Tweets spark creation of new Canadian film app

In response to a large number of Tweets, the Montreal-based National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has created a new application for operation on Google Inc.’s Android platform to make Canadian films more accessible to the public.

The NFB had previously released its application for Apple Inc.’s iPhone on Oct. 21, 2009 and its app for the iPad on July 20, 2010. The iPhone app was named one of the best apps of the year by iTunes Canada when it came out, according to a report by the NFB. However, many people have requested on the NFB’s Twitter page that a similar app be made for Android devices, according to Joël Pomerleau, the director of platform development at NFB.

The iPhone back then was the most popular,” Pomerleau said.

There are no plans to make it for any other smart phones like Research In Motion Ltd.‘s Blackberry or the Windows Phone 7 in the near future, according to Pomerleau.

“It depends on market growth (whether or not Blackberry or Windows will see apps for their mobile devices),” Pomerleau said.

The market growth for Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 7 has been sluggish and developers are aware of this, so there are not many apps for the phone, according to Mark Tauschek, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group Inc.

“I think that developers (like the NFB) have been reluctant because when (Microsoft) got it out it was too little, too late,” he said.

The NFB decided to go with Android instead of Blackberry and Windows because of its high growth in the market, according to Pomerleau.

“It’s a continuity of what we’re doing with the mobile market,” he said.

Android devices are becoming increasingly popular and will eventually surpass the iPhone, said Alistair Croll, the founder of Montreal-based analyst firm, Bitcurrent.

“Android’s going to overtake iOS,” Croll said. “The growth of Android-based tablets is huge.”

Although it is similar to the Apple iOS app, the NFB did not make the Android app identical for security reasons. The iOS platform has a “watch later” feature, in which users can download a NFB film and watch it offline later. Apple’s platform has more security features and protects the film from being copied and shared illegally, whereas the Android is more open and does not have that capability, according to Pomerleau.

It is for this reason that filmmakers did not want to allow the NFB to place the “watch later” feature on the Android platform.

However, there are more features available on the Android platform than the iPhone, like sharing films through e-mail, Twitter and Facebook from mobile devices. Users can also use the application on Google TV, a set up box plugged into a television to watch online Google videos.

Google TV, however, is not available in Canada yet.

The Android app comes with 1,500 free NFB films to watch online. The films are organized by themes.

This application will be Canada’s first film app created for Android devices, according to a report by the NFB. This spring the NFB will also release an updated version of its iPad app.

The Android app can be downloaded at the NFB’s Web site.

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