iMediaShare: From Online TV to Big Screen, via Smartphone
iMediaShare combines media sharing technology with online video aggregation, which is a roundabout way of saying you can use your mobile device to send Internet video to your TV. There are other ways to get this job done, but this app promises to make it as intuitive and effortless as possible; and, with some exceptions, iMediaShare pulls it off.
What is iMediaShare?
When it comes to iOS and Android TV apps, we’ve seen plenty of TV guide apps that allow you to look up shows and schedule viewing. We’ve seen video apps that let you watch TV shows on your mobile device and even some remote control apps. All of these apps have one thing in common: they bring some of the features of your TV to your phone.
iMediaShare reverses this direction, letting you use your mobile device to put video on your TV. It connects with many online collections of TV shows, movies, news, and other Internet video content. You can choose from selected “Top Picks” or search through everything the channels have to offer and send the video of your choice to your network-connected TV.
iMediaShare interfaces with a variety of equipment, including Smart TVs from LG, Sony, and Samsung, and game consoles like the Xbox360 and PS3. You can even use iMediaShare to remotely control your HTPC setup with Windows Media Center or XBMC. To get technical about it, the app utilizes DLNA, AirPlay, and UPnP, the same kind of network media sharing that you use to wirelessly transfer audio and video from your mobile device to your computer (or vice versa). There’s even an option on the main menu to browse and launch your network files to use your phone or tablet as a remote control for video and audio stored on your computer. In this respect, it’s nothing that we haven’t seen in DLNA apps in the past, but iMediaShare is more intuitive than some and it has several tricks up its sleeve.
The real beauty of iMediaShare is the ability to browse and discover a wide variety of online content channels, featuring Internet-only video, like YouTube, Crackle, TED, The Onion, CNET, and Wired. There’s also plenty of TV content: including NFL, Showtime, Sesame Street, Discovery, CNN, and CNBC. You’ll also find plenty of video repositories that you may not even know existed, like the Internet Archive’s huge collection of classic films and modern animation.
The interface has everything nicely subdivided into channels, genres, and categories, making it a snap to narrow down whatever flavor video you’re in the mood for. Searching for something specific can be a little trickier; you’ll need to select a channel first, so you’ll want to have a good idea of where to look for something. It’d be nice if you could search all of the available video sources at once, but perhaps that’s a little too much to ask.
You can choose to watch the videos on your phone, making iMediaShare a rather impressive contender among other online video aggregator apps. The video playback interface is one of the least intrusive players we’ve seen, with a very high-quality image whether you’re watching SD or HD video (HD will generally require you to spring for the $4.99 full version instead of the free Lite version of the app). But the real beauty of iMediaShare is how easily you can bring this video content to your big screen, with just a few taps.
When you first launch iMediaShare, select it on the media menu of your Smart TV or gaming console. And in my experience, there are times when the app simply doesn’t want to connect; either to online services or locations on your local network. I had some long waits and force closes on my Android app while trying to play videos on Windows Media Player and pulling up my shared media folders for viewing on my phone. Getting it integrated with WMP was full of little settings tweaks that could daunt some less-savvy users, and the idea of a fully remote solution may still be a few versions away. But that’s true for every DLNA app that I’ve tried, and admittedly the issue is just as much with Windows sharing protocols.
The process goes much more smoothly on Smart TVs and gaming consoles, requiring only one initial setup confirmation on either side, after which you can surf and watch to your heart’s content. iMediaShare is a visionary experience, embracing the mobile video browsing and viewing that we’re all doing, and integrating it with the more thoroughly satisfying and familiar TV viewing that we’d rather be doing. If the various wrinkles are ironed out a little, this may end up being the app that finally brings the second screen and the big screen together.