Roku’s mobile apps see significant updates this week, featuring a flatter, more minimalistic appearance and the introduction of universal content search. Sound familiar? The handy universal search isn’t new to Roku, but it is new to the app – which is ultimately a more efficient location. And, beyond video availability, it also looks like we’ll be treated to metadata in the form of actor filmographies to explore. Of course, the compelling existing features of beaming photos to the big screen and direct channel launch remain. Yet we still pine for Miracast. The 3.0 iOS app update is available in iTunes for iPhone and iPad, with the refreshed Android app having hit Google Play.
Archives For Apple
After what seems like a million years, Sonos has begun to refresh their app interfaces with something a bit more modern (and flat). Along with the updated visuals, organization is vastly different as well. And, having only spent a day with the beta Android app, I’m not quite ready to pass judgement. The app opens to a screen headlined by a listing of music sources and paired with new search functionality, spanning multiple services. Pinned to the bottom of the home screen, is a speaker – by clicking that, you bring up a Now Playing screen. To see other speakers/rooms, you’d tap the current room’s name in the upper right. It doesn’t appear all features are in place yet, as you might expect from beta software, and I’m not sure flipping between white and black backgrounds is the best approach – but I had no problems getting my music going. iOS iPhone and iPad updates, along with the final Android app, are expected later this spring.
Along with the massive iOS 7.1 update, Apple TV also sees new software. And version 6.1 is significant given a rare UI enhancement that somewhat mirrors app management on Apple’s mobile devices. Highlighting a content provider, followed by holding the select button down will ultimately get the icon jiggling, at which point the play/pause button provides an option to banish the app from your home screen. While it’s a rather tedious exercise from remote, and only marginally better via the iOS Remote app, it sets the stage for better app management as Apple continues to bring on new partners … amidst rumors of a new Apple TV. For comparison, Roku hides “channels” in a “Store” that can be pinned while WDTV Play offers customizable genre screens/tabs for app management.
Via a most trusted Best Buy source (now on Twitter), comes a planogram of Best Buy’s May shelf reset… featuring the inevitable Amazon streamer and a possibly new Apple TV (reporting over 100 apps, without listing an existing SKU). Amazon details are amazingly light, with only the brand name and a tick in the WiFi box. But Amazon’s set-top or stick timing does line up nicely Recode’s intel. Won’t be long now…
By way of the FCC, we learn that D-Link intends to build upon their diminutive WiFi extender (DAP-1320)… with newfound home audio capabilities housed within the upcoming DCH-M225 WiFi Audio Extender. In addition to expanding one’s wireless network to perhaps the far reaches of your home, the 81 gram plug-with-benefits also incorporates an audio-out jack – similar to Apple’s Airport Express. And, while we can’t say with any certainly that D-link has licensed AirPlay, the pre-release manual suggests the Audio Extender will indeed relay AirPlay tunes from Mac or iOS device to whatever speaker you may have wired up. Just as interesting is the far more agnostic, baked-in DLNA streaming functionality. Of course, as we opined earlier today, we’re big Sonos fans and prefer our speaker and streaming hardware are one and the same.
Best Buy has launched an interesting promo to proactively reach potential customers, no matter one’s smartphone predilection. Register your intent now to pick up any new phone by the end of the year, and receive a $50 gift card upon completion of that purchase. Of course, with two huge 2014 launches expected in the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6, Best Buy’s fuzzy calendar and agnostic OS approach is quite clever. Not to mention, there’s really no catch — register your intent, maybe you buy from them, maybe you don’t. But should you transact, you’ll be rewarded with that gift card (plus any potential trade in valuation, if you choose the easy but less lucrative way out). As you’d expect, this dealio is limited to subsidized phones on a 2-year contract (and T-Mobile customers, such as myself, need not apply).