APP OF THE DAY: Popcorn Player review (Android)
The best thing about smartphones is innovation. Just when you thought you had all bases covered, something appears on one device or platform that you want.
Recently, the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III brought with it a new pop-out video player. A clever move from Samsung, very convenient.
The next best thing about smartphones, is how quickly you'll find these clever features offered via an app. So today's app does exactly that.
- Google Play
We don't often feature alpha builds as App of the Day because, obviously, the app isn't complete yet. But in the case of Popcorn Player, we're pleased to see it and happy to give it a run: it adds a welcome feature for Android users who aren't packing the latest Samsung Galaxy device.
Popcorn Player is a pop-put video player. Open up the app and you'll get the option to play a video from either local storage or from a video URL. One of the nice features is you're not limited to one stream, so you can open another window and play more than one video.
Having a pop-out player means you can be doing more than one thing on your device. You may want to watch a film while browsing the internet or checking Twitter, which Popcorn Player will allow you to do.
You will then have your video playing and you can drag it around the screen and place it where you want so it doesn't obstruct other apps.
It's perhaps more applicable to larger-screened devices than smaller, so tablet users might find it more convenient than phone users.
You can resize the video by dragging the corner of the window, but we've found it doesn't lock in the aspect. This is slightly odd, because if you're playing a 16:9 video, it opens in the wrong aspect by default. You can adjust it if the skinny heads freak you out, or simply to give you more space on your display.
As we said, this is early days for this app and of course there are things that don't quite work. We tested it on the HTC One X. There is a double-tap to go full screen option, but we found it always restarted the video.
Dealing with local video didn't present a problem. Playing web video is a little more tricky, because you have to paste the URL into the Popcorn Player to get it to go. We copied links out of the YouTube app (it's an option in the menu) meaning we could keep up with the antics of freddiew while perusing Pocket-lint.
Admittedly, at the current level of development Popcorn Player isn't as slick and polished as we'd like. It needs to give you some user-definable preferences for screen aspect and fix the full-screen restart problem.
But the biggest callenge for Popcorn Player will be integration. There's a lot of video content available and copy and paste doesn't really excite us. It needs to be integrated into other common apps to make the experience seamless.
As it is, Popcorn Player is a welcome addition to the existing video options on Android. It's not complete, but if you're dealing with local video and want a pop-out player, it's certainly worth playing with.