Posts Tagged ‘ Video ’

Vevo – Viva La Vevolution

 Vevo

Vevo is a website that allows you to stream music videos from three of the ‘big four’ major record labels. Since it’s launch in 2009 it has become one of the most visited sites in the U.S and as expected app versions have been created in it’s wake. The Vevo app has been around for a while on the Android Marketplace but it has only recently just started working here in the UK.

It's not all pop-pap on Vevo. At least there's some Beastie Boys.

The Vevo app for Android allows the user access to over 25,000 videos from over 7,500 music artists. Tucked away in it’s tidy interface are pre-built playlists, ways to share videos via Twitter or Email and the option to purchase songs via Amazon.
Vevo’s strength lies in it’s intuitive and information packed interface. Making your way around the app is second nature and over wi-fi it’s easy to be streaming videos in just a few short presses. Even better is how well the app runs over 3G, it’s understandably by no means perfect but with a strong signal you can get some decent enough results.
So far so good, Vevo makes for some very strong first impressions however digging a little deeper brings to light a few problems and some glaringly missed opportunities.
The biggest issue is with the music catalogue itself. 25,000 videos may sound like plenty to get through but considering that that source is the major record labels fans of more independent music may struggle to find content they actually care about. To make matters worse the only ways to access the content are by using the preloaded play-lists / charts or via a direct search. There seems to be no way to browse the music via genre which for some people would be the first method they would want to use. This wouldn’t be a problem if the default play-lists covered a lot of ground but sadly for the most part they only offer the predictable choices of ‘most popular videos’ or ‘top artists’ which in turn places the commercial content ‘front & centre’ and even then there’s bizarrely only 12 video results per topic.

Nice U.I., shame it doesn't cover all the bases.

This leads into the next problem with Vevo, how it’s not possible to personalize the app to your own tastes. There’s no option to build your own play-lists which is very odd given how you can do just that on the main Vevo website. What’s even stranger is how the app totally ignores the original Vevo website and it’s users. If you have a Vevo account there is no way to access it via the Vevo app, as a result you cannot sync up your Vevo experience across platforms. It truly is an opportunity wasted.
Even within the confines of the app itself there is also no way of accessing your recent play history or bookmarking your favourite videos. If there’s a clip you want to go back to time and time again and it’s not on the main charts you’ll have to search for it every single time. On the subject of repeat viewings there is also no video cache function. It would have been great if Vevo could have automatically cached data to the sd card to speed up repeated playback or to allow you to use the app when there is no network. Sadly this is not the case. No network? No Vevo.
Ultimately Vevo is a well made, information packed app and may be worth the free download just to see if it chimes with your tastes in music. It’s just a shame that it totally drops the ball when it comes to realising its full potential.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 1.06
  • Requires Android : 2.1 and up
  • Category : Music & Audio
  • Size : 941k
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Vevo is good, but it could’ve been great. It could have been personalised music video jukebox in your pocket but sadly it’s lacking the tools to fully accomplish that task.

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Skyfire Browser 4.0 – Is it Skyfire 4.Woah or Skyfire 4.Blow?

Skyfire Browser 4.0

A while ago we reviewed a beta version of Skyfire and despite its potential it just wasn’t quite up to the task of replacing the default Android web browser. Since that time Skyfire has gone through a number of iterations and has morphed into version 4.0 which brings with it a number of hefty improvements. It seemed like a good time to give Skyfire another chance.

Click the magnifying glass next to your Google results to open this handy results 'gallery'.

The layout makes for a good first impression, it’s feature packed but also tidy and intuitive. The top of the screen includes the address bar and a search box. Below this is an array of buttons for page navigation, home, bookmarks and tab management. Yes, Skyfire does tabs and it does them well. Also included is a handy switch to alternate between Android and Desktop mode which helps with avoiding those annoying limited ‘mobile versions’ of your regular web haunts. There’s also a drop down menu that offers similar choices to your average Android browser (share page, find, select text etc.) as well as the settings menu.
Using the Search box on the top right of the screen opens up some interesting search results. Searching for an item brings you the standard Google results but also displayed is a row of buttons that can scour for your search on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Videosurf and Digg. It a genius idea that turns a simple query into a whole range of varied search results. Excellent stuff.
The biggest selling point of Skyfire is the SkyBar, a customisable tool that is capable of offering all kinds of extra web content with the minimum effort on the user’s part. There are buttons for Facebook and Twitter which allow use of the social networks within Skyfire itself, they’re not as complete as their standalone app counterparts but it’s nice to have them handy if needed. A Facebook ‘Like’ button is also included so you can quickly share while you surf. There’s a ‘Popular’ button that can scan the website you’re currently visiting and show you what content from it is being shared the most and the ‘Fireplace’ button will scan your Facebook news feed for any photos or links your friends have posted.

The 'Popular' button is a great way to find content you may have missed.

These last few features combined are great for those moments of web surfing when you’ve ‘gone blank’ for things to look at. There are also buttons for sharing pages, viewing Google Reader and content related to news, sports and finance. In this latest version Skyfire really goes all out to deliver everything in one package.

Worthy of additional note is the ‘Video’ button, this is a feature that hunts down any video link on a page and optimizes them for playback. If you have downloaded Skyfire before you will get this feature for free however new-comers to Skyfire will only get a 3 day trial before it requires unlocking for a fee. So far I’ve not had much luck with this feature, videos take too long to buffer (even over wi-fi) and the playback quality could be better. I seem to have a better time relying on Skyfire’s built in flash capabilities, maybe I’m using the wrong sites (I’m open to suggestions here). Seeing as this feature costs £1.85 to unlock I recommend thoroughly putting this feature through it’s paces before committing to it.

Away from all the bells and whistles, general browsing on Skyfire is a breeze, web pages load in good time and the zoom / text-wrapping functionality is much improved from the beta. There’s even a built in pop-up blocker which so far has done a great job of staying on top of those ever-annoying rogue interruptions.
Despite the good stuff there are a couple of small downsides to Skyfire. So far I’ve been unable to find any way of organising my bookmarks, they only appear in the order I save them. There’s also a lack of an ‘incognito’ function, something that is becoming a more common feature on many browsers. These aren’t deal breakers and hopefully are simple things to be picked up on future updates.

Skyfire has definitely surprised me.

Skyfire does a fine job of handling flash content (and blocking pop-ups).

Usually a new web browser can take time to get into but I found Skyfire easy to get the hang of and it’s handling my everyday web browsing with ease. It’s the first mobile web browser I’ve come across that can play an active role in helping you find new content to enjoy rather than just sit back and let you do all the surfing. For me it’s earned the ultimate accolade on my HTC Desire, it’s become my default web browser and with that, I tip my hat to the team at Skyfire.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 4.0.3
  • Requires Android : 2.0 and up
  • Category : Communication
  • Size : 1.7M
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A great web browser with some unique features that make surfing even better than before. Excellent stuff!

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.

QuickPic – So Quick With Pics It’s Sick

QuickPic

Having rooted my phone and switched over to other roms on my HTC Desire (I’m currently rocking the latest stable rom by Cyanogen, it’s rather nice) I’ve had to rely on the standard Android gallery app as my default photo browser. As much as I liked the flashy interface I was always annoyed by how long it would take to load. Even worse was the fact that it would display EVERY single folder on my phone that would happen to have a jpeg stored inside. Actually getting to the photos I wanted to view was a chore.
In the end I decided to dump it and search for something that was less concerned about being flash and more focused on simply being quicker to use. I found QuickPic and it does the job nicely.
Simplicity is the keyword in QuickPic. You’re given a choice of two ‘easy-on-the-eye’ gallery views and from here everything is clearly laid out. Picture folders load up quickly, flicking through photos is swift and painless and yet there are still all the options (delete, rotate, share, zoom etc) that the standard Android gallery app offers. One of the best features is the ability to select an unwanted folder and instruct QuickPic to ignore it giving you full control on what photo folders will appear within the app.
You’re not limited to photos either, you can also browse your videos and have them played back in the video app of your choice.
That’s pretty much all there is to QuickPic but then again that’s what makes it so good. There’s
minimal faffing about, it just gets you straight to where you want to go.

ABOUT THIS APP – CURRENT VERSION : 0.9.9
REQUIRES ANDROID : 2.0 and up , CATEGORY : Photography , SIZE : 185k , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Quick and simple to use yet still loaded with enough features to make it a must-have app.

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.

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