How to stream your video collection to any device

child-watches-television2

As great as Netflix is, movies and shows don’t stick around on the service forever. As licensing deals renew or expire, Netflix loses old videos and gains new ones—which means that, on any given day, you might look up your favorite TV show only to find it’s gone.

For a more reliable option, you could buy your favorite digital content from portals like iTunes or Google Play. But there is another solution: Set up your own version of Netflix. Simply store the videos you own on your home computer, and from there, you can stream that content to other devices around the house.

In proper technical parlance, you’re actually turning your computer into a server, something that “serves up” content for other devices, or “clients.” A client might be anything from your phone to the PlayStation 4 connected to your living room TV.

A few years ago, you pretty much needed a degree in IT to get everything connected. Today, the Windows and Mac operating systems, as well as third-party apps, make it relatively easy to set up your own streaming service from the comfort of home.

How to stream your video collection to any device

New Apple Products Have the Right Gaming Stuff

2016-09-21-09

Apple is making a bid to attract gaming fans to the more powerful graphics and processing power embedded in its new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 products.

The iPhone 7, which became available on Friday, features the new A10 Fusion chip — the most powerful ever in a smartphone, according to the company. The CPU fuses two high-performance cores that run twice as fast as the iPhone 6 with much more efficient use of battery power. The phone’s improved graphics performance makes it suitable for more intensive gaming.

In a surprise appearance at the Apple event, Nintendo Creative Fellow Shigeru Miyamoto (pictured above), the legendary game designer behind the Donkey Kong and Super Mario franchises, introduced Super Mario Run — the first mobile version of the iconic game, which will make its debut on iPhone 7.

“We want as many people as possible all around the world to be able to enjoy playing as Mario,” he told the audience through a translator.

Smartphone makers often use mobile games as a way to showcase the latest advances in hardware and performance capabilities, noted Jack Kent, director of operators and mobile media at IHS Markit. However, the jury is still out on how much gaming apps influence new sales.

“A more common hardware feature that drives new smartphone purchases is the camera — which Apple devoted a lot of attention to at its launch event,” Kent told TechNewsWorld.

Game developers likely will have a wait-and-see attitude about writing new apps for the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch, said Lewis Ward, research director for gaming at IDC.

“It’s always a chicken-or-egg issue for third-party developers. The new tech is sexy, and you want to take advantage of the available enhancements,” he told TechNewsWorld, “but the installed base starts off so small that you’d blow a hole in your foot — or at least your P&L statement — if you developed a game that ran on the latest iPhone or Apple Watch.

New Apple Products Have the Right Gaming Stuff

Steam Blows Off Aggrieved Indie Dev

2016-09-21-05Independent video game developer Digital Homicide Studios on Monday posted a response to its ban from Valve Corporation’s digital distribution platform Steam.

Valve banned the development studio this weekend, after Digital Homicide reportedly initiated legal action against 100 users who had posted negative reviews of its games.

Digital Homicide resorted to lawsuits after Steam failed to resolve abuse issues that had arisen concerning those users of the Steam community, according to the Digital Homicide post. The game developer further accused Valve of ignoring threats posted on Steam’s forums.

Valve has delisted all of Digital Homicide’s games from Steam — including Paranormal Psychosis, Gnarltoof’s Revenge and Krog Wars.

Valve claimed Digital Homicide had been hostile to Steam customers, noting that the lawsuit against Steam users demands approximately $18 million in damages.

The digital distribution platform apparently is sticking with its customers, even if not directly defending their alleged actions.

In its lawsuit, Digital Homicide claims that the defendants’ actions resulted in lost business, among other negative consequences.

User reviews have become a staple of e-commerce in recent years, and that typically means accepting the good with the bad. The question in this case appears to be whether the defendants’ actions constituted cyberbullying or other illegal forms of online harassment.

Steam Blows Off Aggrieved Indie Dev

Miyamoto on why Mario is finally coming to smartphones

2016-09-09-08

Miyamoto said that the iPhone version of Mario’s latest gaming adventure, called Super Mario Run, has been a year in the making. The delay in bringing the jumping character – originally called Jumpman – to a smartphone was “because up until recently we found that mobile devices weren’t best suited to gaming. But that’s changing.”

VR not quite the right fit for Mario

Asked if he was bringing Mario to the newest gaming platform, virtual reality, Miyamoto said that VR wasn’t quite the right fit.

“I would agree that adapting Mario to new platforms is a key to keeping him relevant,” he said. “But we want families to play together, and virtual reality (which requires players to be closed off from the real world) doesn’t really fit well there. We also like people playing for a long time, and it’s hard to do that in VR.”

Miyamoto on why Mario is finally coming to smartphones

Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music

2016.09.01 02

Amazon is planning two music subscription services, according to rumors that began circulating last week. One is a US$10 a month offering that is similar to Spotify and Apple Music, and the other is a $4-$5 a month cut-rate service available only on Amazon’s Echo device.

Amazon reportedly wants to launch both in September, but it has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers, or to settle on pricing for the Echo-only service, which will be ad-free and offer unlimited music on demand.

Eighty-seven percent of smartphone owners aged 18 to 29 who participated in a recent Pew survey said they had listened to an online radio or music service on their phone, while 41 percent of those aged 50 and above had done so.

“The upside to streaming services is you’re not tied to a device — your music is anywhere that you are,” noted Mike Goodman, a research director at Strategy Analytics.

“If the service works only on an Amazon Echo, the user’s now tied down to a single location, and while it may cost less, it will also be less functional,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Amazon “wants to sell things retail, and Echo is its way to integrate retail into people’s daily activities,” he pointed out. “If I were Pandora, I wouldn’t worry about this, but, if I were Target, I would.”

Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music

YouTube’s app for the big screen is being updated today

2016.08.29 05

YouTube may have originated on the desktop (more than a decade ago!), but now mobile and the living room are two of its most important platforms. The latter is receiving an update today: Game consoles, streaming devices like Roku, smart TVs and of course the Chromecast will all get a small but important change. Now, when you load up YouTube, you’ll be presented with a variety of different content tabs right at the top of the interface. It’s now much easier to flip through topics like sports, news, comedy, music, entertainment and so forth.

Google previously had similar categories hidden in the left-side menu bar, but the company thinks that moving them front and center will help users find content faster and keep them watching longer. The categories themselves have also been refined a bit, with some new additions and subtractions getting to the 14 total you’ll find now. It’s something YouTube has been working on ever since it started designing its own consistent interface across the big screen in 2013. Previously, YouTube had an open API that device makers could tap into and make their apps, but that led to inconsistent experiences and new features being left behind.

YouTube’s app for the big screen is being updated today

Leap Motion wants picking up VR objects to feel believable

2016.08.29 03

Virtual reality is more immersive when you can pick up objects with your bare hands, rather than a controller or a pair of wand-style remotes. Leap Motion is one of the frontrunners in this area, having pivoted its candy bar motion-tracking sensor from desktop accessory to VR headset companion. To raise interest in the product — which you still have to attach manually to an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive — it’s developed a new piece of software called the “Interaction Engine.” Available as an add-on for Unity, it promises a more realistic experience while interacting with make-believe objects.

The big problem, Leap Motion argues, is that traditional game engines weren’t designed with human hands in mind. We move in sudden, unpredictable ways, gripping objects with different levels of proficiency. When you pick up a sponge, for instance, it should flex and compress in the places where your fingers are exerting pressure. In VR, these nuances are difficult to track and simulate. If you push a rubber ball against the floor, for instance, most physics engines will be overwhelmed and send the sphere flying in a weird, unrealistic direction. The Interaction Engine solves this issue by implementing “an alternate set of physics rules” which trigger whenever your hands are touching or “inside” a virtual object.

Leap Motion wants picking up VR objects to feel believable

YouTube Just Created a New TV App For Cord-Cutting Viewers

FRANCE-INTERNET-TECHNOLOGY-LEWEB12
A picture shows a You Tube logo on December 4, 2012 during LeWeb Paris 2012 in Saint-Denis near Paris. Le Web is Europe’s largest tech conference, bringing together the entrepreneurs, leaders and influencers who shape the future of the internet. AFP PHOTO ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

YouTube’s smart TV views have doubled since 2015.

YouTube has revamped the services it offers on its standalone smart TV app to better accommodate users watching on devices like Apple TV and Roku.

The Google-owned web video site today released its new smart TV app with a simpler, more streamlined interface to help viewers more quickly find the videos they love to watch on the Tube.

“We are investing to deliver a lean back experience through recommendations,” the company told Fortune via email. “This will be available today in the YouTube app in smart TVs, game consoles, and streaming boxes in the US, but we plan to roll out to more countries in the future.”

The company points out more than half of the 18-to-49-year-old users it recently surveyed in the U.S. said they have watched YouTube videos on their televisions. And since 2015, Tube viewers have doubled the amount of time they spend watching videos on the app.

YouTube Just Created a New TV App For Cord-Cutting Viewers

As casual gamers move to mobile, Facebook eyes the hardcore crowd

Blake Soberanis

In May, Facebook announced it would release a downloadable desktop app for games—a new competitor for PC gaming platforms like Steam. And last week, Facebook said it was teaming up with Unity, a popular game development system, to make it easy for Unity developers to release games to the new platform.

If Facebook is looking to expand into the more hardcore PC gaming market while staying relevant on the web, Unity makes sense. The system’s major selling point is that a developer can use it to make one game and distribute it to multiple platforms, including PCs, Macs, consoles, mobile devices–and the web browser as well.

Upon the launch of its new app, Facebook may very well focus on casual games, but the Unity partnership indicates that larger, more traditional PC games could be on the menu as well. Games made with Unity range from simple to highly complex, and many—such as the Kerbal Space Program—have been big hits on Steam, which is the most prominent platform for PC gaming.

As casual gamers move to mobile, Facebook eyes the hardcore crowd

PlayStation Now game streaming is coming to PC

2016.08.24 03

Get ready to play Uncharted on your computer: Sony has revealed that PlayStation Now game streaming is coming to PCs. The company says that PS Now will be available “overseas in parts of Europe soon and will come to North America shortly thereafter.” Sony recommends the following specs if you plan to partake in the service on your desktop:

  • Windows 7 (SP1), 8.1 or 10
  • 3.5 GHz Intel Core i3 or 3.8 GHz AMD A10 or faster
  • 300 MB or more; 2 GB or more of RAM
  • Sound card; USB port

As part of the announcement, Sony also revealed a new wirelss USB adaptor to connect a DualShock 4 controller to a Mac or PC. It’ll be available next month for $24.99.

PS Now — which lets you stream hundreds of PS3 games for $19.99 a month — originally debuted on the PlayStation 4, before expanding to other platforms as well, including non-Sony hardware like Samsung smart TVs. PS Now currently features more than 400 games to stream, and while there’s some filler, that also includes big franchises like Ratchet & Clank, Resident Evil, God of War, and Uncharted.

Today’s news means that it’ll be the first time that the likes of Kratos and Nathan Drake grace a PC in playable form.

PlayStation Now game streaming is coming to PC