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The little chips and pieces of memory inside your cell phone are only so powerful.

Amazon Web Services, the biggest public cloud out there, is now letting all developers tap its vast infrastructure to stream applications and games and render graphics, enabling more computationally intensive applications to run fast on end users’ devices.

The retailer’s cloud division announced the news about the service, dubbed AppStream, in a blog post today, four months after teasing it at a conference.

This isn’t just a standard service for setting up individual virtual machines or small slices of a physical server. Lots of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers already offer that — Google, Microsoft, Rackspace, and so on. No, what Amazon is doing is offering a much more complex service that eliminates the effort of maintaining fleets of virtual machines and storage infrastructure. Bringing out powerful services like this, in addition to the raw compute and storage infrastructure, is one of many strategies Amazon uses to keep competitors scrambling.


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Amazon also cuts prices often. And it frequently adds new hardware that developers can build on top of — like the GPU-based instances that AppStream uses.

In today’s blog post about AppStream, Amazon Web Services chief evangelist Jeff Barr laid out the responsibility of the code running on a mobile device or a desktop, and the way it communicated with the cloud:

The client code calls AppStream to obtain an Entitlement URL through an Entitlement Service (we supply a sample that you can use as-is, customize, or use as the basis for your own implementation). The client opens the Entitlement URL to initiate the streaming of video and audio content for playback. The client is also responsible for routing keyboard, mouse, and other device events to the application for processing.

Since announcing the service in November, Amazon has added to AppStream’s documentation and introduced a software-development kit (SDK) for Apple’s OSX operating system, as well as support for game controllers in client SDKs, Barr wrote.

Amazon isn’t the only company that’s been working on streaming applications from a cloud. Numecent and Otoy have too. As developers try out the new streaming service from Amazon, the practice could become more of a standard, which could boost other companies that stream applications right alongside Amazon.


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