Tag Archives: itunes

AVPlayerHD and Infuse – Cutting out the middleman in iOS media

Infuse Splash Screen

Media Players – Infuse and AVPlayerHD

The way it’s always worked for moving video content between desktop and iPad was through iTunes: you’d plug the iPad into your desktop then drag and drop the video files into your desired media player app.

One advantage that Android’s held over iOS for some time in the area of media management (and one that my Android-loving uncle never fails to throw back at me whenever I urge him to get an iPad) is the Android’s drag and drop functionality: you simply plug your Android device into your Windows PC then drag videos into the newly discovered device, much like putting files into a USB drive, no iTunes necessary. Thanks to these two media player apps: Infuse and AVPlayerHD, I finally have a response.

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Both apps are quite similar in that each one supports a wide range of formats (.wmv, .avi, .mp4, .mkv to name a few), 720p and 1080p playback, and subtitles. The most modernising feature for me however is the ability to transfer files via wifi. Each app allows you to open up a file transfer server. Computers on the same wifi network as the iPad running the app can access this server through the browser in order to upload and download video content. No need to fish out cables or to open up iTunes (which has gotten more and more laggy for some reason).

Now the most significant differences between the two are in pricing and UI. AVPlayerHD is $2.99 to buy the app and all the features outright. Infuse is initially free but requires a $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock “premium” features like 1080p playback and support for more video formats. In the layout department, AVPlayerHD uses a list format for displaying available content which is better for larger libraries. Infuse uses a tiled layout with each video represented by a snapshot. Another feature that Infuse has over AVPlayerHD is that the app gathers metadata of popular movies and TV episodes displaying information like Genre, Cast, Director, Writer, as well as a short synopsis of the episode. I always appreciate little touches like this. I think they go a long way towards increasing the overall enjoyment of the app (and make one feel better about parting with $4.99).

Infuse gets the metadata of popular shows for presentation that is complete and polished. I

In the end, you can’t go wrong with either one. Both apps offer a full-featured solution to watching videos on the iPad. The remote transfer feature decreases the iPad’s dependence on iTunes and brings it that much closer to being complete device.

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Why the iOS 7 Music app is still lacking

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This is just a quick rundown of my thought process in choosing a music app. I’ll post a more detailed comparison of the above apps at a later time.

Coming from Android, the unity in design that iOS 7 represented was one of the reasons  why I was made the switch. Thus I wanted to restrict my usage to the default system apps whenever possible. Still, I found that the Music app was lacking some key features that forced me to explore two alternatives: Spotify and Rdio.

I had used  Spotify and Rdio in past, while I was still on Android, and their ability to provide music on demand was something that I feared the Music app would be sorely lacking in. Both provided music discovery through their respective radio features and, more importantly, music on demand. I had hoped that iTunes Match would help mitigate the lack of music on demand. I had a sizeable library on iTunes and was constantly adding to it through downloads of albums and individual tracks. It was through iTunes Radio that I discovered just what to add to my collection.

This workflow for adding music is cumbersome especially compared to how it would be handled in Spotify or Rdio. In either of the two, you can directly add a discovered song to your collection, ready for offline listening on your device. In the Music app however, iTunes Radio offers no similar feature unless you’re willing to buy the track outright for a dollar.

The design unity that the iOS 7 Music app offered was still enough to get me to overlook the cumbersome process of adding newly discovered music. Spotify and Rdio have yet to offer a redesign for iOS 7 (Rdio looks nice but still uses the old iOS 6 keyboard) and I found the design discrepancies to be jarring. Unfortunately, the Music app was also lacking in terms of performance. Music that would stream instantly on a 3G connection when using Spotify and Rdio would constantly lag when downloading from iCloud. There’s also this nasty bug that I’ve encountered when using iTunes Radio that resets my phone about 3 times out of 10 whenever I start a new station.

Given the cumbersome nature of adding new music as well as the glaring iTunes Radio reset bug, I’ve been driven back into the arms of Spotify and Rdio. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out which of the two will better suit my needs.