Monday, 30 January 2012 18:15

EXCLUSIVE: Mobile Foxtel now available on iPad!


Ever since Apple launched its original iPad in 2010, Telstra customers subscribing to Mobile Foxtel on the iPhone and other smartphones have wondered when it would officially arrive on the iPad, and now, in 2012, it finally has.

With the iPad such an amazing content consumption device, even though it has evolved into an equally amazing content creation tool, I've often wondered when Telstra would deliver Mobile Foxtel to the iPad - at least, for those on the Next G network with a 3G, MicroSIM equipped iPad 1 or 2.

UPDATE: Foxtel has now also launched its new Foxtel Go app for the iPad and iPad mini, with the iPad mini non-existent when this article was first written. Foxtel says it will have an Android version of Foxtel Go sometime early next year, designed to work perfectly with the big-brand, top selling Android tablets, like those from Samsung, Asus, Google and others.

Here's where you'll find about the launch of Foxtel Go in November 2012, along with another article here talking about the 8 new channels of live streaming TV that Foxtel Go now offers to end-users, matching the 30+ Foxtel channels (including two bonus channels of the ABC and SBS) that Telstra offers its Next G and 4G customers via a monthly subscription that delivers the streaming in an unmetered manner.

That said, Telstra's Mobile Foxtel is avaialble on a wide range of iOS  and Android smartphones and tablets, and even feature-phone handsets, whereas Foxtel Go is iPad and iPad mini only for now, no iPhone version or Android smartphone versions as yet either.

The original and still very valid article continues below:

Although some on Whirlpool spoke in late December 2011 of being able to make Mobile Foxtel work on the iPad, there were also reports of the iPad-compatible app having disappeared, but that's not what caught my attention.

What alerted me to the new iPad compatibility was an update posted just a few days ago, which claimed to be universal, meaning it worked on both the iPhone and iPad, with the iPad version being native - no iPhone app pixel doubling required.

So, I contacted Telstra to find out what was going on, and a spokesperson informed me that iPad compatibility was now official in its 'Mobile Foxtel'  version 2.0 app.

Telstra says that new features of this version 2.0 app include an 'inbuilt Twitter IOS integration, which allows the user to tweet whilst watching their favourite show, a channel switching function which allows customers to channel surf while still watching a program and a reminder function which will sound five minutes before a customer's favourite program begins.'

The app lets you see how much of each currently airing episode has elapsed on the various channels that Mobile Foxtel offers, which is a pretty cool little feature.

Telstra also states that 'the 'Guide' part of the app has also been updated to allow customers the ease of searching for a show by program name, program time or by genre.'

Telstra's Executive Director of Media, Applications and User Experience, J-B Rousselot explain that the improvements to the mobile FOXTEL offering 'allow our customers to watch their favourite shows on any device without missing a minute.'

He specifically stated that: 'These changes aim to improve the customer experience and utilize Australia's fastest network - Telstra Next G', and promise that 'The Android version of the app will be available in the coming weeks'.

So, what are the things and caveats you need to know, along with pricing, to be able to watch Mobile Foxtel on your iPad?

Download locations, pricing, commentary and more concludes on page two, so please read on!

Now, the usual caveats apply: you need to have a 3G-capable iPad or iPad 2, and the 3G SIM card in your iPad needs to be of the Telstra Next G variety. Wi-Fi only iPads miss out as Mobile Foxtel isn't available over Wi-Fi, even if that Wi-Fi is delivered via a Next G SIM card in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Then, you need to subscribe to the service, with plans starting at either AUD $12 or AUD $18 per month, with the $18 monthly figure giving you access to all 32 channels on the Foxtel service. 

It's also possible to pay for either 3 or 6 months in advance, whereupon you'll get a small discount over the normal $18 per month fee for all channels.

Whichever amount you pay for the channels you choose, the content is delivered to Next G subscribers in an unmetered manner, effectively letting you watch all the Mobile Foxtel you want without clocking up gigabytes of data charges, which would certainly be very expensive if it weren't for the fact subscriptions on Telstra aren't metered.

One niggle that Telstra hasn't yet addressed is a lack of 'widescreen' streaming. The left and right hand sides of the live stream are 'chopped off', which is extremely noticeable when watching Sky News, Sky News Business, Fox News and other channels with tickers and logos at the bottom of the screen.

I've complained bitterly about this in the past, remarking that even Australia's publically funded and perennially short of cash ABC TV network can stream its content in widescreen to iPhones and iPads, but Telstra, one of the most profitable companies in Australia, if not the planet, still can't get its widescreen act together.

That said'¦ Mobile Foxtel for Next G subscribers on 3G iPads is now an official reality, and while it seems to have taken a lot longer than it should have to appear, if you want your 'MFTV', you can finally get it - if you are on Next G with a 3G iPad.

The resolution doesn't appear to have been increased since Apple upped it for the iPhone in the first place, but seeing as that would chew even more data - and likely annoy Foxtel who would want the 'highest' resolution to be available from the standard Foxtel service - I'm happy to be happy that Mobile Foxtel is on iPad at last, and can agitate for widescreen and even higher streaming resolutions in the future.

The only other thing that comes to mind is that it's also not possible to record any Mobile Foxtel programming as yet direct to the iPad for a bit of time shifting, but seeing as Telstra and Optus are in a big battle over Internet rights and time shifting as we speak, I don't expect Mobile Foxtel recording capabilities any time soon.

To download the universal iPhone and iPad Mobile Foxtel app, please visit this link, which will take you straight to the app store.

For more information on Mobile Foxtel, including all the pricing options, please check out the Mobile Foxtel part of Telstra'a site.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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