Streaming Apps

When Will the Streaming Bubble Burst?

It’s safe to say that film and TV streaming has had a remarkable impact on the media we consume. The draw of “watch anywhere” entertainment has become a fairly everyday concept, though the initial benefit of streaming services was the provision of a simple, one-stop alternative to expensive cable TV packages. However, with so many providers offering such a wide selection of original programming, it may appear that we have now come full circle.

The greatest issue with the current streaming landscape is the expanding wealth of original content that these providers are producing. There shouldn’t be any real reason to complain about such a range of high-quality films and television shows that are currently being produced, but in order to gain access to every “must watch” piece of content, viewers are shelling out a notable monthly bill.

For example, if you want watch shows like The Witcher, Stranger Things, and The Crown in high definition, as well as original, Oscar nominated features like The Irishman and Marriage Story, you’ll need a Netflix subscription priced at $12.99 a month. Want to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys and The Man in the High Castle? That’s another $12.99 for Prime Video. Add in a $6.99 Disney Plus subscription to watch The Mandalorian, $5.99 for basic Hulu to watch The Handmaid’s Tale and The Act, and $4.99 to watch Servant, The Morning Show and See on Apple TV+ – all together you’re spending just under $44 a month.

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This issue isn’t necessarily unique to TV and film services either. Music streaming platforms have been known to release exclusive, or at least timed-exclusive, albums and singles by world-renowned stars such as Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Drake. Although exclusivity is less common on audio platforms, true music fanatics may need subscriptions to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Deezer just to get their fill. Subscription costs also cause problems for sports fans looking to catch up on every game, while the issue of exclusive content is nothing new to the world of video games.

This is not to say that any streaming provider has completely secured the market though. November 2019 saw Disney Plus launch in the U.S. with much anticipated Star Wars spinoff, The Mandalorian, however the platform’s global launch has not yet been completed. The U.K., for example, won’t be able to access the service until the very end of March 2020. As a result, experts have predicted The Mandalorian will become the most pirated series in history, as there are only so many out of context Baby Yoda memes international fans can put up with. For those with the know-how, as well as a disregard for international piracy laws, no content is ever “exclusive”.

The question is what will subscription fees have to rise to before consumers decide it’s too much? Netflix currently has the largest library of original content, going for a very “quantity over quality” approach whilst still producing some very highly rated programming, and despite offering a number of different pricing structures which each provide varying levels of access, it is, on average, one of the most expensive. It therefore seems that Netflix is aware that consumers won’t just gladly subscribe to multiple services, instead banking on the fact that they will pay for just Netflix content, in order to justify semi-regular subscription fee increases and potentially eliminating demand for the competition.

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So could a cross-platform service ever be a possibility? Considering these original series and films are largely being produced by the streaming services themselves, it’s unlikely we will see any bundled options in the near future. Netflix is hardly keen to begin allowing its shows on Apple TV+ when it uses them to justify its own fees. Some shows do have contracts set up between streamers and traditional networks, particularly when it comes to international broadcasting – for example, new episodes of The Good Place air on NBC in the U.S. and are uploaded to Netflix in the U.K. on the same day – but there is little chance of streamers offering such services on a wider scale in a domestic setting.

This all leaves the average viewer in a difficult position – either subscribe to as many services as budget will allow, go without some and make do with missing the next show everyone talks about, or take to the torrent networks. Alternatively, viewers could chose to start and stop subscriptions across platforms as they see necessary, potentially taking advantage of free trials and offers where possible, but this is hardly the best option for either the consumer or the service provider. The reality is that viewers are currently at the whim of the service providers, and the only way to get their attention is to cut them off at the bank.

Apple TV

Apple TV Plus: Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s Streaming Service

Streaming services have been taking over the world of entertainment. Ever since Netflix converted to be exclusively an internet provided source of movies and television shows, cable TV has become more and more obsolete. Now, major companies all over want a piece of the action, and with Netflix constantly raising its monthly prices and dropping content that viewers want to see, there’s never been a better time to try to steal those loyal customers. 

Apple has been one of the biggest names, alongside Disney, HBO, and NBC, to announce their new streaming service. Apple TV Plus is set to launch on November 1st for $5 a month. According to CNET News, the company announced their service at an event in March, but didn’t give further details until the recent iPhone event this past September. The event confirmed that Apple has a $6 billion budget to gain access to Hollywood’s best movies, TV shows, and actors for original content. The most popular being the Apple TV Plus original series The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carrell, which is set to premiere around the same time at the service launch. 

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Steven Spielberg speaks during Apple TV+ Launch

According to CNET’s coverage of the Apple TV Plus announcement at the September iPhone event, “Apple TV Plus will launch with nine confirmed titles, including a post-apocalyptic thriller starring Jason Momoa, a comedy about poet Emily Dickinson starring Hailee Steinfeld and a book-focused series with Oprah Winfrey called Oprah’s Book Club. After launch, the nine programs will be expanded by another five that Apple confirmed it will add in the following months.” 

Apple added that all original series will, for the most part, be uploaded to the service with the first three episodes of a given season, but also some will pull a Netflix and just upload the entire season at once for a proper binging experience. Like Netflix, the service will be a monthly cost and the shows will have no commercials. The service will be available on your Apple TV in the official Apple TV App, you can experience it with a seven day free trial before committing, in addition if you buy an apple device (iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc.) within the next year you’ll get a full year of Apple TV Plus for free. 

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Steve Carell, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston during event launching Apple TV+

According to CNET the service will be available in 100 countries and will also include a family plan feature allowing five users to be on the same plan at once. At $5 a month it lands Apple at one of the cheapest newer streaming services, which could greatly work in its favor. Compared to Disney who’s streaming service will be available on November 12th and will cost $7 a month, HBO Max and other cable based services like Starz range from $9-$15 depending on the plan. As stated before Netflix takes the prize for most expensive at a whopping $13 a month, with its current competitor, Hulu, not too far behind at $12 a month. Hulu, however, offers discounted plans that include other perks like Spotify premium. It’s lower price point and high budget puts Apple TV Plus as one of the new services to look at for in terms of which one you’re going to give your money too. 

So many networks and companies are attempting to enter into the streaming entertainment field due to cable television and on demand movies growing more and more obsolete. Cable networks such as NBC and CBS have announced their own services in order to increase viewership, but what all these companies aren’t aware of is too much of a good thing, isn’t a good thing. The reality is within the next decade people are most likely going to stop watching regular cable all together. It’s up to the networks to decide how to make a service the most accessible with the most enjoyable content that they know viewers will want to see. Apple has a good shot with such a low price point and high budget potential for many well known shows and movies to be added to its service. However, the next year will be crucial for all of these services and how well they do. Costs will most likely be cut, arguments over who gets the rights to what will ensue, and overall people just might lose interest in a particular brand of service. Overall, TV viewers and movie buffs alike have a huge year ahead of them when it comes to home entertainment, and only time will tell what service will come out on top. 

iPhone 3

Apple Unveils New iPhone During Yearly Press Event

Today, Apple made a number of announcements at its yearly press event, including a new gaming service called Apple Arcade, the launch date and price of its Apple tv+ streaming service, upgrades to its iPad and Apple watch devices, as well as the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The event began with the announcement of Apple’s new Arcade service, a subscription-based service for the App Store, which allows users to download unlimited games of a variety of genres for a monthly fee. The service launches with a number of games from partners such as Konami and Capcom, including an updated version of the classic game Frogger called Frogger in Toy Town, a side-scrolling action-adventure game about navigating underwater caves called Into the Depths, and Sayonara Wild Hearts, a rhythm-based racing game described as a “playable music video.” The service launches on September 19th in over 150 countries, and will cost $4.99 per month for a family subscription, including a 1-month free trial.

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Next, Apple discussed Apple tv+, a streaming video service meant to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime video. The service will feature exclusive television programs such as For All Mankind, Dickinson, and the Morning Show, and a drama film starring Jason Mamoa about a distant future in which human beings have lost the ability of vision, called “See.” Apple tv+ will launch on November 1st, and like Apple Arcade, will cost $4.99 per month, and any purchase of a new iMac, Apple TV, or iPhone will include a year of the service for free.

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Apple transitioned into focusing on their hardware releases, starting with the new 7th generation iPad. This upgrade includes a larger and higher-resolution 10.2” display and an upgraded chipset. Additionally, the new iPad is compatible with an optional case accessory that includes a full-sized keyboard, introducing much of the functionality of a laptop. The new iPad also supports software improvements, including improvements to multitasking, a floating keyboard, and compatibility with accessories like SD cards and thumbdrives. The Apple Pencil also sees added functionality, such as a streamlined ability to annotate screenshots. Apple touted accomplishments in more environmentally-friendly manufacturing, and announced the base model iPad would cost $329.

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Next, Apple discussed the Apple watch. The company shared a video featuring stories of the Apple Watch’s lifesaving EKG capabilities, which alerts users to health emergencies and can automatically call emergency services in the event of a fall. Additionally, the company discussed the ways in which collecting data about users’ health contributes to research in fields such as cardiovascular fitness, hearing damage, and women’s health. Apple watch users can opt-in to share their health data with these research programs if they’d like to help improve the field of medical science.

The company then introduced the next generation of the Apple Watch, the series 5. The new version of the product features an always-on display, leveraging advancements in power-saving technology to maintain an 18-hour battery life. Additionally, the new watch includes a built-in compass and improvements to its safety features, such as international emergency calling. The new watch cases are made of 100% recycled aluminum, and other options for materials include stainless steel, ceramic, and titanium, and a variety of watch straps. The company again touted its environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes, and announced the base series 5 model will cost $399, whereas the price of the series 3 watch was dropped to $199.

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Then, Apple discussed the newest addition to its flagship line of products, the iPhone. The newest iPhone, the iPhone 11, features an improved camera and comes in a variety of colors. Apple claims that the all-glass construction is the strongest glass in the industry. The phone’s two-camera design features a main lens and an ultra-wide lens, and leverages software improvements for enhanced image processing, including more accurate depth-of-field simulation and better pictures in low-light environments. Additionally, users can take advantage of 4K video capabilities at 60 frames per second, image stabilization, and high dynamic range. The phone also includes an improved front-facing camera, with a wider depth of field and higher resolution.

Afterwards, the company discussed the improvements to its processor, called the A13 chip, which it claims is the fastest CPU ever in a smartphone. The company also showcased its new GPU, offering console-quality graphics, with an adventure game developed by a third-party called Pascal’s Wager. Apple also announced improvements to the new iPhone’s battery life and touted the device’s durability and water-resistance. The iPhone 11 will be offered at a base price of $699, following a trend of reduced prices for their products throughout the presentation.

The company also announced the iPhone 11 Pro, which it described as a product for power users and professionals. The device is constructed from durable stainless steel, and features an additional third camera on the rear. The iPhone 11 Pro comes in two sizes, and features a high-resolution OLED panel, which it calls the Super Retina XDR display. The phone’s chipset is called the A13 Bionic, is capable of 1 trillion operations per second, and features hardware specifically designed for machine learning and power efficiency.

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The iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max features a battery life 4 and 5 hours longer than the previous model devices, respectively. The device’s third camera, with a telephoto lens. enables what Apple calls professional-grade photography by introducing 4x optical zoom, and showcased photographs taken by professional photographers on the iPhone 11 Pro. The new phone includes a technology which Apple calls Deep Fusion, which combines nine pictures taken in quick succession using a neural engine to produce a higher-quality result. Additionally, Apple showcased video taken by a professional cinematographer with the device to emphasize its 4k, 60 frames per second video recording capability, and showcased the wide selection of photography and videography apps available for the device.

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The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will cost $999 and $1099, respectively, and will be available starting on September 20th. Apple concluded by discussing changes to its Apple retail locations, including a greater number of customization options for the Apple watch, the Apple Trade In option for device upgrades, and a redesign of the company’s 5th avenue location in New York City. 

Overall, the presentation represented a renewed effort by the company to present more affordable devices while responding to some of the criticisms of the previous generation of products. Throughout the event, Apple emphasized their commitment to environmentally-friendly business practices, and focused mainly on improvements to camera quality, battery life, and durability. While all of Apple’s announcements today represent a clear improvement of their device line up, the program offered few surprises, and no major launches of new product categories, with no mention whatsoever of the company’s desktop and laptop offerings. However, consumers are likely to respond positively to the products announced today, as the improved performance and reduced price of the overall lineup will be hard for competitors to beat.