You may remember our recent coverage of the Mediafly service that syncs media content — specifically podcasts for now — to a wide range of devices. Well, Mediafly is wasting no time. Their goal is to launch on multiple smartphones throughout 2009, and then hit even more home stereo/video equipment in 2010 so you can have your media content synced and shared on just about any consumer device out there. The fact that Mediafly is device-agnostic is exciting in that your content goes with you, regardless of what device you may use or decide to uopgrade to in the future.
Now Mediafly has released mobile applications for two popular smartphone platforms — a brand new beta for BlackBerry, and an upgrade to their iPhone application that gives you a faster channel refresh and improved user interface. Without further adieu, let’s jump right in and take a look at what BlackBerry and iPhone users can look forward to with Mediafly.
First, if you are not currently using Mediafly what are you waiting for? The service is free! All you need to do is head over to the Mediafly website and set up your profile to select what type of channel content you want (news, sports, culture, travel, technology, etc). You add what device(s) you want to have your channels synced up to. The beauty of it is once you set up your selection and install the client application on your iPhone and/or BlackBerry, all of your Mediafly content will be available on both devices. No need to plug either up to your computer and manually load up your podcasts. You can also add podcasts with Mediafly, just in case one of your favorites is not listed.
Let’s start with the new beta for BlackBerry devices. You can download the open BlackBerry beta straight from your BB Browser from Mediafly. Once installed, if you already have a Mediafly account you can choose to link your BlackBerry so all of your favorite channels will be loaded onto your device. You can opt not to link the device if you prefer to search or view a selection of popular channels.
Using the BlackBerry app, you can easily search through different podcast topics to select or add to your preferences. Mediafly will make additional recommendations over time based on the content you choose. The user interface is simple and intuitive, so there is no worry about having to search the internet for a “how-to” or ever need a manual to show you how to work the application. The application did not “hose” the device memory or put the BlackBerry in a loop (aka repeated “hourglass” mode) or force me to reboot the device.
The application was completely stable and worked flawlessly on my Bold. CrackBerry’s Bla1ze has noted that users may need to ensure their APN is set correctly to play podcasts on their BlackBerry, but I didn’t experience any first-hand problems while using the application.
Channel listing on the Mediafly BlackBerry Beta
Playing the MacBreak Weekly Podcast on my BlackBerry
Verdict for the BlackBerry Beta: Highly recommended. Get it at Mediafly from your BlackBerry Browser.
If you regularly listen to podcasts, this application will make it easy to keep up with your favorites. While I wish this version did utilize video content (vodcasts) like the iPhone counterpart — hopefully we will see that feature in Mediafly’s next BlackBerry app release — I understand why it was excluded. Videos look great on the newer BlackBerry devices — Bold, Storm, Curve 8900, Tour, etc.; but video delivery to BlackBerry devices through apps hasn’t really “made” it quite yet. Most video apps for the BlackBerry platform require the user to access content through a separate browser link that must be played through the BlackBerry’s standard Roxio media player — and the quality may vary by actual cellular data/WiFi connection.
Now, onto Mediafly’s updated iPhone application.
OK, it is no secret that media is where the iPhone/iPod Touch shines. Mediafly’s update to their iPhone application has made some nice improvements. The app itself is faster, transitioning between menu items and refreshing channel content much more smoothly than the initial release. The user interface is also much improved, catering to the first-time user with a helpful splash screen and menu items that will walk you through the features.
The iPhone/iPod Touch application really takes advantage of being able to listen to audio podcasts and video. If your selected channels have video content available, just click on the Video tab in the application and you’re off to the races. While the travel podcast I had synced to my iPhone had no video, I expect to see more video-centric podcast content as News, Sports, and Entertainment providers begin to further utilize mobile video for shorter “newscasts” outside of the internet.
While I can easily go to mobile Safari on the iPhone and pull specific websites up, it’s going to be easier to automatically get a wider range of content from a podcast service like Mediafly. I see a service like this growing to be a full audio/video RSS-like content provider, with much more content coming in the near future as people continue to grab-and-go with their news and updates coming directly to their mobile device, and not from the TV/Radio, manually hitting specific websites, or RSS feeds that are merely links from my desktop PC or mobile.
Some shots from CNet’s video podcast running from Mediafly, below:
Sure, you can load up on podcasts on your iPhone/iPod Touch through iTunes. The feature that Mediafly brings to the table is that your podcasts are wirelessly synced to stay up to date between multiple devices. This means you are not dependent on iTunes or Apple to deliver the podcasts. If you ever switch devices, use more than one brand of device, or if you want to view / listen to the content on TV, you are not tied solely to Apple’s product line. This is a key factor for consumers who may not want — or have the money — to upgrade entirely to Apple-centric devices, like AppleTV, to access and view media content on the big screen.
MSRP: The BlackBerry Beta and the iPhone audio-only versions are Free. The Video+Audio for the iPhone/iPod Touch sells for $0.99.
What I Like: The service itself is device-agnostic, meaning you can access your selected content from a wide range of devices; The BlackBerry beta handles audio podcasts flawlessly and provides an intuitive user interface; I was able to access the same channel content through both the BlackBerry and iPhone without any cumbersome setup or having to “plugin” and connect to a computer; The iPhone application has been updated to be faster, with a smoother UI. Mediafly leverages the iPhone/iPod Touch video playback with their selection of video podcasts
What Needs Improvement: Very little. I am hopeful that Mediafly’s channel content will continue to grow, as that will attract and retain more users; I would love to see a future release to support video podcasts on the BlackBerry (right now it is Audio Only for BlackBerry devices); I can’t think of any suggestions for the iPhone version.
Get It: The BlackBerry Beta is Open. You can download the application from your BlackBerry Browser by
going here. The iPhoneiPod Touch app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store. Here are direct links to the free Audio Version as well as the $0.99 Audio+Video Version.