’s new iPhone app

Execerpts are taken from ARS Technica, but I must say I have found this to be pretty darn good! I tried it on my unlocked iPhone 3G running on a local 3G network and it ran very well. Can’t wait until they officially launch, but hey, can’t have it all today.’s new iPhone app: Pretty but spotty

Ars looks at’s new iPhone application that allows users to watch streaming TV clips while on a WiFi connection. Though the service and app are slick, there are still a few kinks to work out.'s new iPhone app: Pretty but spotty

Recently, I had the great pleasure of downloading the new iPhone application (iTunes link). This application brings video content right to your iPhone, working with both 3G and WiFi networks. Videos include content from CBS, Showtime, the CW, CNet and more.

Before I get your hopes up, that’s the same content you’ll find on and on Hulu. If you’re looking for full-length episodes of the Mentalist, look elsewhere. Most of the content is either old or clips, although there are some treasures to be found, like full-length episodes of Star Trek—that is, full-length episodes chopped into six smaller segments.

The interface is very clean, but there are a few awkward elements that stand out. Among these are user interface issues as well as overall performance ones. While the program is quite beautiful to look at, there are several areas of concern that keep it from really making the impact that it ought.

The Mentalist, for instance, is listed in the Show list under “T” for “The,” not “M” for “Mentalist.” That’s not a huge problem if you use the built-in search feature, but frustrating if you want to scroll through the very long alphabetical list, which does not offer an alphabetic quick-reference the way Contacts does. Like most content, The Mentalist does not provide full-length episodes.

Each of the main tabs (Home, Shows, Channels, My Feed) have been well-designed. However, when you switch between tabs, does not remember what you were doing and does not return you to that point. This issue caused a lot of extra work for me as a user. You have to start at the beginning point each time, which is simply not necessary from a developer point of view. It would be relatively easy to re-build the navigation hierarchy and bring you back to where you were with a little work on’s part.

Probably my biggest issue is that the program feels slow and draggy in use. Sometimes tables take a few seconds to readjust their row height, suggesting that this app may be taking on a lot more computing and memory than it really needs to. The design is eye-catching but actual usage suggests that more work needs to be done to tighten things up behind the scenes. The application just does not feel responsive, which it should, whether used on a first-generation iPhone or the more powerful second-generation iPod.

The iPhone app also wins the “WTF were they thinking” award for “oddest use of the accelerometer in a media player application.” The application lets you shake your iPhone to load a random video. Unfortunately, you can trigger this feature just by leaning back in your chair and then moving forward to answer a phone call. Which I did. This, of course, brought me to some place I never wanted to be.

Leaving aside the UI considerations, how was the video itself? I found playback spotty with numerous pauses, even over a very clear WiFi connection. Other users have reported far better results, so prepare for inconsistency. For the times when the playback was smooth, it was reasonably (for YouTube values of reasonable) clean. Yes, there was some pixelation and compression artifacts, but overall, it is fine for a phone-based TV service.

All in all, is a worthy download even if the application could still use a bit of work and the content could be better.

Name: (iTunes Link)
Price: Free (US only)
Platform: iPhone and iPod touch

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