Podcast Episode 11 – Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus on AppleTV
I’m Bily Foster and I’m that iPad guy
Called that because I’ve almost always got iPad with me, and in some cases two!
This week it’s ‘Amazon and Hulu Plus on iOS’
iOS finally got two great new video apps added into their ecosystem. One is a brand-new one, and the other is about damn time.
Starting with the biggest one, Amazon Instant Video. To me this is huge, Amazon is the second-largest video-on-demand service out there and now it’s tied into the iPad. So now between Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu you have an incredible amount of video content that you can access on the iPad that previously could only be accessed via Amazon’s Kindle, and some android tablets via flash. And of course just like the iPod days while you can play your content from other providers on your iPad you can only play the iTunes content via an iOS device.
Amazon Instant Video has a small catch. The App is only a portal into the videos that you’ve already purchased or to access the Amazon Prime Library. In order for Amazon to not have to pay Apple’s cut of all the sales that would have happened with any in-app video purchases, you need use the website to add to your library. This is the same approach that Amazon has taken for the Kindle app. You use the website to actually purchase the content, but you can access it from just about any device now. I personally feel that this is Amazon’s retaliation for the Nexus 7. I mean the Kindle Fire does run a flavor android, so we know that the Instant Video app works on Android. So why would they go and put it out on the iPad before they put out the general android community?
I think it’s their way of jabbing at the Nexus 7. Now Amazon can say our Video Library app is out there on the most popular tablet, oh what’s that you don’t want to have a 10 inch tablet because it doesn’t fit in your pocket? Well then you can watch it on our 7 inch Kindle Fire. It’s just a theory, kind of kind a cockamamie one I understand but it’s mine.
And while the Amazon Instant Video app is a welcome addition to my iPad, it is not perfect. As I mentioned any movies that you want to buy you have to actually do through the website, which is fine I understand reasoning. however there’s no searching capability, I don’t know if this is because of the limitations of what is available (Which I’m blaming on licensing restrictions) and maybe they don’t want to show you just how narrow the library is yet, because I have Amazon video-on-demand on my television and it has the search capability. And it appears not the entire library is available to be accessed on the iPad, that I’m again blaming licensing
And while the app is not perfect it does offer one real keen benefit which is the ability to download the show so you can have it for off-line viewing. You can not AirPlay video to the TV, when you try your greeted with just the audio on your television. After a while the lack of searching gets really annoying, but I think get what they are doing. They want you to ‘browse’ the library on the device, but they want you to surf and find content on the site so that if you don’t own the what you are looking for you have the option of buying it there. Once you find what you want, they want you to add it to your “Watch List” then you can quickly access it on you iPad. If you do not own the movie but have it on your watch list you are reminded that you can only access the movies you have purchased. No option to purchase of course, but you do have the ability to remove it from the watch list.
All in all it’s a good app, and serves its purpose. The best part is that this really opens up a sometimes more cost effective place to order movies. I also believe that a general android app is going to become available, eventually. I think it only helps Amazon by having the ability to watch and purchase this content across multiple devices. And keep in mind Amazon has its own app store so they can distribute this app without needing Google’s help at all. In fact I say it almost encourages someone to install the Amazon app store on android device that wouldn’t get it stock by offering the Instant Video App there only.
So that’s the Amazon Instant Video app and it’s free in the Apple app store.
The second app I’m going to talk about today isn’t new to the iOS ecosystem, but it is newly added to the Apple TV and that’s Hulu plus.
In case you aren’t aware, Hulu Plus let you watch the full season of popular shows like Modern Family, The Office, Family Guy and many others. It also gives you access to classic serials including Lost and Battle Star Galactica. You can use it over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G and it does it with limited advertising. I think of it as a corporate software version of a DVR.
Recently Hulu has even added some of its own original content, I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. But I am interested in the Kevin Smith spoilers show. I’ve just been stuck catching up on The Office, South Park and Parks and Recreation.
In fact I have canceled my digital cable service because of it’s crappy service, and lack of functionality. And signed up for Hulu plus so I can use that to watch most of my shows in high definition. the money that I’ll save from paying for the digital cable service and the DVRs that we had, I can use to buy the shows that we don’t get on Hulu Plus and they will be commercial free.
Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t cut the cord completely yet. But we are working on it to a certain degree. More on that once our simple.tvs arrive.
Back on the Hulu Plus app, an interesting note, the AppleTV is a bit of a different beast. On what I’ll call your “traditional iOS device” you have an app store and you go select the app you want to install. However with the AppleTV apps get pushed to you, and are only approved by Apple.
The other interesting thing, is the app functions more like a traditional AppleTV app, versus one designed by Hulu. Which gives a more universal feel across all the different applications. Podcasts, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Vimeo all use the same style interface. I think maybe this is part of the key to cracking the code Steve Job may have hinted at. I didn’t give much credence to a rumor of an actual Apple TV TV. until recently when I hooked my Apple TV up to my touch screen PC, and almost instinctively went to touch the icons on the Apple TV. Now of course they didn’t work because it still was just a signal on the TV part of the touch PC. But I could see how the interface already leads to that.
Adding Hulu Plus increases the Apple TV’s value. At this point the only thing Apple TV is missing, is a way to actually get a TV signal to the AppleTV, again I refer back to simple.tv which should provide that down the road.
It’s interesting how Apple is slowly adding functionality to the AppleTV by quietly adding these apps with out any real big announcement or fan fare. I’m also curious is Apple is making the apps is it through some partnership that they have established. It’s no secrecy that ABC/Disney is tied to Apple so it’s no surprise that Hulu Plus has finally come to the AppleTV. I’m betting that we won’t see Amazon’s Instant Video showing up anytime soon. But I do hope that Amazon will be able to eventually support AirPlay. Because it’s not an issue like a lack of available API currently Hulu Plus on the iPad support sending remote video. I wonder if it’s back to a licensing issue.
I have to say both of these apps are a welcome addition to the iOS ecosystem. And I’m very excited that to see more content coming available on both the iPad and the AppleTV.
So that Wraps up another this episode of that iPad thanks for watching! Be sure to like me on Facebook, follow me on twitter, or Circle me on Google Plus and visit “That iPad Guy . Com ” to subscribe!
See ya next time!