back to article FANBOIS' EYES ONLY: United Airlines offers FREE MOVIES on iOS kit

High-flying fanbois will soon be able to use their iPhone, fondleslab or laptop to watch free video content on United Airlines flights. Apple and United have struck a deal which will allow users of iStuff – running iOS 7 – to watch 50 movies and almost 200 TV shows free of charge. However, fandroids shouldn't get any ideas …


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  1. Tom 7

    Suits me

    since most people seem to insist on showing me how fab their iKit is I guess I wont need it.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Suits me

      That app is already monstrous and does anything but cleaning the dishes.

      No thanks, can I have a _SEPARATE_ app for that so that the one that matters (the one that has mileage, boarding passes, etc) actulaly works.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      More to the point

      It won't distract folks from United's horrible service and outrageous baggage fees.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suits me

      "However, fandroids shouldn't get any ideas just yet. "


    4. LarsG


      Would charge me for bring my phone with me, charge me to use my phone, charge me to switch off my phone, charge me......

      So it's not such a bad deal on United is it?

  2. The Wegie

    I'd be more impressed

    if United spent the money on deep-cleaning those flying cow-byres they use for their US domestic service and employing some customer service staff who didn't have the winning personality and conversational style of Rosa Kleb.

  3. Chad H.

    Yeah but....

    You still have to fly Untied (no typo) "Airlines".

    I'm sure having that system will be of great benefit when throwing people like my girlfriend out into midnight sub zero temperatures, or your passengers are waiting for an "on time" flight even thuogh the aircraft isnt due to arrive until 10 mins after scheudled departure.

    I could go on, but they dont deserve the attention.

  4. JDX Gold badge

    Excellent news

    But only because of how much it will upset the anti-Apple brigade about how "it's unethical for them to spend money supporting Apple's walled garden" or some such tosh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent news

      Screw that argument, surely entertainment systems should be for everyone to use? i.e. built into the chairs as all good airlines do? my last long haul had masses of entertainment, and if not my microSD taking tablets were loaded with kids entertainment...

    2. Mark .

      Re: Excellent news

      No, people would be annoyed at paying loads for a seat, then finding that they offer this service only to the minority of iphone users. I remember when there were uproars when companies "only" catered for 90% of Windows users - and it was right that people complained, because 10% or not, it's still unfair and anti-competitive to lock people out based on what they use. But the situation with iphone-only support is ridiculous, when it's barely managed above 20%.

      Why can't it all be through a browser, instead of needing an exe? We had the days of "Best viewed in Internet Explorer", then the days of needing Flash, but today where we need a propetary executable that only works on a minority of devices is far worse.

      And the industry wonders why they're losing money and people download. The flyer who bittorrented their media gets it to Just Work with any make of device he or she has.

      Sorry, like most people I don't have an iphone - that doesn't mean we're "anti-Apple".

  5. sorry, what?

    I wonder when...

    This will be treated as discrimination?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder when...

      If it means the more fanatical Fanbois end up shifting their business and packing United flights, then that seems like a win-win for everybody else. How they'll cope with the United customer care "experience" will be interesting to behold.

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: I wonder when...

      You could try bringing a court case claiming that your fundamental human rights were being violated. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

      Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits

      Alternatively, just re-enact the "help, I'm being oppressed" bit from the Pythons' Quest for the Holy Grail.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have MP4 movies and TV series on my Android tab, plus 20GB of MP3's.

    Last time I flew United they wanted $7.00 for me just to listen to onboard music. Will never fly them again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seriously? they CHARGED to listen to onboard music? are american airlines really that retarded?

    2. Raoul Miller

      No they didn't

      I fly 50,000 plus miles a year on United - they do not charge to listen to music. They may charge for headphones, but not for the music itself.

  7. The Cybernetic Entomologist

    Android #fail

    This is probably a technology decision more than anything else - Streaming secured/encrypted content to iOS is trivial and baked into the OS and browser. Android, you have to have an app to do it.

    If Android strategists would ever get their S*** together when it comes to streaming to that platform, the online video world would be a lot better place, but I'm not going to hold my breath, since they intentionally *removed* Flash and HLS capability as of 4.1.

    While everybody is heading towards transporting HVEC streams over MPEG-DASH (for all practical purposes, a combination of the best parts of Apple's HLS, Adobe's HDS, and Microsoft's Smooth Streaming HTTP transports), Google is off playing its own game with its own codecs and really not doing much of anything in the transport space. They only support flash and HLS because they have to, same reason they backed off of their plan to drop H.264 support in Chrome.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Android #fail

      Didn't it say that they had to download and use the UA app for this? If so, what has this got to do with the OS features and Android having to have an App?

      There are plenty of cross platform streaming libraries out there for precisely this kind of purpose and to ensure that device OS coverage is as wide as possible.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: This is probably a technology decision more than anything else

      Not an "Apple gave us lots of money" decision?

    3. Mark .

      Re: Android #fail

      You do realise that the browser is an "app", right? An odd criticism to make, given how ios devices seem to need an app to view every single web page out there.

      I'm not sure why you criticise removing Flash, since when could IOS do that?

  8. Ol'Peculier


    Most Android users will have worked out how to easily get content onto their gadget before leaving for the flight.

    Anyway, United is a terrible airline. Got an "upgrade" last year and honestly can't say what the difference was between that and cattle class.


      Re: Android

      50 movies sounds about like what I could fit on my phone right now.

      Except that's going to be 50 movies of my choosing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Android

        Yay! A fandroid trots out the 'choice' canard! Oh! Bonus point too! It's serial-troll JEDIDIAH!!!

        1. JEDIDIAH

          Re: Android

          > Yay! A fandroid trots out the 'choice' canard!

          It's not "choice". It's ownership. I can put my stuff on any device I like. That could be an iPhone. That could be an Android. That could even by the 500G Archos I take on long trips.

          Oddly enough, this is supposed to be the same kind of stuff that the the whole iTunes model should be able to accommodate. So beyond the whole "mine's bigger than yours" thing, it's not something that should be particular to Android at all.

          You're trying far too hard to avoid taking advantage of everything that the tech has to offer.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Android

      Anyway, United is a terrible airline. Got an "upgrade" last year and honestly can't say what the difference was between that and cattle class.

      The difference is that you paid more for it? Erm, nope - can't honestly say I saw a difference either. Although at one point a dirty curtain is pulled to separate you from those that didn't pay for it. If you could tell the difference...

      1. Chairo

        Re: Android

        Anyway, United is a terrible airline. Got an "upgrade" last year and honestly can't say what the difference was between that and cattle class.

        You get out of the plane earlier than the rest, so you will be the last one to get out of the shuttle bus. Also your baggage will be marked for priority disembarkation, to make it easier for the thieves to find the "rich guy's" baggage.

  9. Gashead

    Free access to porn for Android users.

  10. JeffyPoooh

    So, is this via WiFi?

    How well will it work when 100+ people try to use it at once?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: So, is this via WiFi?

      Suspect the service will be multicast, so effectively giving travellers the same entertainment service as they have now, except delivered to their device instead of the seat back.

      Obviously, the problems arise, as you indicate, when the handful of multicast streams become a few hundred individual on-demand streams...

      It is interesting that they are using WiFi and not LTE/4G...

  11. Velv

    Given Android's open nature, surely someone has written an App/Browser/Driver that makes it pretend to the outside world to be an iOS device?

    (and just in case there isn't, I hereby declare this to be MY intellectual property as of now, timestamped to me here on El Reg, despite Apple trying to patent it in four years time).

  12. John Tserkezis

    From the little research I've done on this, it appears it initially is available for Laptops, and iOS devices, with and excuse that they're having a "bit" of trouble with Android for some stupid reason.

    The deciding factor here, is the application they MAKE you install onto your device first, which in turn gets the media stream via WiFi, which merely behaves as the transport medium. WiFi != Free for all content.

    This is not a technical issue regarding the target device - there is plenty of competing technology that will allow "any" media stream onto "any" device with whatever software it comes with. My guess is they want to entirely control what you see, how you see it, and most importantly, bow before their sponsors who want to peddle their hire cars, accommodation, fast food, or whatever crapola that is by FAR more important than the feeble offering of 50 movies and 200 shows. (my dvd collection is many times larger than that, so they're not trying hard enough).

    Too late for Untied though, anyone who knows anything has already prepared and done better - and likely flying another airline anyway.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: John Tserkezis

      On reading this, my expectation is that this means that United can avoid installing and maintaining seat back entertainment systems, which will have both a weight and operational cost impact, working on the assumption that a large number of passengers will be carrying their gismo's in their hand luggage rather than in the hold. Obviously, I expect UA to offer travellers a suitable device to use during a flight, if they want to access the entertainment service, naturally there will be a prices associated with this service...

  13. MachDiamond Silver badge

    I see dead trees

    I'm always wary about installing yet another app to access something that can be made available without the custom app. Smartphone apps seem to be increasingly about information harvesting rather than doing just what the package reads. I get the feeling that this new system isn't going to come close to generating the income or passenger usage that the marketing chaps are on about and will die in trials. A bigger packet of nuts or pretzels would be nice.

    Tell ya what, I'll just stuff a magazine or two into my carry-on bag along with some audiobooks on my iPod and I should be in good nick. Maybe I'll rip a movie from my DVD collection to the laptop. Perhaps a nap is the better plan. I've never been impressed with in-flight entertainment. Of course, I've never spent $2,500 each way on a ticket. At that price, I'm booking with Cunard for my trans-Atlantic trips.

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