In a trend that’s frustratingly common among TV service providers, Time Warner Cable published an Android app – minus the TV streaming aspect that iOS versions of the app enjoy. TWC has been talking up a functional upgrade for Android users for some time, but they finally came out with a semi-solid plan for adding streaming to the app, with a targeted release before Memorial Day (May 28th). There’s a catch, though: you’ll only be able to stream video if your device runs Ice Cream Sandwich.
Considering that just under three in every hundred Android users have Android 4.0, that’s definitely a downer. Time Warner says that the reasoning is that they need the extra security features in Ice Cream Sandwich to stream video over a private network – the app will only work when connected to your home network using Time Warner Cable Internet service, just like the iOS version. The reason for this restriction is the complicated licensing deals that come with streaming copyrighted video to a mobile device – it’s why you can’t watch Hulu on Android without paying for it. Time Warner can stream all they want into your home, but once you’re mobile, they no longer have those privileges.
The Time Warner blog post takes care to note how much easier it is to develop for iOS. Their exact words were:
Developing our video product for Android is not unlike tweezing one’s eyebrows while using a disco ball for a mirror. We’re going to get there, but it’s going to happen one facet at a time.
That’s great, Time Warner, we feel so much sympathy for a multi-million dollar company that’s trying to serve its paying customers. It’s not like you’ve got some sort of responsibility to support the hardware that your customers have, instead of say, the hardware your software developers wish they had. We’re not crazy about the state of Android updates either, but that doesn’t excuse your lateness to the party on a platform that makes up half of the smartphone market. We’ll see how the Android video streaming – now over a year late – looks at the end of May.