Four months after it updated the iPlayer app to play nice with Google’s Chromecast, the BBC has extended support for the streaming dongle to its sport apps. As part of today’s update, BBC Sport users can now stream live and on-demand video to their TV from their iOS or Android device. The feature comes just days ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games, allowing the BBC to double down on its in-app coverage. That’s why it’s also included an option to set medal alerts and access dedicated sections for UK nations, letting you to catch up on related news, analysis and performance charts over the next couple of weeks.
Uber may win some and lose some, but the battles rage on in cities where it operates. Seoul, Korea has now indicated that it would outright ban Uber, calling it illegal and harmful to taxi drivers. Uber operates its UberBLACK service there to connect professional chauffeurs to passengers via its app. That differs from UberX, UberPOP or Lyft — the services that have faced the most bans and protests — since those mostly use non-professional drivers. Seoul’s city council called Uber an illegal threat to traditional cabs, since its drivers didn’t have the usual insurance and safety controls. However, Uber told the WSJ that the city council’s comments “show Seoul is in danger of remaining trapped in the past and getting left behind by the global ‘sharing economy’ movement.” Despite that, the city must feel Uber is doing something right — it said that it would soon launch its own, Uber-like geo-location app to connect regular taxis to passengers.
For all its beauty, Android’s openness is the reason why manufacturers and carriers are able to make their own tweaks to the OS. Some companies go as far as completely forking the platform, and we know how terrible that can be — though there are exceptions like Amazon’s Fire ecosystem, which offers a solid experience overall. Thankfully, manufacturers are beginning to realize it’s much better to deliver Android as Google intended, or at least as close to it as possible (e.g. HTC’s Sense 6). Chinese outfit ZTE will join this movement very soon, announcing that the Google Now launcher will be set as the default home screen on its future smartphones, starting with the launch of the Blade Vec 4G next week. Naturally, doing so means giving buyers a cleaner look right out of the box; plus, it puts all of the search giant’s services front and center, including the Play store and, of course, Google Now. Most importantly, it’s definitely going to make Google happy.
Amazon’s video service is well-rounded, with both video-on-demand selection and Prime all you can eat viewing, but there’s one big hole — Android. Even though Amazon has apps for its Android-based Kindle family of devices (along with iOS, game consoles, Roku and other TV boxes), the rest of the Android family tree is left out of the party. That could change soon however, as PC Advisor reports Amazon UK Marketing & Merchandising Director said that an app for the platform is “imminent.” The news came at the firm’s Christmas show (yes, in July, just go with it), however it’s unclear if it will apply to both phones and tablets. He also indicated that work on 4K content is progressing, confirming what we’d heard at CES, but there’s no word on when the high-res video will hit Amazon’s service. Despite repeated attempts to contact Amazon PR in the US and UK we have not received a response concerning the report, but if an app arrives soon it would help make Amazon a much better competitor against the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
Source: PC Advisor
Google has made attempts in the past to unify the design of its various properties with varying degrees of success. Material Design, which is major part of the upcoming Android L release, may be its most coherent effort to date. The new look is expected to touch every corner of Google’s catalog, and Chrome OS will be part of that revamp. A screen shot posted by Chromium evangelist François Beaufort on Google+ shows the very early fruits of Athena, an effort to “bring a new kind of user experience” to Mountain View’s desktop OS. The image shows windows with minimal controls and decoration in a stacked card view, similar to the app switcher revealed as part of the next Android update. There’s also what appears to be a launcher bar with a search field at the bottom of the screen. While the redesign is clearly in the very early stages, you can see the important elements of Material Design at work. Everything is flat and paper like, but exists in a three-dimensional space, complete with less-than-subtle drop shadows. You can compile a copy of Chromium OS yourself to give Athena a test run, but we’d hold out for a more complete version.
Source: FranÃ§ois Beaufort (Google+)
I really enjoy the anonymous sharing app Secret, as the posts are quite often hilarious and I’m usually able to narrow down a sharer’s identity to two or three people. (Those Engadget in-jokes are a real telltale.) For the same reasons that I like reading Secret, though, I’d never consider posting on the app myself. If I were to share anything remotely personal, I’d want to get as far away from my extended group of friends and colleagues as possible. That’s why I found a relatively new app, called Vent, so intriguing. Currently available on iOS (with an Android version on the way), it does exactly what its name implies: It lets you vent. And the best part is that your contacts list stays out of the picture — you’re sharing with random users who stumble upon your posts, and your profile can remain as anonymous as you like.
It’s a little addictive; you can search for vents sorted by emotion (Calm, Irritated, Annoyed, Angry or Furious, and from mildest to most intense), and as with the Secret app, you can like and comment on individual posts. You can also follow individual users, though the beauty of Vent is that you don’t need to have other friends posting to enjoy the app.
On a recent trip, I turned to the app to voice my discontent about the lack of personal space in airports — I categorized that vent as “irritated,” for the record — and even though I have yet to receive any likes or comments, it felt satisfying to see my post in the river of complaints from other irritated souls. The comments I’ve seen on others are overwhelmingly positive and supportive as well. As with Secret, you have the option to report any inappropriate posts, and the comments on Vent are extremely civil as a result. That’s a very good thing, too, because there’s plenty of serious material mixed in with the more petty complaints.
The purpose of venting is to air your issues so you can move on and calm down, and this app is an effective way to virtually get something off your chest. And when many social apps require plenty of your friends to be signed up in order to get the best experience, Vent’s a refreshing take on anonymity. Plus, it’s interesting to see how others categorize their emotions — having overly strict parents might make some posters “annoyed,” but if it was me, I’d be in full-on “furious” mode.
Dean Serroni, Vent’s co-founder, told me that an upcoming app overhaul would bring new emotions to choose from, along with additional ways to interact with fellow users’ vents (this likely means private chat). For now, iPhone users can download the app via the source link below. The Android version should launch later this year.
Source: Vent (iTunes)
Welcome, ladygeeks and gentlenerds, to the new era of gaming. The one where you get to watch, and comment, as other people livestream gameplay from next-gen consoles. Because games! They’re fun!
When the folks behind Halo, Bungie Studios, offered a taste of their next big franchise earlier this year, we jumped in to show it off. And now that Destiny‘s beta is open on PlayStation 4, we’re back to jump in once more and explore the upcoming blockbuster a final time before its official launch on September 9th. Rather than employ wildly expensive dark magic to show Destiny, we’re using the delightfully free Twitch service. Join us right here at 12PM ET (or thereabouts — technical issues do sometimes occur) for an hour-long exploration of Bungie’s next big game, Destiny.
Look, we’re not gonna tell you how to spend your hard-earned money. If you want to spend two actual dollars enabling your Killzone: Shadow Fall character to fart — yes, that kind of fart — and “plank” (this) on PlayStation 4, go for it. But allow us this moment of plea: please don’t. Here’s the description of what your $2 gets you:
“It’s all fun and games until someone loses a game. (Or so they say). Show your fallen enemies, not everything need [sic] be taken seriously. This pack contains Fart, Planking and Comedy spotlight moves.”
One part of us wants to know what “Comedy spotlight moves” could possibly be given that the highly comedic farting and planking verbs have already been used.
We’re not gonna make the guilt plea (“there are children starving all over the world”), and we’re not gonna appeal to your financial sense (it’s just two bucks, right?). Your common sense, however, is fair game. The long and short is this: forking over any cash for this kind of junk DLC sends the wrong message to both the game’s developer (Guerrilla Games) and its publisher (Sony). We’re not saying it isn’t funny — it very well may be! — but we are saying you shouldn’t have to pay for it. It is indeed optional, yes, which is exactly why we suggest you optionally choose to skip this. Vote with your dollars, y’all! Or end up like the angry lady above.
[Image credit: Shutterstock]
Source: PlayStation Network
Sky’s got a plethora of mobile apps to keep you entertained on the go, but has until now neglected customers who find admin just as fun. Much like mobile carriers have apps for general account management, the new Sky Service app for Android and iOS lets subscribers view and pay bills, check the details of their TV packages and manage their broadband router restrictions. The app also allows you to reset your TV PIN if the kids have cracked it while you’re out, request a customer service call-back, reschedule an engineer visit and alter which Sky+HD box the Sky+ app records to if you have a multiroom setup. Not the most exciting tasks, but handy to have in your pocket nonetheless.
The European Commission has said that while Google addressed its concerns around games with in-app purchasing, Apple has yet to offer a strategy. Following hordes of complaints by outraged parents, the EU asked both companies to implement changes to the way they sell such apps in their stores. Those include not misleading consumers about supposedly “free” games, not “directly exhorting” children to buy in-game items, thoroughly informing customers about payment arrangements and forcing game-makers to provide contact information.
Google has already said it would implement several of the changes starting at the end of September. For instance, it won’t use the word “free” for in-app purchase games; it’ll come up with targeted guidelines for games to prevent encouragement of children to buy items; and will implement measures to monitor breaches of EU law.
Meanwhile, the EU said that Apple has “regrettably” not provided any firm solutions or timetable to address its concerns, though it added that Cupertino has promised to attack the problem. Apple was already forced to implement alerts in iOS 7.1 warning users of in-app buys, following lawsuits and a scuffle with the FCC. It has also implemented other parental controls, as shown in its Parents’ Guide to iTunes. Meanwhile, the European Commission said that enforcement is now in the hands of individual EU nations, which will need to decide on their own how to punish developers currently facing legal action.
Update: In response to the EU’s remarks, Apple has given us the following statement:
Apple takes great pride in leading the industry in parental controls that are incredibly easy to use and help ensure a great experience for parents and children on the App Store. The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable. And over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked. We’ve also created a Kids Section on the App Store with even stronger protections to cover apps designed for children younger than 13.
These controls go far beyond the features of others in the industry. But we are always working to strengthen the protections we have in place, and we’re adding great new features with iOS 8, such as Ask to Buy, giving parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store.
Our goal is to continue to provide the best experience for our customers and we will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.
[Image credit: Philippe Hugen/AFP/Getty Images]