Apple Bringing Video Purchasing/Downloads to the iPhone

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I dream of the day when my iPhone’s sync cable lies dusty and neglected in the back of a cabinet somewhere, and that day is getting closer and closer, thanks to iPhone OS 3.0. Yet another new feature discovered last week suggests that iPhone owners will have one less reason to connect and sync their devices come June. The feature in question is the ability to buy and download video content via iTunes.

The discovery came via “leaked” official Apple ad spots in the app Twitterfon (although I have trouble believing Apple would inadvertently be this sloppy) for iTunes TV, iTunes Movies, and iTunes Movie Rentals.

According to Twitter users, the source of the news, and commenters on this post, tapping on the ads redirected users with iPhone OS 3.0 installed on their phone to a previously unknown subsection of the built-in iTunes app, where movies and TV shows are listed. Movie links aren’t active yet, but it otherwise seems to be nearly ready for public consumption.

A variety of screenshots are available, thanks to the post by blogger KwameJones, and one commenter posted a link to the store that would work when accessed using an iPhone running OS 3.0, but the link has since ceased to be active. Lists of shows and movies with polished artwork include very recent titles like “Kings” and “The Wrestler”, which would indicate that Apple is indeed prepping this for a June launch, rather than just beta testing an early build of a video store to be added much later.

At this point, nothing is known about pricing, conditions of rental/purchase, or interaction/syncing with your iTunes library on your computer, but I’d love some sort of Kindle-like function that allows you to pick up watching video where you left off regardless of what platform you use to view it. Since this wasn’t announced at the iPhone 3.0 announcement event, I’m also guessing it’s a recent addition, possibly in answer to Microsoft’s upcoming “xYz” device, which is said to have similar features.

After the recent news that the Slingplayer app for iPhone would only be able to stream over Wi-Fi, I think it’s probably safe to assume that video downloads won’t be allowed over a 3G connection. On the other hand, it is possible that the only reason Apple imposed the Slingplayer restriction to begin with was to make this upcoming service a more appealing choice to iPhone users. If it did offer downloading regardless of connection type, and maybe even streaming content once you’ve begun your download, I think the customer response would be overwhelmingly positive.

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