Foxtel recently announced that its Play video on demand service has (finally) become available on Sony's PlayStation 4. The PS4 joins the significantly older PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Mac, and last year's LG and Samsung Smart TVs in supporting Play; it's by far the newest Play-compatible device, but what can Foxtel do to speed up its Play rollout to everyone else?
Across Foxtel Play and Go, there are about a dozen discrete devices that can access the Foxtel streaming TV and movies service. Apple's iOS devices (more recent ones, at least) are all supported, as are a few Samsung Android phones and tablets — but these are the only mobiles you can watch Foxtel on; if you have a Sony, LG, or Google Nexus device, you're out of luck. Why?
The security of Play and Go is a big issue for Foxtel; it doesn't want unauthorised devices accessing the service, downloading and ripping and illegally sharing its copyrighted content with the world — and this is most easily possible on Android. That's the reason you can't run Foxtel Go on a rooted Samsung Android phone (or a jailbroken iOS device, to be fair).
By restricting access to known, tested, trusted and locked-down devices — iOS' walled garden is a perfect example of this — Foxtel can limit its exposure and reduce the risk of anyone abusing its service for illegal means.
This is entirely understandable, but that doesn't stop it being disappointing. The compounding problem with this is that Foxtel is simultaneously making Play available on the PC and Mac — both platforms where an enterprising user could relatively easily screen-capture the highest possible quality Foxtel Play video stream — while restricting access to less capable devices.
Speaking from my own perspective, I've got a Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Galaxy NotePro 12.2 that I'd love to have Foxtel Go on, but the company's slightly backwards thinking is getting in the way.
Adding support for the Sony PlayStation 4 is a huge step for Foxtel; it means that from now on, it has a simple inroads into almost half of the home gaming console market. The next logical step would be to sort out similar access for Microsoft's Xbox One (although this has already been a long time coming). More pressing, though, is sorting out more logical and consistent access for a wider range of Android mobile devices so that early adopters aren't disadvantaged.
Surely adding a universally accessible Foxtel Go app for Android would make sense; it would open the service to a wider range of users, all of which who would be paying customers. Unless there's some byzantine, continuing deal with Samsung going on, it seems like a no-brainer — and with an app already built, surely the only thing getting in Foxtel's way is a bit of red tape?
As a previous user of Samsung's Galaxy S4, who then upgraded to the Note 3, then upgraded to the S5, my past six months has been a Foxtel-themed rollercoaster ride. I've had to make the conscious decision to drop Foxtel Go in moving from the Note 3 to the S5, and that same decision was (initially) necessary when moving from S4 to Note 3 until support was added.
I can't wait for Foxtel to become available on the Galaxy S5 — but in this always-on, constantly-upgrading world of tech, any wait is too long. And I'm sure I'm in the same boat as the thousands of other users of non-Samsung smartphones and tablets, who have existing Foxtel subscriptions, or who want to subscribe anew to Play — but need a little bit of a helping hand from Foxtel's app development team first.