The iPad has taken on many more uses than its critics initially thought possible, but one of the main uses that has stayed consistent from day one is that of media consumption. The iPad is great for many things, but consuming media has to rank near the top.
Specifically, it’s a wonderful device for watching videos, and many applications are now available for watching all of that free video content on the Web in a multitude of interesting ways. We’ve recently reviewed Squrl and Denso and today we’re going to take a look at Frequency and Vodio, two other players in this market. These two applications are similar to each other in some regards, but take some different approaches to watching video on the iPad. Let’s see how they stack up against each other…
The trend with many of these video apps is the function of creating custom channels to build yourself a personally crafted viewing experience.
With Frequency you "follow" preset channels. These channels are just part of the application and you can’t directly go create or import your own channel. Once a channel is "followed" you’ll see that feed and its videos will be incorporated into your profile.
The channel selection is quite large and I didn’t get the feeling it was lacking anything. They are categorized into topic areas to make something more specific easier to find. There is almost a ridiculous amount of great video content available and it becomes very evident when searching through the Frequency channels.
As well as preset channels, there are categories for Featured channels and Trending topics. The Featured categorization appears to just a selection of channels that the Frequency developers have decided to feature. In my experience, you’ll find the larger, more popular channels here such as CNN, National Geographic, The Onion, AP and channels in that arena.
The Trending categorization is an interesting area to explore. This appears to scan the Web for tagged video of major current topics and people. It’s not completely evident where the topics are generated from, but they appear to be pretty accurate to what is currently happening in the world and around the Web. These channels, like all others, can be followed or just browsed.
Frequency will also connect to your Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts. Connecting Twitter and Facebook will give you new channels as well as the ability to share videos via those networks. The YouTube connection will bring in your YouTube subscriptions and favorites. In a way you can use this method to create your own channel.
Once you’ve followed some channels you can browse through them. Frequency uses a Hollywood Squares type of configuration. Swiping from side to side will move your through each channel stream. Swiping up and down will cycle you through the available videos within a stream. It’s a really solid experience and makes browsing through a lot of content pretty easy.
Playing video is where Frequency really shines in my opinion. Once you begin playing a video within a channel you’ll see some info about the current video as well as the others in the channel. What’s cool is that the channel will just continue to play one video after another. There are a lot of short snippets so needing to flip to the next video gets to be a bit of a pain. With Frequency you can just turn on the AP channel and get a rundown on the latest news.
The ability to favorite, save for later, and share videos adds to the functionality of Frequency.
Vodio is another player in this space. It has some similar functionality to Frequency, but the developers made some decisions that differentiate it from Frequency.
The core functionality of Vodio is following preset channels, just like you’d see with Frequency. Though the categorization is slightly different you’ll find essentially the same channel listing here as you would with other applications. I’m sure there is some differentiation here, but with so many offerings from each application it’s challenging to discern any differences. Managing your channels is super simple and arguably a little easier than with Frequency.
It is possible to connect Vodio to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well. The connection to Twitter and Facebook appear to only turn on the capability to share videos with these social networks and I’m not entirely sure how the YouTube connection plays out. I’ve connected my account, but I’m not seeing any new channel options or anything like that.
Vodio does have a channel following limit. This is where the main differences between Vodio and Frequency start to show. The channel follow limit with Vodio is ten. You can of course turn channels on and off as you please. With Frequency there doesn’t appear to be any limit (at least if there is it is way past ten). At last count I’m at 30 with no warning signs.
Vodio is noticeably a more simple application. The channel following limit is just one portion of this. The browsing interface, though similar to other applications, is just more simplistic overall. There aren’t as many bells and whistles on the interface. The main focus is on the video.
One gripe that I have is with needing to move to the next video in a channel manually. I’d love to just turn on the Paste Magazine channel and let it play though one video after another, but unfortunately manual intervention is necessary.
So Which Is Better?
This is a tough question as there are things about each strike a chord with me. Vodio feels more simple and stripped down, which I’ll admit, scores it points in my book. It feels like it manages the abundance of Web video in a less hectic environment while still providing the core functionality you’d expect from an application in this space.
Frequency definitely feels more robust. There is a lot of stuff going on, but I think the application still does a pretty solid job at managing all of the content in a usable manner. There’s a bit more room for customization and the aspect of automatically playing videos in a channel is a really nice feature.
My answer to the question will be a bit of a cop out I’m afraid. I wouldn’t spend the time to review a bad application so I can say that both of these are great apps that perform their function nicely, but I can see how each one could be more appealing to different people.
Vodio would be your choice if you’re looking for something simple and nicely designed to help you watch video on the Web quickly and easily. Personally, I think I’ll turn more to Frequency.
Though I love simplistic applications, I do enjoy the deeper customization options and more robust feature-set that comes with with Frequency. And honestly, as nit-picky as it is, the auto playing of videos is a big feature to me. If Vodio offered that I might lean the other way.
With each of them being free I can’t see any harm in trying both out to see which one fits your style and needs best. Each application takes a slightly different approach to presenting the same content.