Roku Adds “Barker” Channel For Spotlighting Channels

Roku has officially added a new “barker” channel to its library of over 1600 apps and channels. Apparently, the purpose of this new channel is to select a few particular channels into the spotlight every week.

Barker Channel added to RokuThe name formally given by Roku to its innovative new channel is “The Roku Recommends Channel.” The channel was initially offered in the United States. Roku claims the point of the new channel is to essentially find and highlight “hidden gems” within the streaming media player’s largely extensive channel store.

These highlighted “gems” will include channels about anything and everything such as TV episodes, movies, fitness and/or cooking videos, and even tips on manoeuvring through the streaming platform.

Roku posted on its blog about the new feature. The Roku Recommends channel is reloaded with a fresh set of channels each week. The company has taken on Ellen Fox to be the host of new “barker” channel’s segments. Ellen Fox is an actress who appears on both “The Rotten Tomatoes Show” as well as “Wizard Wars” on the Syfy channel.

The very first episode of the Roku Recommends channel is holiday-themed  and features content from both the Screen Dreams Fireplaces channel (a channel offering seven different yule log options) and the HolidayKitchen.tv channel.

This newly offered Roku Recommends channel is being made available on all of the current version Roku streaming media player models and Roku TV models that were released after June of 2011.

The new channel offers Roku a alternate means of driving advertising revenue. The content for the “barker” channel is “editorially-driven” by the official team of Roku editors. A Roku official claims that the media streaming company utilizes an editorial process that locates and then spotlights the best content and channels available on the Roku player.

The primary purpose of the Roku Recommends channel is to essentially enable Roku users to discover the extent of all the entertainment currently available in the vast Roku library.

Comcast – Now Allowing Customers To Stream HBO Go and Showtime Anytime on Roku

If you happen to be a Comcast Infinity customer who also owns a Roku streaming device, you’ll be happy to hear that the two companies have recently made an agreement that will allow both HBO and Showtime subscribers to download and run the HBO Go and Showtime Anytime apps from the channel store on their Roku players. Roku updated its blog post with a confirmation of the deal on Tuesday.

Roku now streaming ComcastBefore this new conformity between Comcast and Roku, the cable access company had allowed its subscribers to use their mobile devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets) to access HBO Go, but not any TV-connected devices. Verizon Fios, ATT U-verse and DirecTV were just some of the many major TV providers who were already supported on the Roku when the agreement was ultimately reached.

Apparently, The HBO Go app has been available on the Roku streaming device since 2011. However, in order for users to actually be able to run the app, it had to be authenticated with the channel’s coinciding TV provider. Until now, Comcast had denied that authentication ability to its customers.

Recently Comcast has been looking into merging with Time Warner Cable, a TV provider who is already supported by Roku. This fact along with Roku’s complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may have led to the cable company’s decision to join the growing list of TV providers whose are already supported on the streaming media player.

Sony PS3s, Amazon Fire TVs and Samsung smart TVs are still on Comcast’s “blocked” list, although the cable company claims they are in the process of conducting product and platform evaluations for those particular streaming devices. They will likely be forming a similar deal with the cable company in the near future.

A spokesperson for Roku stated that company is glad to be able to bring the long-awaited feature to Comcast Xfinity TV customers.

 

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Source URLS:
1.) http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/Roku/Comcast/XFINITY/Cable/HBO_Go/showtime-anytime/Game_of_Thrones/homeland/shameless/true-detective/comcast-customers-can-now-stream-hbo-go-showtime-anytime-on-roku-devices/20105
2.) https://gigaom.com/2014/12/16/comcast-customers-can-finally-watch-hbo-go-on-their-rokus/
3.) http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/12/comcast-to-stop-blocking-hbo-go-and-showtime-on-roku-streaming-devices/

WhatsApp App Coming As An Web Client – Maybe

When it comes to mobile messaging apps, WhatsApp has a significant share of 600 million users. However on the web, the app is behind its competition. Popular messaging services like Telegram, Viber, Line and WeChat all have web messaging applications with the exception of WhatsApp.

WhatsAppAs Netherlands-based AndroidWorld reports that, WhatsApp could be looking to change that. It says that the company is possibly in the works for a web client for its native mobile application.

This speculation is supported by the discovery of a string of code in version 2.11.471 of the app, which mentions “WhatsApp Web” and logging activity of computers in and out of the client. Latest tracking activity in web sessions is also shown in the code.

Strings of code is not the only evidence found pointing towards WhatsApp Web.

Pavel Durov, founder of Telegram, told TechCrunch earlier this week that WhatsApp tried to take over one of its web developers. This led to the circulation of rumours that WhatsApp could be working on a web client.

AndroidWorld.nl has found through further investigation that WhatsApp has a dedicated domain for a web client.

“We still were curious about what the site was going to be and we have assumed some further research,” writes (translated) AndroidWorld. “The first guess was an instant hit; the website http://web.whatsapp.com appeared to exist but is protected and can only be signed by a Google account.”

The blog says that the web client’s address has been around since Oct 30.

The Web client domain uses a Google account for sign-in purposes, instead of Facebook. The social network purchased the messaging app for $19 billion. AndroidWorld.nl reports that a technique similar to what Telegram uses will be used to verify the user’s identity.

In the December 11th version of WhatsApp, all references to WhatsApp Web were removed. Regarding a timeline for when users can expect the web client, the Dutch blog said that the evidence is “very limited”.

Roku And Rdio Expand Their Partnership

On December 10, 2014, Rdio, one of largest music streaming services in the world, announced its partnership expansion with Roku. The expansion introduces new enhancements to the Rdio app that make accessing and using it on the Roku easier and more convenient than ever before.

Roku and RdioRoku customers in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada will all be able to take advantage of these new features on Rdio’s free internet radio stream and the app’s paid on-demand subscription service.

Roku customers can instantly access the Rdio channel’s 30+ million song library from the newly added Rdio shortcut button that will now appear on the Roku remote controls. This button will appear on the following Roku models: Roku 3, the Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version) and Roku TV models in the US.

Also included in these new enhancements is integrated billing for paid Rdio subscribers and more convenient upgrades for any free ad-supported Rdio users interested in the benefits of upgrading to a paid subscription. All billing and payments can be conveniently performed via customer Roku accounts.

Another result of this expansion is that Rdio is now the default channel whenever any new Roku activation processes take place. This makes it easier for customers to add the Rdio channel to their Roku home screen. Also, until December 31st, all new Roku player or Roku TV model purchases and activations will come with a free 2-month Rdio Unlimited subscription.

Rdio was originally founded in August 2010 by Janus Friis, who is also a co-creator of Skype. The Rdio headquarters is located in San Francisco, CA.

Netflix Hits Back At FCC Commissioner Pai

Last week, FCC Commissioner Arjit Pai accused Netflix of working on securing Internet “fast-lanes” for its streaming service. The online media distribution website had initially declined to comment but has now hit back at Pai.

Netflix vs the FCCThe company claims that the controversial “Open Connect” caching tools, an open-source technology, will not give it an advantage over its video content and will protect the privacy of its customers.

Regarding interconnection, Netflix currently pays some Internet Service Providers to directly host its online content on private networks. The company has previously raised issue that under Net Neutrality it should not have to pay these fees and that interconnections should be regulated. However to ensure short-term connectivity to its customers, Netflix will pay.

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Sony Suspends Filming In Wake Of Hacker Attack

Due to the recent attack by a hacker cell that has allegedly been linked to North Korea, Sony Pictures has had no choice but to shut down all of its movie filming.

Sony PicturesBecause the attack left its computer networks disabled, the entertainment industry giant cannot process any payments nor make any transactions. This issue has caused third party film shoot cancellations.

Apparently, the group of hackers, who refers to themselves as “The Guardians of Peace,” or GoP are aiming to prevent the release of Sony Pictures upcoming movie called “The Interview”. In the movie, which is due to open in the US on December 25th of this year, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is assassinated. Sources believe this may be part of the motivation behind the chain of crippling hacker attacks on the popular film company.

The hacking cell reportedly disabled ITS security measures and disabled key elements of the Sony network. The hackers also stole a lot of valuable info, including private emails and confidential movie data. As if adding insult to injury, the hackers have been leaking a steady flow of some of the stolen info, including a number of embarrassing emails containing “sensitive” comments made about a number of celebrities.

Also obtained in the vicious hack, was every email of every single employee of Sony from the last 10 years, the salary of nearly every employee, and future movie plans. What this essentially means is that these information “leaks” could go on for weeks or possibly even months.

The FBI is currently investigating the attack, with suspicions falling on North Korea due to the highly destructive malware having been written in Korean.