There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We can reduce the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits.
The Control Voice, The Outer Limits
That was the opening to one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. I have the entire series on DVD and binge-watch whole seasons over holiday breaks whenever I'm feeling sluggish. I won't claim that it was the height of intellectual stimulation in the Sixties, but for me, it was the visualization of the stuff I read from Heinlein, Asimov, Bear, Ellison, and Bradbury.
Yes, it was science fiction. Unapologetically so. Yes, at times it was cheesy, but a low budget SciFi show had to make do with shadows, bad masks, and hand-me-down costumes for special effects. It was the stories that made the show worth watching, themes that became inspiration for future TV shows and movies, most notably Star Trek where some of the props and even actors from Outer Limits episodes appeared in Gene Roddenberry's hit TV show.
I don't watch much TV anymore. Most of my free time is spent doing all sorts of stuff, but every so often I'll admit to plopping down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn or a glass of wine and channel surf. The problem is that most shows worth watching aren't free. I have to subscribe to some cable company or pay a premium through iTunes or some other a la carte service to see most shows worth my time. Still, there are shows out there that both free AND worth watching. And if you do pay for a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu, all the better.
But what to watch and how do you find it?
More people are opting to ditch traditional cable. In fact, I intend to do just that soon. I'm going to rely on AppleTV, Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime for most of the shows I'll end up watching. I'll use a antenna to get broadcast TV for local news, weather and major network shows and events.
That's a lot of different services to keep track of, and finding shows will be even harder to do, unless, of course, there's an app that can help. And, of course, there is. Several in fact, which is the subject of this week's Free on iTunes. So, lets get to it.
Yidio [42.2 MB, runs on all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Yidio LLC]
One of the things I like about Apple's ecosystem is the ability to AirPlay video from my iDevice to AppleTV. It makes sense to have services like Yidio, which lets me track down shows and movies across a wide range of services like Netflix, ABC, A&E, PBS, and others.
What's better is that Yidio integrates with Netflix and can use your account info to view your queue and recommended videos.
Say what you want to watch...
One cool feature is its voice activated search. Tap the mic icon and say a show or movie title and it hustles off to find instances in the services available to you. Makes for a very relaxing surf session.
...and Yidio finds it!
With an account you can save searches and create "Like" lists. The app will also send you push notifications when new episodes are available if you let it.
Some people will want to hang onto their cable service, and even that's ok, you'll get listing from everything you have access to. This really is an easier way to watch what you want, when you want.
Frequency [15.4 MB, runs on all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Frequency Networks Inc]
Traditional TV or movies played in theaters aren't the only sources of video these days. More content is being created that's only available on the Internet. Even there traditional video sources like YouTube are just one of many places where videos are found.
How to find what you want to watch? By using Frequency, of course.
Frequency does for internet videos what Yidio does for TV shows and movies, it's pulls together vids from everywhere into one slick interface so you can surf and find stuff to watch.
You can create channels based on subjects you're interested in or sources you like, then watch whenever. It's a great way to keep track or find video content.
Fan TV [44.9 MB, runs on all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Fanhattan]
Another very capable app is Fan TV. This one not only helps you find movies and TV shows, but DVDs as well.
Lets say you want to watch Game of Thrones. Fan TV lists all of the services where the hit show can be viewed, including Netflix where it is only available of DVD. I personally like the Netflix DVD service and plan to keep using it as long as it's offered, and having an app like FanTV helps me make better choices of what I should put in my DVD queue or streaming queue.
Note the Netflix listing at the bottom
When you do find a show you want to watch Fan TV drops you into the provider's interface. For instance, if I want to watch an episode of Extinct FanTV drops me into the CBS app and fires up the video. This is a bit cumbersome because now I have to have apps for every provider of shows I want to see. I guess there's no way around that though.
Still Fan TV is a great way to find stuff you want to watch.
That's a wrap for this week, but before I go here are some more freebies you might be interested in.
This week's Free App of the Week is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rooftop Run.
This week's Free Single of the Week is Break the Fall by Laura Welsh.