TiVo founders Mike Ramsay and Jim Barton revolutionized the way we watch TV by letting us pause and rewind live TV or watch it later without having to mess with a VCR. Tivo-like devices are common today but now Ramsay and Barton have set their sites on Internet TV with a new iPad app called Qplay along with an accessory that lets you watch Internet programs on a high definition TV set.
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There is nothing new about watching net programs on a TV. Roku has been at it for years and you can also do it with most game consoles, Google Chromecast, some Bluray players, newer Tivo boxes and directly on some TV sets. But what sets Qplay about is the ability to create a queue of programs from a variety of sources using a single app.
The app runs on the iPad (the company will eventually port it to other devices) and allows you to find videos to watch either on the iPad or on your TV using a $49 adapter. Like Google Chrome, once you start watching, the app doesn’t have to be running because the adapter is connected to QPlay’s servers through your Wi-Fi network.
The initial content for Qplay’s early release program is mostly publicly available content like YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Vimeo, Twitter and other public sources. In the future, said Ramsay “we intend to support additional content that would include premium content that requires a subscription.” He said that the system is architected so to that the “queue themselves are content independent”
The multiple app problem
The app addresses a problem that’s been plaguing me ever since apps started appearing on phones and tablets. I remember that bad old days when you needed a different piece of software for each online service you used. If you wanted to access CompuServe, you ran the CompuServe program. The same was true for AOL, Prodigy, The Source and all the other online services. But then in the mid-90′s, along came the commercial Internet and browsers so we no longer needed multiple programs for multiple content sources. But the app world is a giant step backwards because each service requires us to download its own app. Qplay doesn’t entirely solve that problem but it does mitigate it as far as video is concerned, especially once company starts adding premium services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.
In an interview, Qplay co-founder and CEO Mike Ramsay said “We used to complain in the Tivo days that there were 500 channels and nothing to watch. On the Internet instead of 500 channels instead of 500 apps.”