HBO is revving up the hype machine for this weekend’s Game of Thrones premiere. Yesterday, HBO GO launched on the Xbox. Today, it appears that HBO GO’s interactive features are coming to their iPad app. Previously, from what I can tell, the interactive features were only accessible via the HBO GO website and not on the HBO GO app for connected devices such as the Roku, Xbox and Samsung Smart TVs. The Boxee already has access to the interactive features as it runs a web browser based version of the app. For Game of Thrones, HBO built a number of interactive features that would pop up during episodes. Given the complexity of the story, the interactive features provided additional information on family trees, characters, the houses and a map of the Seven Kingdoms. A web version of the interactive features can be found here. HBO has stated that the interactive features resulted in viewers watching episodes multiple times.
The current version of the app, 1.4 for the iPhone and iPad does not appear to support the interactive features yet. The app was last updated on March 22nd. Given the web page HBO has put up (screen shots below) and tweeted about, I expect we’ll see the interactive features in time for the Game of Thrones premiere. I’m waiting on HBO to officially confirm the new functionality. Let us know when it shows up on your iPad!
Update (3/28/2012): I just found the screen shot below in HBO GO’s help so I expect we’ll see it soon on the iPad.
Update (3/29/2012): It’s official, HBO just announced interactive HBO GO features on the iPad! The functionality will be enabled with the season two premiere of Game of Thrones on April 1st at 9 PM. According to the release, there will be interactive elements that are unique to the iPad. If you have the latest version of the HBO GO app, it doesn’t appear you need an update; sounds like HBO will just “flip the switch” on Sunday. YouTube video below. Here are excerpts from HBO’s release:
New York, N.Y., March 29, 2012 – On April 1, Game of Thrones fans will have a chance to watch their favorite show like never before when the HBO GO interactive viewing experience becomes available for the first time on the HBO GO iPad app. The Game of Thrones interactive elements on HBO GO allow viewers to engage with original features created exclusively for the service, by watching full-length episodes of the series alongside an “alert feed” showing never-before-seen bonus content. Previously available only online at HBOGO.com, the interactive viewing experience will become available on the HBO GO iPad app beginning with the season 2 premiere episode of Game of Thrones on April 1 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT, featuring special enhancements designed exclusively for the iPad.
Interactive viewing of Game of Thrones season 2 on the iPad provides an even more immersive and exciting experience for audiences, giving them an elegant, intuitive way to explore the world of Westeros. In landscape mode, a few taps of the screen enables the “alert feed” which appears just below the episode, calling out relevant content timed to specific scenes. As users engage with bonus content, the episode above is automatically paused until the user closes the feature and the episode automatically resumes play. Users can also navigate throughout the feed, scrolling back or forward in time.
Special content in the alert feed includes:
· Cast/crew commentaries with David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, George R.R. Martin, and more
· Behind the scenes interviews with the cast and crew
· Descriptions of new characters as they come into a scene
· Info alerts providing back stories on specific scenes and character relationships
· Detailed set photos and concept art from the series design team
· Quotes from series that can be shared through social media
· A map with key locations pinpointed
· A guide to Game of Thrones houses
Interactive features that are exclusive to the experience on the iPad include social functionality–the ability to post status updates to Facebook and Twitter directly while watching. Viewers can also choose to watch the series in portrait orientation on the iPad which enables them to browse locations and characters during episode playback. In portrait mode, a navigable map of Westeros and Essos is always visible below the “alert feed” and a “Guide to Houses” link drives users to view family trees and profiles for all of the series characters.