If Hulu is going to bring in big bucks while it's on the auction block, putting some fresh work into the company's streaming apps isn't a bad idea. And that's exactly what's happened with Hulu Plus for iPad today. The iOS tablet experience has been completely overhauled in version 3.0 with a new user interface that immediately proves a drastic improvement over what was available before. "There is such a wealth of great content out there, an embarrassment of riches in this golden age of television — and we know how overwhelming all of these choices can feel," wrote Hulu's engineering team in announcing the redesign. "So we’ve really focused on developing several new ways to make your favorite shows, and your favorite new shows you never even knew existed, easier to find."
Multitasking is more useful than you'd think
In revamping its iPad app, Hulu clearly put a big focus on discoverability; now you can tap on any show you're unfamiliar with for a new "discover panel," which summarizes the TV show or movie you're looking at and lets you easily swipe left and right between previous (and subsequent) episodes in a season. Hulu Plus for iPad also now features multitasking, letting users pinch to minimize a currently playing video into a much smaller window at the bottom left of the screen. Audio continues uninterrupted, letting you browse through other content in Hulu's catalog while your current selection plays on. Whether you find multitasking useful depends on how you watch Hulu, but it works just as advertised.
The Hulu Plus homepage has also been given a makeover, with curated collections and inline playback of featured clips. Apparently the company has (wisely) come to realize that not every video needs to be played back at full size when you're dealing with the iPad's screen real estate. After a few minutes with the new Hulu Plus, it's clearly an improvement in nearly every way over the old version, and we're interested to see how the company evolves the viewing experience for other screen sizes.