Verizon's showing off Viewdini, its new video aggregation app, down on the floor of the 2012 Cable Show, and the company just gave us few minutes to put it through its paces. The key thing to note about the app is that it's purely meant for helping users find video content across a number of services — there's no player component to Viewdini. When you search for a movie or TV show, Viewdini kicks back a list of every partner source with your desired content. For example, if your search is available on Netflix and Xfinity, for example, you can choose your desired source, the partner app opens (e.g. the standard Netflix app), and your movie begins. If you're not currently subscribed to the services presented, Viewdini will bring you straight to the sign-up page.
As we heard before, Viewdini will integrate with Xfinity, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and mSpot for starters, with plans to support more content providers going forward. While most of these partners are subscription-based services, Viewdini also can also link into video rental services (like mSpot) where you'd just pay your rental fee and start viewing. The app even includes websites — a search for Fringe included the option to start viewing the show right on The WB's website (after viewing a short ad, of course).
The app itself (running on a Motorola Xyboard connected to Verizon's LTE network) was fast and responsive, and transitions from Viewdini out into the "partner" apps that actually play the content were fairly seamless. The interface is filled with metadata that makes searching for content a straightforward and engaging affair — the "home" page for a movie or TV series contains the requiste overview, ratings, trailers, and reviews all pulled in from TV.com.
"It's really showing what our 4G network can do"
There's also the ubiquitous option to share your selection on Facebook, Twitter, or by email, as well as a nice bookmarking list to keep track of what you want to watch later. Swiping to the right dives in deeper with a view of the cast and crew as well as more critic reviews; from there you can select a certain cast or crew member to see more of their work. Another swipe to the right brings up any short clips it can find - for The Adjustment Bureau, for example, there were a number of trailers, TV spots, cast interviews, and featurettes. There's also a "related" tab, again pulled from TV.com's metadata, though the logic behind some of the "related" options wasn't entirely clear.
Verizon's included a wide number of browsing features to help users narrow their selections down - the main browsing view includes a wide list of genres, as well as the option to filter your selection down by provider, release date, critic rating, content rating, and more. You can further narrow your selections by looking through only movies, TV, or web clips. Lastly, for those who don't want to dig that deep, the home screen of the app provides a number of movies and shows, grouped into new, trending, and featured content.
Overall, it's a pretty smooth way to find a video regardless of who us hosting it, but it seemed like a somewhat strange strategy for Verizon to spend this effort putting together an app that so heavily features content from services that it competes with on some level. We talked to Verizon PR Manager David Samberg about this, and he told us Verizon's main goal is to highlight the capabilities of its LTE network, saying "it's really showing what our 4G network can do." Samberg also mentioned Color for Facebook's new partnership with Verizon as another example of an app the company can use to show off LTE — it seems Verizon is hoping that having a group of apps that really show the power of LTE will help make the benefits more clear to customers.
As for how Viewdini will specifically help consumers, Samberg is hoping the app will "help customers pull all of their video watching habits together in one place." This app might not see massive rapid adoption, as many current smartphone owners likely already have favorite video services that they use on-the-go — but for customers new to Android or Verizon's LTE network, Verizon's hoping Viewdini will provide an easy way for customers to utilize the power of their phones - and maybe bump them up into a higher data usage tier, as well.