The iPad is quite a revolutionary device, in that it tries to change the way we do many things. There are tons of apps for doing just about anything with a few simple swipes of your fingers, but navigating through videos can still be awkward unless you’re using YouTube.
The app that we are reviewing today is called Squrl, and it tries to make browsing videos from different sources fun, intuitive, and simple. Let’s see how it fares!
Squrl is a free app, and you can create your own account once inside the app so that your favorite feeds are saved. The first time you open the app you’ll be greeted with a few feed categories, and inside of each one of them you can select your favorite sources for videos. We’ll get into these next.
Subscribing to a feed is really easy. It’s actually very similar to Flipboard, in that there are some predetermined feeds divided into categories where you can go to and pick your favorites from. The topics range from Comedy, to News, and the featured feeds in each one of them are popular sites that you’ve likely heard of before (TechCrunch, The Onion, Huffington Post, etc.). Unfortunately, you can’t create your own feeds, but the ones provided by the app are likely more than enough!
You also have the option of using your social networks as feeds, again a similarity to Flipboard. With this feature you can use your Twitter, Facebook, Netflix or Youtube account to create a stream of all the videos that are posted by your friends or subscriptions on those networks. After you are done with all of this process, you’ll have enough feeds to jump right in!
In the main navigation menu you’ll see two sidebars on your left and a few videos to your right on the main frame. One of the sidebars is the status one, here you can see your profile, access the “community”, find or invite friends to Squrl, and see what the app is doing. The second sidebar is where you can select your feeds.
The “Fresh” one is where all of your feeds are summarized, but there’s also a “What’s Hot” feed that shows you the most viewed items separated by days.
You can also browse videos by channel, which are basically categories of your feeds.
While you are browsing through the menus, the corresponding videos will be shown to you in the main frame. There, you can see the thumbnail, title, and uploader for each item. There will also be a small “+” sign on the corner of each item, which can help you add videos to your queue. Opening a video is just as easy. Just select it and it will be displayed on top of the frame.
You can even use finger gestures to close it, show it full screen or return to the navigation, which by the way, you can continue using without having to quit the current video.
Besides the feeds, navigating, and queue features, there are some other smaller features, like the social ones. You have an “Activity” tab in the menu, which is basically like a History of what you’ve seen. You can also friend people, invite them via Twitter and Facebook, and message them from the menu. These make the app feel more connected and social, there’s even a “Community” tab where you can view what everyone else is watching.
Well, first off, it’s free. So the real question is if it’s worth your time.
It’s not flawless, and it’s definitely not quite ready to be called “The Flipboard for Video”, which I personally find to be a weird statement in itself – why is Flipboard the bar? There are some things that still need fixing, like the connectivity to the social networks (I couldn’t get Twitter to load the first time I used it) and small details like that, but overall it’s a great app with space for improvement.
This is what the iPad is all about. Flipboard made it super easy and cool to discover news and other types of content in your iPad. It finally made real the dream of having a world of content available literally one finger and a few swipes away. I think Squrl achieves something similar for video. Seamless navigation that integrates well with the touchscreen, where you don’t have to look for any content, it’s just shown to you in a cool and organized way.
If you love video content and you have several feeds where you get your fix from, you are going to love Squrl. It’s much more than just a feed aggregator, it also excels at providing an enjoyable environment for browsing through videos. And the best part of it all: it’s free.
Everything in Squrl is made with the experience of watching videos in mind, even the finger gestures to manipulate video are very nice details that I wish more apps applied (I’m looking at you, Twitter). Overall, the app looks good and achieves what it should: give you quick easy access to video feeds. I’m a fan. What about you?