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Beyond unveiling a boatload of new Kindle reader and Fire tablet hardware, Amazon finally gets with the program in allowing households (or close approximations) to share their digital media. Not that the current situation has prevented my wife, mom, and I from sharing our Kindle books and Amazon Instant Prime video streaming, Amazon will soon smooth the experience and remove the criminal element by delivering a Family Library:

Never again worry about whose account has the Prime membership or who bought that book you want to read. Family Library links your Amazon account to that of your spouse or partner so you can easily share apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Instant Video content within your household without changing accounts. Family Library lets families share their content across multiple devices, including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire phone, and Amazon Fire TV, as well as on all of the other most popular devices and platforms with the free Kindle, Audible, and Amazon Instant Video apps. Family Library will be coming soon as part of a free, over-the-air software update.

Further, Amazon one ups the iPad by bringing Profiles to their line of Android-based Fire tablets:

Give everyone a personalized experience—each family member gets his or her own Profile, including individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, settings such as display brightness, page in the book, spot in a movie, and game levels, without taking up extra storage on the device for multiple copies of large files like videos and games.

At long last, Slingbox owners can now beam their television content from one TV to another set in the home or abroad via a $35 Chromecast. As revealed a few months backSlingbox M1, 350 and 500 (aka SlingTV) models are supported via new Android and iOS updates in conjunction with new Chromecast device code. Cleverly, iOS apps already have hidden Chromecast capabilities that will be activated on the backend, while a new Android app download is expected any moment now.

Sling kindly granted my request for early access and, in very brief testing, the experience is exactly what you expect – both the good and the annoying. Simple to use with solid video quality (via LAN, haven’t tried remotely yet) and sluggish response as using the virtual remote. Dependent upon your situation, Chromecast slinging could provide a priceless solution – that clocks in at a lower cost than similar “Slingcatcher” capabilities accessed via Apple TV and Roku. But, keep in mind, both a Slingbox hardware purchase is required along with a $15 mobile app.

Not that you’d ever doubt us or our sources, but TiVo has gone ahead and confirmed a modernized Amazon Instant app is in the pipeline … by accidentally releasing it a bit early to a subset of customers.

Whereas the current Amazon Instant app is downright ancient by Internet standards, the new take is visually rich and streams Prime videos – something many of us have been clamoring for. We’re also under the impression that the new app will be made available to TiVo Mini extenders in an official capacity and beyond the requisite Roamio and Premiere upgrades.

As to the premature release pictured above, it appeared alongside the existing app and isn’t yet entirely functional. Further, someone at TiVo obviously realized their mistake as it was removed after 4 or 5 hours. Yet, we now know both Amazon and Vudu are coming real soon – November at the latest?

(Thanks Sam, Sully, and HarperVision! Two pics via Ikrion.)

Amazon Prime Instant Video finally comes to Android

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Two years after TiVo introduced streaming capabilities, Android owners will soon get in on the action. However, whereas iPhone and iPad owners have enjoyed both streaming and video downloads, presumably due to security issues, the Android crowd won’t be taking shows offline – according to the newly updated compatibility chart, shown above. However, they will receive cellular streaming ahead of iOS. Score? As to the ‘droids we’re looking for, TiVo hasn’t yet posted which Google-centric devices will be supported by TiVo Roamio and Stream hardware. But, given TiVo OS 20.4.4 release notes, all should be revealed towards the end of the month. (via TCF)

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TiVo’s Fall Update has begun rolling out – with TiVo Roamio, Premiere, and Mini boxes on the priority list slated to receive software version 20.4.4 as early as last night. Deployment is expected to conclude in a few weeks. Package highlights:

  • Record series on all channels
  • Extended timelines up to 6 months for Season Pass recordings
  • Updated HTML5 Spotify app
  • New Home Shopping Network app

On the surface, this isn’t so interesting (and I say that as a Spotify subscriber). Although tracking down Season Passes outside of the 14 day window will come in handy for many. Including TiVo themselves when customers (no longer) migrate busted SPs to new DVRs. However, behind the scenes, this update lays the groundwork for Roamio Android streaming to debut towards the end of the month – finally! Further, based on VP Margret Schmidt’s release notes, it appears Amazon Instant and Vudu apps are tentatively scheduled for a late November update. 2014 is certainly shaping up to be a great year for TiVo owners.

By way of Engadget and the FCC, we learn there’s a next gen TiVo Mini in the works. And it’s a curious little beast. While there’s nary a reference to traditional WiFi frequencies, as requested by both RCN and myself, RF communication is present in the form of Zigbee – the up and coming home automation protocol. At this point, it’s unknown if this is intended to provide an existing partner like Control4 more hooks or signals TiVo is entering this space with aspirations that they or a cable partner control my new networked GE bulbs. But it sure is interesting… and possibly sheds some light on the TiVo Mini price drop, that expires in early January with this new hardware having a standard 6 month short term FCC confidentiality request in regards to photos and user manual. Having said that, CEDIA starts tomorrow and TiVo wasn’t shy about pre-announcing their $5,000 24TB DVR server slated for 2015. Stay tuned.