It is so often the case that billions are spent (and ‘earned‘) in corners of the economy and yet obvious innovations are either neglected or consciously suppressed. I cut the cord back in November. A couple weeks ago, I found an app called SQURL. Wow, what an awesome thing it is. First off, there are two use cases for this thing that both will change your life.
Finding Stuff on Your Own
The ipad app allows you to conduct searches and then the results are spat out into rows of scrolling thumbnails of each video. You can sample them. Then, with a long-press you get a little popup menu (that Path menu thing has spread like foot fungus) which includes a +. When you tap that, the video is added to your queue. Later, you can use airplay and send it to your TV, and it will literally just keep rolling through what you have in there for as long as you want. One of the great things too is that you can diddle with the queue while things are playing so it‘s a pretty adept little video VJ tool.
The search is good and it goes out to a pretty wide variety of sources: YouTube, Vimeo, AOL. Yahoo actually has some decent videos, they should add that. Anyway, this works quite well.
Incidental Video Collecting
Perhaps the even more important use case is you are clicking around the web, or reading your Twitter feed and you come across something. SQURL has a bookmarklet, and jesus, it works really well considering (I happened to have written a bookmarklet last year, and video is the pain in the ass you would think it would be). Anyway, you are on a page and there‘s a video. For instance, I did a search just now to find out why in the hell OmniGraffle still doesn‘t support either icloud or Dropbox. Found on the OmniGroup blog they are about to release a syncing solution, and they have a video. Tap the bookmarklet on the bar in Safari and SQURL puts up its little animation of a squirrel running, and alerts me that it found multiple videos. Then I scrolled down to find acorns next to each one. Tap and that particular video goes in the queue.
This is a good example of how apps don‘t have to really blow things out on the feature vector if they are doing something that‘s so obviously useful. SQURL doesn‘t have that many features. And the app feels a bit like it could use some more expert attention and polish (it‘s easy to fat finger stuff and have videos startup when you are just browsing, for example). But, wow, this thing is fantastic. I also suggested to them that they might add support for playlists (e.g. on YouTube, there is a playlist for each season of Connections: SQURL should find these and let me add the whole playlist to my queue).
Later, it would make sense to have a number of queues so I could keep things about green projects and gardening in one place and programming in another.
This is also great because it solves one of the major problems that makes the stupid cable-based bundling plantation keep rolling: you really can find tons of great stuff out there and it doesn‘t take long, and frankly, you have greater flexibility in when and how you are going to see it.