video-specific rule in play, which prevented subscribers from watching streaming video at higher bit rates than 600kbps, with the carrier having to find other ways to prevent its network from being heavily used.
Open Beats 1 streams discovered, work on Android devices
Android users do not have to wait until the Apple Music app heads to the platform in the fall before being able to listen to the Beats 1 station, some users have discovered. A number of unprotected live streams have been uncovered, allowing anyone with a suitable client to be able to listen to the stream uninterrupted, even on operating systems not yet supported by the service.
Amazon Prime Instant Video starts streaming HDR content
Viewers of Amazon's Prime Instant Video in the United States can now watch some of the service's catalog in a high dynamic range (HDR) mode. The first shows in HDR, Mozart in the Jungle and the pilot of Red Oaks, can be watched on a number of Samsung Ultra HD televisions through the smart TV app, with more programs using HDR and ways to access them said to be on the way.
Makes album exclusive, 'first time it has felt right' for streaming
Pop star Taylor Swift has relented in her mini-dispute with Apple over licensing fees (which will now be paid during the three-month free trial of the subscription Apple Music service) and is offering her hit album 1989 for streaming for the first time, in an exclusive for the forthcoming service, which launches June 30. In a series of tweets, Swift announced that it was simply "the first time it's felt right in my gut" to offer the album for streaming.
Apple will pay rates comparable to Beats Music for free trial period
The New York Times reports that while Apple has opted to pay rights holders for music used during the company's extended three-month free trial of its subscription streaming service -- bucking standard industry practice -- the rate is smaller than the revenue-based percentage song owners will get once listeners subscribe to the service, which will cost $10 per month or $15 per month for a "family" membership that allows up to six individual accounts.
Showtime heading to Hulu in early July as $9 monthly add-on
Hulu is providing its subscribers with access to Showtime, thanks to a deal between the two services. The extra viewing option will offer on-demand streams of every original Showtime original series, with access to new episodes as they premiere, all through the Hulu app. Showtime will be available in early July and will cost an extra $9 per month on top of the $8 Hulu basic service charge, making it $2 cheaper than signing up for the standalone Showtime service.
Google adds free option to music streaming service before Apple Music launch
Google is attempting to increase its user numbers for its Google Play Music service, barely a week before Apple is scheduled to launch its own streaming music service. A free version of the service is now available in the United States, one that matches Spotify by providing periodic advertising during music playback, though unlike the main Google Play Music All Access subscription, it doesn't provide a high level of customizable music playback options.
Nickelodeon brings kid's shows to iOS with kid-friendly app
More and more people are giving up TV these days in favor of online streaming, but a lot of these services often leave kids out of the equation. Sure, Netflix and Amazon Prime have a decent selection of kids shows, but shouldn't there be a better option out there? Well, the folks over at Nickelodeon came to that conclusion, too, and offered up Noggin, an app designed especially for preschoolers.
Misunderstandings, free trial, terms threaten to derail diversity of sources
While major publishers and record labels are on board with Apple's planned streaming service Apple Music and article aggregator News, independent music labels and news-oriented publishers -- who last week complained about being left out of such announcements -- now say that the terms Apple is offering contain problematic clauses or conditions. For music labels, the three-month free trial is the issue; for news publishers, it's Apple's requirement to opt out.
Sony expands PlayStation Vue reach to Los Angeles, San Francisco
PlayStation Vue, Sony's Internet television service, is expanding its footprint into the Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas, allowing PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 owners to watch television from their consoles. Sony also revealed at E3 that it will be starting to add a la carte channel subscription options, so users will be able to pay just for the channels they want, with Showtime arriving in July for $11, Fox Soccer Plus for $15, and Machinima for $4 per month. PlayStation Plus subscribers get a $2 discount from each of the channel subscriptions.
Spotify Taste Rewind suggests songs from previous decades
Spotify is trying to get its users to discover older songs they may like, by launching a promotional site. Taste Rewind allows users to select three artists from a list that they have recently played on Spotify, reports VentureBeat, with the site then providing playlists of songs the user may enjoy from each decade between the '60s and the 2000s. While a neat software toy that may help introduce younger listeners to older tracks they could enjoy, the results do not apparently cover the entirety of Spotify's catalog, and can come up with some odd suggestions. For example, a test using Nicki Minaj, Skrillex, and Ellie Goulding brought up a playlist for the '60s headed up by Leonard Cohen.
Problematic device adds wireless streaming to existing stereos, speakers
Sometimes a simple idea spawns a helpful device for consumers. From making everyday tasks easier to sharing experiences with others, a small thought can blossom into a must have gadget. The Rocki is a device that likely spawned from a small idea like "sharing music" or "music streaming," taking to crowdfunding to build a pocket-sized unit to add wireless functionality to existing stereos and powered speakers. But does this $49 stream-enabling device turn the idea into something great, or does it buckle under the weight of possibilities? Find out in our review.
YouTube Gaming to collect together all video game streams, videos in one place
Google is attempting to fight off the influence of Twitch on the gaming video market, by launching its rumored game-focused extension of YouTube. Going live this summer in the United States and the United Kingdom, YouTube Gaming will use a new app and website separate from YouTube itself, which will be used to collect together all the live and recorded gaming content in one place, instead of requiring users to search through entire YouTube video catalog.
Amazon adds Audible audio support to Echo speaker
Amazon has updated its Echo network-connected speaker to work with Audible. Via voice prompts using the Alexa assistant or the Amazon Echo App, the speaker can start reading out Audible audiobooks to the user, with vocal commands allowing the book to be requested by title, paused, resumed, and to go forward or back 30 seconds. It also works with Whispersync for Voice, allowing listeners to pick up an audiobook from where they left off on another device.
Facebook adds selective location sharing to Messenger app
Facebook has updated its Messenger app to make it easier for users to selectively provide their location to friends. The existing location-sharing function has been replaced, allowing users to send a map to their friends within an existing conversation, with the pointed-to place being either the user's present position or a nearby store or building of their own selection, if the user does not want to reveal exactly where they are.
HBO Now, device price drop credited for vast increase in viewership
Apple TV has overtaken Roku and doubled its share of "premium" (paid) channel viewing the beginning of 2015 and the end of the first quarter, from five percent to 10 percent, according to Adobe's Digital Index report. A price cut on the Apple TV units and the announcement of the $15 per month HBO Now service, alongside a steady stream of new channel additions, may have contributed to the increase, which compares to a one percent growth rate from Roku. Apple's iOS platform also continues to dominate mobile video viewing.