If it were up to us, every video would be 16:9, with some exceptions made for some more cinematic footage. But because there are older videos and people unaware of vertical video syndrome on YouTube, videos with inferior aspect ratios are an unfortunate reality. The team behind YouTube is making the best of this situation and has now forced its web player to adapt to different aspect ratios.
Chrome 65 came out last week, and included Google's new ad-blocker and a few other security features. Chrome 66 has now graduated to the beta channel, and has several major experimental features. There's a new 'Modern Design' interface, partially based on the ill-fated Chrome Home UI, as well as updates to the media player and a new Clipboard API.
The video player on Chrome for Android has always closely mirrored (or looked identical to) the desktop Chrome video player. There's a play/pause button, a timeline, and whatever other controls the site has enabled (full-screen, volume, download, etc.). A brand new video player has appeared in Chrome Dev and Canary, with the same double-tap to fast-forward/rewind that the YouTube app added earlier this year.
Plex has been up to lot lately; it wasn't too long ago that the company announced Live TV, a free service for all Pass subscribers. Shifting back to a stronger Android focus, the app is getting a rather interesting update starting today. V6.0 (technically, 126.96.36.1993) adds the ability to play locally-stored video files on your phone or tablet.
YouTube's update to v5 introduced its floating in-app video player, giving users an easier way to browse for a new video while finishing up whatever they were just watching. While the YouTube developers are known for experimenting heavily with interface adjustments, the floating video player has gone basically unchanged over the last four years. That is until a few weeks ago when some users found themselves looking at a new bottom bar layout equipped with player controls. But that's not the only thing YouTube is considering, there is also evidence that users will have the option to shut off the floating video player altogether, or only leave it on while connected to Wi-Fi.
VLC, the desktop favorite of local video enthusiasts for more than a decade, doesn’t have quite the same kind of universal acclaim on Android. But the developers are still hard at work making improvements. According to a blog post from Geoffrey Metais, the 2.1.0 update to the beta release adds a ton of new features, notably including compatibility with Android Auto (for audio, not video).
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.