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VLC For iPhone and iPad Returns With Wi-Fi Upload, Dropbox Sync and More

Several years ago, the popular desktop media player VLC was released for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. However, the app was eventually removed from the store over copyright issues with the GPL license.

Now, VLC is back on iOS [App Store Link] with a complete rewrite including AirPlay support, multiple ways to load files into the video app, realtime video filters, playback speed manipulation, subtitles and more.

VLC for iOS is still rolling out to international App Stores, beginning in Australia and New Zealand and arriving in the U.S. this evening.

Vlcipad
Today, it’s my pleasure to announce that VLC for iOS is back on the App Store. It’s available free of charge in any country, requires iOS 5.1 or later and runs on any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

This is more than an upgrade of the initial version: it’s a full re-write. From the ground-up. Relying on the power of MobileVLCKit and its underlying libvlc, we started with modern video and audio output modules offering faster drawing, full support for 10bit H264 encodings, retina displays and lower latency.
Some of the major features include:

Wi-Fi Upload - Allows users to upload files directly to the iOS version of VLC through a web browser on the PC or Mac.
Dropbox Integration - Play media directly from Dropbox or download it for offline playback.
Download from Web - Download files from any web server for offline playback
Network Streams - Play any network streams support by VLC media player for desktop operating systems
3rd-Party App Integration - Any app with a 'share' dialog can use VLC for iOS for media playback
Video Filters - Video playback can be modified for brightness, contrast, hue, saturation or gamma in real time.

To avoid further copyright issues, VLC for iOS is fully open-source and the video playback and library kits are available for integration by other developers. An SDK will be released later this summer.

VLC has already launched on the Australian and New Zealand App Stores and will be launching on others throughout the day and evening. It should be available in the U.S. at 11PM Eastern time. [App Store Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

16 months ago

POOF - and just like that, it's not available in the US STORE!! :mad:


do you find yourself constantly pushing on doors that have "pull" signs?

:rolleyes:
Rating: 18 Votes
16 months ago
I guess Rémi Denis-Courmont finally concedes that their Nokia phones were a flop.

(He is the person who requested the takedown of the original app, and was found to be a Nokia employee)
Rating: 8 Votes
16 months ago

POOF - and just like that, it's not available in the US STORE!! :mad:


11PM Eastern Time
Rating: 7 Votes
16 months ago
Awesome
Rating: 6 Votes
16 months ago
Quick! Download it before it goes away!
(Oh, not available yet...)
Rating: 5 Votes
16 months ago
Looking forward to checking it out when it comes available in the US Store
Rating: 5 Votes
16 months ago
It's funny how many Americans think it's been pulled already, when the article says the US will get it at 11pm eastern time....

It's not hit the UK store yet.
Rating: 4 Votes
16 months ago
That's incredible!
Rating: 3 Votes
16 months ago
VLC is by probably the best all-in-one multimedia player for both Mac OS X and Windows. It also has (or will also have when Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 are concerned) ports on mobile platforms.

The iOS port, which was released back in 2010, had a stormy history. Shortly after its release, it had to be removed from the AppStore, only to return almost three years later, yesterday evening (AppStore link (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vlc-for-ios/id650377962?mt=8); free. Note that its official name is "VLC for iOS"). In the meantime, the only VLC version available on iOS was from Cydia, the jailbroken AppStore. The Cydia version of VLC has always been the same as the 2010 (initial) version of VLC.

The removal of the initial version of VLC has understandably caused quite much uproar because people tend to think of VLC as the best of all players, no matter what platform it's running on. This, unfortunately, hasn't been the case of the initial (2010) version – actually, it has been one of the absolutely worst players, compatibility-, feature- and efficiency-wise. As I've always recommended in all iOS forums, you simply didn't want to use the then-current (2010) version of iOS VLC because it was plain inferior to the top AppStore players (GoodPlayer (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/goodplayer/id416756729?mt=8), It's Playing (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/its-playing/id442839861?mt=8), AVPlayerHD (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/avplayerhd/id407976815?mt=8), nPlayer (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nplayer/id539397400?mt=8), HD Player Pro (currently unavailable), RushPlayer (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rushplayer/id452990487?mt=8), BUZZ Player HD. (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/buzz-player-hd./id559707039?mt=8) etc.) and Cydia (jailbroken) ones (XBMC, RushPlayer+).

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9324026294/sizes/o/in/photostream/)


(VLC in the iOS7 AppStore. As with all images in this review, click for enlargened version.)

How much different the just-released, brand new version is? I have some bad news: not much better. While it has indeed been enhanced, it still can't hold a candle to top AppStore players. Basically, if it didn't have “VLC” in its name, I assume noone would ever download it.

How dare I...?

Why is the new version inferior to alternatives? Well, for the same reasons I have not recommended several AppStore players. The most important of them being the complete lack of hardware H.264 decoding of iOS-native files (mov / mp4 / m4v). You may not immediately notice this on sufficiently powerful iDevice models (at the time, iPad 4 and iPhone 5) or, on older / slower hardware, when playing back lower-resolution videos. However, you'll surely notice the player chewing through the battery really fast – after all, software decoding uses the processor of the iDevice quite a bit, resulting in sometimes dramatically lower battery life. On iPhones and iPod touches, when operating with lower backlight, the difference can be even five-fold. That is, you'll have five times better battery life with a player that uses hardware decoding than with one that doesn't. (Please consult section “What about software-only playback?” in THIS (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1547504) article for a more thorough explanation.)

In addition, the player crashes a lot and is incompatible with some very often used audio formats – most importantly, MP3 (and MP2) audio. The latter means a lot of AVI files (which, when not using AC3, generally use MP3 audio), all standard definition DVB .TS files, many MKV files etc. are unplayable. Also, as most streaming radio stations (for example, those of Radioio – see my dedicated explanation HERE (http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=17602312&postcount=165)) use MP3. They won't work either.

Finally, the third most important, major problem with the current version is that it's continuously crashing.

Basically, currently, the only reason you may want to download (and archive) VLC is its support for AC3 and DTS audio. Which, I'm afraid, will be very short-lived. If you in no way can convert the DTS audio track(s) of your videos, you may find VLC useful. However, I still strongly recommend against it: remuxing an 5-15 Gbyte MKV file with Subler or MP4Tools only takes some minutes, and this already includes converting DTS tracks to AAC. That is, try preferring remuxing videos containing DTS audio to using VLC to play them back. The (sometimes vastly) enhanced battery life will make this all worth.

So, how dare I criticize the “almighty” VLC? Let's face the truth: it's not ready for the prime time and is definitely not recommended. After carefully deciding what you need in a multimedia player (flawless MKV playback? SSA subtitles?) pick a player from the list I've presented above and use it. (Basically, unless you need SSA subtitles or streaming, nPlayer is the safest bet. If you do need SSA, get HD Player Pro instead.)
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9318495055/in/set-72157634699663151)

(Video list)

Note: this article discusses the now-current, 2.0.1 version. When future versions get released, I'll try to post updates to the article but this all depends on my free time. Keep this in mind if and when new, enhanced versions are released. They may be better than 2.0.1. 2.0.1 is, for the time being, pretty much useless.

Pros and Cons

Let me present you with the usual “Pros and Cons” section.

Pros

- DTS and AC3 support. This is the single reason you should download and archive the file so that you can still keep DTS support when future versions remove it
- Video filters, playback speed manipulation, and fine seeking.
- Acceptable SSA subtitle support. Note that it can't decode some kinds of SSA subtitles - for example, Japanese kanjis. An example:
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9318494941/sizes/o/in/set-72157634699663151/)


Pay special attention to the area, annotated by a red rectangle, in the upper right corner!

The same vertical subtitle is properly rendered by the desktop VLC:
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9321287756/sizes/o/in/set-72157634699663151/)


and in HD Player Pro, the, currently, best SSA-capable player:
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9319996089/sizes/o/in/photostream/)


Note that all similar videos exhibit the same problem; for example, THIS (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/Da_Capo_III_test-Hi10.mkv) one (originally introduced in my Hi10P playback article (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1547504))

Cons

- no hardware acceleration support for native formats
- furthermore, to make things even worse, the H.264 decoder is somewhat slower than in top players.
- no MKV remuxing (after all, it doesn't play any kind of video hardware accelerated)
- definitely worse MPEG2 1080i60 decoding support than in several other players
- incompatible with several audio formats; for example, MP3 (see the Hindi track in the Harry Potter test video (http://www.auby.no/files/video_tests/h264_720p_hp_3.1_600kbps_aac_mp3_dual_audio_harry_potter.mkv)) and MP2 (European SD DVB audio track). This also renders a lot of AVI files and network streams unplayable because of the distorted audio.
- no Apple CC support (which was easy to predict as it doesn't use HW acceleration / decoding at all)
- very unstable – freezes / crashes VERY frequently
- no metadata displaying support
- no support for displaying more than one subtitle at a time
- when audio-only files are concerned, only OGG Audio (OGA) is supported – there's absolutely no support for WMA / WAV / FLAC / WV / APE files.
- impossible to resize / relocate / restyle textual subtitles
- no playlists, camera roll / iPod library access, filelist sorting, folders, file renaming

----------

Searching finds "VLC for iOS" for me now. Dunno that I'll ever use it but I stashed a copy - I generally use Handbrake to convert video to the native format for hardware acceleration.


Note that, in many cases, HandBrake is an overkill. If the input video track is H.264 and you don't want to compress it, a simple remuxing via Subler or MP4Tools will most probably do.
Rating: 3 Votes
16 months ago
iHate the fact that Apple doesn't allow you to play .avi files.
But VLC is my savior :D
Rating: 2 Votes

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