Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New iTunes movie apps, very awesome

This morning saw the release of two new apps from Warner Brothers studio.

This apps, tied to the movies Inception and The Dark Knight, are available in two versions. The free version includes the first five minutes of each movie and a sampling of the bonus features. The full version, purchased within the app, provides the full movie and tons of features. There are also links to talk about the movies via facebook or twitter.

After checking out the free bits of the apps, I'm pretty excited. The videos are crisp and clean on my ipad. I had no issues streaming over my wifi (you can also use 3g). There's a wide range of languages available and a wide range of subtitles, including sound notes for the hearing impaired. 

All in all, the app feels more like the experience one would have with an actual DVD. And that is what excites me the most. The iTunes Extras are fun but they are limited to only the computer at the moment. If I buy a movie I in that form, I can't take the fun stuff with me or even see it on my new iOS based Apple TV. These two apps are obviously a kind of beta test for a new style and it is fitting that Warners is willing to be the testers. 

The inclusion of a streaming option suggests that when you buy the movie it is actually a separate file that you could choose to not sync to your device to save space. This is an intriguing notion but it does raise a question. Apps are downloadable as often as needed but media generally is not. Which way will movies bought within the apps be handled. And what if you already bought one of these movies. Would you have to buy it again to unlock the features of the app or will it recognize a previous purchase. Questions to investigate further. 

The other immediate issue that I have is that there doesn't seem to be a voice over track for the visually impaired. While it seems odd to suggest that the blind like a good movie, they do. And too few studios consider that group when producing their home video releases. It would have been a nice inclusion. Perhaps they will think of this and add it in an update. 

All said, I am excited to see these apps released because they are a sign that studios, or at least Warners, aren't ignoring digital releases. Consumers should be able to have a real choice and not have to pick one or the other because of things left out. Even tv shows could be handled in this way. Imagine buying a season pass to a show and getting the eps through the year and at any point getting an app that is updated with previews, behind the scenes, even perhaps those 'watch along' features seen in the new apps for Grey's Anatomy and Bones. Or having the option to get all the eps and fun bits after the season is over in an actual box set if that is how you roll. Pretty awesome idea in my book. Especially if the bits are exactly the same in each set. Heck I'd flip for an app version of the Lord of the Rings movies if it meant one collection with all the zillions of features they spread out among the dozen different box sets that they did (hint hint New Line).

Hopefully this is a step in a digital direction and more movies will be released, made playable on computers  and devices, as well as the development of a true blu-ray quality video format with 1080p and at least 5.1 sound (that isn't 50gb per video). Then my dreams will be true. 

Check out these apps for yourself. 

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