Archives for : appletv

CocoaConf Fall tour, 2016

CocoaConf San Jose early bird registration ends tomorrow, so that’s my last chance to plug the talks I’m doing there.

(yeah, I know I said I was taking a pause from conferences, and I shouldn’t be pushing myself during what’s been the worst 12 months of my life, but what can I say, I like doing CocoaConf)

I developed two new talks for CocoaConf DC, and those are the same ones I’ll be doing in San Jose.

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Radio On The TV

With the book done, and taking time off from conferences, I’ve wanted to do some coding of my own, to catch up on stuff I’ve missed out on over the last year or so. Naturally, top of the agenda is tvOS, and the various changes to the media frameworks.

So to warm up, I decided to take my old web radio project from the CocoaConf Core Audio class, and port it to tvOS. I figured that along the way, I’d also rewrite it in Swift and update some of the crustier parts of the code.

tl;dr: it works fine, but there are things I’d do differently a second time around.

Radio On The TV main UI

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Hey, Big Spender

“Oh hell, another App Store thinkpiece.” Yeah, I know, not really my department even, so I’ll try to through it quickly. I just can’t help but think about some ideas and facts that can’t all be true at the same time.

Let’s start with this: 5 of the last 6 Kickstarters I’ve supported (check out my profile there) have been for software projects, games specifically. None of them are for iOS, only one is for OS X, and collectively, they represent far more than all my purchases on the App Store combined over the last 7 years (and that’s coming from someone who dutifully plunked down $50 for OmniGraffle for iOS and buys the new $5 Pinball Arcade table I-AP every month).

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AV WWDC, part 2: Fair Is Pretty Foul

Next up on our tour of WWDC 2015 media sessions is the innocently-titled Content Protection for HTTP Live Streaming. Sounds harmless, but I think there’s reason for worry.

For content protections, HLS has always had a story: transport segments get a one-time AES encryption, and can be served from a dumb http server (at CocoaConf a few years back, I demo’ed serving HLS from Dropbox, before it was https:-always). You’re responsible for guarding the keys and delivering them only to authenticated users. AV Foundation can get the keys, decrypt the segments, and play them with no client-side effort beyond handling the authentication. It’s a neat system, because it’s easy to deploy on content delivery networks, as you’re largely just dropping off a bunch of flat files, and the part you protect on your own server is tiny.

So what’s “FairPlay Streaming”, then?

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Apple TV… Buffering…

Forgive me a little Apple armchair-quarterbacking, but I’m still puzzling over the most under-reported story from this week’s Apple Event: the $30 price cut on Apple TV.

Is this the sound of capitulation?

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Oh Look, an H.265 Use Case

Streaming Media has a nice article from a few weeks back on how HEVC Innovation Has Been Fast, But Evolution Will Be Slow, that while it’s great that H.265 can cut bandwidth use by about 40%, it will take a long time to get adoption, since that’ll require encoders, end-user hardware, and so on. It doesn’t work until every step in the chain can use H.265. One frequently-cited application of H.265 is in delivery of 4K video, which will have hideous bandwidth requirements, but that deserves ample skepticism, and risks tying H.265 to the 4K rock… if people realize they don’t need a resolution difference they can’t actually see on home TVs, what’s the point of 4K?

That said, I did realize the other day one scenario where H.265 could really make a difference right now: livestream uploading. When I livestream from home, I have only 1.5 Mbps up (U-verse is the best I can do; the cable modem bandwidth on our cul-de-sac is really sketchy), so I run around 1 Mbps to account for overhead, and end up with a sub-SD picture. When I livestream from public wifi at a conference, I’m sharing the bandwidth with everyone and I’m lucky to get a stream out at all (this is why I’m crazy skeptical of wifi-only livestream cams — when can you ever count on having adequate wifi bandwidth in public?). So the prospect of nearly halving the bandwidth requirements has an immediate payoff: with my 1 Mbps ceiling, H.265 would effectively double my picture quality, so I’d be easily capable of doing 480 SD, and could get into HD the next time U-verse bandwidth improves.

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26 Reasons An Apple TV Game Console Is Unlikely

Of all the new products Apple could release this fall, a revamped Apple TV/game console would be the easiest to make…and could deliver a huge unexpected disruption to the upcoming next-gen game consoles from Sony and Microsoft. […] All we need now is for Apple to announce a new Apple TV this fall. And, I don’t think that’s so far-fetched at all.

That’s not the worst of it. What’s worse is that this is from an article on CNET (ahem) called “Why an Apple TV game console is a no-brainer”.

OK, take a minute to work through the guffaws. Hey, I get it, what are you gonna do… we were starved for any kind of Apple news after Apple spent the first half of the year in silent running. Pundits had to pull something out of their butts! And some took the addition of an iOS game controller API as a natural compliment to an Apple TV gaming box.

But Apple game console… umm, yeah. Aside from my already-established skepticism on the idea of an Apple TV SDK, let me share with you a post I saw on App.Net that utterly killed for me the prospect of an Apple TV game console:

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Apple TV Predictions Made Easy (Thanks to Roku)

Rumor has it that the VEVO music video service is coming to Apple TV. Well, as its own channel I mean, since it’s always been possible to AirPlay the VEVO iOS app.

So that’s great to add value to the box by adding new channels. But it’s also old hat because, well, we’ve had VEVO on the Roku for as long as I’ve had one.

And Apple TV getting stuff long after Roku is not a new thing. Back in June, we got HBO Go and Crunchyroll, which had already been on Roku for some time.

If there isn’t a sign at the Roku offices saying “Cupertino, start your copiers”, there should be.

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Crunchy Apple TV

Nice surprise this morning that the latest Apple TV update adds an app for Crunchyroll, my go-to source for anime streaming.

Crunchyroll running on Apple TV

But there’s a catch (isn’t there always?). This version of Crunchyroll is members-only. If you don’t have a membership, you can watch the first episode of each of 20 or so anime series, and a comparable number of Japanese and Korean dramas. That’s in sharp contrast to Crunchy on the web and on other platforms, where most of the library is free-with-ads, and the benefits of subscribing are no ads, HD, and immediate access to simulcasts instead of a two week wait (there are a handful of episodes here and there that are also subscribers-only, like the last half of anohana).

For the freeloaders, you’re probably still better off getting the Crunchyroll app for iOS and AirPlay’ing it to the Apple TV, or just switch platforms and get Crunchyroll for Roku.

As a subscriber, I perpetually have Crunchyroll all-access passes to give out, and which keep expiring unused, so hit me up on Twitter if you want one, though (as The Loop’s Peter Cohen reminds me), you might be better off just grabbing the one-week trial through the Apple TV, or two weeks from Crunchyroll’s website.

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The Case Against an Apple TV SDK

It seems just last year we were on the verge of WWDC, wondering whether Apple might release an Apple TV SDK. Oh, that’s right, it was last year that we were talking about this. And there’s still no SDK, but hope springs annual.

Playing a bit with the Roku SDK has me reconsidering if and why an Apple TV SDK makes sense, and I think it boils down to one simple question:

What can you do better on an Apple TV than you can do with the iPhone or iPad you’re already using?

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