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HTPC News Roundup 2017 Wk 32: Best PlayStation 4 streaming apps, Disney streaming service, Netflix rating system update

written by Moe Long August 11, 2017

Welcome to the htpcBeginner HTPC News Roundup 2017 Wk 32! This week saw Netflix's altered rating system, Disney announcing its own streaming service, and best streaming apps for the PlayStation 4. Read on for the latest in HTPC news and updates!

htpcBeginner Recap

In case you missed them, here is a recap of all our interesting articles published last week:

HTPC News Around the Web

Netflix doesn't want to be a better streaming service - it wants to be Disney

Disney streaming service - movies and TVIn a major turn of events, Disney announced two forthcoming streaming services. In 2018, prepare for an ESPN-branded streaming service. Then in 2019, a Disney-branded streaming service is set to follow. Along with this announcement, the Walt Disney Company revealed its plans to pull content from Netflix. However, Disney will leave its Marvel partnership shows with Netflix, like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.

Simultaneously, Netflix announced its acquisition of comic book label Millarworld, which is run by Mark Millar, creator of Wanted and Kick-Ass. What Disney plans to pursue treads into largely unknown territory. Networks such as CBS provide streaming services like CBS All Access. But Disney packs a bevy of networks, ranging from the Disney Channel to Disney XD, as well as Marvel and Lucasfilm properties. This automatically shapes Disney as a major player in the streaming space. Additionally, its ESPN streaming service could be what sports fan cord cutters have been missing.

'Firestick that s--t' is how illegal TV, movie streaming went mainstream

Kodi has witnessed an odd evolution. As a power user and home theatre PC fan, I'd been a Kodi user for years. Whenever I mentioned it, I was greeted with confused glances from my non-techie friends. An excellent piece over on Mashable explores how illegal movie streaming went mainstream. Celebrities, the likes of which include rapper 50 Cent and Oscar-winning movie star Jamie Foxx dropped references to the "Firestick," referring to the Amazon Fire TV Stick. More specifically, both parties recommended watching movies on a Firestick, and no, they did not mean using the Netflix app.

Instead, it's referring to pirate streaming. Often, this transpires on Kodi (which is completely legal). Third-party add-ons for Kodi may present illicitly streamed content. This even lead to Amazon banning Kodi from its app store for Fire devices. But you can sideload apps on the Amazon Fire TV using ES File Explorer, adbLink for sideloading Kodi, AGK Fire, and the Downloader app. It's neat witnessing how Kodi turned from niche software offering to mainstream HTPC use. While there's been a crackdown in the Kodi addon space, there are plenty of legal Kodi addons for streaming and broadcast TV content. [Read: 10 best legal Kodi streaming boxes - Best Kodi box 2017]

Best Android TV Boxes:
  1. NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro Home Media Server - $199.99 editors pick
  2. Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Player - $89.99
  3. WeTek Play 2 Hybrid Media Center - $134.00
  4. Kukele Octacore Android TV Box - $179.99
  5. U2C Android TV Box - $95.99

Hotspot Shield VPN reported to FTC for alleged privacy breaches

Having a DNS or VPN service is essential. Regardless of whether or not you're engaging in less than legal activities, you should invest in a strong VPN or DNS. As TorrentFreak reports, Hotspot Shield VPN was recently reported to the FTC for supposed privacy breaches. Similarly, Engadget published an excellent piece about misleading VPN traffic. Although traffic appears to come from one region, many VPNs actually route your traffic through another server in a different country.

Netflix changed its rating system for AI purposes

Amazon Fire TV Netflix AppNetflix ranks as one of the most used streaming services. Aside from its excellent streaming abilities, Netflix is a software savvy pioneer, debuting features like offline downloads. Recently, Netflix migrated its 5-star rating system to a simpler binary rating system consisting of thumbs up and thumbs down.

As Arcbees Marketing Director Charles A. R. explains, Netflix's new system is an advancement in AI and business. The 5-star system used an algorithm which offered stars based on a comparison to what users with similar viewing habits rated a title. But the binary system has seen an upsurge in user ratings, to the tune of 200%. That's a massive swing. The idea is ease of recommendations. From the user perspective, a 5-star system may appear to deliver more insight. However, the binary Netflix rating system could provide more accurate recommendations based on increased use. Furthermore, this could dominate as the rating system standard going forward.

You can now listen to Spotify on the Xbox One

Gamers, rejoice. The Spotify app has hit the Xbox One. As such, you can stream music on your console. Admittedly, this comes a bit late. But the app, as MakeUseOf Tech News and Entertainment Editor Dave Parrack explores, is well made and enjoyable to use. What this announcement truly exhibits is the convergence of gaming and entertainment.

Did you find any interesting news stories or projects from around the HTPC space? Share them with us in the comments section below!

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