If you like to message with friends or Google actors' resumes while you watch movies on your tablet, there's an app for that. At Mobile World Congress, NXP Software showcased a new version of its CineXPlayer video playback app that lets users watch videos simultaneously with friends in other locations, chat about video content with those friends and look up information about the movies, all on the same iPad screen.
The current version of CineXPlayer has been around for a couple of years and allows users to playback Xvid format movies on their iPads with full Dolby Digital support, to import subtitles files from outside sources, and convert 2D to 3D movies that require you use either blue/red glasses or a screen cover called a Grilli.
However, the new version which is due later this Spring, adds a host of social features. In an extensive demo at the NXP Software booth, CineXPlayer Development Manager Jeremy Davies showed us the upcoming version's ability to share the viewing experience with friends anywhere in the world.
Posting to Social Networks
Davies first showed us the most basic elements of social sharing, the ability for the player to directly tweet or post Facebook updates that tell your followers what you're watching and what you think of it. When he was watching a cartoon and activated the share function, the software actually took a screen shot from that exact moment of footage to post with the update.
Chat While Viewing, Stream Videos From Tablet to Friends
He then activated a split-pane screen where the video plays in one pane, a list of friends available via chat is available in a second pane, and a web browser appears in a third pane. The panes can be dragged around and you can also choose to show only chat or only web with your video.
At the most basic level, you can multitask by IMing with friends on Facebook, Gtalk, or another standard message protocol while you watch a video and surf the web. however, CineXPlayer's real stand out feature is its ability to help you and your online friends watch the same content at the same time and chat about it. If you're watching a local video on your tablet's local memory, you can swipe from the video pane over to a friend's name in the chat pane and that friend will get an alert at the top of her screen asking her if she'd like to watch the video you've shared.
In the demo, Davies began watching an old cartoon on one tablet and then swiped to share it with the user on a second tablet. The second tablet displayed an alert message asking if the user wanted to watch the movie that Davies was sharing. Fortunately, the alert apears even if you're not actively in CineXplayer as later in the demo, he showed it popping up when the tablet was actually displaying the iPad apps menu.
After receiving the alert, Davies then tapped the yes button to accept the shared movie and it started streaming directly on the client iPad. He explained that the video content is streaming over the Internet directly from one device to another. None of the content is stored in the cloud.
Davies also showed how users can share online streaming content by pulling up an article on the BBC website and dragging it onto a friend's name in the chat window. Again, the alert box popped up on the second iPad asking if we'd like to view the shared content. However, because this is online content, CineXPlayer doesn't attempt to stream it from one tablet to another, but simply allows the friend to start the same video. If the content is on a paywalled site like Netflix, the friend will have to log in to view it and, if the friend doesn't have a subscription, she will need to sign up.
Swipe to Lookup Movies in IMDB
When watching a movie, many users like to look up information about the film like its cast information on the definition source for movie and TV info, the Internet Movie Database. The CineFXPlayer makes IMDBing your favorite films as easy as swiping from the video pane onto the web browser pane. Davies demonstrated the feature integration by playing a Transformers movie and then showing how the software was able to detect what film it was and pull up the correct page on IMDB. He said a series of algorithms allows CineFXPlayer to detect what film you're watching, even if it doesn't have the title in its file name.
The new version of CineFXPlayer is due out for iPad within the next few months, with an Android version to follow in the future. If it works like it did in the demo, a lot of people could be watching movies with friends who aren't in the same room or even the same country.