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Time Warner Cable, Starz Show Android New Tricks

Time Warner Cable is teaching its Android app a few new, important video tricks just as premium programmer Starz unleashes its first set of TV Everywhere apps for the popular, though fragmented, mobile-software platform.

A coming overhaul of the MSO’s TWC TV app for Android devices promises to be a big one that will add access to in-home streaming of a subset of live TV channels and on-demand fare, and an initial set of video that customers can tap into while they’re on the go.

The new version of the TWC TV app is slated for release on Google Play on Tuesday, May 14, company director of digital communications Jeff Simmermon announced last week on the TWC blog.

The coming refresh, he said, will add in-home access to more than 4,000 on-demand TV shows and movies from more than 90 different providers, as well as live TV and VOD support on “older Android devices” (those that run Android 2.2 or higher). Out-of-home access to content via the new Android app will be limited to more than 1,100 VOD titles from 26 networks and “a dozen or so live TV news, sports and entertainment channels, including local TV news channels.” The number of channels will vary by market, but access will essentially mirror the out-of-home TV channel lineup that TWC recently added to its Apple iOS app. TWC customers who use the app to stream live or on-demand content from outside the home must do so using Wi-Fi.

The new Android app also will feature improvements to the live-TV mini guide, including a way to filter live TV by genre or recently watched channels.

The updated app will support video playback on 98% of all Android devices, Simmermon estimated, an impressive claim considering that programmers and MSOs have long complained about how difficult it is to develop and maintain app releases for the fragmented Android tablet and smartphone ecosystem.

Starz amped up its Android game by releasing initial support for its set of TV Everywhere services on the platform: Starz Play, Encore Play and MoviePlex Play. At launch, those services run on a subset of Android-powered devices, including the Nook HD, Nook HD+ tablets, and the Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablet models.

The Starz implementations aren’t limited to Wi-Fi; authenticated users can also stream Starz content over 3G/4G cellular networks, but the programmer recommends a minimum bandwidth of 1 Megabit per second and 2.5 Mbps for “an optimal viewing experience.”