Joost 0.9 enables Mac Remote

This weekend, the new Joost beta 0.9 was seeded to a select group of “super special beta testers“.
The first impressions are very good. A few highlights.

Support for Mac Remote!
So now my iMac really behaves like a TV set on steroids. Zapping works fine, other navigation still is a bit crude.

Fast Forward
Until now, rewinding and fast forwarding was possible only for content which was already viewed (and thus available in a local cache). This beta enables forward skipping to any point in the stream. If you skip beyond a previously viewed point, you first get a preview still image. Then the playback is started after some delay (buffering period?).

Improved UI
Controls and widgets have been redesigned and look really slick now.

New content
There are a lot of new, interesting channels. In the preview-beta, many of these are not available yet.

Behind the scenes

The promise of Joost is way beyond yet another replacement TV distribution channel. The most interesting things have yet to come with the extensible social / sharing components.
This morning, the website was relaunched with some more hints at what is coming too.

Extension API
No details are revealed, the site just says:

Coming soon… Write your own add-ons, watch yet more great content. Come back regularly for updates.

Some guessing…

Mozilla XUL
The Joost application is based on XUL Runner 1.9 – which makes it likely that the extension mechanism is somehow based on XUL and XPCOM. If so, there are really exciting possibilities ahead. Likely, many Firefox plugins could be ported for the platform. Imagine having one of these running as a transparent overlay on your video screen!

The Mac OS version of Joost appears to be Applescript aware as well. However, nothing beyond the obligatory standard suite appears to be defined and a simple test script throws exceptions. This may simply be a remnant of the Applescript core in XUL Runner. And because Joost is platform independent, Applescript seems a very unnatural choice for extensions. At the other hand, Skype has a (very awkward) Apple script interface.

Powered by Semantic Web technologies

The Joost development team has strong roots in Semantic Web technology. Until now, this has been used mostly at the back end. But at a few places it appears at the surface: the chat widget uses the Jabber protocol, there is a RSS reader widget (OK, hardly semweb) and the there are traces of a lot of W3C protocols scattered all over the place.
This all means that the social component has the potential to become really, really rich. I’m not sure what wil happen here, but my expectations are high!