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Showyou 3.0 for iPad: video from your friends on the web (hands-on)

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Showyou is today launching version 3.0 of its iPad app, adding the ability to browse other users, improved video search, hashtag search, and more.


While YouTube is quite good at sending users down a rabbit hole for hours via its related sidebar videos, the site's homepage recommendations hardly reflect the fact that I've spent probably thousands of hours of watching videos over the year. Aside from browsing RSS, I find most new, weird, and interesting videos via friends and other people on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and Remixation's Showyou is betting on this social angle to give you the best mix of videos you didn't know you wanted to see.

Initially launching back in April 2011, Showyou now incorporates your Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo contacts, over which you create your own Showyou account. If a friend shares a link to a video on Tumblr or tweets a link to a page that contains a video (like a personal blog), Showyou crawls those links and pages and adds the video to your grid. Add up all the clips or pages featuring movies that your friends are sharing across all your social networks, and you've quickly got a lot of video. As far as support, YouTube and Vimeo are here, and Showyou lets you watch video from publishers like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and yes, The Verge.

Visually, the app could be a bit more consistent with font choices: Futura is often used for titles and some menus, while Helvetica occasionally offers secondary information — though not always. Showyou uses a large grid that expands several 'screens' beyond the borders of the iPad on all sides to show your videos, swiping and dragging in all directions makes it hard to keep track of what you've actually seen. Fortunately, individual services and users, which you can now explore by tapping their user icon, are much more browsable with a grid design constrained by the width of the screen. With the ability to browse users, you can jump into a user's profile, see what they've shared, tap a video, find a user that has shared that video, and quickly get lost tapping along for ten minutes. As far as performance, video playback and vertical and horizontal scrolling on a first gen iPad was smooth and responsive.

Showyou keeps its "Watch Later" video queue separate from similarly named features available on Vimeo and YouTube, and while your Showyou list is synced to all of your devices, it's yet another digital queue to manage in your daily life. You can install a bookmarklet in your browser to add to your list when you're at your computer, but I doubt more than a fraction of users will.

Occasionally, I got stuck in the app while trying to login and had no option to cancel my current path, and was offered no way to return to previous screens without a hard start. In other words, you may occasionally find yourself looking for cancel buttons where there aren't any. These are minor complaints; Showyou pulls in a huge range of video content from all of your social networks in an easy-to-use and setup app, and it's a far more interesting mix — cat on a subwoofer? Why yes, I will click that — than even the most obsessively curated list of RSS video feeds can provide.

Even though a Kindle Fire version of ShowYou debuted last December, there's still no word yet on an Android app. Remixation CEO Mark Hall called today's release the "flagship app," but the company "plans to tackle an iPhone update next." Showyou version 3.0 is a free download from the App Store, and should be available now.

Disclosure: Vox Media's Martin Moe is a Showyou advisor.