Last month PlayOn got tired of waiting for Apple to launch a native iOS app for its streaming audio and video service, so the company introduced a web-based version using HTML5. But Apple has since decided to relax some of its App Store rules, and now there’s an official PlayOn app available for download. It’s free, and it’s kind of awesome (although you have to pay a one-time fee or a subscription for the PlayOn server).
First, here’s a little explanation of how PlayOn works. The app doesn’t stream content straight from the internet to your mobile device. Instead you need to install a server app on a PC running on your home network. The PC actually grabs the media from the internet and transcodes it on the fly for delivery to other devices. PlayOn works with video game consoles like the Nintendo Wii, Playstation3, and now also with mobile devices including the iPhone and iPod touch.
It’s a little clunky, requires a reasonably fast server PC, and a good home wireless network. But the upshot is you can use PlayOn to watch video from Hulu, CBS, Comedy Central, MLB, NHL, ESPN, CNN, PBS, MTV, and Amazon VOD on your iPhone, just to name a few of the available channels. Some are available for free users, while others (including ComedyCentral) require you to upgrade to a PlayOn premium account.
I was able to stream several TV shows from Hulu, as well as video from Amazon Video On Demand using the app, and the video quality is quite good — although it stutters occasionally when there’s a bit of home network congestion or when my server PC is overtaxed.
While PlayOn’s main claim to fame is that it delivers web video to devices that wouldn’t normally support it, there’s also a “My Media” beta section which lets you stream photos, videos, and music from your server PC to your mobile device as well. I’ve had problems getting the My Media section to work with my Nintendo Wii in the past, but it seems to work perfectly with the iOS app.
You can find a few more screenshots after the break.