With the rise of new players in the market such as the recently announced Disney+ streaming service and the long-awaited Apple content service (which reportedly will be offered free to Apple customers and be limited to PG-Rated content) things are set to change in the next few years.
Following Tuedays iPhone/Apple Watch launch event, Apple have quietly released new monthly iCloud storage plans. This is supposedly getting ready for the new ‘iCloud Drive‘ functionality which will be supported in the new iOS 8 & OSX Yosemite operating systems. This is expected to be a real step up for Apple’s cloud services which have faced criticism in the last few years; especially with strong competition from Google Drive, DropBox & Microsoft’s SkyDrive. If so, this is good news for existing Apple users.
A while ago, I was looking for a way to stream Movies and TV Shows stored on my hard drive to my bedroom TV.
There are a great range of set-top boxes available such as Roku, Apple TV, Now TV Box & Chromecast which allow access to streaming content such as Netflix; however none offer an easy way to stream your own content out of the box. Even with an Apple TV; you are obligated to use iTunes to manage your content. This is where Plex comes in.
So what is Plex?
Plex is an application for your Mac or Windows PC that allows you to stream content from your hard drive such as Movies, TV & Music to a variety of devices including iOS, Android, Roku & Chromecast. Streaming works on your local network but you can also view media remotely if you have a good enough connection speed.
Set-up is fairly simple once you have installed Plex on your main computer. You don’t have to add items manually; Plex will search through your files and pull information and artwork from the internet; in much the same way as when you import a CD into iTunes. It will even play the theme tune from TV shows in the background while you select episodes. The user interface is sleek, easy to use and allows you to sort and display your content in various ways.
iTunes music/videos/podcasts and iPhoto photos are fully supported and it can also access content from external channels such as YouTube and iTunes Movie Trailers as well as videos/photos from your mobile devices. The only downside is you can’t play movies bought or rented from the iTunes store.
The paid ‘PlexPass’ version includes extra features such as a ‘cinema mode‘ that will play trailers before films to create an enhanced home viewing experience. The free version works perfectly well without these features however so there is no need to purchase a pass. This has been a relatively stable and stress free way for me to stream my media around the house: I currently use it on an iPhone 5, MacBook Pro, Roku 3 Box & iPad Air and the interface and performance has been consistent across all platforms.
It is worth noting however performance will be dependant on the speed of your network and the speed of the computer you are using as the ‘Plex Server’ as it will use up Bandwidth and CPU.
..and ordered an iPhone 5.
I have had for several years a Blackberry Curve 9300. While it remains in my opinion a great phone for business use; it’s not great at anything else; the app selection for Blackberry is possibly the worst of all the platforms. Also, Blackberry syncing to Apple has been poor and as I use iCal and Mail regularly; in theory an iPhone should work a lot better for me.
I am expecting the biggest change will be moving to a touch phone and I may miss the keyboard on the blackberry. Also being stuck with 16GB capacity and not being able to upgrade with memory cards. Although as the trend is now towards Cloud-based services this becomes less of a problem. I will also miss the ability to edit Microsoft Office Documents.
I will write some posts on how I have found the transfer in the next few months.
Another major Steve Jobs bio-pic is also in development from Sony; and Steve Wozniak has lent his support to this project.
Which of these projects are you most excited to see?
I also recommend the 2009 ‘Mac Fan’ documentary ‘MacHeads’
Apple stores have been spoofed in a clever TV commercial for UK cider maker Somersby.