‘RSS isn’t broken, but it’s time to make it better.’ You’ve likely heard that line a few times but Web publishing firm MediaFed has put its money where its mouth is after launching a new way to consume news via automated feeds service called Qrius – pronounced ’curious’.
“RSS is good,” CEO and founder Ashley Harrison tells TNW. “It’s trusted, there’s no noise, it’s simple and is still surviving despite social media.” Why then is MediaFed, a company that specializes in delivering news via a range of mechanisms — one of which is RSS — building a new tool to supersede it? In one word, RSS is ‘outdated’ in this era of social media and social readers.
Harrison explains that, despite the many benefits that RSS offers, it simply isn’t consumer friendly enough or well known among the Internet masses. MediaFed, the company which acquired mobile feed reader Taptu last year, is certainly in a position to make such a claim. It has the Web’s largest network of RSS feed publishers — which number more than 2,000 — and yet it finds RSS to be lacking in an era when social media has achieved mainstream consumer penetration.
“Sure, tech savvy folks find RSS to be very important, but 90 percent of the audience that we serve isn’t using RSS. It’s clunky and not consumer friendly,” he explains, pointing out how off-putting and confusing RSS landing pages are, for one thing. “But we’re not replacing it, that would be silly.”
MediaFed’s complementary alternative — Qrius — has been a year in the making and Harrison believes the service “gives it a contemporary spin based around news feeds and social readers”.
Qrius uses Twitter, Facebook or Google+ accounts to log users in, after which they are redirected to a feed reader, which picks up their request and begins serving them RSS-like content. Taptu is, unsurprisingly, the first reader supported but the API will open up to others soon.
The use of social networks as the ‘backbone’ makes sharing news easy, while it also makes logging in straight and, by piggy-backing well-know services, new users can feel an element of trust and understanding that they won’t get feel if having to register an account first.
He explains that the feed preview is very deliberately feature rich, unlike the entirely text-based model of RSS.
“The growth of Pinterest, Instagram and even news services like Flipboard show that people want and respond to visuals. Using images [which are taken from the articles themselves] in the preview will help appeal to consumers,” he says. Harrison believes that the reinvented syndication feed will allow newspapers and publishers to gain boost revenue while adapting to the mobile and social consumer adoption curve.
Qrius is initially being piloted with a selection of 100 of MediaFed’s top Web publishers but, as with the API, the technology will open up to the rest of the Web soon. The company is immediately aiming to introduce the service to 80-90 percent of MediaFed’s publisher base by the end of this year.
On paper, Qrius certainly makes sense and, rather than replacing RSS, it seems to us as though its biggest challenge is supplanting social media as news readers. Facebook and Twitter replaced RSS some years ago and, while there’s no doubt that a feed system is more organized and channeled that haphazardly stumbling upon news via Twitter or Facebook — which requires near 24/7 dedication to avoid missing stories — many people cite lack of time as their reason for not using RSS feeds, since they pile up when not read regularly, so Qrius will face some challenges that hamper RSS too.
As it stands, Qrius as a service is likely to benefit MediaFed from the get-go since it has the potential to draw a higher level of user attention and help deliver a more compelling (read: ad rich) service for its publishers, while also bringing new users to Taptu. Obviously it will need to scale massively if it is to even get close to RSS, but it already has one large organization backing it fully.
It will be interesting to observe how the technology is adopted by non-MediaFed partners and other news feed readers as it becomes available.
Headline image via Ruggiero Scardigno / Shutterstock
Read the original here: MediaFed launches Qrius, a news feed service to bring RSS into the social media era
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It used to be that building a new TV service was incredibly expensive, as operators had to build out all sorts of new infrastructure to do so. But now with the Internet, operators can launch streaming video services that can reach millions without major new investments in equipment. One example of an operator doing this is Singapore-based MediaCorp, which is launching a new streaming video service called Toggle that will provide live and on-demand access to streaming video content.
To make Toggle work, MediaCorp has hired Israeli video startup Tvinci to get the service on multiple devices. As a platform for video distribution, Tvinci helps companies to release streaming video services online and on other devices. Through a single content management system, operators can quickly and easily build and deploy apps for mobile phones, tablets, connected TVs, and streaming set-top boxes.
It’s providing those services to MediaCorp, which is building Toggle as a sort of “Netflix for Singapore.” That said, Toggle goes beyond the kind of on-demand streaming video provided by companies like Netflix or Hulu. At launch, Toggle will have VOD content, but will also have about a dozen channels of live TV available for streaming. In that way, it’s more like a virtual cable service being streamed to users’ connected devices instead of their TVs.
Toggle will be available as a subscription service, as well as on a pay-per-view basis, allowing users to choose whether they want to pay for monthly access to live and on-demand videos, or whether they just want to pay for individual movie or TV titles. At launch, it will have more than 1,000 hours of programming available on demand. It will give the ability for users to rate and share the shows and movies that they watch, and will be integrated with Twitter and Facebook to do so.
While the service launches on PCs, iPads, and iPhones in the coming weeks, MediaCorp and Tvinci hope to make Toggle available on more devices as time goes on. That includes Android phones and tablets, as well as a wide range of connected TVs and streaming set-top boxes, according to Ido Wiesenberg, co-founder and VP of business development. After a launch in Singapore, MediaCorp also hopes to potentially make the service available in other markets.
For Tvinci, the launch of Toggle represents its first deployment in the Asia-Pacific market, and could pave the way for more projects with operators in that area. The company currently has offices in London and Tel Aviv, but could soon open a regional sales office to support Asian operators who wish to deploy new streaming video services, or augment their existing pay TV operations with a streaming component.
Last fall, Tvinci raised $4.5 million in funding from existing investors Kaedan Capital and Zohar Gilon, as well as new investor Trellas Enterprises. The company has about 60 employees split between London and Tel Aviv, but will be adding more to support its new Asian win and enter new markets.
New Apple product rumors from reliable sources have been few and far between lately, but this weekend the generally dependable 9t05Mac reported that a new iPad model is in the works. It’s not a brand new device, but rather a new SKU in the fourth generation iPad with Retina Display lineup. 9to5Mac’s source is saying that this will be offered in both black and white, with both Wi-Fi and cellular options, and that it will join the existing models rather than replace them.
While the source didn’t specify storage capacity as the differentiating factor, there is evidence that a 128GB iPad is in the works. References to such a device exist in iOS 6.1, the beta of which is already in developer hands, and in iTunes 11. Another possibility is that this will be a SKU aimed solely at education and government customers, 9t05Mac points out, since their source says it will be available in special 10-packs for educational institutions, but the higher capacity device theory makes sense for a number of reasons beyond just evidence found in software code.
First, a 128GB model would provide another reason for consumers to look at the full-sized iPad over the iPad mini. If Apple wants to continue to carve out separate niches for both devices, making one more capacious in terms of local storage is a good way of doing so. Second, Apple updated the iPad in October, which means it’s unlikely we’ll see a brand new version arrive early this year, as has been the habit with the iPad in the past. A 128GB upgrade provides a mid-cycle bump that could keep things interesting for consumers, without requiring a major overhaul ahead of the one reportedly in the works for fall. A 128GB iPad 4 makes a lot of sense, but it would also mean a pricing shift, either with a new expensive SKU at the top-end, or with movement across the line to make a 128GB version top out at or around the current iPad maximum pricing.
9to5Mac has good connections high in Apple’s retail partner chain, so this is very likely a solid report. But as to what it will ultimately mean in terms of product releases, that remains more of a mystery. If it is a higher-capacity device, I’ll be interested to see if that’s something that gets consumers excited.
Update: 9t05Mac reports new details around pricing this morning, suggesting that the new model will be at $799 for Wi-Fi only, and $929 for Wi-Fi + Cellular, which supports the notion of a model with higher storage capacity.
The ITU has approved a new video format that could bring 4k video to future broadband networks, while also making streaming HD video available even on bandwidth-constrained mobile networks. The H.265 standard, also informally known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), is designed to provide high-quality streaming video, even on low-bandwidth networks.
The new video format is the successor to the H.264 codec, which nearly every video publisher has standardized after the release of the iPad and several other connected devices. It seems crazy now, but once upon a time, Apple’s adoption of H.264 and insistence on HTML5-based video players was controversial — especially since most video before the iPad was encoded in VP6 to play through Adobe’s proprietary Flash player.
The hope is that, through improved compression techniques, H.265 will enable publishers to stream 1080p video with about half as many bits as required today. That should make true streaming HD video available not just in broadband households, but on mobile and tablet devices, using networks that are a lot more bandwidth-constrained. Doing so could make online video more widely available in markets with poor connectivity or mostly mobile connections.
In places where there is decent broadband connectivity, H.265 could enable even higher-quality video. With 4K TVs finally becoming available, there’s an opportunity for even greater video resolution. The only problem is that networks aren’t built to support the load that streaming that video would require. With H.265, 4K streaming could be possible with as little as 20-30 Mbps of bandwidth. Still a lot by today’s standards, but not completely unheard of.
Of course, just because the format has been approved doesn’t mean that we’ll start seeing video files shrink or lower bit-rate streams anytime soon. While there will likely be software-based encoders available by the end of the year, the codec won’t see mass adoption until it gets embedded into chips and hardware. It could be 12 to 18 months, maybe longer, before the first devices with H.265 hardware acceleration make it to market.
Once those initial devices do make it to market, however, we can probably expect a quick ramp up in the amount of content that begins to take advantage of H.265. Since the launch of the iPad, the percentage of video published in H.264 has climbed from less than 10 percent to more than 84 percent in less than three years, according to MeFeedia.
The adoption of H.265 could mean less network strain, more HD video, or some combination of the two. I personally expect that the availability of a more efficient codec will more likely mean higher quality rather than smaller video files, but every little bit helps.
Here is the original post: Next-Gen Video Format H.265 Is Approved, Paving The Way For High-Quality Video On Low-Bandwidth Networks