today's launch of HTC's latest flagship phone, the powerful HTC Sensation, the Taiwan-based mobile handset maker debuted a new video marketplace called "HTC Watch." This iTunes-like store will offer TV shows, movies and trailers through a pre-installed mobile application that will ship first on the Sensation. The TV shows and movies will be available for both rental and purchase, and will be paid for via either carrier billing or credit card, depending on your mobile operator.Along with
The service uses progressive download technology, says HTC, which means your content will start playing almost immediately. This is different from the iTunes model, which requires users to download the full file before being able to view the video.
HTC Watch, a Video Marketplace
In early reviews, HTC's Watch app is said to be speedy and responsive, with videos that start playing within 10 seconds of purchase.
The new service grew out of HTC's purchase of Saffron Digital back in February 2011 for $48.5 million. Saffron was known best for its video optimization technology, which allowed for streaming video delivery across different types of mobile handsets.
The goal behind HTC's investment was to enable the handset manufacturer to further differentiate its devices through improved user experiences that ship on top of the underlying Android software.
This, it should be noted, is competitor Samsung's strategy as well.
In March, Samsung revealed four new Hubs - branded app portals it plans to install on new Android devices, including its Galaxy S II smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablet PCs. The hubs allow Samsung users to interact with music, media, e-books and social networking content.
Smartphone Gets Smarter
As for the HTC's latest gadget itself, the HTC Sensation 4G is a high-end smartphone that forgoes the traditional wide screen for a thinner, longer screen. The phone offers impressive specs, including a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 4.3-inch Super LCD screen with a 960x540 display, a dual-LED flash for its 8-megapixel camera and support for 1080p HD video. In the U.S., the phone will be available on T-Mobile (supporting T-Mobile "4G," meaning HSPA+), in Europe on Vodafone and on other, unannounced carriers in Asia.
The Sensation will run Google's latest version of Android, code-named Gingerbread (Android 2.3.2) plus an updated version of the HTC Sense user interface. The new Sense UI will now offer customizable lockscreens which display photos, social networking updates, and weather or stock alerts. It will also bring new 3D effects, widgets, improved animations and updates to core apps. In particular, AllThingsD recently noted that the update will improve the issue of "shutter lag," a common ailment on smartphones where the time between pushing the button and snapping the photo is delayed. For those taking pictures of kids or pets, this may be the most welcome improvement of all.
There's no word yet on when other HTC phones may receive the update Sense UI or the HTC Watch app.