Archives For Software


Wondering why you can’t pass HBO Go video from your iPad or iPhone to your HDTV? Josh Arnold did too… and took his query to Twitter where HBO responded:

HBO requires a level of content protection that’s not currently supported by Apple TV.

If you recall, I bought the iPhone HDMI adapter with intentions of streaming HBO GO and came away disappointed. Likewise, even AirPlay Mirroring, from iPhone 2 to Apple TV, is blocked. A couple months back, the logical assumption would have been that HBO prefers folks subscribe to their cable channel and isn’t interested in digitally serving the lean back crowd. Or they were concerned with various content licensing issues. However, after announcing intentions to stream HBO GO via Samsung devices, the Xbox 360, and Roku those theories have been blown. And, now, it looks like we have our answer  — there’s something about the way Apple transmits data via HDMI and/or AirPlay that makes HBO uneasy. But with HBO GO coming to various set-top boxes (that I own) in the near future, it doesn’t much bother me anymore.

Looks like Verizon has finally taken my advice and has begun consolidating their disparate FiOS-related apps into a unified control panel.  Instead of say launching an individual mobile program to change channels on our Verizon DVR and then launching another to manage recordings, those formerly distinct functions are now logically accessed and controlled via the single interface of MY FiOS. Further, Verizon tells me:

The new app will allow Verizon customers to more nimbly enjoy the company’s expanding base of remote-access media and entertainment services, while also making it easier to manage their personal accounts anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices.  It also paves the way for easy access to dozens of new remote applications currently in development by Verizon and the company’s content provider partners.

MY FiOS is now available to Android owners in the Market with the iPhone equivalent expected to hit later this year. I assume Verizon intends to decommission their earlier app smorgasbord, but they indicate both new and old apps will coexist for the time being.

With initial iPhone 4 weekend sales pegged at potentially 4 million units, I’m reflecting on Microsoft’s failure to generate much excitement (or sales) from their competing Windows Phone 7 platform. And, as the freshest mobile experience on the market, the reception surely has been a failure.

Microsoft’s first, primary, and ongoing error is in the branding department. At launch, their arguably late Windows Mobile replacement operating system was titled “Windows Phone 7 Series” … which is saddled with a whole lot of baggage. Like Microsoft’s derivative “I’m a PC” commercials, Windows Phone sounds like a wannabe iPhone. Except I wouldn’t say Windows has the most positive connotation. For many, Windows is a relic and something we’re forced to use at work. With a large number of folks still stuck on XP, this isn’t the message Microsoft should be projecting. Quintuply so given Windows Phone actual innovative, vibrant, and fast Metro UI.

Then there’s the “Series” problem. As Microsoft doesn’t actually create it’s own hardware, a device running this software would have been known by the cumbersome and redundant “Windows Phone 7 Series phone.” While the redundancy hasn’t been entirely eliminated, Microsoft did at least streamline relatively quickly by dropping the “Series” monicker. But it’s all still too pedestrian and not reflective of their software experience. Would anyone have bought a Windows Gaming Console? Boo-ring! But Microsoft “Xbox” on the other hand exudes mystery and sex appeal. And happens to sell quite well. I’m left wondering why they weren’t as aggressive when rebooting the mobile experience. I’d say it’s a lack of vision. Yet, Metro’s execution indicates otherwise. So perhaps this is the result of branding by committee and they decided on something safe. Continue Reading…

Siri, Then & Now

Dave Zatz —  October 15, 2011

As most probably know by now, Siri is Apple’s iPhone 4S digital assistant featuring uncanny voice recognition and conversational interaction. Here’s how Apple describes it/him/her:

Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.

But Siri wasn’t always Apple’s crown jewel and, as an independent company, released an iOS app in early 2010. We briefly touched on it then when Robert Scoble declared Siri the future of the web. Given prior Borg-like Apple acquisitions, I wasn’t particularly floored when the folks from Cupertino acquired Siri just a few short months after launch. But given it’s deep iPhone 4S integration and tent pole marketing, in retrospect, Scoble’s enthusiasm was warranted and I was wrong.

But enough of the historical play by play. When Siri was originally released, I did what any 12 year old boy geek blogger would have and asked it a series of ridiculous questions back in February, 2010. Being curious how Siri has matured in the intervening months, I recruited fellow blogger Andru Edwards of Gear Live to replicate a few of my inquiries on his iPhone 4S… Continue Reading…


Despite limited uptake, Microsoft’s very fine and mostly free Media Center experience will live to fight another day within Windows 8.

How limited is usage? Well we don’t have complete stats, but based on this Windows 7 sampling, I’d say significant engagement is well under 1% of installs. Of course, 1% of bazillions could be a significant number. From Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky,

Our opt-in usage telemetry shows that in July, Windows Media Center was launched by 6% of Windows 7 users globally with the heaviest usage in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil (frequency and time). However, most people are just looking around; only one quarter (25% of 6%) of these people used it for more than 10 minutes per session (individual averages)

In fact, while Media Center won’t be retired, Sinofsky goes on to categorize it as “low profile” and states it won’t be available in early Windows 8 builds due to engineering and business decisions. With this kind of backing, it’s really no surprise the Ciscos and HPs of the industry haven’t stepped up with new hardware extenders. But I’m hopeful the audience is significant enough for smaller companies like Silicon Dust, Hauppauge, or Ceton to stake a claim.

(via Ed Bott)

I’ve stepped off the software upgrade carousel. While I dutifully and promptly upgraded my laptops to Leopard ($129) and Snow Leopard ($29), Apple’s not getting me with Mac OS X Lion ($30). In both previous occasions, I bought into the hype only to be disappointed by modest improvement and irrelevant functionality (for my needs)… combined with various software conflicts, some requiring paid upgrades of their own.

Unlike Leopard and Snow Leopard, I just don’t even feel the urge to partake this time around. The iOS-ification of desktop operating systems isn’t really a direction I want to move towards. And neither is upside down scrolling. New features like Auto Save and Versions would have been extremely compelling…  several years ago or perhaps if we utilized Mac hardware at work. But, these days, I edit and host most of my documents in the cloud. Not to mention we’re already aware of Lion third party software incompatibility, seen from products such as Adobe and Sonos. Granted, with a fairly extensive and open  development period, this isn’t necessarily Apple’s fault. But Apple customers who choose to upgrade will indeed be penalized.

Who’s with me?

In case you haven’t heard, online music service Spotify has landed stateside. While there’s a lot to like, which we’ll get to, there does seem to be at least one notable shortcoming in regards to music discovery – and I’m not the only one to come to that conclusion based upon feedback found in my Twitter stream (above). Spotify offers social sharing elements, perhaps unlike and superior to all others, there’s nothing in the way of automatic “randomize & play cool stuff for me” functionality. Or, at least, it’s not something I’ve been able to turn up just yet. Other all-you-can eat music services, like Mog and Rhapsody do a better job of offering artist- or genre-based playback for those times when you want more of a “radio” experience.

XM and Slacker continue to be my sonic weapons of choice. Primarily because I’m lazy and just don’t keep up with music the way I once did back in the days when I hoarded hundreds of cassettes and crafted my own mix tapes. What I appreciate about both these services is that they’re professionally programmed. Further, Slacker let’s your skip tracks and enables station “fine tuning”. Yet most folks don’t seem to be aware this feature (and even I usually have problems tracking down these settings). I’m here to help. Currently, one way to get at these options is by clicking on the station name, within the web interface, clicking Edit Station, and then hitting the Fine Tune button towards the upper left. It’s also accessible from within Slacker’s iPhone app: From a playing station screen, click the Menu button in the upper right, select Edit Station, and tap Fine Tune.

Click to enlarge.


As a proud resident of Montgomery County Maryland (again), and a new FiOS subscriber, I’m happy to report that Verizon is rolling out IMG 1.9 in the DC metro area. We had FiOS installed yesterday with the 25/25 Mbps Internet tier, and one DVR – complete with the latest software update – for our living room. Unfortunately, I won’t have a chance to test out IMG 1.9’s enhanced multi-room streaming capabilities, but I do get the new guide as part of the update, and the ability to add an external hard drive. Somewhat ironically, I was presented with a Cisco set-top box, unlike Dave who got the much sleeker Motorola QIP7232. It does have the 500GB hard drive, however, which sure beats the 160GB box we had with Comcast before.

Dave noted last night that Tampa and Pittsburgh received their FiOS software updates earlier this week. A national rollout should be complete within the next two months.