The UpStream

Xbox Live Adding 40 More Apps by Spring, Starting This Week

posted Sunday Dec 16, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox Live Adding 40 More Apps by Spring, Starting This Week

Just last week, we saw the end of the last batch of apps that were added to the Xbox 360. Naturally, that means it's time to announce a new lineup of media partners and content that will be added to the platform. It was announced that Xbox Live will feature 40 new global entertainment partners, including some that have already showed up on consoles everywhere.

We also learned that the time frame for this set will be between now and the spring of 2013. At least they're giving the launch dates some time, unlike the botched launch of three from the past list of apps.

Here's what's on the docket until spring:

  • All3M (United Kingdom, United States)
  • Ameba TV (Canada, United States)
  • ARTE (Germany, France)
  • Azteca (Mexico)
  • Canalplay Infinity (France)
  • CBC's Hockey Night (Canada)
  • CrunchyRoll (Majority of LIVE Regions)
  • Deezer (Majority of LIVE Regions)
  • Eredivisie Live (Netherlands)
  • Fightbox (Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom)
  • Flixster (United States)
  • GameTrailers (Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States)
  • Globosat Muu (Brazil)
  • Gulli Replay (France)
  • HBO Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
  • IndieFlix (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States)
  • Livesport.tv (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom)
  • Machinima (Majority of LIVE Regions)
  • Maxim (United States)
  • MTV (United States)
  • MyTF1 (France)
  • MyTF1VOD (France)
  • Napster (Germany, United Kingdom)
  • Pathe Thuis (Netherlands)
  • PBS (United States)
  • PopcornFlix (United States)
  • Rai TV (Italy)
  • Sainsbury (United Kingdom)
  • Saraiva (Brazil)
  • SBS (Netherlands)
  • SF Anytime (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
  • Slacker Radio (Canada, United States)
  • SPORT1 (Austria, Germany)
  • The CW Network (United States)
  • Televisa (Mexico)
  • TV3 (Spain)
  • Viaplay (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
  • Vidéo à la Demande d'Orange (France)
  • Vimeo (United States)
  • VIVO Play (Brazil)
  • Zattoo (Germany)
  • Ziggo (Netherlands)
Out of that list, we saw more than a handful of apps go live this week as well. Here's the rundown.

ARTE (Germany, France)

With the ARTE app on Xbox LIVE, you can watch an exciting mix of content from the Cultural TV station including documentaries, concerts and movies.

CinemaNow (Expanding to Canada)

CinemaNow is an Authenticated Video on Demand (AVOD) application providing customers with access to TV and Movie content previously purchased on CinemaNow.com.

CNET (United States, Canada)

CNET offers all the product reviews, technology shows and event coverage you love, now on Xbox LIVE. CNET helps you use technology to enhance and enrich your life. From specially curated content to advice, it's everything you need to buy and get the most out of tech that's right for you. Get the best in technology, right where you want it.

Karaoke (All LIVE regions, excluding Japan and United Arab Emirates)

Karaoke provides access to more than 8,000 songs from the latest hits to the oldies but goodies, available on Xbox LIVE. Your avatar will go on stage and sing with a full complement of stage props and back band. Use SmartGlass to play/stop/pause, browse the database and lyrics or to add songs to the playlist. Songs don't require any download and will playback immediately via streaming for a robust karaoke experience.

Maxim (United States)

Maxim delivers what guys want - beautiful women, cool gear and funny videos - to Xbox 360! From behind-the-scenes of Maxim's sexiest photo shoots to hilarious comedy originals to high-octane sports, it's the #1 destination for couch-bound men looking for a good time.

Napster (Germany, United Kingdom)

With your Xbox and Napster Unlimited plus Mobile, you can play millions of songs instantly. Listen to millions of songs in various genres, play as much as you want, enjoy hours of expertly programmed music. Discover new releases, charts and much more.

SkyDrive (All LIVE regions)

SkyDrive is the place to store your files so you can access them from virtually any device. With SkyDrive for Xbox, you can easily view your photos and videos on your TV. You can also play slideshows and view photos and videos shared with you. For more information, visit the Inside SkyDrive blog.

SPORT1 (Austria, Germany)

Enter the world of sports through your Xbox. The SPORT1 app provides Video-Sport-News, Livescores, Livestreams of popular sport events and access to Pay-TV Sports channel SPORT1+.

VEVO (Expanding to Spain, Italy & France)

With over 45,000 videos by 11,000 artists, VEVO is the world's leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform. Stream live concerts, watch exclusive programming and queue up all your favorite videos. VEVO is available in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The VEVO app for Xbox includes high-quality on demand music videos free to the user and allows social interactions between fans, VEVO, and users.

Zattoo (Germany)

The Zattoo app gives you access to free Live TV across 55 channels and an Electronic Program Guide. HiQ accounts feature quick, ad-free channel switches and higher quality streams (including HD), starting at 3.75 EUR per month. Additional premium TV channels, including Sports, Documentary, Kids, Music channels, and International packages are also available.

Have you used any of the apps already? Are there any on the list that you're excited for? For me, I'm already using the SkyDrive app, as I use it on almost every one of my PCs and laptops already. I also love the fact that the app as actually created from scratch by a team of six Microsoft interns, who created this complete piece of software over the summer, which was then handed off to Microsoft devs to touch up. Impressive. Anyway, we'll keep you posted as to what apps launch and when, and like I mentioned, we'll update everyone if we have another Manga mishap.

Ellen McLain to Revive GLaDOS as a Different Robot in Pacific Rim

posted Friday Dec 14, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Ellen McLain to Revive GLaDOS as a Different Robot in <i>Pacific Rim</i>

It appears that the worlds of nerd fandom and moviegoer have come together in the best way possible. This week, a trailer, screenshots and artwork was released for Pacific Rim, Warner Bros. new movie directed by Guillermo del Toro. Here's the synopsis for those who don't haven't heard about this movie yet.

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes - a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) - who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

So it seems like this is Cloverfield meets District 9 meets War of the Worlds, or something like that. Judging from the description and the trailer (after the break below), it's definitely something I'm interested in. Unfortunately, the movie is only be officially announced in the UK for the summer of 2013, leaving Americans everywhere left out. For now. I think after we learned a bit more about the movie this week, that we'll see it show up State-side, one way or another. Del Toro, being such a fan of Valve's work, specifically the Portal series, sought out Ellen McLain to voice a robot AI in the movie. While that is great, it gets better. Del Toro was so in love with her work as GLaDOS, that he asked her to use that same voice in his movie. So, McLain will be portraying GLaDOS as a different robot AI in Pacific Rim, with the same electronic filters we've come to know and love. On his love for Valve, del Toro said,

I'm a big fan of Valve. Portal and Left 4 Dead have been instrumental family experiences at my house.

Oh, and I forgot to mention this: the monster enters Earth from a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. You heard right, a portal. If that doesn't say that del Toro is in love with the series, I don't know what does. Anyway, you need to check out the trailer after the break and hear GLaDOS for yourself. It's only a small clip, but you get the gist of what's going to be her role. I can't wait for more.

Gabe Newell Says Steam Box Will Compete with Consoles for Living Room Entertainment

posted Sunday Dec 9, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Gabe Newell Says Steam Box Will Compete with Consoles for Living Room Entertainment

Gabe Newell, Valve's co-founder and managing director, has officially taken one too many medications. Either that, or he's finally snapped. I say this because he's been on a bit of a tear lately. First, Valve accidentally leaked some news about a rumored Steam Box, which is unusual for them, only for Gabe to turn around and deny it all. Then, Gabe said plainly that there would be no announcements at E3, only for the company to announce Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Since it happened the day before E3 officially started, we'll chalk that one up to a technicality. Lastly, he flat-out bashed the Windows 8 operating system during the Consumer Preview for being so different from Windows 7 that everything that was developed in the past five years would be time wasted. As an aside, earlier today I played Garry's Mod, Star Trek Online and Team Fortress 2 all on my upgraded Windows 8 Pro PC, via Steam, without any issues. Well, this week, he finally went overboard as Valve announced the nonexistant Steam Box, but also said that a PC is what everyone wants in their living room and it would take over consoles for both gaming and entertainment. Mr. Newell, I believe the Xbox 360 would first like to talk with you on being the center for all family gaming and entertainment, and they have NPD numbers to prove it.

It turns out that Gabe took the time at the Video Game Awards to officially say that the Steam Box hardware will be coming out and he believes it will be in every living room around the country. He also gives some interesting opinion as to why.

I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that (the PC is) a better environment for them. Cause they won't have to split the world into thinking about 'why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?' So in a sense we hopefully are gonna unify those environments.

Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment. If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room.

Okay, so clearly Gabe has become so disconnected from reality for such a long time that he is stuck in the past. Lately, the push has been to get away from having to have a computer in the living room. At the very most, consumers were getting by with their laptop, using WiDi (wireless display technology), to connect it to a TV to play their movies or show off some pictures. More and more often, however, we're seeing products being introduced at the International CES that allow that same user to use their smartphone or Xbox 360/PS3 to accomplish the same goal, cable and adapter free. Having to put another piece of hardware in an already crowded entertainment center, in this day in age, just seems like a waste of time and space unless you're a business person. And that's not who this box is for.

This box is for the gamer. Perhaps the hardcore ones would put it in their living room, so long as they own the house or apartment, because we know moms and dads won't let the 12 hour League of Legends session occur in place of primetime TV. At any rate, though, I suppose we should talk details. What we know is that we should see something around late June of next year, which will have the term "Steam Box," or something similar, be more of a certification of hardware than a Valve-created machine, although we'll see that, too. Third party manufacturers will have to design a rig that meets Valve's design and technical specifications, and will come with Steam pre-loaded. I wonder what operating system they will decide to load on it, since Gabe now despises Windows so much. I heard Steam on a Mac works just as well, with about 10% of the game catalog available, so that should be perfect for Windows gamers everywhere.

For the actual tech specs, Valve, per usual, kept that under wraps. I'm sure it will be something more powerful than current-gen consoles and probably a step more than what we'll see in the PS4 or Xbox 3 (I refuse to call it the 720, because that's dumb). Either way, I doubt we'll see it put an end to console gaming, which is what everybody seems to think. Console gaming is gaining more popularity because it's easier to do and there's no upkeep or upgrading involved in the process. You turn on the console, everyone has the same specs, and you play. There's no viruses, no upgrading every six months to a year and no difference in the machine itself. I think that will be what keeps console gaming strong and growing each month. However, I do know that I will still be purchasing SimCity in March and we won't be seeing that on any Xbox or PlayStation for some time.

What do you think? Will this kill off consoles? I'd love to hear someone factually defend the other side. Drop some knowledge in the comments below.

RockStar Consortium Members Reunite With a Surprising New Member

posted Sunday Dec 9, 2012 by Scott Ertz

RockStar Consortium Members Reunite With a Surprising New Member

It has been 16 months since Google's public breakdown after losing the Nortel patent auction to the RockStar Consortium. RockStar, if you remember, was the group formed by Apple, Microsoft and others to jointly bid on, and subsequently win, the auction. The breakdown came when Google realized they had been invited to join, but refused the offer, leading to their ultimate loss.

Well, the main players in the Consortium are back together and once again invited Google to join, this time to purchase Kodak's patents. Google, having learned their lesson previously, seems to have agreed and the three largest players in the tech industry will be bidding together to take ownership of Kodak's patent portfolio.

No, this joining did not quite work out as pleasantly as it would seem. In reality, Google did try and bid against Apple and Microsoft originally, with the backing of a patent firm and several Asian smartphone manufacturers. Unfortunately for Google, Apple and Microsoft also had an investment company with them: Intellectual Ventures, and the opening bids were pretty close. Finally, Google's group decided there was no winning against MicroApple and and the two groups merged.

While Apple's patent suit against Kodak has not made negotiations less tense, Kodak knows there is probably no interested group on the planet with as much money to throw at this purchase than this one. Also, no one has more at stake in this auction than Apple, Google and Microsoft, who produce the three remaining viable smartphone platforms in the world.

As far as I'm concerned, these three coming together on the patents means there will be no future war between them on the usage of the patents. All three can use their ownership percentage to shield their manufacturers from outsiders and everyone can continue to include ever-improving camera technology on their devices. It is a win for consumers, a win for the consortium and a win for the manufacturers. Maybe these three should work together to promote innovation instead of legal action more often.

Nintendo Sets Time-Range on 18+ rated eShop Purchases in Europe

posted Sunday Dec 9, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Nintendo Sets Time-Range on 18+ rated eShop Purchases in Europe

I don't exactly know what to do with this information, so I'll just get to it and let you decide. Nintendo of Europe has started preventing content rated 18+ from showing in the eShop, except during certain times. Those times? 11pm to 3am. Yes, that is right - if you want to purchase ZombiU, and we know you do, you cannot if it is during the day. It gets better, too. You cannot view the trailer, either.

A user, after experiencing the issue, contacted Nintendo. The company replied,

Dear customer,

We would like to let you know that Nintendo has always aimed to offer gameplay experiences suited to all age groups, observing carefully all the relevant regulations regarding content access that are present in the various European countries.

We have thus decided to restrict the access to content which is unsuitable to minors (PEGI) to the 11pm - 3am time window.

So, because children might see the content, the times are restricted to the exact times when children in the US, and therefore probably Europe, are most likely to be on their consoles playing games. Of course, no Nintendo customer has ever stayed up past their bed times to play videogames. I suppose that is only for Microsoft and Sony customers?

The best part - no amount of parental control settings will change it - the restriction is set in the store itself. That means, if you are a 24-year-old college student living in a dorm with no children anywhere around and want to play Assassin's Creed 3 for the first time between classes, you are totally out of luck.

So, after writing all of this, I still do not know what exactly to do with the information. Can anyone help me understand this? Please?

Virgin America Brings YouTube to In-Flight Televisions

posted Saturday Dec 8, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Virgin America Brings YouTube to In-Flight Televisions

As part of its commitment to expand its in-flight video offerings, Virgin America and YouTube have announced the availability of five high-profile YouTube channels on Virgin America flights. The content, provided to passengers for free, will be available on all US and Mexico flights whose planes are equipped with the video screens (about 25 percent of their fleet of planes).

While this certainly is a big expansion for Virgin America, it is also a big expansion for YouTube, which has never before had a distribution agreement with an airline. This brings the content to a very captive audience, who is desperately seeking distraction from the mundane event of flying. As someone who flies several times per year for the show, I can tell you the worst part of flying is trying to occupy yourself. We bring movies and books on tablets and laptops, but that requires prep work. Many times I have wanted to be able to watch my favorite YouTube channels or other online content, but am not really willing to pay for the Internet access (on those flights that require it). This is a great option, especially if you like those five channels.

Speaking of the channels, you are probably wondering who they are. Don't fret; I have the list right here! Blue (starring Julia Stiles) from WIGS, Crash Course from Geek & Sundry, H+ The Digital Series from Warner Bros., The Key of Awesome from Barely Political and Written by a Kid from Geek & Sundry. Obviously, in addition to YouTube, this is a huge deal for these content producers. With more distribution comes more viewers, and with more viewers comes more ad revenue.

Hopefully, as this program succeeds, YouTube and Virgin America will work together to bring more channels to the lineup. Obviously missing from the lineup is anything in the news chat category, including entertainment, technology, gaming or culture. I wonder where they could find a channel like that. Seriously, though, it would be good to see an expansion of categories offered, though it is a pretty exciting situation to have at least some of YouTube available to you for free on a flight.

Have you ever pined for free YouTube access on a flight? Let me know in the comments.

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