Qplay debuted earlier this year as a set-top box and service for delivering a constant stream of video to whatever screen you happened to be watching. Now the video streaming service is looking to add more people to the party.
On Tuesday, Qplay added support for Chromecast, allowing you to beam a continuous flow of short-form videos through Google's streaming device. The company also expanded its social offerings, with a new Party Qs feature aimed at making it easier to share videos with a group of friends as well as hashtags that let you discover new videos.
"We don't want it to be about work," CEO Phil Peterson told TechHive as he showcased Qplay's new features. "We want it to be about entertainment."
If Qplay sounds familiar, it arrived in February as the brainchild of TiVo founders Mike Ramsay and Jim Barton. (Ramsay is the company's executive chairman; Barton serves as chief technology officer.) The service was designed to address the problem of streaming short-form videos to your TV set or mobile device--basically, you can't sit back and watch because once one video ends, you have to go and find another to play next. Qplay promises continuous playlists--"infinite playlists," Peterson puts it--essentially turning the act of watching online videos into watching a TV channel, albeit one built around your tastes and interests. In Qplay's early days, that would be done through a $50 set-top box you plugged into a TV and controlled via an iPad app.
With Tuesday's announcement, Qplay is taking its act to other devices by adding Chromecast support. With a tap of a button in the Qplay iPad app, you'll be able stream videos from Qplay's continuous playlist to a TV set via Google's $35 Chromecast. The idea, Qplay says, is to get more people watching the 100,000 Qs, or video collections, that have been curated using the Qplay service.
Qplay users streaming over Chromecast can expect a number of clever features. For starters, videos are synced using a cloud service, so a video you start watching on your iPad will pick up at the exact same spot once you throw it over to the Chromecast. Your iPad becomes a second-screen device when Chromecasting, letting you preview upcoming videos on your tablet. And if you put your iPad to sleep, your Q of videos continues to play on your TV.
Qplay is also bolstering its social component with Tuesday's update. A new Party Q feature lets you and your friends add videos to a shared Q. You invite friends to add videos, which are played back in the order that they're added to the Q. (And yes, if you have a friend who delights in sharing videos that may not be appropriate for your intended audience, you as the owner of the Q can knock those out of the list.) Party Qs can be shared by people in the same room or in far-flung locations; the only limitation is that you have to be friends on Qplay's network.
Qplay also took a page out of Twitter's book by adding hashtags. Say I want to watch videos that other Qplay users are sharing about the World Cup; tappable hashtags in Qplay's iPad app like #WorldCup and #soccer can help me discover videos for a customized playlist of what interests me.
While it's currently only available in iPad form, an Android version of Qplay is coming soon. The service remains restricted to the U.S. for now, thanks to the complications of broadcast rights.