streaming video

Streaming Video on Your iPhone in Canada

Apple’s sales are better than they’ve ever been. Over a 90 day period ending December 27th, 74.5 million iPhones were sold – an average of 34,000 per hour every day. While Apple doesn’t break down the numbers by model, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been confirmed to be the driving force behind these record sales. That means that more people worldwide, including Canadians, have their hands on one of these large screen devices perfect for streaming video.

The larger screens on the new iPhone models, as well as the flagship devices from other companies, make consuming content easier and more enjoyable on the device you carry with you every day.

Streaming video services, already popular among Canadians, are one of the types of content that has suddenly become more practical to use on your phone. Until recently, Netflix was the only major player operating in Canada, but over the past few months some new players have emerged – all vying to be the destination of choice for Canadians to stream content on.Here’s the low down on streaming video services available in Canada today, and importantly, how well they’re working on the iPhone.

Netflix

Netflix has been operating in Canada since September 2010. Originally a mail-based DVD rental company in the US, online  streaming video has taken over as their main business, and have since expanded to other countries in North America, South America and Europe.

Who can subscribe: Anyone

The Price: $7.99 – $12.99 per month
Netflix has three tiers of service. For $7.99, users get access to only Standard Definition content, and are restricted to watching on one screen at a time. One more dollar unlocks HD and allows for up to two screens. Their highest tier, at $12.99, allows for up to four simultaneous HD streams. Some users are grandfathered in to their earlier pricing model, which allowed for fours HD streams for only $7.99 a month.

The Content: Netflix has a diverse mix of television and film content, including some old classics as well as some more recent films. They offer a kid-friendly section, with the rest of their content divided into 20 different film genres and 15 different TV genres. A rating system helps build your taste profile to give you suggestions for what to watch next.

The iPhone App:
App Store Rating: 3.5 Stars

User experience: The main page contains an ever-changing list of categories based on genres, your watch history, and other parameters. Popular and Trending on Netflix are always at the top, requiring you to scroll down to see anything else. Tapping on a title brings up a new page with a description, user ratings and links to similar content, the latter of which can help you discover new content. Overall intuitive, although having more relevant titles front and centre would be a plus.

Crave TV

Crave TV was introduced in December 2014, and was developed by Bell Canada.

Who can subscribe: Bell, Bell Aliant and Telus TV customers

The Price: $4 per month (free with Movie Network/Movie Central Subscription)
Crave TV costs $4 per month for subscribers with access – although it comes free if you have a Movie Network or Movie Central subscription. This allows for two simultaneous streams, not including anybody watching via a television set-top box.

The Content: Crave TV is focused on television content, and notably gives subscribers access to the entire backlog of HBO scripted shows. Children’s content and feature films are missing, however. Content is divided into HBO, Dramas, Comedies, Reality TV, Documentaries, and Music. There is currently 6,500 hours of content available, but that number will eventually grow.

The iPhone App:
App Store rating: 2 Stars

User Experience: Layout is simple and intuitive. Content is divided by genre, with the ability to quickly scroll through without leaving the main page. Tapping a show brings up a description, as well as links to either start watching immediately, or select a specific episode. Unfortunately, user ratings and comments are nowhere to be seen. Overall easy to use, but not very innovative.

Shomi

Shomi was jointly developed by Canadian companies Rogers and Shaw, and launched their beta version in November 2014.

Who can subscribe: Rogers and Shaw Internet or TV Customers

The Price: $8.99 per month

Shomi’s monthly price includes two simultaneous HD streams, plus additional streams for watching through your set-top box.

The Content: Shomi includes both television and film content, presented as curated collections based on different themes such as “The Art of War” which includes films such as Full Metal Jacket and Jarhead. You can designate a Kids profile, which restricts contend to only G and PG rated. In total, Shomi currently has 12,000 hours of content available to stream.

The iPhone App:
App Store rating: 1.5 Stars

User Experience: The layout is similar to the other streaming video apps but makes better use of images, such as in episode lists. Shortcuts to view trailers or add to a watch later list keep you from having to flip between pages inside the app. More information is displayed front and centre, such as rating and length of the content. The extra space used by images and ratings mean you may have to scroll further to browse content, however that is balanced by the curated lists which provide a more ways to discover new things to watch. Overall a beautifully designed app, with the most innovative user interface.

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