Verizon Wireless has released the anticipated update to its Viewdini app featured in our CES coverage. The update adds numerous new content providers, including Verizon FiOS as a TV service provider. The new provider services include Verizon FiOS’ on-demand FlexView, ABC and ABC Family, and the CW. This release, for some reason, removes Netflix support in iOS.
The Viewdini app aggregates over-the-top TV shows, movies, and online video available from services on iOS and Android devices. This gives you the ability to discover content across numerous services, including those that offer paid or subscription content. We’re not entirely sure why Verizon Wireless, in particular, is offering this app. Use is limited to Verizon Wireless customers on Android, even though Verizon is not providing the actual content, but you do not need to be a Verizon Wireless customer to use it on iOS.
The numerous views and curated suggestions offer granular browse and search capabilities. Once you find what you want to watch, you can choose which provider to use to watch the video. So if a TV episode is on HuluPlus and the iTunes store, you’ll have the option to choose the service that makes most sense for you economically (like through Xbox’s Bing search). And if your device doesn’t already have the app for the selected provider, you’ll be taken to the app store to download it.
Overall, we’re excited about the capabilities this application provides. As a portal to video content available through multiple third-party services, it gives consumers something very close to universal search and discovery for any video content available from their devices. The updated tile views make discovery easy and interesting, and the “consumers’ choice” approach that lets users select where to watch may be the first of its kind for iOS and Android devices.
We’re far less excited about the implementation of the app. They’ve made some progress from the previous version, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Many of the views are slow to load, and they’re cluttered. On smaller devices, like phones, it’s even worse. Multiple levels of navigation make some views unnecessarily complex, and episode browsing is cumbersome.
As for the UI design, it’s kind of a mess. The app sports a star field theme, which seems largely out of place, the pixel-imperfect framing of provider and content images makes things look sloppy, and filter effects on toolbar icons and a barely-noticeable back “button” just seem like design at the expense of utility. And overall, design and interface elements are clearly more intended for Android than iOS. If there’s anything that perfectly summarizes this app’s failed attention to implementation detail, it’s the blocky application logo.
If you’re looking for product information, you probably won’t find any. Verizon’s published close to nothing about this application besides its original press release last year. There’s no in-app help except a tips overlay that’s hidden within settings and hindered by the app’s slowness, no product site or documentation, and no support except an email address in the Google Play store.
Disappointing issues aside, this app does offer utility and promise for anyone who uses their mobile device to consume over-the-top video content by providing a one-stop portal to multiple video services. You can download it now from Google Play or the iTunes App Store. Thankfully, it’s free.