Kinetik iPhone App Helps You Discover and Share Great iPhone Apps

  • Kinetik has made social discovery easier with its free iPhone app that helps users weed through the massive collection of available apps. It is designed to streamline the search for relevant iPhone apps based on users’ selected apps and other users’ feedback of apps.
  • “Just load up Kinetik, choose an app that you have downloaded and then you can leave a comment about the app, then share it to Twitter and Facebook,” reports The Next Web. “As you add friends via your social networks and inside of the app itself, you can see recommendations that your friends have made too. There’s even an online profile for each user, where you can see the apps that they’ve shared, commented on and the like. You’ll also see apps that are trending on Kinetik.”
  • Kinetik will compete with similar offerings such as AppShopper and AppsFire, but TNW likes its chances: “I’ve tried loads of different ways to find new apps. I can tell you that Kinetik is one of the best ways I’ve found yet. I’ve had the chance to play with it for the past couple of weeks while it was in beta and it’s slick, useful and really quite fun.”

Flingo Sync Apps Provide the TV That Watches You

  • Flingo, a new San Francisco-based startup, says its technology can watch what you are viewing on TV and with your permission present you with relevant Web content.
  • “Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now,” says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. “For example, you could go to Google or IMDb and the page would already know what’s on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to a show, like DVDs, or what people are wearing in it.”
  • Additionally, social sites such as Facebook or Twitter would be able to connect viewers to a TV show’s official page or stream.
  • A major TV manufacturer will build Flingo’s Sync Apps into their TVs, which will reportedly retail for less than $500.
  • Flingo has relationships with CBS, Fox and MTV.

ActiveVideo Seeks FiOS Shutdown: Verizon Inactive Video?

  • Verizon FiOS customers could potentially lose service due to ongoing litigation between Verizon and ActiveVideo Networks, a company that builds interactive TV applications.
  • A U.S. District Court in Virginia awarded ActiveVideo Networks $115 million based on patent infringement involving interactive applications and VOD elements. Now ActiveVideo is also seeking to shut down the entire FiOS network.
  • Based on the nature of the specific patents, Verizon could possibly shut down a portion of its services while finding a practical workaround. Verizon also plans to appeal the verdict.
  • “The ActiveVideo CloudTV platform is currently being utilized by one of Verizon’s competitors, Cablevision,” reports Digital Trends. “ActiveVideo was an early developer of video-on-demand technology over the last two decades and has turned to developing platforms for interactive applications as of late.”

Vizio Releases $299 Android Tablet in Time for School

  • Vizio has released an 8-inch Android tablet priced at a mere $299. It features Adobe Flash, a three-speaker configuration and a MicroSD slot for expanding to 32GB.
  • The Wi-Fi tablet is being promoted by Vizio as an affordable back-to-school option and as a media device designed to interact with TVs.
  • According to the press release: “The VIZIO Tablet features VIZIO Internet Apps Plus which combines the latest technologies with a unified, easy-to-use and fun user interface across select future VIZIO HDTVs, Blu-ray players and other devices — further differentiating the sleek VIZIO Tablet. In addition, the new Tablet is able to control nearly every element of a user’s home theater with a universal remote app and includes a built-in HDMI port with HDCP support for content protected HD playback on the big screen.”

Quixey Search Engine Targets Social Media Apps

  • Quixey is an app-specialized search engine funded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
  • The service hopes to make it simpler for social media users (developers and consumers) to find applications and widgets for social networks.
  • Last week, Quixey got closer to that goal when it added Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare integration.
  • The engine also indexes and categorizes tools and apps based on social chatter, blog posts, reviews and other third-party descriptions of their function. The search technology bypasses the clutter by efficiently mining data and app-related keywords.
  • Quixey co-founder Tomer Kagan explains: “A lot of apps on Facebook [for example] don’t even have a description attached — just a name. From a search perspective, if all you have to work with is like three words, it’s extremely difficult.”
  • The Mountain View, CA startup has raised $400,000 in seed money from Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.

Amazon Acquires Video Technology Firm Pushbutton

  • Amazon has acquired UK-based Pushbutton, an interactive TV enterprise that builds apps and services.
  • Pushbutton is best known for its version of Lovefilm for Sony Bravia TVs and the PlayStation 3. Lovefilm, purchased by Amazon in January, was “basically the Netflix of Europe.”
  • The company also created the Planit test app that creates personalized video collections based on TV and VOD viewing habits. The app could possibly be incorporated into Amazon Instant Video (which currently offers more than 90,000 movies and TV shows).
  • The acquisition could also help Amazon create video apps for its tablet rumored to be launched later this year.
  • In related news, Amazon recently signed a deal with NBC Universal to show Universal movies through Amazon Prime Instant Video — and a deal with CBS to stream content from its back catalog, including old “Star Trek” episodes.

Facebook Plans to Launch News Platform: Facebook Editions

  • Facebook is planning a new service called “Facebook Editions” that creates app versions of popular news outlets.
  • CNN, The Daily and the Washington Post are a few of around a dozen news outlets that have already signed on.
  • The recently released Google+, which already has 10 million users, reportedly has a similar idea in the works.
  • Both the Facebook and Google service have a potentially significant obstacle to face: paywalls (New York Times is holding back for the time being due to complications with this issue).
  • Look for Facebook Editions as a new feature of the social networker possibly by September.

Positive Review for the New Tumblr iPhone 2.0 App

  • Social blogging network Tumblr announced the release of its Tumblr iPhone 2.0 mobile app this week.
  • According to Digital Trends: “Users can now manage multiple Tumblogs, reply to messages and save drafts — important functionality that was completely lacking from the first version.”
  • Another positive addition includes the ability to sign up directly through the mobile app, rather than on the Web.
  • Digital Trends offers a positive review and suggests: “If you’re on Tumblr (and have an iPhone), definitely download this app right now.”

Yahoo! Connected TV Claims 8 Million Devices and 140 Apps

  • Yahoo! Connected TV has over 140 apps and will be introducing the Y! Connected TV Store to sell apps on a 70/30 percent revenue sharing model.
  • Yahoo! made a widget development kit available that provides publishers the opportunity to build new apps.
  • The company is rolling out broadcast interactivity that tailors ads based on viewer interests.
  • Device control technology allows television interactivity with smartphones and tablets.
  • Watch in 2012 for the platform to appear in new TVs by Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, LG and Vizio.

Reporter Abandons Bulky Production Equipment and Opts for iPhone

Washington DC reporter Neal Augenstein discusses how and why he has abandoned his collection of bulky production equipment to report via his Apple iPhone 4. Augenstein is an award-winning reporter with WTOP-FM and a frequent contributor to CBS News Radio. Thanks to new apps and progress in digital recording tools, he’s been able to ditch much of his older equipment for professional broadcasting via his smartphone. According to Augenstein: “Now, with the Apple iPhone 4 and several apps, I can produce intricate audio and video reports, broadcast live, take and edit photos, write web content and distribute it through social media from a single device.”

For those interested, the write-up provides a simple step-by-step overview of the tools Augenstein is using with his iPhone and iPad for audio capture, video capture, photography, mobile VoIP, and Twitter integration.

Augenstein addresses whether his new approach is working: “A year in, iPhone-only reporting isn’t perfect. While audio editing works great, with the phone’s built-in microphone I’d estimate the sound quality of my field reports is 92 percent as good as when I use bulky broadcast equipment. Getting better audio for my video is a real challenge. And if I ever have to cover a story from a subway tunnel or location where there’s no WiFi or cell coverage, I won’t be able to file until I resurface.”

The PBS MediaShift post features several iPhone-generated audio reports from Augenstein in addition to a very helpful video tutorial regarding how he performs audio editing on his iPhone 4.

New Movie App from Warner Bros. Coming this Summer

Warner Brothers plans to release a new app by this summer code-named “Digital Everywhere.” The studio hopes the app will serve as the ultimate destination for purchasing all digital movies, not just those produced by Warner Bros. According to CNBC, “The way iTunes changed music, Warner Brothers wants to change movies.”

Digital Everywhere is not a retailer like iTunes. It gathers the many ways a consumer can rent or purchase movies and organizes an individual’s library of movie titles and TV programs. It then provides access to this library from any Internet-connected device through the cloud authentication system known as UltraViolet.

The app does much more than serve as a content aggregator — and intends to increase the value of a digital movie purchase by including features such as: trailers, clips, reviews, related articles, data from IMDb and Box Office Mojo, release schedules, recommendations and Facebook integration. CNBC reports that Digital Everywhere, “brings DVDs, the movies on a hard drive, digital films from iTunes, Netflix queues, and eventually digital Amazon purchases, into one easily-sortable library.”

If the Warner Bros. app delivers all that it promises, and movie fans respond to the cloud integration approach, we could be on the cusp of experiencing a significant change in how we access and manage our digital media.

DirecTV CEO Sees iPad App as Winning Strategy

Michael White took over the reigns of DirecTV the beginning of this year as the new president and CEO. During a recent three-day retreat with senior executives, White outlined the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and shared his vision for future growth, especially in regards to possible expansion in Latin America and reaching out to customers who use mobile devices. Investor’s Business Daily reports that DirecTV “is the world’s largest pay TV services provider with more than 28 million subscribers in the U.S. and Latin America.”

White emphasized that DirecTV is in excellent shape, but that an effective strategic plan would help steer the company into the future. His immediate focus is on recent deals with AT&T and Verizon that allow DirecTV to sell broadband services over fiber networks, the next phase of DirecTV’s recently launched free iPad application, and expanding the number of customers in Latin America (currently at 9 million).

“I was convinced that Latin America was still the best growth opportunity, and we should really expand more aggressively in Latin America,” White said. “In the U.S., we had a terrific core business, but we needed to address the ‘anytime, anywhere’ TV evolution and we needed some other revenue growth opportunities to help drive the top line while we were wrestling with higher programming costs.”

DirecTV’s first iPad app has some interesting features, yet is somewhat limited in its functionality for those truly on-the-go. It can serve as a remote control to change channels, browse channels without interrupting what’s on TV at the time, record to a DVR, and create a home screen with access to favorite channels. Users can use the app outside the home to schedule programs, but cannot currently use it to view programming. This may be the biggest obstacle for mobile device enthusiasts. White explains that phase two will enable users to import DVR content that has already been recorded to the iPad for remote viewing.

White says that DirecTV’s strategy to increase market share in Latin America involves a segmented approach by focusing on the quality of HD and DVR offerings — in addition to offering lower-priced packages, specifically targeting the middle-class who have so far been reluctant to take the plunge with paid services.

Tablet Trends: Interact with Favorite TV Shows via the iPad

We recently reported on a number of new features and trends regarding media consumption via tablet PCs, especially since an onslaught of new iPad apps have been making headlines. One such potential trend may involve synchronized bonus content and interactive features related to live TV shows.

In February, Fox announced the availability of its free app for the series Bones, that enables access to a series of content add-ons while viewing the program live or via Fox.com, Hulu or DVR. Features include social media integration (users can comment with other fans and try to solve cases) and the ability to purchase songs played during the show from iTunes. The Fox launch follows the release of ABC’s iPad sync app for the hit drama series Grey’s Anatomy.

As content providers, perhaps we should be looking beyond complementary content for tablets, and consider what additional video approaches might leverage this growing platform. According to paidContent: “It’s interesting that so far the TV industry is treating tablets more as a sidecar for original programming on TV than a source of original content in its own right, as News Corp.‘s new The Daily is trying to do. Or perhaps sometime soon we’ll see a video-centric company try to evolve its product on the iPad the way News Corp. wants to do same for the news business.”

The paidContent article includes an interesting video promo for the free Grey’s Anatomy iPad app that features interactive components such as polls, quizzes, bonus content, and more.

Discovery Channel HD Offers Free iPad App

Fans of Discovery Channel HD programming may be interested in the free Discovery app for the iPad (released March 2, 2011). Three days after the app’s release, its developer Bottle Rocket Apps announced that Discovery Channel HD was “the top free iPad app on the entire iTunes App Store.”

Features of the new app include chat sessions with show hosts and fans, images (including production stills), daily video clips, scheduling information, tune-in reminder alerts, science news, social interaction via Facebook and Twitter, and more.

The app is available at iTunes: Discovery Channel HD by Discovery Communications

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