Sony: 2 million people have streamed The Interview

Over 2 million people have purchased or rented The Interview since it started streaming on December 24th, according to an announcement from Sony Pictures Entertainment (via Business Insider.)

The Interview raked in $15 million in online sales through Saturday night, which is five times larger than the $2.8 million weekend box office generated by the film’s limited release in 331 independent theaters.

The slapstick farce about North Korea starring James Franco and Seth Rogen is available from YouTube, Google Play, Xbox Video, and Sony’s own website. It costs $14.99 to buy and $5.99 to rent.

Apple also started selling The Interview on the iTunes store on Sunday. Its newfound availability on iTunes will make it easier for people with an Apple TV to watch the movie — previously, users had to purchase the movie on a computer or phone before watching it on their [company]Apple[/company] TV.

For a dumb comedy, The Interview has certainly had a tumultuous route to wide release. After a large cache of [company]Sony Pictures[/company] documents and emails was leaked, the movie had its release plans temporarily cancelled because of vague fears that North Korea could attack theaters in retribution for an unflattering portrayal of Kim Jong-un. Experts remain deeply divided about whether North Korea was involved with the Sony Pictures breach.

Because The Interview was officially released online before it opened in a limited number of theaters, many are closely watching its progress because it could be a bellwether for future “day and date” releases.

Last week, Variety reported that Netflix is “in talks” to stream The Interview, too.


The movie is still being promoted on social media. Twitter pushed a notification to its users on iOS and Android suggesting they follow Seth Rogen ahead of a planned live-tweeting of the film on Sunday.



Google expands Android One to Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Android One, Google’s effort to improve and standardize phones that cost under $100, is expanding. After launching in India earlier this year, Android One devices will go on sale in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka “in the coming weeks,” according to a Google blog post.

The expansion into the new countries will be led by device makers Karbonn, Micromax, and Spice, which already make Android One devices for India. They’ll be joined in Bangladesh by that country’s own Symphony, which is expected to make Android One phones as well.

Although this is Android One’s largest expansion so far, it isn’t the first time Android One devices have gone on sale outside of India. Last month, four Android One–certified smartphones made by Karbonn went on sale in the U.K. for as little as £70. Still, Android One devices are more clearly intended as mainstream phones for emerging markets rather than as the cheapest Android devices on sale in Europe or the United States.

Although Android dominates low-end smartphones worldwide, most of those devices have no link to Google’s version of Android and are often missing services like the Google Play app store and Google Maps. Some of those phones are running on years-old versions of Android. When Android One was first announced earlier this year, it promised two main advantages over generic, cheap Android phones. First, it standardized specs for low-end phones, thus improving performance for phones running inexpensive MediaTek chips. But equally important is that Android One devices have full access to [company]Google[/company] updates and services.

It also appears that Android One is a passion project for Google SVP Sundar Pichai, who was promoted earlier this year to a “second-in-command” role at Google.

Google Maps for Android has a VR mode, thanks to Google Cardboard

Cardboard, Google’s virtual reality hobby that first launched as a kind of gag gift at its developers conference this year, has been making strides in the past month with new SDKs and a section of the Google Play app store specifically for Cardboard-compatible apps. And earlier this week, Google shared a relatively easy to peek at its large cache of Street View images on Cardboard through the Google Maps app.

The feature is somewhat hidden — for now. Quietly announced on Google Plus, the feature is currently only available for Android devices through the Google Maps app. To find it, you merely have to double-tap the look around button when looking at a street view. (The option to enter street view is available on the bottom-screen menu when looking up an address.) Google’s GIF explains the process well:


Even if you don’t have a [company]Google[/company] Cardboard headset — although it’s possible to purchase one cheaply from companies like Dodocase or even make your own — the feature will probably work on your Android device if you’ve got an up to date version of Google Maps. Double-tapping the look around turned regular street view into binocular street view on my Nexus 5, and moving my phone in space shifted what I was looking at.

One World Trade Center through binocular Google Street view

One World Trade Center through binocular Google Street view

The official Cardboard has supported some Street View locations since it launched, and there are several ways to get Street View working on Oculus Rift. Because Street View images can be so compelling and there is such a wealth of them, it could be one of the big sources of content in the early years of virtual reality.

Chromecast perks: Free X-Men movie and $20 Google Play credit

In the market for a Chromecast these holidays? Google has some perks for you: Consumers who buy a new Chromecast streaming stick between December 7 and December 21 and then set it up before the end of the year are eligible for a $20 Google Play credit. The credit can be used to buy movies, TV shows or even apps, but device purchases are excluded (hat tip to Android Police).

The $20 Google Play credit seems to apply to Chromecasts purchased anywhere, but there are some extra credits in it for you if you buy your device at a Costco store. Costco members can get Sesame Street Go free for 3 months, two months of free Dailyburn workouts and a total of $25 in Google Play credits.

chromecast offers

If you already have a Chromecast and don’t really want to buy another one, don’t worry, you’re not completely left out. Google is currently giving a copy of the first X-Men movie away to every Chromecast user in the U.S.. Hulu is offering two months of free Hulu Plus service for new subscribers, Dramafever is giving away three months of its paid service for new users, and Google is giving every Chromecast owner three months of unlimited access to its Google Play Music subscription service.

To check which offers you are eligible for, just visit this link while logged into the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast, or access the offers through the Chromecast app on Android and iOS.

Google appears poised to open an app store in China

There are tens of millions of smartphones running Android in China, but very few use Google Play services and almost none of them have access to Google’s app store. It looks like Google wants to change that.

Roku just got a Google Play Movies channel

Roku users just got another way to rent and buy movies and TV shows — but this one is worth mentioning regardless: Owners of current-generation Roku players now have access to a Google Play Movies and TV Shows channel on their devices, which means that they’ll also have access to any of the movies or shows they have previously bought from Google on their Android devices. The Google Play Movies channel also comes with info overlays that identify the actors on screen. Support for Roku TVs will follow soon, according to Roku’s press release.

Try before you buy: Google extends refund window for Play Store apps to two hours

One of the biggest advantages to buying apps on Google Play over the iOS App Store is the ability to try out apps before you buy them. Previously, Google Play gave users a 15-minute refund window, but on Wednesday, [company]Google[/company] officially extended the policy to two hours. In fact, as Android Police noted, the refund window had been quietly changed earlier this summer, but now it’s official. So go ahead and try out that expensive new app. You can always return it.