Apple’s upcoming “iTunes Replay” service is indeed in the works, but the company has yet to sign “cloud agreements” with at least four of the top-six film studios in Hollywood that are necessary in order to launch the service, CNET News reports. As such, the site calls earlier reports that suggested an imminent launch premature. Apple is reportedly working on a service that will allow iTunes users to stream and re-download movies purchased through iTunes. Such a service would require Apple to sign new licensing agreements with motion picture studios in order to secure the appropriate rights that would allow Apple to serve content from the cloud and to multiple devices. According to CNET News, negotiations for these rights could “drag on for months.” The report also mentions a possible hurdle for Apple: HBO. HBO has agreements in place that grant it exclusive digital distribution rights to new movies from three of the six major film studios — 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. — for a certain period of time. HBO’s deals have caused problems for streaming services in the past, and it looks like Apple could be the latest victim. More →
Apple is preparing to launch a new service that will allow iTunes users to re-download previously purchased music, movies and TV shows for free, AppAdvice reports. The service may also support some streaming functionality according to the report, though such functionality may be limited. In the past, iTunes users who lose content from their libraries were forced to either purchase the content again or essentially beg and plead with Apple customer service until they agreed to assist with free content restoration. This ridiculous practice is now in the process of coming to an end. AppAdvice claims to have confirmed the imminent launch of the iTunes Reply service with multiple sources, and such an offering has rumored to have been in the works from Apple for quite some time. According to the report, we can expect iTunes Replay to “go public in the coming weeks.” More →
Apple issued an update to its Apple TV product on Monday that will allow users to stream purchased high-definition TV shows directly from iTunes. Specifically, Apple says the update will enable:
- iTunes TV Shows: Purchase your favorite TV shows directly from the iTunes Store, and watch the shows you already own, commercial-free in HD.
- Vimeo: Browse and play videos from Vimeo, access your video inbox, and mark videos you want to watch later.
When Apple first launched the Apple TV, it only allowed users to rent movies and shows and there was not an option to purchase titles for permanent ownership. For users in the U.S., Apple has also rolled out preliminary iCloud support with this update, allowing users to re-download some purchased television shows, though movie support is not yet available. More →
Netflix announced two new unlimited DVD plans on Tuesday, including a $7.99 option for one DVD at a time and an $11.99 option that allows users to rent two DVDs at a time. The company also said that it will discontinue its current $9.99 monthly option that provides access to unlimited DVD rentals and unlimited instant streaming each month. Instead, the movie rental service will charge users $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming and a minimum of $7.99 per month for unlimited DVDs (with one rented out at a time at that rate). Essentially, that means users with the current $9.99 offering will instead have to cough up $15.98 per month in order to maintain their current subscription plan. “Reflecting our confidence that DVDs by mail is a long-term business for us, we are also establishing a separate and distinct management team solely focused on DVDs by mail, led by Andy Rendich, our Chief Service and Operations Officer and an 11 year veteran of Netflix,” the company said in a blog post. Netflix’s current plans will expire in September, and users will need to switch to a new plan by that time. More →
Apple has completed a cloud-music streaming deal with record label EMI, according to a report filed by CNET. Citing multiple industry sources, the publication notes that Apple, Sony Music Entertainment and the Universal Music Group are working on agreements as well; a previous report claims that Warner Music Group and Apple already signed a cloud service agreement sometime last month. “Apple will finish behind Google and Amazon in the race to the cloud, but Apple now has the freedom to offer a range of features that rivals are prevented from rolling out because of the licensing restrictions,” continues the article. Rumors state that Apple will use a technology acquired from Lala called “scan and match.” Instead of uploading a subscribers music library to Apple’s cloud-music service, the company would scan a music collection and provide access to the master track it has a license to. Apple and the music labels in question declined to comment on the report when contacted by CNET. More →
Listen up gaming fanatics. It looks like Nintendo’s Project Café, otherwise known as the Wii 2, has been caught on video thanks to a sneaky developer and their utter disregard of non-disclosure agreements. Aside from slides that showcase the “Screen Stream” controllers, we see the Wii 2 console projected and lurking in the background as well. There appears to be a docking accessory — most likely for controller recharging — shown on the screen towards the end of the clip, although it is hard to tell as an audience member’s head obfuscates our view. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is scheduled for next month from June 7th to 9th; don’t be surprised if the Wii 2 gets a lengthy preview from the folks at Nintendo. The video is waiting for you after the break.
According to Peter Kafka over at All Things D, Apple’s presumed cloud-based music service will not be all that dissimilar from Amazon’s. The report details that Apple, like Amazon, will allow iTunes users to store newly purchased tracks and already-owned digital music in an online locker. Unlike Amazon, however, the Cupertino company is looking for deals with major record labels.“They’ve been very aggressive and thoughtful about it,” said an industry executive speaking with Kafka. “It feels like they want to go pretty soon.” The report also notes that the industry buy-in and licensing will allow Apple to store a single, master copy of a digital music file on its services and share that file with authorized users — making the company’s storage schema much more streamlined. Amazon’s Cloud Drive implementation is based on its S3 storage service and functions more like a cloud-based hard drive — every time a user buys a track it’s uploaded to that specific users online locker. “Sources tell me that Apple has already procured deals from at least two of the big four labels (Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony and EMI) within the last two months,” writes Kafka. “One source tells me Apple content boss Eddy Cue will be in New York tomorrow to try to finalize remaining deals.” Apple has some experience with cloud-based services as it has offered its MobileMe service — formerly iTools and .Mac — since early 2000.
UPDATE: CNET is now reporting that Apple and Warner Music Group reached a deal this afternoon: “Apple has an agreement with Warner Music Group to offer the record label’s tracks on iTunes’ upcoming cloud-music service.” More →
Hulu Plus, a premium Web-based video streaming service, is now available to the public. Rob Wong, product director for Hulu Plus, made the announcement Thursday on the company’s blog, saying the service is now available without need for an invitation. Hulu provides a service that allows users to stream movies and TV episodes for free to computers. Hulu Plus, which costs $9.99 each month (for the time being, at least), offers enhancements such as additional content and the ability to stream to more devices like Apple’s iPhone and the Sony PlayStation 3. Rumors suggest interest in Hulu Plus has been minimal though, thanks to widely available free content as well as subscription competition like Netflix’s Watch Instantly. Hulu claims to have had a successful closed beta period, however, and it will continue to expand the service to more devices during the current open preview period.
AT&T has announced that the U-Verse mobile app is now available to Apple iPhone users via the App Store. As the press release so succinctly puts it:
U-verse Mobile replaces the popular Mobile Remote Access for iPhone app and incorporates the ability to browse the U-verse TV program guide, view program descriptions, schedule and manage your DVR recordings, while adding the ability to download available episodes over any Wi-Fi connection, and watch them in full-screen mode on your iPhone from anywhere.
There is (as always) a catch, customers have to be subscribed to the U-Verse U300 package or higher, which starts at around $82 per month (and doesn’t include HD). If you are already a U-Verse customer, have a U300 cable package or better, and rock an iPhone, check out the new goods and let us know what you think! AT&T’s full press release is after the break. More →
Acer has just made the high powered Liquid Stream official via a press release. Acer describes the Android 2.1 device as a, “high-end multimedia smartphone, optimized for watching movies, listening to music and enjoying web browsing like at home,” and judging by the specs sheet, it looks to fit that bill. Here is the official skinny: 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 512 MB of RAM, 3G+ HSDPA @ 7.2Mb/s, 3.7″ WVGA touch-screen display, Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi (b/g/n), GPS, 5 megapixel camera, 720p video recording, HDMI out, and a microSD card slot with support for up to a 32 GB card. Availability and wireless carrier are currently unknown. What do you think? Are you impressed, or have you see an Incredible stat sheet like this before? We’ve got the official press release and a video ready for you after the break. More →