Sling Media has been busy: the company has just announced the release of a redesigned SlingPlayer 3.0 app for both Android and iOS. Next month, a Windows 8.1 equivalent will be introduced as well, so keep an eye out for that one. While previous versions of SlingPlayer were focused on streaming video from your TV box, 3.0 looks at usage patterns and brings a new discovery and social dimension to the app. For instance, there is a content discovery screen that will help you find popular and favorite TV shows airing now.
If you are not familiar with Slingbox, it’s a device that connects to your Cable/Sat set top box and lets you stream the live or recorded content over the Internet to a mobile device or a computer. Historically, Slingbox has been very popular with users who want to watch live sports, or those who travel a lot and don’t have access to Internet video services like Netflix because foreign IPs are blocked. Slingbox uses your own Internet connection.
Sling Media also makes it possible to stream from a mobile device to a TV (you need a Roku box or an Apple TV), which means that you can effectively go to a friend’s place, and stream live sports or the latest Games of Thrones episode from your home to your friend’s TV. It would look something like this: Home > Internet > mobile > Apple TV /Roku > Friend’s TV). If you want to use that expensive cable subscription, you could do it on a mobile device before, but it is hard to argue that watching it on a big screen isn’t better. I’ve seen this feature in action, and while it is not “full HD” by any means, I find the quality to be around “DVD-quality” and the big TV experience beats the phone any day of the week.
If you are into Social Media sharing, you can now see what’s popular among your friends – for example some shows are now generating a lot of Twitter traffic to a point that watching it live makes a lot of sense if you want to be part of the experience. Additionally, you can also share what you are currently watching on both Twitter and Facebook.
For Roku users, Sling Media has made it possible to have your Slingbox cast a private channel to a Roku device. The main point of this is to watch the video stream on a big screen and since it works with virtually all the Roku boxes, this is an affordable option when compared to Apple TV. The value proposition is pretty simple, especially if you subscribe to expensive cable/sat channels and you want to maximize your viewing time and conditions.
All in all, this is an important upgrade for Sling Media, and one that makes their system much more comfortable to use. I really like the fact that they now enable content discovery because I would rather not have to pick up another device/remote to do that, so they increase the likelihood that I will use the app and service.