Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

One of the few significant announcements from Austin was the launch this summer by CNN of a service that will let viewers move seamlessly between mobile, computer and internet-connected TV when watching video.

If, for example, you started watching something on your smartphone and switched to the TV, tablet or computer screen the video would pick up from where you left off on the mobile.

The integration also allows video to be stacked and ported around, so a queue build on a connected TV would also be available on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Bandwidth, as ever, is the Achilles Heel of roaming, but streams are encoded at variable bit-rates to cope if conditions are less than optimal.

CNN has also forged a couple of partnerships to bolster its iReport citizen journalism initiative. Links with Apple mean that it’ll be straightforward to upload direct from iMovie to iReport and a tie-in with Gowalla brings the marginally appealing bounty of badges for contributors.

Most significant of all is a move to integrate iReport and CNN journalists’ work in a Twitter-type content chronology with overlays on maps.

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The mobile money space is starting to warm up, with both Apple and Google reportedly in talks with payments start-up Boku.

As Techcrunch points out, Apple already has 160m credit card accounts associated with iTunes. Making those transactions possible through a mobile, especially for those in developing countries who may not have a credit card, would be a logical next step and is one of Boku’s strengths.

Square is also gaining traction with its add-on software that turns a smartphone into a point of sale at the swipe of a debit/credit card.

Why is this important in the context of a news organisation? Because it’s one of the elements that will see smartphones become the dominant platform for consumption of future services.

Google is already a “mobile first” company. The rest of us will follow.

VeepleAt the BBC, we’ve done a lot of work over the past couple of years to enhance our web stories with embedded video. The depth and richness of BBC News material makes it one of the key differentiators between us and other news providers.

Now video tech company Veeple is turning the notion of adding video to text on its head by making video the starting point for storytelling and supplementing in-picture images with interactive text and links.

Hotspots on the screen are made clickable so deeper layers of information can be reached. They can be overlaid on objects, or people, or they can be appended to areas at the top or bottom of the screen.

It’s easy to imagine product placement companies adding layers to programmes to allow viewers to find out about, or purchase, things as they appear on screen.

It’s equally possible that future storylines or whole shows might be adapted to take account of the revenue-earning potential of product lines like clothes, for instance.

Beyond commercial applications, there is also the possibility of driving deeper engagement with factual or news programmes.

Some of you may remember that a few years ago we ran trials of an Interactive 10 O’Clock news using “red button” digital services to add extra information to selected top stories.

Bandwidth constraints and the inherent limitations of digital text display made it an interesting if ultimately failed experiment.

iPTV now offers the chance to make a far richer, more engaging experience.

At its most basic level, it could involve adding extra explainers around terms commonly used though, perhaps, rarely understood, in Parliamentary reports, such as White Papers, Three-Line Whips and Early Day Motions.

The more technical language of business might also benefit from notes in the margin with options to toggle on or off as packages play-out, triggered by keywords in the audio track, or shown on a timeline.

Appending archive material, user generated content, a wider range of analysis and expert comment, additional images, maps, PDFs, and original documents are further possibilities.

As ever, the emerging options open up many new questions: Do people really want these extra layers? Does it make for a disjointed experience? Are we video-led or text led? Do we have to be both in which case what kind of content is it best-suited to serve? How can we keep a coherent thread to our storytelling? How much information is too much – when does it become overwhelming? What’s the overhead to all this extra packaging and who would do it?

Veeple’s CEO Scott Broomfield says the software is easy to use and “if you have ever put an image or an icon into a Powerpoint presentation…you know how to make your videos interactive.”

Jump to the 4’ 26” point in this video to see it in action.

The company has mobile versions of the software running on Android devices and it is working on alternatives for the iPhone and iPad.

Broomfield claims user click-through rates from interactive video are up to 10 times higher. And their software comes with a range of tools to measure engagement metrics.

With Google TV launching in the autumn in the US, and Apple’s renewed interest in Apple TV, innovations in this space are starting to gather pace.

This story goes to the heart of privacy and trust issues which are growing in volume as technology solves some problems while creating others.

Benefits of location-based services like Tom Tom are readily understood, while those from checking in to Gowalla or Foursquare are less obvious.

While the location data Apple is collecting is anonymous, there’s no opting out and, depending on your view of the potential benefits, it’s either no big deal or a creepy, unwelcome development.