“FiOS? What on Earth is FiOS?,” you might ask. If it’s not in your area yet, you don’t have much reason to know about it, but it looks pretty impressive from an armchair view. FiOS is a fiber optic-based Internet/TV package, one that has made the next jump by adding widgets to their offerings.
Anyone with a Google phone or an iPhone is already hip to the coolness of widgets and apps. They are one of the big selling points for the trendy new iPad, as a matter of fact. As far as I know, FiOS is the first to bring this functionality to the big screen. Twitter and Facebook, the two top social media platforms, both have widgets allowing them to be used directly from the TV with the remote control. Combined with the speed of fiber optics, it is an attractive package.
The reason I’m writing about this is because FiOS just rolled out a new radio widget. PC Magazine‘s Lance Ulanoff has already given it the once over:
FiOS customers can now access YouTube video and live Clear Channel radio stations (via itsiheartradiosite), but only as long as their network-connected computer is on and running the latest Verizon Media Manager software. Verizon executives explained that, in the case, of YouTube, the computer is necessary to do some pre-transcoding (from H.264 to MPEG 2) before the network can stream the video to customers’ set-top boxes.
In the case of radio, which is sorted by genre, no transcoding is necessary, but the applicationand always-on computer are still necessary. This is in stark contrast to streaming video and radio offerings from set-top boxes like Roku and even numerous Blu-ray players from, among others, Samsung. These boxes typically include YouTube, Netflix, and Pandora and can stream directly from the Internet (wired or wireless).
So, while FiOS may not have their larger, more established competitors running for the hills as yet, they certainly do seem to be leading the pack in level of interactivity. From what I’ve researched, their system allows wireless integration of your TV with your computer, allowing you to watch traditional media or most types stored on your hard drive. The fact that they have chosen to use IHeartradio as their audio choice is heartening. It shows they have an appreciation of the value that streams from 750 radio stations represents.
While having to have a computer on and connected seems clunky, rumor has it that FiOS has plans to decouple the two in a future iteration of the service. All in all, I don’t find it that much of an obstacle. My computers are always on and connected, as those in many of my friend’s homes.
I can’t wait to watch this evolve. The public is already addicted to apps, so we might just be getting a glimpse at the future here. What do you think?
Image: VerizonFiOS logo / Fair Use: reporting