Poor Sonos, Apple Music Coming To Alexa

Sonos, the original Switzerland stand-in for digital music services, is about to be undercut by Amazon. Apple Music subscribers will be able to enjoy Apple Music’s 50 million songs on Echo devices. Customers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artists, and albums—or any of the playlists made by Apple Music’s … Read more

New TiVo Experience Hits Mobile Apps

TiVo is out with a massive refresh of its Android and Apple iOS apps this week. Most notable is the extension of the TiVo Experience 4 (aka Hydra and Mira) to mobile. And. I gotta say, I actually prefer Hydra here (vs TV lean back) – it provides a snappy and sleek modern look that works well in this content. TiVo also indicates we should expect a variety of streaming performance improvements with more granular config options. Bonus: iPhone X support.

However, as with all initial TiVo releases, to get the software out the door in a timely fashion (one presumes), a number of features have been excised: Downloaded shows are no longer grouped within folders (see bottom left pic) and you can no longer swipe to delete. Also possibly in the negative column, remote control visuals have been updated… dropping the iconic peanut presentation, with mixed results. Still no iPhone cellular streaming, although I’m told it’s on the roadmap.

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Significant Apple TV App Updates Expected in 2019

Noted Apple gossip blog Bloomberg indicates the company intends to beef up its TV app on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad: Right now, the TV app aggregates content from other providers, allowing people to locate shows from a wide array of apps and channels like ABC, NBA League Pass and HBO, rather than having to … Read more

How Will Apple Distribute Its Original Content?

As Apple’s original video production costs reportedly balloon past a billion and given recent music video app consolidation, I wonder what sort of distribution methods the company will employ when content begins arriving in 2019. Will these shows be accessed via an Apple Music subscription (as Carpool Karaoke is) similar to Google Play Music with YouTube Red … Read more

Sonos Takes On Apple Homepod

The delayed and seemingly incomplete, or at least limited and locked-in, Apple HomePod has arrived… for pre-order, anyway. Digital Trends reports that the new $349 connected speaker’s sound really shines, besting all comers in fact. But, to fully appreciate Siri’s soundtrack, one must also subscribe to Apple Music. On the flip side, connected speaker pioneer … Read more

WeMo Finally Speaks Apple HomeKit

Although announced last spring and having missed Belkin’s promised fall release, we knew the HomeKit-endowed WeMo Bridge was poised for release… and here it is. The Bridge does exactly what it says in linking up (a subset of) WeMo hardware to Apple’s smart home control — not only do you get direct Siri control of … Read more

Choosing Roku Over Fire TV

Image Credit Devindra Hardawar, Engadget

My streaming hardware preference has waxed and waned over the years. And, whereas I’d given the Fire TV a slight edge the last year, the balance has now slightly tipped to Roku. Of course, outside Apple TV and Nvidia Shield, a solid, high quality experience can be had under $100 — no doubt about it, both the Amazon and Roku platforms are great.

I’ve preferred the Fire TV voice remote for a variety of reasons, including the feel, layout, and infinitely more versatile Alexa voice control. And, amongst the new stick/dongle-esque streamers, Amazon provides a superior physical design … that doesn’t require a HDMI adapter for certain television mounting situations. Further Amazon has provided a generally richer interface and app experiences. However, where they started to lose me is an updated interface infested with advertising that not only distracts but also interferes with navigation.

On the flip side, Roku’s interface and a large number of apps are ridiculously simplistic. But what they lack in visual complexity, they more than makes up for in clear, efficient interaction… which is ultimately of more importance. Where they really hit it out the park in 2017 are models with new remotes that also control television power and volume. Instead of crippled, unpredictable HDMI-CEC interaction, Roku supposedly uses EDID over HDMI to identify your television and load up the relevant IR codes. And in my small-scale test, it performed remarkably.

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Three Surprises From The New Apple Big Top

Due to the tremendous number of (accurate) leaks, there weren’t too many surprises from the new Steve Jobs theater located within the new Apple campus. But a couple of interesting items, that I hadn’t anticipated, caught my attention.

Apple TV Price Drop
I was convinced we’d see an Apple TV price drop of some sort, perhaps tied to a touchless-remote on the bottom-end, to bring them inline with the market leading Roku and Fire TV. However, Apple controls the supply chain like no other and is conceivably content with lower penetration but presumably larger margins. While not quite a surprise, again given those leaks, it was refreshing to see Apple will sell 4K movies for the same price as 1080P while upgrading existing purchases… for those who consume in that manner, anyway.

Expansive iPhone Lineup
While both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were correctly predicted, in hardware if not name, I didn’t expect Apple would keep around so many former generations of phone. To meet a wide array of budgets and fend off the onslaught of solid lower-end Android handsets, the iPhone SE, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, and 7 Plus will join the 8, 8 Plus, and X on store shelves – in multiple capacities and colors. At least for now. Remember when they offered a single model? Beyond the expansive lineup, Apple is clearly committed to offering more than two years of updates (unlike the competition) — not that it’s a new m.o., but I do wonder if at some point they choose to fork the software a bit and continue to provide security patches to older OSes on hardware that cannot support the latest and greatest.

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