6 essential streaming apps for Android
If you like taking your streaming media with you, then there are plenty of applications to help you do just that. Here we've taken a quick look at six of our favourite Android apps for streaming content; we'll skip the obvious ones like YouTube and Netflix, and tell you about some you might not have tried.
Kodi (with add-ons)
Of course we have to start with Kodi (formerly XBMC), easily the best media player and streaming platform for Android. Kodi on Android looks and works just like the PC version of the app, and includes support for the various media streaming plugins that we talked about in the last issue. It will play just about anything you throw at it, and it supports a huge host of protocols for accessing remote servers, including AirPlay, DLNA and Windows File Sharing.
iFlix instant torrent player
As happens with most apps associated with BitTorrent, the iFlix app was very quickly removed from Google Play, but you can still get it from a number of other Android app sources. Somewhat ironically, the best place to get it is probably from BitTorrent.
iFlix was actually designed as a tool for monitoring streams from IP cameras, but was morphed into a one tap BitTorrent streaming app. You just tap on a magnet BitTorrent link in your mobile browser, and iFlix takes over the rest. It's will likely spend a minute or two buffering (this is BitTorrent after all), and you may be asked what media player you want to use, but after that it plays quite smoothly.
Available on Android and iOS devices, Showyou gathers together video feeds from selected social media sources, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Indieflix, Buzzfeed and more. Videos from channels you subscribe to and people you are friends with or follow appear in the video list and there are a variety of user-curated channels that you can visit.
There so much content, and the complexity of the way the videos are curated and delivered makes the whole app a bit of a mess really – but it's kind of a glorious mess. If you're the kind of person who likes to browse YouTube's trending or top videos or who simply wants to see what your friends are posting and watching, it's definitely worth trying.
Another app available on Google Play, TED offers access to a fascinating collection of live talks. It includes poetry and inspirational speakers as well as a variety of industry, governmental and organisational speakers. Speeches are drawn from conferences and events as well as personal chats.
It's probably not something that's going to appeal to everyone, but it's certainly a big (and welcome) change of pace from unlikely animal friendships on YouTube, and is definitely worth a gander.
A service similar in many ways to Netflix and Hulu, Crackle is a free video service with an actual Australian presence and locally and legally viewable material. Of course, our selection is nowhere near what the US gets – there tends to be a lot of older TV show reruns and movies from the 80s and earlier that appear on it – but it's actually a weirdly pleasant grab bag of commercial media.
It's kind of like switching on the TV at midday back in the pre-internet days; you're probably going to only have the option of a handful of older movies and TV shows to watch, and that's OK. Sometimes it's cool to revisit those old westerns and classic movies. You probably wouldn't go seeking them out, but they're pleasant enough to watch if they're just on in front of you.
Although it lists itself as being a product for US and UK users, LiveNow!TV actually works just great for Australian users as well (it even has a feed from the ABC), since there are plenty of services that aren't geoblocked.
The service is essentially a portal into more than 600 live streaming TV channels from around the world. There are US and UK channels, but also German, French, Italian, Russian and Middle Eastern channels. There are channels categorised by content (movies, classic TV, kids shows etc.) and lists of most watched channels. It's kind of like a kick ass global cable TV service – and a handful of channels even support video on demand in addition to the live TV stream.