Since getting my Nexus One, I’ve been exploring various things I can do with the phone. Some, like music, are awesome experiences. Other experiences, like phontography, kinda suck. I’ve also noticed that video streaming – trying to enjoy video content streamed over either WiFi or cellular networks, is just as bad.
Sure, Android has a decent YouTube application baked right into the operating system. Unfortunately, it’s YouTube. The problem I have with YouTube is that it’s poorly managed. While that allows Google to skate around DMCA issues, it also results in a really messy site. Try searching for a music video by your favorite artist or other popular video clip. Odds are, you’ll get hundreds, if not thousands of results. Some of those results are quality copies, others might be edited (or ‘remixed’) by the uploader, might have alternative lyrics added, or will otherwise be a poor copy of the original.
Worse yet, YouTube is typically not the first choice of creative folks who are producing quality content. It’s more like the MySpace of video sharing sites – lots of junk videos by 16-year-olds who want to be video stars. YouTube also has this annoying practice of not making all their videos available through the mobile app – forcing you to choose between the app’s phone-friendly interface and the desktop site’s superior video selection.
The real quality stuff is usually found elsewhere, such as on Vimeo. Fortunately, Vimeo’s videos – including those in HD – play really well on my Nexus One. In fact, the overall experience, in my opinion, is much better than YouTube. Unfortunately, Vimeo’s ‘mobile’ site only gives access to the featured videos – if you want to browse through channels or groups or anything, you have to switch to the desktop site.
For those wondering about my aversion to ‘desktop’ sites on my phone, you can read more about why Consumers Don’t Want To Browse Desktop Websites On Their Phones.
There also seems to be a severe lack of video streaming applications for Android devices. Hulu Plus is only available on the iPhone at the moment, while the Netflix app is only on the iPad, for now. SPBtv is available, but only for off-the-wall channels – few that I’d want to watch. There’s a TV.com application, but most of its full episodes are only available over a WiFi connection – are you kidding me?
Browsing the Android market doesn’t seem to yield any independent developer making any waves, either. Surely Android is a good platform for something other than web browsing and music consumption, right? Have I missed something? Is there some super secret awesome video streaming or video playback app for my Nexus One that I’ve somehow missed out on? It’s not like Android-owners don’t have unlimited data – unless you’ve purchased an Android device from AT&T in the past month or two, in the U.S. at least, I know you have unlimited data – why can’t we use it?
Even for locally-stored videos, Brad Linder at ZatzNotFunny.com has done some explorations and only found two decent video players for the Android platform. You’ve got to be kidding me!