Cool Video Apps Abound in the Android Market

I had high hopes when I started scouring the Android Market for cool mobile video apps. After all, Android is known for being one of the most (if not the most) cutting-edge mobile platforms available today. And I was not disappointed — here’s what I found:

vlc remoteVLC Remote

This app, which is available in the Android Market as a free beta, is also available in both paid ($2.99) and free versions in the iPhone’s App Store. It lets you control the VLC Media Player software running on your Windows, Mac or Linux computer from your Android phone as if it were a remote control. (And, by the way, if you’re not using VLC for video playback on your computer, you should be. It’s one of the best media players around.) You just install the app on your phone and then download the setup utility, which allows the mobile software to talk to your computer’s desktop software. VLC Remote automatically finds VLC players on your home network for you and establishes the connection over your Wi-Fi network.

Qik

Qik seems to be turning into a staple in mobile video software. This free app, which I mentioned in my recent roundup of video apps in Nokia’s Ovi Store, is also available for the iPhone. Qik lets you stream live video from your Android-based phone to the web. I haven’t fully tested Qik’s Android version yet, but it was updated in August in order to iron out some of the bugs (such as inconsistent video performance) that were reported in the first iteration, an alpha released in June. 

Gmote

gmote_logoGmote is another app that allows you to use your Android-based phone as a remote control for your Windows, Mac or Linux-based computer. (At this rate, I may never get off my couch again.) You install the free app on your phone, then install the Gmote software on your computer. Like VLC Remote, it connects to your computer over your Wi-Fi network, and can also be configured to connect via your cellular data network if Wi-Fi is unavailable.) From your phone, you can browse a list of all the music and video files on your computer, and launch them remotely. Gmote worked almost instantly in my tests; one tap on the screen of my Android phone, and by the time I looked at my Vista-based laptop, my videos were playing. A beta feature allows you to play the files on your phone, too, but this seemed rather buggy to me, as it frequently told me that my Android phone did not have a player capable of playing back most of my video files. 

SPB TV

spb_tvSPB TV has plenty of promise, but one big drawback: You have to pay to get any of the features worth using. This mobile TV application offers access to an interesting mix of more than 100 TV channels, including C-SPAN, ABC News Now and Weather Plus; and a mix of local news stations, such as KNBC 4 Los Angeles, Fox 12 Oregon, Access Sarasota 12 and others from across the country; plus international stations from 17 more countries. You get an easy-to-read program guide, and a simple — if small — video player. Unfortunately, the free (or “Lite”) version offers the channel list and program guide only; if you want to watch any content, you have to pony up $10 for the full-featured application. I understand the need to charge for content, but with such an eclectic mix of stations (not to mention a teeny-tiny viewing window), I’m not sure I’m willing to pay.

These are just a few of the video apps available in the Android Market, which is growing quickly. That means we can expect more cool video tools added, and soon.

WordPress Mobile Edition Plugin is Pretty Slick

We were a bit behind in updating our blog to the latest version of Wordpress, so we spent some time today getting caught up.  As part of the upgrade we installed the Wordpress Mobile Edition plugin, which automatically creates a mobile version of your blog that is displayed to users visiting your site from smart phones and PDAs.  While I haven’t tested it on all devices, the plugin works quite well on my iPhone (screen shots below).  The plugin is worth a look.

Homepage on iPhone

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Post View Page on iPhone

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In-Stream Mobile Video Ads Now Know Where You Are

Geo-targeted mobile ads could be the most invasive technology we’ve ever seen. But of course they could also be really cool and useful. Now, location-aware ads are invading your streaming mobile video for the first time.

mdialogmDialog, a mobile video startup, announced today at Ad:Tech Chicago it has adopted Apple’s new HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming for the iPhone. The HTTP streaming technology — which we’ve covered in depth — stitches together chunks of the same video encoded at different bitrates. The primary purpose is to deliver video that adjusts to changing network strength without stopping to buffer. But a side benefit is that you can slot something else in the stream without interruption, either. And that means: mobile advertising opportunities.

mDialog is one of the first to experiment on the new platform, and so today it’s announced that it can now do in-stream geo-targeted dynamic video ad insertion using Akamai and DoubleClick. That means mid-roll video ads that know where you are. So, if you happen to be watching a video in an mDialog app on your iPhone, that app can ask Google Maps where exactly you’re located, and deliver in the middle of your stream an ad that’s targeted down to a one-quarter mile area.

We had been skeptical of mDialog’s focus on the iPhone in the past, but the flip side is the startup pushes forward these new possibilities. mDialog CEO Greg Philpott said he can envision mid-roll geo-targeting being used for attendees of a concert or sporting event, who are instructed to watch something on their phone and then get a version of an ad just for that event. Today it’s not a massive use case, but it’s definitely a sign of where things are headed.

P.S. If you’re interested in mobile stuff, you should definitely come to our GigaOM Network Mobilize Conference next week in San Francisco.


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Vid-Biz: NBC, Cable, Blu-ray

NBC Universal Goes to the Gas Pump; signs deal with Gas Station TV to put its local and national programming on TV screens at up to 1,000 gas stations. (Multichannel News)

Court Tosses Cable Subscriber Cap; Comcast and its ilk now have the green light to go above its 30 percent subscriber limit. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Blu-ray Disc Prices Have Fallen; new releases are 12 percent cheaper and library titles one-third less compared with 2008. (Video Business)

FASTHockey to Stream Hockey Canada Cup; games available for purchase on Hockey Canada or at the FASTHockey portal using the Highwinds CDN. (emailed release)

Watch Live TV on Your Android Phone; Spb TV makes over 100 international channels available on Android devices. (jkOnTheRun)


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Vid-Biz: Xbox, Bambuser, Pirate Bay

Microsoft Cuts Xbox 360 Price; starting tomorrow, the Elite model is $100 cheaper at $299.99 and the Pro is $50 cheaper at $249.99. (The Wall Street Journal)

Bambuser Launches its Live Video App for Android; will support all currently available Android phones running 1.5 and will broadcast using 3G or WiFi. (emailed announcement)

Global Gaming Shareholders Approve Pirate Bay Purchase; the company says that it has new investors to fund the deal (though we don’t know who they are), but the saga is far from over. (paidContent)

How Come TiVo Didn’t Sue Motorola? DVR company sued AT&T and Verizon, but why not the company that makes the DVR boxes for both companies? (Multichannel News)

CNBC.com Wants Your Recession Story; users are encouraged to write in or record videos about how the cruddy economy has impacted them. (MediaWeek)

ESPN to Use Hologram Technology; will allows commenters to appear as holograms on-set; technology is reportedly better than when CNN used it on election night last year. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Virgin Mobile Free Fest to Be Webcast Live; Bebo will be one of the sites where you can watch Weezer, Public Enemy, Blink-182 and more on August 30. (Bebo)


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Mobile Video Phones Hot, Pay TV on Handsets, Not

Infonetics_Mobile Sales of video-enabled mobile phones will surge over the next four years, Infonetics projects in new research. Unfortunately, providers of mobile pay TV services won’t enjoy the forthcoming salad days.

Infonetics predicts that 397 million video phones will sell worldwide in 2013, and the subsequent market created will be tens of billions of dollars. The number of mobile video subscribers is expected to grow nearly tenfold by the end of 2013 from 41 million worldwide in 2008, the research firm says. Live sports like soccer and cricket will be a big driver of mobile video adoption, Infonetics believes.

However, pay TV services won’t find an immediate payoff in all this growth. In his analyst note, Jeff Heynen, Infonetics directing analyst, Broadband and Video, writes:

“Though video-capable phones continue to become more widely available, subscriber uptake of pay TV services (not free-to-air video) continues to disappoint. A combination of poor macroeconomic conditions, subpar 3G network coverage for streamed video services, and pricing that puts mobile video services out of reach for many consumers is contributing to the lackluster growth of mobile video services around the world. While mobile video services are expected to eventually grow significantly, until operators combine broadcast, on-demand, and sideloading, revenue will remain a drop in the bucket of overall mobile service revenue.”

Mobile video has been getting a lot of attention recently. YouTube has said that mobile uploads are an “exponentially” growing part of its site.

If you’re interested in the future of the mobile web, be sure to attend GigaOM’s Mobilize Conference this month to hear speakers from Motorola, T-Mobile and Qualcomm, among others.


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Vid-Biz: Warner, Qik, MSNBC

Battle Brewing Between Warner and Netflix? Amidst the windowing of new releases for kiosks, Warner looking to renegotiate how soon the mail-order company can receive discs as well. (Deadline Hollywood)

Qik Launches iPhone App; can’t stream live video, though; you have to record first, then upload. (jkOnTheRun)

MSNBC Posts Video of Hudson Crash; same clip also now up on YouTube; will the news network enforce a takedown? (Business Insider)

Swarmcast Targeting the CE Market; company now powering the live MLB.TV stream on the Roku, and looking to get on more devices. (Contentinople)

The Creative Quandry for Online Video Ads; how much interactivity does an ad need, especially as more over-the-top video goes to the big screen? (eMarketer)

AT&T Files Complaint Against Cablevision; telco says the cableco is being anti-competitive over access to HD content from the Madison Square Garden network. (Broadcasting & Cable)


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