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Virgin America’s new in-flight entertainment platform will run on Android-based software

Red Beta Tour
Virgin America is known for eagerly embracing technology, especially when compared with its counterparts. It seems the airline wants to push the envelope even further with a beta launch of a revamped in-flight entertainment platform that will run on Android and be presented on high-resolution Panasonic touch screens.

Earlier this week, Virgin America announced that an improved beta version of Red, its in-flight entertainment system, would be rolled out to three lucky planes this month. The upgraded platform will feature “new, higher-resolution, capacitive-touch monitors, as well as a new Red Beta platform built on Android-based software that allows us to make faster improvements in the short-term to our in-flight entertainment platform – and in the long-term, will make it possible for us to further connect, personalize and expand Red in entirely new ways,” according to the airline’s blog post.

Virgin America notes that the Panasonic EcoV2 screens will support HD content with 720p resolution, faster HD image rendering, and pinch-and-swipe functionality. The platform will also have enough storage capacity to host three times as much content, including full seasons of popular TV shows. More interactive maps and a “surround sound” listening experience on certain content are also promised.

Passengers who enjoy playing games will appreciate the addition of more interactive games, including Asteroids and Pac-Man.

These changes will certainly be a welcome sight and experience for passengers, but Virgin America is particularly excited about the quicker development cycles possible with a platform based on Android. “Although airline product development cycles are typically measured in decades, not years – the new platform gives us the ability to iterate much more quickly,” according to Ken Bieler, director of cabin systems, product design, and innovation.

Virgin America aims to roll out Red Beta to 18 of its aircraft by the end of 2015 and the rest of its fleet in 2016.

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Jason Hahn
Jason Hahn is a part-time freelance writer based in New Jersey. He earned his master's degree in journalism at Northwestern…
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