iPhone Media Downloads – is Apple Stupid, Evil, or Weak?

As a new owner of an iPhone, I am very happy with the whole experience. The device is great.
As a media geek, I’m finding it difficult to something basic. And Apple seems to be working against me. Here’s what’s frustrating:

I want to be able to update the media on my iPhone over-the-air. I want my Podcasts to be updated automatically, without having to sync with my PC. I also want to be able to email radio shows automatically recorded as MP3 files (using Replay A/V) to my iPhone, and then play them. (Think TiVo for the radio – on your phone!) For me, this would be the coolest. But no luck 🙁

On the Podcast side, an app called Podcaster promised to do just that sort of thing, but was rejected from the Apple store for no apparent reason.

On the Radio show side, Replay A/V is able to send me emails with links to download radio shows automatically recorded by my home PC. I was hoping to be able to send myself radio shows to listen to on my iPhone. But alas, Safari is “unable to download” files from these links. (The links are generated by YouSendIt, which is integrated into Replay A/V).

So, here are my theories:

Stupidity: Is Apple so dumb as to disallow significant over-the-air media transfers for no good reason?

Evil: Is Apple disabling this capability in order to enable their own service?

Weak: Is Apple being bullied by AT&T to disallow too much 3G data traffic? (Another app that let you use your iPhone as a laptop modem was also killed by Apple.)

This is also puzzling given the Pandora player, which is also a media downloader, and works great on the iPhone. There’s no way Apple could kill the Pandora app though, as it would create a huge outrage.
These uncertainties should be troubling to anyone seriously considering developing media enabled apps for the iPhone. And the authoritarian, opaque, random policies behind the app store really need to end, otherwise all the development talent will go to Android or some other truly open platform, the coolness of the iPhone notwithstanding.

Article on Downloading Amazon VOD Videos

Technology often moves faster than the news! Here’s an example:

We were featured in an article done by Reuters on September 26, mentioning how Replay Media Catcher was able to download movies from Amazon’s new VOD (Video on Demand) service.

Apparently, Amazon was asked for comment, and shortly before the article hit the wires, they had updated their system, making Replay Media Catcher (for now anyway) unable to record. Other aspects in the article are still valid though, but Amazon was a particularly big part of the story.

Nevertheless, there are other ways to record from Amazon — we recommend WM Capture. As this is a real-time high-quality recorder that works by capturing videos directly off of your PC’s screen, there’s no way it can be blocked.
The other interesting thing is how the story got going in the first place, which we’re still trying to figure out. Stay tuned!

Nice review of Applian’s products

I usually don’t blog back on any reviews of our products, but It’s My Take had a nice personal touch I couldn’t resist mentioning.

The money quote:

We should all be grateful to companies like Applian for bringing technology and culture to our doorsteps. These are truly creative and innovative people who still produce a real product, the kind of people who had made this country great. Compared to the parasites on Wall Street, whose only motivation seems to be greed and who are quickly bringing us to our destruction, they’re like a beacon of light. We’re powerless, I’m afraid, when it comes to repairing our economic foundations. Thanks to Applian Technologies, however – and all such – there is a means of escape.
May they all survive!

Pandora may be going dark

This article in Ars Technica does a nice job illustrating the demise of Pandora may be just days away. The problem is with the royalty fees they are being asked to pay, in contrast to what broadcast radio pays (nothing) and satellite radio pays (about half). The music business needs a big restructuring, as it’s a sad day when cool services like Pandora go belly up, especially when they have revenues of $25 million(!).
Read the entire article to learn more.

We’ve been Slashdotted!

An article about Applian, Replay Media Catcher and RTMPE protocol recently was posted on Slashdot. While much of it is a spirited debate about DRM, there is an inaccuracy that we need to clear up. Some of the posters seem to think that we are breaking Adobe’s encryption in this latest version, which is false. The content we download is actually unencrypted.
It looks like this was a stopgap solution by Adobe. It appears Adobe made a technical tradeoff between continuing to support their existing ad insertion technology, and fully encrypting their content. There are a lot of really talented engineers at Adobe – I just don’t think they have yet built a DMCA compatible system due to time constraints. Their Flash Video server technology is really well done, and after a major re-architecting, they will probably discover a better balance between ad serving and encryption.
As far as the DRM issue goes: never, ever redistribute anything you’ve recorded without the express written consent of the content owner. Recordings are always for your personal use only. Applian’s intent is not to encourage customers to violate copyright laws.

iPhone and Remote iTunes

Apple Insider has an article about a new Apple (AAPL) patent filing regarding iPhones accessing iTunes libraries from anywhere. The gist is that your desktop PC can have all your media (songs, videos, Podcasts, and more) on it, and your phone would be able to download and play anything from your desktop PC.
This would be a huge bonus for Replay A/V users. Imagine having your favorite radio shows recorded on a PC at home, imported to iTunes automatically, and available for listening wherever you are. This can be done now with the YouSendIt plug-in we provide (as you can email yourself recorded files automatically), but this mechanism would be much slicker.
Go Apple!

Recording the Olympics, Part II

Alex has looked into more of the technical details behind how NBC is streaming the Olympics, and has made an interesting discovery. Apparently the stream formats are different for live streams vs. pre-recorded streams. This means that you can make digital recordings of live events, and record from the screen for “rewind” or cached events. Below is his technical summary.

The Silverlight NBC Olympics server uses Windows Media Player for live streams and VP7 for prerecorded videos. VP7 is the format used by web sites like abc.com or fox.com and can provide very high quality (lossless) video compression including HD. The problem with this format is that it cannot be reliably streamed for longer periods of time like the live broadcasts. The math used to compress the video and the audio does not allow recovery when packets are lost which results in out of sync audio. Currently Windows Media Player is the only format that can do this. The live stream Olympics can be recorded with WM Recorder or Replay Media Catcher but the prerecorded clips can only be recorded with WM Capture.

Recording The Olympics Online

This year NBC has teamed up with Microsoft (MSFT) to provide a wealth of Olympics footage at NBCOlympics.com. If you’re really into specific events that aren’t shown over your broadcast TV station, then you can likely watch them online. Very cool.

The Microsoft contribution is via the Silverlight video player, which you must install in order to watch video. Few video providers use Silverlight, which is why there are no programs (yet) that can record those feeds via stream capture.
If you’re looking to record some of these events and save them forever, the best program to use is WM Capture. This on-screen recorder makes great quality videos from the Olympic feeds.

To burn these recordings to DVD, try the new Replay Converter 3.0, which is currently in beta. You can also make iPod format videos, or AVI files to import them into your favorite video editor.

Oh yeah – Go Team USA!

UPDATE: I noticed that you need to enter a zip code and your Cable provider to watch some online feeds. Try 94118 and ComCast Digital if you’re disallowed access.

New User Forums!

We have just launched our brand spankin new user forums. We are excited to offer this forum to all owners of the Replay Capture Suite.

When purchasing the Replay Capture Suite you automatically become a member of the new Applian Advantage Club. Club members can read and post in the forums and receive special discounts on Applian software for their friends and family.

If you are currently an owner of the Replay Capture Suite, join us in the new forums today! Just register using your email address and your Replay Capture Suite activation code.
See you in the forums!