Welcome to December AweTechies! As we continue the march into the Holiday season of this (often less than stellar) year, we’ve gathered the most important news in tech this week:
Netflix Now Allows Offline Viewing
In a move applauded by just about everyone, Netflix has finally released the ability to download TV shows and movies to devices to allow for offline viewing. Users will need to update their iOS or Android Netflix apps to the latest version in order to access the feature. Once you’re on the latest version of the app, after selecting a title you’ll see a download button near the play button. The current selection of titles available to download is mostly limited to Netflix originals like Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black. However, there are a few rando shows and movies thrown into the mix such as Kung Fu Panda 3, Nightcrawler, Breaking Bad, basically the entire Star Trek catalog, and a few others. The selection is expected to expand in the next coming weeks.
This is a super clutch move for Netflix as offline viewing was perhaps the most requested feature from users globally. Considering many users of the service may have flaky or slow Internet, especially in developing countries, this update will no longer keep them at the mercy of an inconsistent connection. This feature also helps for those who want the flexibility of watching titles when they’re in-transit in typically wireless environments, such as trains and planes.
Cord Cutting is King
For people who have already chucked the deuces to their cable, or for those that were on the verge of calling it quits but needed that last extra push; Amazon’s announcement is expertly timed. Amazon Prime members can now sign up for monthly HBO or Cinemax subscriptions, without having to be chained to a typical satellite or cable provider. After a 30-day free trial, the Amazon Prime HBO subscription is priced at $14.99/month, while Cinemax access is $9.99/month. Prime-members will have the ability to stream shows and movies from either network, via Amazon Channels.
In related news, DirectTV has launched a streaming TV service called DirectTV Now. The service, which launched on Nov 30, is available on Apple Devices, Amazon Fire Stick, Android devices, the web, and more. There are four tiers to choose from, ranging from $35 – $70/month, with a choice of 60 to 120 channels. To sweeten the deal, early customers who sign up will be eligible for the $60/month tier but only pay $35/month. In addition, if you pre-pay for 3-months of access you can get a free Apply TV set-top box thrown in. If that wasn’t enough, if you’re an AT&T wireless customer and want to use DirectTV Now, you’ll be able to stream it without using your data.
DirectTV Now Streaming Packages
- Live a Little – $35 / month (60+ channels)
- Just Right – $50 / month (80+ channels)
- Go Big – $60 / month (100+ channels)
- Gotta Have it – $70 / month (120+ channels)
DirectTV Now Access Points
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
- Android mobile devices and tablets
- iPhone, iPad and Apple TV
- Chromecast (Android at launch; iOS in 2017)
- Google Cast-enabled LeEco ecotvs and VIZIO SmartCast Displays
- Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari web browsers
- Availability for Roku devices, Amazon Fire Tablets, and Samsung Smart TVs coming in 2017
Last year, approximately 1.1m households cut the cord with traditional cable providers, and companies have quickly jumped to capitalize on the trend by providing more competitive pricing, more offline content, or dropping long-term contracts all together. Amazon and others are doing the most to make sure that people have access to only the content that they want, while being able to fill their coffers. Smart business.
Twitter Moments on Mobile
Moments, a feature to aggregate specific event related tweets or topics and present them in a cohesive, swipeable story was opened up to any user back in September, however it was relegated to the web client which was suitable for desktop/laptops. Now, Twitter will allow you to create Moments for your mobile devices, right through the Twitter app.
For everyone who wants to make a Moment – starting today you can! Creators everywhere can now tell stories with Tweets. pic.twitter.com/ZJtNBoTPWf
— Twitter (@twitter) September 28, 2016
Moments are a great way to piece together stories and try to make sense of the more pressing matters of Twitter such as “is a $200 date really necessary”? The feature is rolling out in stages so you may not have access to it quite yet. A friend made a Moment of my live tweets from The Game Awards the other night:
— ‘Laflair (@Jocklaflair) December 2, 2016
Apple Prepping Drones to Improve Maps
According to the usual group of “people familiar with the matter”, Apple is gearing to use drones to improve its Maps feature. The drones will be used to monitor areas that change rapidly such as construction zones, and track changes to roads, road-signs etc. There is also talks that Apple will use the drones to map indoor areas, and provide limited views inside businesses. The data from the drones would then be passed off to Apple engineers who can then make quick updates to the service and improve accuracy.
Apple’s indoor mapping efforts are also set to expand, in order to help users navigate whole buildings, such as airports and museums. This is a great direction for the future of Apple Maps; the same app that was once upon a time clowned on the daily for presenting users with inaccuracies such as showing the Brooklyn Bridge plunging into the East River.
If you hear some news and you want us to investigate to learn more, tweet us @AwesomelyTechie!