Yes, smart phones are awesome for communication. But let's be honest here, for a large majority of people, mobiles are a form of entertainment. From gaming to videos, from music to social media, a whole bunch of us spend most of our time using our smart phones for fun. That's why today we're taking a look at streaming media apps, that is apps that let you take your entertainment with you on the go. So if you're looking to be entertained, here's all you need to know…
The Usual Suspects
We'll start out with the apps you probably already have, or at least have heard of, just to cover all the bases. There are a whole host of video related apps. Netflix is probably the most popular of these, and if you've got a Netflix account and you haven't downloaded the mobile app yet you probably should. With a smooth interface, Netflix's intuitive use makes it one of the best streaming apps on the market.
There are, of course, other services. BBC iPlayer also has a mobile app, so you can take your top notch entertainment with you on the go. Various other TV channels also have their own apps. Amazon's own streaming service has an app too, but you will need to have an Amazon video account for it to work (simply having a regular Amazon account isn't enough). And then there's YouTube, but we're guessing most of you have that already. If you don't, download the app, the app gives a far better experience than trying to watch through the mobile internet site.
Moving on to perhaps the lesser known apps, Kodi is at heart an awesome media player, and one that you really should have if you enjoy watching or listening to anything on your mobile. But… Kodi is so much more as well. Yes, you can simply use it to watch videos that you've already got on your phone. But you can also stream media through it, control your home theatre system, and tons of other stuff as well. Even better, there are plenty of add ons that you can get to control your Kodi system even more.
If this description sounds a little nebulous, that's for good reason. Kodi is whatever you want it to be. It's an opensource software that's continually modified and updated, and with a little playing around you'll find that you can design it to do what you want. In terms of flexibility, Kodi is by far the best entertainment streaming app, though you will probably need a little technical know how to get it off the ground (there are, however, some very easy to follow tutorial steps and videos online to help).
Showyou is sort of like YouTube on speed, but in a good way. Basically, the app collects any video that's trending on social media, from sites like Facebook, Buzzfeed and everything in between. It then throws it all at you to see what you like. You can subscribe to certain feeds, just as you can in YouTube. If you're the kind of person that likes a short, sharp shock of entertainment, and is happy getting lost in YouTube for a few hours, then Showyou is going to be a Godsend. Since all videos are trending, meaning there's been a spike in views for whatever reason, you can be sure that what you're seeing is actually good, or at least interesting. We like Showyou because it takes the pain out of finding a good vid, and there's less trash to wade through than on YouTube.
Don't say that we don't appeal to all viewers here, after the cultural overload of Showyou, TED might be just what the doctor ordered. The app gives you access to all of TED's pre-recorded videos, as well as to live talks. Never heard of TED? It's a network that has videos from educators, authors, motivational speakers, government dudes, physicists, philosophers, you name it. TED is educational, sure, but also inspirational. If you have any interest at all in the world around you and how it works, then TED is a must download.
Finally, we've got a little something for those that like surprises. LiveNow! TV is an app that is essentially a TV with over 600 channels. Open up the app, decide what genre you're in the mood for, and get a selection of channels. You can then watch whatever's playing right now on the channel of your choice. Just like with TV. Even better, there are channels from all over the world. That means you can watch the US news, Australian sports, Moroccan music TV, French movies, whatever you like. And all for free (legal too!). Can't say fairer than that!
Streaming entertainment apps are all very well and good, but there are a couple of issues that you need to keep in mind. All the apps we've told you about are legal, but there are some that aren't (a notable and popular app that we've left off the list is iFlix, which since it plays torrents is of a dubious legal status). Whenever you're getting any kind of video app, do consider carefully whether or not you're going to get into trouble with it. If you're shopping in Google Play or the Apple App Store, you should be fine, but be aware of the issue anyway.
Secondly, some of these apps are so awesome that you might decide you want to watch them on the big screen. There are ways to do this, Google's Chromecast, for example, or Apple TV, will let you beam pics and sound from your mobile to the TV. These are a worthwhile investment for some people.
There are tons of entertainment choice on mobiles these days, and these apps are just a few of our favourites. So get to downloading, and don't blame us if your productivity drops for the rest of the day!