Google Play started with apps and games before expanding to books and movies. Now Google is bringing a bigger sense of immediacy to its digital storefront by adding magazines, movie purchasing, and TV shows. (Only available in the United States.)
At its I/O conference, Google revealed that the Play Store is expanding its content options to magazines. A new digital newsstand and app is launching today that will deliver new issues from several Hearst and Conde Nast publications. Readers can purchase a magazine for a single issue (as little as 99 cents) or subscribe to a magazine and have it delivered weekly or monthly. Select magazines also have a 30-day, risk-free trial period to try reading a particular magazine before you subscribe.
Google Play already offers Movies, but only the option to rent them. The forthcoming update will give users the chance to own the movies free and clear – no viewing limits based on purchase times of amount of times watched. The same will apply for television shows, which are now sold in the Play Store. Customers can purchase a single episode or rent an entire season. Among the many companies participating at launch are Disney, ABC, NBC, Sony, Paramount, Starz, Syfy, Bravo, and Sundance.
The Google Play update is rolling out to phones and tablets today, but you can browse the selections from the desktop at Google Movies or Google Magazines right now.
The Xfinity TV Player app recently arrived on Android, allowing Comcast Xfinity subscribers to get free, on-demand viewing of popular TV programs streamed live to their mobile devices. That made me wonder how this new app stands up against the other services that have come before it. (Obviously, this comparison only matters if you are an Xfinity customer.)
Netflix remains the King of the Hill for streaming in terms of the size of its library, but its content is many months or years old. Xfinity is designed to catch users up on newer or more recent television episodes, so there’s only one fair competitor to pit against this new app – Hulu, or more accurately, Hulu Plus.
Hulu Plus has been on Android for a long time, but there are considerable gripes with the app. It was only a few months ago that the app finally supported Android tablets, yet it somehow managed to leave out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the most successful proper Android tablet to date. Xfinity worked well on two phones from Samsung and HTC, and two Samsung and Toshiba tablets at my disposal. Advantage Xfinity.
Xfinity TV Player provides on demand streaming for several popular networks, including BBC America, Cartoon Network, CNN, ESPN, NBC, TBS, TNT, HBO, Starz, and Cinemax (subscription required for premium channels) and more. Sadly, “and more” doesn’t include ABC, CBS, or Fox, three of the major network television stations that people most want to see. Xfinity provides plenty of options, as well as a limited number of syndicated shows and movies, but the lack of 3 of the 4 networks leaves a lot to be desired. Another point of disappointment is that season listings are out of chronological order and incomplete because of limited availability. Even with this premium content that’s arguably better depending on who you are, there are so many more popular options ad organization in Hulu+ that it gets the advantage.
At the moment, I’d say Hulu Plus wins for having more current episodes and a larger back catalogue for shows. However, Xfinity TV Player is a capable alternative for people who watch most of their programming on NBC or cable television. There are plenty of choices, it supports most devices running Android 2.3 or higher, and is free for current Comcast subscribers. I’m a huge critic of Comcast (I’m a very disgruntled subscriber) but I have to give them credit for producing a decent app that could use some sprucing up. I don’t think it’s a better service than Hulu, but I’d recommend giving this a try because it may good enough to meet your mobile on demand needs.
Strangely, Jimmy Kimmel is listed in the Google Play thumbnails despite not being available in the app (at least not in my version of the app. Comcast Miami subscriber)
HBO Go – which offers on-demand streaming of HBO’s massive video library, including new episodes of popular shows for anyone with a subscription to the channel – is one of the best apps on Android. But the greatness of the app was previously unavailable because it didn’t support Android phones running Ice Cream Sandwich.
Today, HBO has addressed the problem and added support for phones up to Android 4.0.4. So all of you Galaxy Nexus owners upset when I recommended HBO Go as one of the best apps for Game of Thrones fans can watch the schemes of Westeros on your mobile. HBO also states in the version notes that it has included some bug fixes and performance enhancements to improve the app’s stability and speed.
Max Go, the similarly-themed app available for Cinemax subscribers, was also updated today. Much like it’s HBO cousin, the app has also gotten the “performance enhancement” bump and is available for download on phones running up to version 4.04.
Tablet support is still elusive from both HBO Go and Max Go, so let’s hope that HBO keeps the update train rolling and gets around to extending support for those devices soon. There’s already an HBO iPad app, so there’s really no excuse for taking this long to rollout device-wide support for the apps.
Download HBO GO (US only) or Download Max Go (US only)
Shortly before MWC 2012, LG teased its LG Link cloud service that could backup files and critical data. But that was also-ran service that treated the cloud as “storage device” rather than an access point for user data. Today, the company announced a new service that better represents what the cloud is capable of in media.
LG has announced LG Cloud, a media storage and streaming service that can stream media to Android smartphones, Windows PC’s, and Smart TV’s. LG Cloud stores music, photos, videos, and files online, but also enables quick multimedia streaming. The service uses “Real-time Streaming Transcoding,” which is server-side conversion that makes almost any content available without needing to have special codecs installed on a specific device. Photos and video taken on LG phones can edited or set to automatically update to Cloud and then be streamable on a PC or Smart TV.
All LG Cloud users get 5GB of free storage, but there are plans to introduce higher tiers for paying customers. For now, the only way to get extra space is to purchase an LG Smart TV or smartphone because those users get an additional 50GB for 6 months.
LG Cloud is available only to users in the United States and South Korea (for now). Download the LG Cloud app from Google Play and visit the online hub to get started. Here’s a list of the media formats currently supported for Real-time Streaming Transcoding.
- Video : 29 extensions including ASF, AVI, MPEG, MP4, WMV, MOV and MKV
- Music : 35 extensions including FLAC, MID, MP4, OGG, WMA, RM and WAV
- Photo : 33 extensions including GIF, JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP and PSD
- Document : 60 extensions including DOC, PPT, XLS, TXT, HTML and PSD
However, it assumes that your TV set or mobile phone supports the above file extensions.
Add another country to the list of nations that support Google Play Movies. Google has announced today that customers in Australia can now rent movies from the Play Store. The announcement follows rollouts in France and the United Kingdom, showing that Google is finally making progress – however small it may be – in rolling out its service globally.
Play Movies is an on-demand rental service that streams movies to Android phones or tablets. Price and selection varies in different countries, but it’s typically a mix of old films, international blockbusters, and some home-grown produced content as well. In the case of Australia, their are hits like Moneyball and Bourne Ultimatum, as well as the locally-made Snowtown and Chopper.
Android users can rent Play Movies for $3.99 to $6.99 depending on the age of the film. New releases are $5.99 for Standard Definition and $6.99 for High Definition. Older films rent for $3.99 and $4.99 for SD and HD respectively. (All prices in AUD.)
Renters have 30 days to start watching the film, but the viewer has only 48 hours to view the film once play has started. The app can download a film for temporary cache, so it can work if you need some entertainment while on a plane on long trip.
Head to Google Play if you’ve been itching to rent on your mobile. Please be aware that you cannot access Play movies if you have a rooted device.
Here’s something you don’t see every day: a U.S. television provider recognizes that its paying customers would like to be able to access video on their mobile devices, and that company steps in to provide it. And as an added bonus, it’s available to Android users first.
DirecTV has updated its official Android application to support on-demand streaming to phones. The latest version allows users to view movies and original programming from HBO, Cinemax, Encore, Showtime, Starz and other popular destinations. The app works only in the United States and not all devices are supported, but as Engadget points out, this is one of the rare times when a media app is available on Android phones before it goes to iPhone. (And yes, the app supports some Android tablets.)
There’s no live streaming of DirecTV channels yet, but users can see plenty of their favorite shows at their convenience. The DirecTV Android app also supports browsing television listings by channel or broadcast time, and helps fans discover new content by seeing what’s trending. Once a user finds what he or she wants, the app can remotely set recordings through the DVR. It also sets parental controls from the device and includes account management tools.
DirecTV is available for download now in Google Play Device and version compatibility will vary.
Comcast today announced that the On Demand live-streaming feature of its Xfinity App for iPad is now live. This means that Comcast customers with the app can now watch many of their favourite TV shows and movies whenever they want and wherever they want.
This new feature is available as part of an updated version of the free Xfinity TV app, which Comcast subscribers can download from the App Store. Content that is now available completely free to Comcast customers On Demand includes output from such premium cable channels as HBO (True Blood), SHOWTIME (Dexter), Starz, Encore, Cinemax and MoviePlex. Comcast says that the selection available now is just the beginning, and customers can expect thousands more choices to be added for viewing via the iPad app in the weeks and months to come.
"The Xfinity TV app with video streaming is part of our ongoing effort to deliver great entertainment experiences for our customers on all screens and devices,? said Matt Strauss, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Comcast Interactive Media. ?We have an aggressive development plan to introduce even more features in the coming months that enable customers to more richly watch, control, and personalize their entertainment experience.?
If you’re a Comcast subscriber, click here to download the free app: XFINITY TV for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store