Boxee has spent an awful long time in “alpha.” Thus its users will likely be much relieved to know that the application is finally planning to move into beta during this summer. The company is promising that it will be worth the wait, and isn’t exactly disclosing all it plans.
Certainly for being in alpha the application is quite robust. And for whatever reason, it has certainly developed a loyal following if the well-attended meetup in NYC was any indication.
What we do know of whats coming in the product is this:
1. A customizable home screen. Right now Boxee controls how the home page appears. However, in the beta the user will be able to customize how channels and content appear so that your favorite content isn’t buried under stuff you don’t care about.
2. Content search across all available sources. This will make it much easier for people to discover content they may be interested in, rather than
3. Content you’ve already seen will be filtered out. This seems like a no-brainer, but currently any content you’ve already seen will continue to appear in your searches for new content. That is definitely going to make content discovery a lot easier.
4. New episodes of favorite programs will be more easily discoverable. When a user has marked a program as a favorite, the beta will now automatically alert you to new content.
5. Mark content for later viewing. In the alpha, Boxee makes you watch the content right away. In the beta, the application will allow you to mark content for later viewing.
6. Better social networking tools. It’s very difficult right now to use the social networking aspect of the Boxee service. The company will make the process of finding friends a lot easier, which will in turn make the “friending” aspect a lot more useful
7. Better control of what content you’d like to share. Users may be concerned what exactly others may see when they share their content. Boxee will allow people to more easily control this for those more privacy conscious.
8. A better user interface. I am of the opinion that the user interface of Boxee is a little clunky. The company has brought on board an user interface manager, Whitney Hess, which is in charge of giving the application a facelift. Unfortunately, they did not have the beta finished enough before the NYC meetup, so we didn’t get to see any mockups.
Either way, CEO Avner Ronen has reiterated that Boxee will always remain free, so that is some good news for those who may be concerned about the way the company may try to monetize Boxee. It will not be through subscription fees, that is what we’re being told.