Netflix for iOS got an update today that brings some functionality from its desktop and set-top box clients: auto-progression for TV shows. This comes after the company improved its TV show selector interface and added more rows to the iPad app in an effort to show as much content to subscribers.
Today’s update to version 4.1 also adds three movie suggestions after a film has ended, another effort to keep subscribers within the app. Netflix for iOS can also be more effectively utilized as a second-screen remote for the PS3 version of the app. These updates only apply to the iPad for now, but should come to iPhone eventually.
Download Netflix for iOS.
Amazon has been rumoured to jump into the smartphone arena for some time. Chatter started back in November of 2011 and various analysts predicted the Seattle-based company to release a smarptphone last November – clearly that didn’t happen. Today, according to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is “developing a wide-ranging lineup of gadgets” that include a couple smartphones, one of which is a “high-end smartphone with the 3-D screen.”
As for the 3D smartphone, unlike the LG Optimus 3D that was released a couple years ago, the report indicated that the device can be viewed without 3D glasses and the images will “float above the screen like a hologram and appear three-dimensional at all angles.” In addition, similar to Samsung’s S Scroll feature, the Amazon smartphone will reportedly give users the option to view content by simply “using just their eyes.”
The “people familiar with the company’s plans” declined to give any further details and stated that the products could be shelved because of performance, financial or other concerns.
Faced with the prospect that an official Instagram client will never come, Windows Phone developers have resorted to the potentially untenable path of creating unofficial apps for the platform. While Instagram doesn’t currently have a write API, meaning that while third party apps can access photos already posted to the service, they cannot add new content.
This is a big deal: it means that unlike Twitter, Rdio, Dropbox, Evernote and a number of other applications with detailed and extensive Write API privileges, Instagram is only available on two platforms, Android and iPhone.
But that is all about to change, or it already has, depending on how you look at it. Two apps, one already available to Windows Phone users and one currently in closed beta, promise to allow the growing user base an opportunity not only to read, but to write to Instagram. In other words, these apps let Windows Phoners use Instagram.
How do they do this? The app currently available, Instagraph, uses a server hosted by the company to queue and insert photos to Instagram’s host. While it won’t share the secret sauce, it’s clearly using a workaround to access the company’s closed write APIs, and is limited to what it can accomplish. For instance, it only allows five photos a day per user, and these uploads are not instant — they have to follow a queue. Instagraph also doesn’t use Instagram’s native filters, something that will come as a disappointment to the average buyer. It does, however, use Aviary’s excellent photo editing SDK to enable crops, touch-ups and, yes, filters, though they don’t compare to the real deal.
Last month, Flipboard updated its iOS app to allow users to curate and create magazines from existing content around the web. It was a way to empower its millions of users to take advantage of the creative potential of Flipboard as a creation platform, not just something that pushes content.
The company promised it would bring the popular feature — over 500,000 magazines have been created since the launch, and half of Flipboard’s users engage with the feature — to Android as soon as possible, and while they were able to read magazines, now they can create them.
Flipboard is also publishing a web-based Magazine Editor that can be used to rearrange and update content more easily. The company has also launched an agreement to carry Financial Times content, much like New York Times subscribers can read the paper on the go. FT content is limited to blogs and videos unless you’re a paid subscriber, but Flipboard knows its demographic, and it’s a win-win for both companies.
J.D. Power have released their annual Canadian Wireless Total Ownership Experience Study. This ranks our Canadian carriers on customer service, retail experience and what smartphones are being used.
Based on feedback from 13,300 Canadians, between September 2012 and March 2013, J.D. Power states that Koodo Mobile takes top spot overall as the carrier with the highest customer service satisfaction (765 out of a 1,000-point scale), followed by Virgin Mobile (744 points), WIND Mobile (729 points), Public Mobile (726 points). Regional carrier SaskTel claimed the best in the “full-service” segment against larger wireless players with (712 points). J.D. Power notes that there’s a “sizable shift in behaviour” in the market this year, specifically that customers are finding more satisfaction with using online self-service than calling a call centre or visiting a carriers store.
There are thousands of regular road warriors and air travellers that head south to the States each month. Earlier this year, Rogers announced it would introduce a $7.99 per day, 50MB data roaming package to accommodate those who needed a bit more legroom when using their smartphones.
That number is, Rogers claims, “nearly twice the data a Rogers wireless customer would typically use per day while in Canada,” and the company says it has done research to show that 50MB is more than enough for the vast majority of travellers.
The rate is applied by default when assenting to a data package, obviating the need to purchase a roaming plan in advance of one’s trip. Users can text “usage” to 3330 to check how much data is left on their allotment, without penalty.
Rogers has a leg up on the competition with this plan, as Bell and TELUS don’t offer competitive daily data plans for travel to the U.S.
TELUS, for example, offers a $20/25MB or $40/100MB plan that applies for 30 days; overages cost $1/MB and the plans don’t appear to be renewable between cycles.
Bell offers a renewable $40/100MB plan with a more agreeable $0.40/MB overage.
WIND Mobile offers a permanent $1/MB fee for travel to the States, but doesn’t appear to have any bulk packages. Mobilicity charges $1.50/MB when travelling to the U.S. as well.
For users with unlocked devices, T-Mobile offers a $3/200MB plan that can be renewed every day, which is more competitive than the Rogers plan, but users must have a compatible device and purchase a SIM card with a minimum of $15 service, which can put you out close to $30.
Update: To be fair, there are other places to get deals on roaming. We’ve written about Roam Mobility before and they offer USA roaming plans for $3.95/day that include 100MB of data and unlimited talk and text. -IH
According to TELUS’ Q1 2013 results the company has increased their subscribers base to 7.7 million, up 4.6% or 33,000. Wireless revenues increased once again, this quarter saw a leap of $89 million over last year to $1.5 billion. Similar to other carriers, data consumption played a big role in revenues, now making up $583 million, or 43% of wireless network revenue in Q1. ARPU increased by $1.17 to $60.04/month, mainly driven by increased smartphone adoption and data usage. Smartphone now represent 68% of their postpaid subscriber base.
If you’re into stats, Bell noted in their release this morning that “Bell Wireless customers totaled 7,672,075 at the end of the quarter.” With TELUS’ increase in subscriber base to 7.7 million they’ve essentially become the 2nd largest carrier in Canada. However, if you total the Bell Aliant wireless business, which they’re a managing shareholder, into the mix the numbers rises to 7,815,475 wireless subscribers.
Rdio is once again using its considerable API flexibility to team up with another company, this time Shazam, in an effort to drive more traffic to the streaming service’s mobile app.
As of today, if you “automagically” discover a song within Shazam you’ll be given the option to “Listen Free on Rdio.” This applies to both the free and Encore versions of Shazam, which boasts music discovery prowess to over 300 million people, adding 2 million more each week. The user will be given the option of directly opening the Rdio app from within Shazam, and if he or she is already a subscriber, listening to the song in its entirety. New users without a subscription can hear a 30-second clip, which is still quite impressive.
This integration is live today in Canada, U.S. Australia, Brazil, U.K., and Mexico, and applies to Shazam and Rdio on both Android and iOS. This is amazing exposure for Rdio, which is growing quickly but competing against stalwart services like Slacker Radio in Canada and, more importantly, Spotify and Pandora in the U.S.
To help entice more users, Rdio is also announcing it has hit 20 million songs in its library, 2 million more than the last time they counted their coins. From my perspective, most albums get simultaneously released in Canada and the U.S. these days, whereas in the past Rdio may not have gone that extra mile to secure the rights to such material.
If you haven’t signed up for a free trial, Rdio provides new users with 7 days of unlimited streaming, on- and offline.
Mobile payments in Canada are slowly increasing in popularity and will gain even more traction this summer. Rogers recently teamed up with CIBC to launch ‘suretap’, and Bell announced a partnership with RBC this morning.
The new mobile payment solution will only be available for RBC customers who download the RBC mobile banking app, plus have a compatible Bell smartphone. The mobile payment option will be included into the current RBC Mobile banking app, not a standalone app, and will appear on the homescreen menu. The app will allow users to purchase small ticket items (debit or credit) from their smartphone. As for compatible devices, Bell notes that the app will be available for BlackBerry and Android devices, specifically the Z10, Q10, Bold 9900, Bold 9790, Curve 9360, “and a range of Android devices from manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG.”
The service will be available “By the end of this year” and merchant and customer testing will begin this summer.
Bell has just announced their Q1 2013 results of $1,409 million, up 6.3% from a year ago ($1,326 million). According to the filing the reason for the large jump was due to the adoption of smartphones, data usage and Mobile TV subscribers, and an “increased proportion of postpaid subscribers from Western Canada.”
The number of subscribers also increased over last year, up 3.6% and now sitting at 7,672,075 – if you include Bell Aliant into the mix the total subs reach 7,815,475. Smartphone usage on Bell’s postpaid side has dramatically increased over the past 12 months by 16% to represent 68% of their subscribers. APRU (Average Revenue Per User) increased 3.9% to $55.92/month.
TELUS reports the Q1 2013 numbers today and it’ll be interesting to see if Bell holds onto the title as being Canada’s second largest wireless carrier.