Plex will now let you stream your own video’s on your Xbox

Plex for Xbox

Gaming and video are growing closer and closer to each other. One can see others play on Twitch and the game Myst will get its own TV series anytime soon. So it does make sense that gaming and video hardware are becoming more integrated as well. For instance by using your game console to watch your favourite series.


The Microsoft Xbox platform already has apps from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus but now it is also possible to stream all video you have stored on your own computer, NAS or external harddrive directly to your TV using the Plex for Xbox app.

Plex has been around for some time and offers a great service by generating a nice overview of all your video and photo’s and helping you to sort them and download posters and other metadata.

Plex for Xbox will be available for free for Plex Pass premium subscribers. Users of the free service have to wait a little and will be asked a small one-time fee for using the app.

“Amazon will launch a Kindle TV set-top box”

Kindle TV

According to Businessweek, Amazon is getting ready to launch a streaming media device. The set-top box would allow users to access the content library of Amazon (Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime) and the suggestion was made that the box could be  named Kindle TV.

In a way it does make sense that Amazon is coming with dedicated hardware. Microsoft has its Xbox, Google has Google TV en Apple is still selling a lot of Apple TV’s. And with the Kindle, Amazon has shown that it can build hardware and that they feel that having own hardware is vital to ensure customers enjoying your product. However, there they do not have a very impressive library. And without that, no service is going to fly. Luckily Amazon knows this and is currently testing 14 different new episode of which at least one of them will become a full show.

Next to that, I think there is still a big chance that smartphones and tablets will take could be the main device for discovering video content and streaming it to a bigger screen. In that case, Amazon can still call it Kindle TV, but all they have to do is to add the feature to their Kindle.

 

Illustration by Tom Cheredar

Microsoft takes on Google TV with the new Xbox

Xbox

According to The Verge, the new Xbox (Xbox 720) will be  much more than a game console. Already it is possible to use the current Xbox as a video player, but the new Xbox will go much further.

The sources that talked to The Verge mention that the new Xbox will be able to create an overlay on top of the existing TV channel showing extra features and menu items. You will have to plug the TV cable into the Xbox. The enhanced signal will then be distributed to your TV screen via a HDMI cable. This could mean real-time additional information and features for TV shows and films. Real-time enhancements of TV shows has been promised for a while now, but so far we have not seen a successful implementation. And although I would love to try it, I am still not convinced that people are really going to use it. Especially not when there are more than one watching.

Obviously, the next Xbox will have a Kinect sensor as well. The Xbox 720 Kinect sensor is supposed to detect multiple simultaneously and will be able to pause the program when viewers look away. I am not really sure if this would be a feature I would use as I love to look at my phone or do other things whilst watching. And I guess I am not the only one.

With a Xbox event planned in May, we hopefully do not need to wait much longer for the final specifications.

Pulp: First exclusive film on the Xbox live platform

Xbox live film Pulp

It might not seem that significant, but then again, it might be part of a much bigger picture. Microsoft just  released their first exclusive Xbox live film. It’s a British comedy called Pulp and you can buy it for 1120 Microsoft Points (USD 14.75) for the SD version or 1420 Microsoft Points (USD 17.75) for the HD one.

In view of the introduction of the much rumoured new Xbox 720 and of course the success of Netflix’s House of Cards and their USD 300 million budget for creating own content this might be interesting. First of all, I wrote that this is the first exclusive film for Xbox live. Now that is an assumption. It can be that this turns out to be a one-off. But I think there will be more. It would not surprise me that together with the launch of a new Xbox, Microsoft will bring a lot of content into the ecosystem. A lot of that will be recycled films and series, so to stand out they will have to bring more. This could mean more exclusive produced for Xbox live. And as the new Xbox will be an integral part of the Windows 8 family, this content will be available on your desktop, Surface and mobile phone too.

Updated YouTube app for iOS let’s you stream from your iOS device to your television

YouTube Send to TV

If you have ever used Apple AirPlay or Miracast, you know the advantages of pushing a stream from your telephone to your television. Much easier than using the remote control and much more logical too, as you are probably using your tablet or smartphone already to discover and select streaming content. On YouTube for instance.

Google figured this too and decided to update the YouTube app for iOS with a ‘Send to TV‘ functionality. With that, your mobile iOS device connects automatically with your big screen en let’s you display the content there.
The functionality works automatically with Google TV enabled devices and with Xbox and PS3 consoles after creating a manual handshake.

This news is particularly interesting in view of the recent rumours of YouTube preparing for paid channels. Just imagine what would happen if YouTube would start broadcasting the latest series and films. That would mean serious competition for Netflix and Amazon on the one hand and traditional TV channels on the other.

Second Screen company TunedIn acquired by traditional publisher Axel Springer

TunedIn

Berlin based TunedIn, a Social TV app that facilitates social discovery as a basis for selecting streaming video  has been acquired by the traditional publishing company Axel Springer. The German publishing mogul was already working with TunedIn before the acquisition, so the take-over was not a complete surprise.

TunedIn will probably combined with another acquisition Axel Springer  did a year ago when they took over recommendation technology APRICO from Philips to strenghten their Axel Springer Digital TV Guide that already includes Watchmi – Personal TV from TV DIGITAL.

It is to be expected to see more of these kind of acquisitions in the near future. It seems there is a run for TV check-in services / Social TV discovery apps. GetGlue, Dijit, Viggle Miso, but also a platform like Vinson that was (re)launched yesterday in Barcelona are gaining momentum. Especially now Samsung is not only expanding in hardware with their HomeSync but also in apps with TV Discovery, a new Xbox that is almost there and of course Apple’s TV hobby Apple TV or iTV will show tight integration of mobile devices, apps and a big screen. More and more, the intelligence seems to be in the mobile device leaving the “Smart TV” as a pretty “dumb” but excellent display.

 

IGN opens a channel on Roku, more gaming to come?

IGN Entertainment

IGN Entertainment (formerly known as Imagine Games Network) is the home for many gamers. It’s an entertainment portal with lot’s of news, reviews and trailers of games on popular platforms like Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC and 3DS. But it’s not only about games, there is also a lot of information about films and series, mostly sci-fi, fantasy, action etc.

Today they announced to have their on channel on Roku. This seems not such a big news event, but come to think of it, Xbox started of as a gaming platform and is trying to become an entertainment hub with streaming video as an important part. Just like Roku. And although the most recent rumours about Apple releasing a SDK for Apple TV next month proved to be (again) just a rumour, Apple is expected to release it at some point. Maybe sooner than later, and when that happens, game developers will be among the first to develop for the new platform. And eventually kill competing platforms like Xbox 360, Playstation and Wii U. Or as former Xbox creator Nat Brown states it at his blog:

“Apple is already a games competitor broadly, even if Apple-TV isn’t yet a game platform or a console. Mobile generally and iPad specifically have grown the total hours of game play and grown the overall game market. Only in the last 18-24mo has that overall growth turned from a segment-expanding rising tide to a tsunami swamping the console game vendor profit boats hitched to the docks. It is accelerating. Apple, if it chooses to do so, will simply kill Playstation, Wii-U and xBox by introducing an open 30%-cut app/game ecosystem for Apple-TV. I already make a lot of money on iOS – I will be the first to write apps for Apple-TV when I can, and I know I’ll make money. I would for xBox if I could and I knew I would make money. ”

So maybe this channel is a first step for Roku to do more with games. Clearly games and films are growing closer with all the films and series based on computer games and vice versa. And gamers are always looking for new and better ways to enjoy games and their favorite content. Bringing games to a set-top box or media player seems like the inevitable thing to do.

 

New Apple TV not that new after all, HBO Go coming?

Apple TV

There were some rumours the last few days about a brand new Apple TV coming to the market. Based on a FCC-filing, Engadget thought there was a new version in the making with new hardware in just a few millimeters smaller box. After some good research from TheNextWeb, it turned out to be just a small hardware resfresh.

“We sometimes make component changes which require an updated model number for regulatory approval” an Apple spokesperson told TNW. “The component changes we made don’t affect product features and Apple TV customers will continue to have the same great user experience.”

So nothing new as far as hardware concerned. However a new and interesting rumour about HBO Go emerged. According to Bloomberg, HBO Go will be available on Apple TV sometime this year. Adding HBO Go to the current parnerships with Netflix and Hulu Plus might put them a little bit more in the game with Microsoft XBOX 360, Roku and other set-top box suppliers.

Still, nobody really knows what Apple will do with TV. Apple TV so far is not the groundbreaking revolution for TV as the iPhone was for the smartphone market. And adding a few media partnership or adding a few content libraries will not change that. On the other hand, Apple sold 2 million boxes last quarter. Without much effort. People like it, it’s easy to use and it fits perfectly into the ecosystem. So maybe not a revolution after all.

Free Hulu Plus and Netflix access on XBOX Live this weekend

Netflix House of Cards

Normally a subscription for XBOX Live Gold is needed for watching streaming content from Netflix or Hulu Plus on the Microsoft XBOX 360, but this weekend it’s all free. At least for Hulu, for Netflix is a paid Netflix account is of course still needed.

Netflix is airing it’s new and self produced series House of Cards this weekend, so that might have something to do with it. Creating own content is a very interesting step and seems to be of strategic value for the the streaming and rental giant as it suggested more investments in that field during the last presentation of their financial results.

The reason that Hulu will be available for free has to do with the Super Bowl this weekend. Hulu will grant users of Hulu AdZone a preview of Super Bowl teaser ad’s from companies like Toyota, Taco Bell, Coca-Cola, GoDaddy.com en Cars.com. Fans can also vote for their favorite commercial here. See Hulu’s promo below