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Home / Tips and Tricks / Hands-On: Hands-On with CNN's Magic Leap News Video App «Magic Leap :: Next Reality

Hands-On: Hands-On with CNN's Magic Leap News Video App «Magic Leap :: Next Reality

Magic Leap has done a great job in aggressively launching new apps, software updates, and key franchise bindings. But aside from all the creative and entertainment apps, how about using one of the apps that the company hopes you use every day?

One of these apps is the CNN News app, which has recently received an update that is worth dipping in.

Over the last few months, I've spent a lot of time with the first version of CNN Beta -App to live. You may ask, "If you've spent so much time, why are you writing about it in detail right now?"

Well, frankly, I was holding back in the first place because the experience was pretty awful. In addition, the app underwent some updates that forced me to dive into the app again and again, finding out what was fixed and what was still broken. The process was surprisingly time-consuming, especially because the user interface was pretty flawed.

The new version of the CNN Magic Leap One app. Image by Adario Strange / Next Reality

I am pleased to announce that this is no longer the case, but that the app is complete with a new look, a new interface, and no bugs I have, Updated has been able to recognize. So it's finally time to talk about what it's like to immerse yourself in one of the world's biggest news channels in Augmented Reality.


First of all, it's important to point out that you can get to the CNN Magic Leap app. You must first open the screens app (which also hosts the NBA app and others).

The first version of the CNN Magic Leap app was attractive at first glance. It contained a series of video content that you could scroll through, much like the interface you see on the desktop version of YouTube. In the new release, CNN has completely redesigned the look to provide a simpler workspace that is visually less transparent and contains fewer menu options.

The old beta version of the CNN app for Magic Leap One. Image by Adario Strange / Next Reality

At first I was not happy about that, but the more I used the app, the better I understand the logic of the new version. Developers of the new version of the app want you to be able to quickly launch the CNN app and consume messages instead of endlessly scrolling through a plethora of menus.

This new, cost-effective user interface makes all the more sense as you think about how to get to the site. App: Turn on Magic Leap One, disable the spatial assignment prompt, click the on-screen App Icon menu and navigate to Start and click the CNN app icon. By the time you actually arrive at the app, all you have to do is scroll through the menus.


The app is divided into three sections: Live TV Channels (CNN, CNN International and HLN (all require login), a free menu with videos on current world news, trend news and top news (no login required); and news programs and original series (both require login) A fourth feature that is new to the updated app is the Spatial Explainers section, which is in the same interface level as the

Before you begin, we'll cover the login request If you are a subscriber to one of the cable providers offering CNN as part of your package, it may be worthwhile for you to complete the login process. It's relatively simple: clicking on one of the login-only videos will give you an access code and prompt you to go to an activation page of CNN Magic Leap (cnn.com/activate/magicleap). Then you can choose your video cable provider. (When I look at CNN, I do that through my Sling TV account, but I could not find that option.)

CNN, which requires a login for the special programs, is no surprise as the company dedicated programs wants to secure users. However, it does seem a bit short-sighted to sign up for a state-of-the-art device like the Magic Leap One. A better option would have been to allow full access to all content for a set amount of time (users should first depend on the immersive app) and then log in after about 30 days.

As for the undeclared content, it's great. The new version of the app is absolutely solid. Videos are as alive as you would expect in augmented reality, and the sound is crystal clear. I'm particularly fond of the ability to place multiple video screens in your room, all playing at the same time. When I tried this with the first version of the app, the app crashed after placing six to eight separate screens. In this release, you are limited to four screens at the same time.

And a subtle touch here is that you only hear the sound of the screen you are looking at. So, when you play four video screens, you can turn your head in the direction of another video screen to hear different audio. It's a simple but powerful demonstration of spatial audio and why Augmented Reality has more to offer than traditional content vectors. For the hearing impaired, all videos have a large button with subtitles that you can click to read the words spoken on screen.

This is a simple but powerful demonstration of spatial audio and why Augmented Reality has more to offer than traditional content vectors.

Apart from the robust video features in the app, the Spatial Explainers section is the somewhat hidden rock star of its range of features. In this section, the app presents another CNN news video story in Augmented Reality. However, here you will also get fully interactive 3D objects that you can explore. The example below shows the now famous Tham Luang Cave Rescue in Thailand.

Image by Adario Strange / Next Reality

There are three videos available (each about one and a half minutes). When you click on each video, a 3D icon appears next to the video. When you click this icon, the object becomes a full-size 3D object (about four by four square feet) that you can examine while playing video.

Image by Adario Strange / Next Reality

When you expand the landscape of the Thailand area, you can walk around the land area, in which rescuers found the children and click on important points on the 3D map to find out where certain events took place. And if you click on another video containing a model of the cave shown in the story, you can use the controller as a flashlight to examine the interior.

Image by Adario Strange / Next Reality

The entire interaction is the ideal version to consume news in AR. In a way, I would compare it to the stunning examples of AR broadcasts we saw on the Weather Channel. In this case, rain, animation, and 3D models are all things that you can interact with directly instead of looking at them passively.


By far the biggest problem I had with the first version of the app was performance. It seems to push the Magic Leap One to its limits, requiring only the most robust Internet connection, and moving within the app was at times frustrating (even though there is no internet connection). The new version is smooth as ice and very fast.

photo via Magic Leap

Another thing that struck me is the ability to place screens in Your area has changed a bit because you can now move your arm (while holding the controller, no hand tracking in this app) to either pull the screen forward and zoom in or out, and do it smaller. So far, shifting the screens in terms of performance has not been intuitive and unpredictable.


Although I do not particularly like the logon requirements, the app is now one of the best I've ever seen used on the Magic Leap One.

And if you're wondering if it's possible to see the news while working on multiple screens, yes, it's possible I did it. Of course, your battery will be dead after a few hours and you will need to plug in the power. As we all know now, it is not healthy to sit in one place too long so you can take charge of the time as an opportunity to take a break.

There is still a bit of skepticism regarding Magic Leap One's prospects as a mainstream user device that most people would use to consume CNN videos throughout the day, but when you're ready to go To live the future with a leg, the CNN Magic Leap app should definitely be part of your Augmented Reality arsenal.

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Cover Image on Magic Leap

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