Best Apps For Watching Videos Online
When the mobile device you hold in your pocket has screen resolution comparable to your TV’s (and sometimes higher), watching videos on it is a solid pleasure. We’ll concentrate on mobile apps for watching videos because PC users are mostly good with what browsers offer (full-screen mode, easy, intuitive controls and all the features services implement). Smart TV’s and consoles are a separate world, so Roku users may enjoy what Apple TV fans can’t, and vice versa. So the real diversity to select from can only confuse mobile users.
The apps we found worthy have some features in common:
- Available both for iOS and Android;
- Exclusive content (that is, the app is just a frontend for the service that hosts video and provides social features);
- Personalizing and social features (as an option).
Of course, there’s more to streaming videos than YouTube-like services, and we’ll review quite various cases. But there’s undoubtedly the king of the hill to start with.
When we say “watching video online”, we mostly mean YouTube. The service has become the default of video hosting due to its rich features, still richer content base and integration with other Google services.
The app offers free access to millions of videos by both pros and ordinary users, any of them a potential hit. Music videos and movie trailers, live footage and everyday chronic, news, private or corporate video blogs can all be found here.
As a YouTube user, you can customize your feed by subscribing to your favorite channels or marking certain videos as favorites, so the service can offer its suggestions based on what you already like. The basic feature set is free, but paid subscription gets you rid of ads and unlocks some premium content like full-length movies.
Last but not least: the app has all it takes to make and publish your own videos and administer your channel. Your phone is your portable video studio with a YouTube app. Pro editing apps (most of them paid) will do the work better, but if you’re good with basic features, you need none of them.
A major rival to YouTube, Vimeo offers basically the same set of options when it comes to videos (though it lacks its side features like music hosting or full-length movies). It has tons of various videos to watch, share, cache for watching later or create playlists. Videos are well systemized and sorted, so you can find tons of stories on any topic you’re interested in.
Videos on Vimeo are both created by professionals or by simple users (yes, this means that you can create and upload your own footage as well). More of that: the service is, first of all, meant for amateur bloggers. We tried to find official channels by Maroon 5, Cardi B, Elon Musk or Hillary Clinton, and found none, though these persons never neglected publicity. Meanwhile, videos with all these persons can be easily found, uploaded by someone else.
Unlike YouTube, Vimeo app has no onboard tools for creating videos. All you can do with this app is to pick a video from your gallery, but you’ll need an external editing app to prepare videos for uploading. But with a little attitude (and eagerness to spend two-three bucks for a paid editor) Vimeo blogging is just as easy as running a YouTube channel.
Dailymotion: videos for now, picked for you
Being quite similar to YouTube or Vimeo in its concept, Dailymotion is different in its attitude. YouTube offers everything; Dailymotion selects the best. It’s famous for its news and stories selected for users, depending on what they prefer to see.
Dailymotion brings you quality selections of videos by news channels, stories on topics and trends of the day, and all the archive to search if you need something not as fresh as its name suggests. If you wish, you can cache some videos and watch them later (if you’re more sure about your memory than about your Internet connection).
What is not simply done with Dailymotion app is creating your own videos. Not that it’s impossible at all if you’re not a famous production center; but, unlike YouTube, Dailymotion has its velvet rope to save you from drowning in an ocean of meaningless amateur footages.
For those into gaming, Twitch is the streaming service #1. It was from the start developed for gamers to stream their virtual adventures. So if you’re in trouble with some impregnable boss or stuck on a hard level, you’ll probably find the solution on Twitch where someone luckier must have already recorded how to deal with it.
Live game streaming is popular today, being a serious rival to offline sports. Famous gamers run their channels on Twitch, and some of them owe their popularity to… what service? Right. Twitch is what makes gaming social even if you’re all alone in your armchair with a console or a smartphone.
On registering you’ll need to select at least three games you’re interested in, but then you can search anything and subscribe to channels you like. The games can be easily found, by name or by genre, as well as gamers. So if you like to watch others play, you won’t need to reach them and stare from over the shoulder; you have Twitch.
And yes, you can broadcast yourself gaming, as Twitch easily integrates with anything. You don’t even have to be a hell of a player; good comments are appreciated as well.
And when it comes to films and TV shows, the king is Netflix. This service is known both for its own shows and full-length movies and for products by other producers it distributes. Netflix offers loads of videos to watch, famous titles and those you haven’t discovered yet. No exaggeration: no one has enough time to watch all it offers.
Subscription is required, but it’s valid throughout all the devices you use to watch Netflix. So if you have already subscribed to Netflix on your computer or your TV box, just enter your login and password to unlock access to its treasury.
As Netflix has initiated the tradition to release whole seasons at once, you can cache all the episodes (but mind your memory status!) and watch them while offline. The more you watch or select as a favorite, the better Netflix predicts your preferences, so if you run out of your planned videos, it will suggest something you’ll surely like.
As they say, it “is Live TV, Only Better”. The traditional broadcasting brings the feeling of touching the moment, living what’s happening right now. Multiplied by interactive features, it enhances the experience the most brilliant way.
Sling TV features over 100 channels covering all the topics one can imagine. Select sports or comedy, cooking or cartoons, education or news, movies or nature, and watch all of it.
What makes you think twice is its pricing. The subscription is twice as expensive as Netflix premium set, so it’s definitely not the best selection for movie or show fans. But for live broadcasts, it’s the greatest offer on the market.
Sling TV is ubiquitous; it’s available on mobile devices and desktops, on smart TV’s and gaming consoles, so one subscription is valid on whatever you use for watching. It also offers its own Cloud DVR, so you can record some show you’ll have to miss for watching it later, not caring about how much free memory your device has.
When Twitter launched its own video streaming service, it inherited the ideology of the original Twitter. Open for everyone, it offers unlimited possibilities to broadcast from wherever you are, and (logically) to watch any broadcast you’re interested in.
You can both subscribe to the channels you like and search particular streams on what you want to watch. Live videos from concerts and political events, lectures and training courses, webinars and street footage are available at any given moment, from virtually any place with Internet available. Most popular events are broadcasted in Periscope, and you can join it at any time.
The app has all it takes both for passive watching and for active participating. You only have to provide access to your microphone and camera for this app, and it takes one tap to join or to start.
The free app that looks like a regular video player has, in fact, rich streaming features. All you need to provide is the link. Just paste it into the special field and watch it like it’s local (though it depends on your connection speed).
It’s great for streaming from your home media server, and it’s easy to set up. So you can store your videos on a NAS or a hard drive connected to your router, and use VLC to stream it to your tablet or phone (make sure access to media is granted).
Of course, it has none of the social features or its own media content. But that’s what makes it irreplaceable when it comes to standalone streams or local network.
All of the apps for watching videos above are free (though some require optional or necessary subscription) and available in App Store or Google Play. Any of them provide enough content to spend the whole day watching something new, and none of them will be jealous if you install all of them. But your day still has 24 hours, so with these apps, you’ll rather have to select the content instead of searching for it.