Archive for the ‘ Multimedia ’ Category

TubeMate – My mate, your mate, our mate, TubeMate

TubeMate

A while ago on Android Apt we reviewed the Youtube download app JetVD. It proved to be one of the more popular reviews on the blog, clearly people prefer the convenience of downloaded videos over ones that you have to stream. Sadly JetVD has refused to work in recent weeks, this wasn’t totally unexpected as Youtube have a habit of making background changes in order to disable programs that can download videos. A replacement was needed and I found Tubemate, dubbed as ‘The Fastest Youtube Downloader’.

Now you can download 'How Indy 4 Should Have Ended' and watch it on your phone.

Tubemate takes the standard Youtube front-end (you can switch between the standard web or mobile version) and adds a couple of handy buttons that allow you to download content as well as share and search for videos. Pressing the download button gives you a selection of video sizes (plus an MP3 download option) that caters for all flavours of Android right up to the latest tablet resolutions (depending on the source material obviously).
Downloading content is a devilishly quick process when TubeMate is used over wi-fi. You get a handy kbps counter as the video downloads and unlike JetVD the handset doesn’t slow down to a crawl when downloading HD videos. Tubemate also supports multiple downloads so you can build up your local Youtube library in next to no time.
TubeMate is a tidy, functional and easy to navigate app that only clocks in at a tiny 500k install size. It’s definately worth a download, lets just hope it doesn’t go the same way as JetVD any time soon.

About This App – Version Reviewed : 1,04.04
Category : Multimedia , Price : Free

Links : At the time of posting TubeMate has been taken off the Android Marketplace but it is available here.

Bottom Line : Hooray! Downloading Youtube videos is back on the menu. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Advertisements

Songbird – Not Tweeting, Not Angry, Just Singing.

Songbird

It’s been a while since a new music player caught my eye and this week it was nice to stumble upon ‘Songbird’ to try out as an alternative method of listening to music.
Already a popular desktop application, ‘Songbird’ comes to Android bringing with it it’s stylish purple design to take on the likes of Winamp and PowerAmp.
Everything about Songbird is tidy and clean, exploring your music collection is quick work and surprisingly flexible. Like Winamp, the ‘now playing’ screen can be accessed via a slide-up drawer which works excellently. The ‘now playing’ screen features all the usual controls as well as a unique Flickr button which activates a photo stream of the artist that’s currently playing. There’s also a Facebook ‘Like’ button that allows you to inform/annoy your Facebook chums about what music you’re listening to.
One of Songbird’s main strengths is the ability to easily create playlists. I’ve seen other music apps completely fumble the method of playlist creation but Songbird seems to have nailed it perfectly.
Sadly it’s not all thumbs up for Songbird, the home-screen widget kept locking up and would only come back to life with a handset reboot. Bear in mind this may not solely be an app issue, it’s possibly a compatibility issue with my Cyanogen rom.
Songbird is also lacking some of the cooler functions when compared to more established apps like ‘PowerAmp’ but the creators have promised a number of new functions and plug-ins in future updates (lock screen controls are top of my list).
Songbird may not yet be the ultimate Android music player but the potential is definitely there. It’s pleasant on the eye, simple to use and allows a strong degree of freedom on how you listen to your music.

About This App – Current Version : 1.0
Requires Android : 2.1 and up , Category : Music & Audio , Size : 1.2M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : It’s not quite up to the benchmark of the leading Android music apps but given a bit of time (and a few updates) Songbird could be the music app everyone is chirping about (groan!).

HottMix – So Hot Right Now

HottMix

For anyone who enjoys electronic music the ‘Soundcloud’ website is a great place to discover new material. Producers, record labels, DJ’s and fans use the site to upload music that they have either created or found. Every track or DJ set on the website can be streamed and some are also available to download.
‘Hottmix’ by Rocudo attempts to bring the ‘streaming’ element to your Android device therefore offering the potential of thousands of new songs for you to check out whilst on the move.
It’s main feature is the ‘HottMix’ key which initiates a playlist of the 50 hottest rated tracks on Soundcloud. It’s a great idea and I found all kinds of good music that caught my interest. The ‘now playing’ screen is pleasant enough with a good use of cover artwork and song information. The standard play controls are clearly laid out along the bottom along with a useful ‘add to playlist’ key that allows you to bookmark any favourite songs for easy access at a later time.

The 'Now Playing' screen does the job nicely.

If you’d rather find music yourself there’s also the search function where you can use normal search terms as well as more specific factors such as song tempo or date. It’s a pretty good tool which can come up with some great results.
Streaming over 3G works pretty well although the sound quality may not be to a good enough standard for any serious audiophiles out there.
Sadly despite all the good points there’s also a few things that let that app down, mainly when the app is used on 3G. Within the first 15 minutes of using HottMix I counted at least 7 occasions of the app hanging and Android stepping in to save the situation. The app is also occasionally slow and unresponsive, skipping onto another track in the ‘now playing’ screen can result in an awkward wait before anything happens. As soon as I was on a Wi-fi connection these problems went away.
Navigating the app isn’t the most intuitive process either. Ideally with a media player you’ll generally want easy access to the controls no matter where you are in the app. In HottMix the controls live solely on the ‘now playing’ screen and annoyingly there’s no option to jump straight there.

You'll be seeing this screen a LOT whilst using HottMix on your 3G connection.

HottMix is both 50% excellent and 50% infuriating. It looks great and in terms of what it can do it’s excellent for picking up on music I would otherwise not come across. Sadly it’s flaky stability when mobile and non-intuitive UI puts it some way behind other Android media players. App makers Rocuda are looking to add all kinds of fancy functions in future updates but I would happily trade all of that for some solid basic functionality.

Links : HottMix on Android Market

Hottmix on AppBrain

Bottom Line : An excellent music discovery tool that’s badly let down by force close issues, occasional unresponsiveness and a lacklustre UI. If these are fixed in future updates then HottMix would easily become an essential app.

Stop Motion Lite – STOP!… Hammer Time!

Stop-Motion – Lite

Just when you’re thinking there couldn’t be any more unexpected tricks that your Android phone could perform up pops another odd function to take you by surprise. Just last week we uncovered the genius idea of using your phone as a document scanner by using ‘CamScanner‘ and now there’s a new addition to the ever growing list of ‘mad things you never expected your phone to do‘, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have three words for you…. Stop. Motion. Camera.
It’s kind of crude in operation but yes, your Android phone can operate as a camera that can create stopmotion videos, animations or claymations and once you’ve made your video you can save it as a file to watch on your phone or your computer.
It’s a very simple looking program but it’s also very easy to use. Simply set up your shot, tap the screen to shoot a frame and repeat. When you are done click ‘save’ and the app with string all the shots together to make a .mov file that you can watch on your phone or PC or upload them to Dropbox or wherever you want to share them. The lite version limits you to a 176×144 resolution however higher sizes are available if you pay up for the full version. For some reason I couldn’t get the built-in share function to work with Dropbox, every upload would result in a fail. In the end I had to resort to ‘Astro file explorer’ to find my movie and use that to share the file to Dropbox. Here’s what I managed to throw together in 5 minutes armed with just a piece of paper and a biro.

Obviously it’s a very crude looking video, if you look closely you can see my aborted first attempt (I forgot to restart the filming) and my hand pops up in the middle. Classy stuff.

Stop Motion Lite is a unique way to spend time using your Android handset (if you have kids, break out play-doh and get animating) and the results are good enough for a free app.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A unique and fun app that unlocks a new side of creativity for everyone.

Droid Streamer Pro – So Long Productivity, Nice Knowing You

Droid Streamer Pro

If there’s one thing I take for granted on the internet it’s video streaming. It’s easy to forget that less than 10 years ago watching the latest movie trailer online meant a 40 minute wait for a Quicktime video to download. Now we can digest stuff and move on to the next video before the current one even gets a chance to bore us, thanks to wi-fi and 3G it’s now the same for mobile phones. I remember the big fuss O2 made when they were streaming trailers for ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ to my N95 in ‘super-crap-blocky-resolution-ovision’, these days we can load up a Youtube clip of a cat playing a keyboard in HD in mere seconds.

It may not have everything but at least it's got the good stuff.

The app that bought me to this nostalgic realisation was ‘Droid Streamer’, an app that streams all kinds of commercial video content to your handset for free. Within 30 seconds of opening the app for the first time I was watching the classic Simpsons episode ‘Marge vs The Monorail’ over a 3G connection in a pleasantly acceptable quality. The content itself is streamed from Youtube and other lesser known video sites that are tucked away on the internet so the range of media on offer could very well fluctuate particularly the ‘Movies’ section which may thrust the app under a murky legal spotlight.
‘Droid Streamer’ is currently in Beta so do bear in mind that the program itself isn’t flawless. The UI is basic but perfectly functional, there’s no tweakable settings and videos in 4:3 aspect ratio are displayed to one side of the screen (rather than the centre) but to be honest after 30 seconds of viewing it doesn’t become noticeable anymore (this should be fixed in a further update anyway). I did come across an issue when watching Iron Man 2, it was clearly squashed into 4:3 size despite being the kind of media that could easily fill the entire screen. Whether this is an issue with the source or the app itself is unclear. Speaking of the source, the selection of tv episodes on offer isn’t complete by any means but it is growing all the time and when you’re getting something for nothing (especially when it’s something this good) it’s slightly churlish to complain.

Note : On my handset the launch icon for ‘Droid Streamer’ would not work, I have to open it via the Marketplace. This may be due to my handset running an MIUI rom. If you try this app on a standard Android rom do let us know how you get on.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Not perfect by any means but when it works (and when the media supplied is up to snuff) it’s a great app to have handy.

mVideoPlayer – Don’t hate the player…..

mVideoPlayer

All video's are clearly displayed in the browser menu so everyone can see your endless downloads of cats playing keyboards.

If you’ve read our previous review (for JetVD) you may have spotted a nod towards mVideoPlayer as our Android video player of choice. Since installing it months ago it has happily performed its function as our default choice for video playback to the point where’s there’s been no need to search for an alternative (of which I am sure there are many). Thanks to its pleasant UI and solid performance (even when playing 720p videos from Youtube) mVideoPlayer pretty much fulfills all the requirements of a mobile video player.
Selecting a video is done via the excellent browser which features details on video length, format, size and a thumbnail. Simply choose a video to play it or long click to access a number of options (rename, delete etc) including the ability to create playlists for your clips.
Playback is crisp, clear and smooth, subtitles are supported and the on-screen controls are easy on the eye. During playback you can bookmark the current position of a video and also lock the controls so accidental button presses don’t get in the way of your viewing.

720p videos look brilliant on the Desire's OLED screen.

Some people have complained about the lack of divx support, apparently this is down to the handset rather than the app but to be honest I’ve had no need for divx since moving over to my HTC Desire.
If you’re looking for a nicely presented and dependable video player (and I’m sure you are given the lacklustre default option that comes with some Android handsets) then mVideoPlayer is a recommended download.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Easy to use and it works perfectly. mVideoPlayer is my Android video player of choice. Do you prefer an alternative? Let us know in the comments.

Video Trimmer – Video Editing Minus The Trimmings

Video Trimmer

The Gallery View. If you can correctly name all the videos on my phone then congratulations! You're some kind of scary person, please don't call me.

Android can do a lot of cool things but ‘a lot’ is never enough, there’s always something else that you wish it could do and for the love of Christmas sometimes you just can’t find a way to do it. Video editing is one of them, my trusty old Nokia N95 could do it as standard so why doesn’t my Android handset have a native app to trim all those carefully shot home videos on my handset? Released just a few days ago, Video Trimmer has stepped in to help fill the gap.
Launching the app takes you into a gallery of every video on your phone, whether it’s something you shot or a video clip you downloaded from the internet, it’s all there ready for you to edit. Once you select a video the editing screen opens up and the video starts to play, simply drag the ‘start’ and ‘end’ markers to suit your editing requirements and then tap the scissors icon in the top right corner, it’s a simple process (I remember the Nokia video editing app being a nightmare to navigate). The editing accuracy is on the rough and ready side of things, you can’t break down your start and end points frame by frame but for general phone clip editing the tools available here should suffice. With each edit you are given the option to save this over the current clip or save it as a new video, seeing as the app is in beta the developer has advised to back up your videos before doing any editing so do bear that in mind.

Hey! Move that advert out the way. I can't see what I'm editing.

If you’re looking for more flashier editing tricks to use here then you’re out of luck; It’s called Video Trimmer for a reason, you won’t find any options for transitions, fades, titles or stitching of clips, all you can do is cut video. The app is also ad-supported which is understandable but some users may get annoyed with how they pop up during editing, potentially this could mess up your placement if you’re working a particularly delicate edit. The UI itself is also pretty basic to look at but it’s not really a problem considering that this free app (which is in Beta) is barely a week old. Potentially this is all stuff that could be worked on in future releases so fingers crossed.
Video Trimmer is a quick and easy way to edit your videos on your handset, it may the lack bells and whistles that some users may wish for but for now it does a solid job of what is was made to do. An app to keep an eye on and definitely worth a try.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Video editing made simple on your Android handset thanks to Video Trimmer’s intuitive UI and solid performance. If extra functionality is added in future updates this could be an essential media application for all Android handsets.

%d bloggers like this: