Films & TV: December 2016 update and round-up

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Loathe as we are to putting up news stories for every minor update to every application, it does prove useful every now and then to summarise what's new, especially in a core Windows 10 Mobile application, if only to wet your appetite to give it another try and explore some new functions and features. Such is the case with Films & TV, whose recent changes are listed below. The most recent changes below were added only yesterday, at least for anyone on the Windows Insider Fast ring. If you're on the 'Slow' ring or even on the Anniversary Update still, then this new version may take a few weeks to arrive and not all the stuff below will apply!

Here's the summarised changelog for 'Films & TV' from the last eight months (since our last news story on this app) to this rather useful Windows 10 core application:

User interface:

  • When you play a personal video, 'autoplay' lets you keep watching everything else in that folder.
  • When you start a video in folders view, Previous and Next now skip to other videos in that folder.
  • You can now switch between Dolby and AAC 2-Channel audio while streaming video (if those audio streams are present in your content, obviously)

Content purchasing and rentals:

  • Your old expired rentals now get cleaned up automatically.
  • When rentals expire, it's easier to rent them again.
  • If you only own an episode or two of a TV show, you now get a link to complete your season in the Store.
  • Buy while you binge: You can pay for each next TV episode just before it plays.

Performance and miscellaneous:

  • You can more quickly resume or restart movies currently in progress.
  • The grey overlay in the Now playing screen that appeares when the video was paused has now been removed.
  • Better handling of low disk space errors.
  • Minor fixes and Improvements.

That's a very decent changelog and, as I say, all of it is now available if your Windows 10 Mobile smartphone is registered on the 'Fast' Insiders ring. If not, just.... wait a few weeks to get the full feature set. The latest version is v10.16112.1015.0, if you want to check (in Settings/About in the app).

Here's the new version of Films & TV in action:

Screenshot, Films & TV

Watching a music video (from a folder on microSD) - note the left and right navigation arrows on the edge of the UI (the interface appears when the screen is tapped and then [obviously]disappears after a few seconds while you watch)

Screenshot, Films & TV

Going further, on the '...' menu is an 'Autoplay' toggle, so that playback will carry on with the next video in the folder, working alphabetically.

Screenshot, Films & TV

Also notable is that, when paused, a video still shows the full contrast paused frame rather than a greyed out version.

Screenshot, Films & TVScreenshot, Films & TV

So I bought episode 1 of this classic series - and here's a handy 'Buy series' link. Hey ho, it's got to be cheaper than buying episodes one by one, eh? (right) a glimpse into part of my 'I'm bored and there's no signal' music video archive on my phones(!)

It's great to see Microsoft putting so much effort into what, on some other platforms, is a bare bones (or even non-existent) first party video player. Of course, Microsoft's main aim is to promote the idea of buying or renting film and TV material from its own Windows 10 Store, but we're all benefitting as a result.

I realise that offline media is a concept from the last decade, but Microsoft does seem to recognise this use case, with the folder playing features, i.e. working your way through a physical folder (e.g. on microSD) of previously downloaded or sideloaded videos. Personally, I find it incredibly useful to have 5GB or so of favourite videos (in my case music concerts and documentaries) stashed in a corner of any phone I'm using so that I never get left waiting around (e.g. for trains, appointments or family) without something fun to watch and listen to (via headphones) even if there's no cellular or wi-fi signal

Just me? Anyway, enjoy the new version of Films & TV on Windows 10 Mobile, it's really rather good...