Thursday, August 26, 2010

Short takes: tech media updates

Netflix released an update to its very popular mobile apps of iOS today in iTunes. The updated app now supports iPhones and iPod touch products.
In my household this is big news. You see the other day I finally bought the cord necessary to connect my iPad to the flatscreen in the family room allowing my youngest to view her YouTube videos and Netflix Internet streamed movies on the big screen. She was thrilled. Now she'll be able to watch use those same apps to watch videos through her iPhone (as well as watching directly on her phone). (It looks like the app is limited to watching on the iPhone only, not through video-out to a big screen -- we'll see if this changes.)

The point for media: another move towards content everywhere. Build an app using the iOS (or soon Android) and be able to have content available on phones, tablets, televisions -- a publisher now has access to many devices when it develops mobile media products.

The reaction and ratings are a good lesson for developers: the number of five-star reviews far outnumber the number of one-star review -- but there are still one star-reviews from users who think the new app is buggy. The reality is that many users do not reboot their phones at all and hence new apps tend to crash occasionally. But any app that has five times the number of five-star reviews to one-star reviews is a huge success.

Apple has announced that it will hold an event next week, September 1. It is expected that the company will introduce a new iPod touch (it's amazing how many media folk want to capitalize the word "touch") that will have a front-facing camera, new iTunes TV rentals, and a new iOS-based Apple TV product (priced at $99 supposedly).

While Apple is currently underplaying its TV products, the new iPod could push forward the company's FaceTime video chat platform, as well as be another push towards non-carrier phone calling (see Google phone story below).

The one thing not expected to be unveiled, and the one thing I'm most eager to see, is the updated iOS for the iPad. Currently iPhone users have limited multi-tasking and folders for apps -- both things are missing from the iPad right now. It looks like these features, and possibly some surprise features, will have to wait for a different update later in the fall.

The AP's Rachel Metz has a nice review of the Dell Streak.

Reading the review one is struck by the decisions that some of these competitors to Apple seem to make. For instance, despite is bulk -- it has a five inch screen -- Dell is selling the device as a phone. Metz writes: "The Streak's enormity is inescapable. It's a little less than 6 inches long and 3 inches across, so it looked mammoth in my petite hands. I felt like a little kid holding her father's smart phone."
The problem is that the product, according to the reviewer, doesn't seem like a complete product. For instance, the Dell Streak comes with an older version of Android, which makes zero sense to me. It also comes with a front-facing camera but the camera is promoted for videos, not video chat. It is also sold through AT&T at a price point of $299 (the 16GB model of the iPhone is priced at $199).