Appfour likes a challenge when it comes to making apps for Android Wear. Try to think of an app that you can imagine very little use for on a tiny watch screen, and Appfour has probably already made it: browser, Gmail client, YouTube Player, messaging, PDF and Drive viewer, Calendar, and more have been developed by the team who continues to cater to the demands of a very niche section of Wear users.
This latest app just keeps the trend going: it's a video player for Android Wear. Because watching videos is the best way for you to use use that tiny round screen on your watch, or maybe because you're too lazy to take your big phone and its big screen out of your pocket/bag/purse, and you just need to watch something now.
Today has been pretty slow for updates, so far, but sometimes that's just how Google rolls. There is at least one notable feature from this morning's release of Photos v1.16, and it brings a neat little improvement to the built-in video player: fast forward and rewind buttons. There are also a couple of odd UI tweaks related to album sharing. A new bug also snuck into this version, so be wary. As always, we've got a link to the download at the bottom. Oh, and stay tuned for a teardown with even more stuff from this version.
Fast Forward and Rewind
The app may be called Photos, but it handles videos, as well.
VLC For Android has been steadily improving over the past months, but today's beta update is a big step forward to the app that even the developers acknowledge as a "major release."
VLC went through a hardcore bootcamp between versions 1.3.2 and 1.5.0, emerging with enhancements all across the board. Internally, the app's code has been rewritten to be faster and to require fewer permissions especially on KitKat devices and above. Externally, the app's design has been given a small facelift to better fit Material's clean and elegant look. And functionally, VLC can now handle video playlists, auto-detect external USB devices, switch between audio and video, and more.
Video on your watch. Video... on your watch. Yup, it's a thing now. And not just any video, millions and millions of videos (at least 20% of which feature cats) on the world's biggest distribution service. Pack it in, NASA. Hit the showers, CERN. Go suck eggs, DARPA. There's no need to try anymore: now that we've got a YouTube app for Android Wear, humanity has reached its absolute peak.
Video for Android Wear & YouTube comes from appfour, the developer of AIDE, Gmail for Wear, and the Android Wear web browser. In that context this is sort of a natural progression, but it's still hard to think of the app as anything more than a novelty.
Android's default video capabilities leave a lot to be desired, so the Play Store has a small but thriving industry of third-party video players. MX Player has been one of the most dependable among them, and the latest update fixes a few bugs on Android 5.0+ devices and adds a few new features. The most notable is probably the new ability to upload and download subtitle files from the web. That's a big deal if you often watch videos in a language you can't speak - anime fans, ahem, accessing unavailable shows come to mind.
The default function uses the language from your phone to search opensubtitles.org, either with the name of the video file or with a separate manual text search.
Among tech-savvy media fans, Video LAN Client (VLC for short) is easily one of the most popular video and audio players in the world. It's available for every major desktop platform, and for almost two years, it's been in beta for Android. Today the app has officially graduated to a 1.0 build, marking its formal exit from beta and a day of celebration for fans of flexible media playback on mobile devices. In other words: Good news, everyone!
Artem gives us a bonus for every Futurama reference we publish. Ka-ching.
Aside from graduating to a stable release, the 1.0 version of VLC fixes a few Android 5.0 bugs and issues that specifically affected devices with ARMv8 processors.
Since the recent update to MX Player, many users are running into a new problem: there's no sound in certain videos. It turns out the latest release of the popular video player removed support for two audio codecs: AC3 and MLP. Unfortunately, it seems this is a result of licensing issues, meaning MX Player will no longer ship with built-in support to play these audio formats. However, there is a simple workaround that will get things working again with relatively little hassle.
Restoring functionality is pretty simple, it only involves downloading a custom-built codec and pointing MX Player to the right file.
MX Player is now ready for Android Lollipop. No, it's not any prettier than it was before. There's no Material Design to drool over, no bright colors, nor a floating action button to make us feel like we're living at the end of 2014. This video player is largely the same app as before. Its developer has just removed the restriction that prevented it from running on 5.0 devices. Now people who rely on MX Player don't have to do without when upgrading to Lollipop.
While this isn't the big redesign you may have hoped for, there are some new features to take in.
Into every life a little rain must fall. Across every software update a few bugs will crawl. The most glaring problem for new users of Android 5.0 on the Nexus 7 2013 is a bug that appears to be stopping video playback dead. You can see a few users reporting the issue here, and we've seen it on at least one Android Police staff member's tablet. The good news is that there appear to be a few ways that you can fix it. The bad news is that they don't seem to fix it for long.
What's the problem?
The video playback bug occurs in YouTube and other apps or local files that use Android's default video player.