New N3TWORK Streaming App Matches Videos to Your Tastes

A new web video streaming app may take the place of the now defunct Qplay, and at first glance, N3TWORK is doing it right. The idea is to have a personal channel of non-stop videos in the same way that Pandora offers non-stop music. While others have likened N3TWORK to a video Pandora, continuous play is the only feature the two apps have in common. The app is currently available for iOS mobile devices and can be streamed via AirPlay or mirrored to an Apple TV.

The quality of the videos—both in terms of content and picture/sound quality—is excellent. It seems the N3TWORK curators have good taste and use videos from experts in their field. Art experts talk about art, chefs talk about food, health experts talk about fitness. Videos are hand-selected from 6,500 online sources. Most videos are under 5 minutes, but some TV-show length—45 minute plus—nature and other videos do creep in. Luckily, you can add them to watch later if you are in a quick video mood. As you use N3twork, it ranks, recommends, and personalizes that content based on your actions, matching similar videos to your interests.

From the first time I opened the N3TWORK app on my iPad, it was a breath of fresh air. Graphic instructions helped explain what you need to do to set up and use the app. Swiping right skips a video, and swiping left offers the option of adding the video to a “watch later” list. The default setting is to Autoplay videos but it can be turned off if you want to start and stop videos without it droning on in the background. If you need help adding videos to your personal channel, there is a button to get instructions.

Before starting to watch videos, you need to choose categories that interest you. The list includes sports, music, inspiring & awesome, pop culture, business, health & fitness, gaming, funny, animals & nature, style and fashion, home, food & cooking, art & design, science, tech, news, cars, entertainment (movies), and travel & leisure. Videos are put in categories based on hashtags associated with the video. Videos with #TED, for example, will be put in the “inspiring and awesome” category. Those with #Travel, #wine, or #hotelsandresorts belong to the “travel & leisure” category. You can also search for subjects and subscribe to a channel of videos with that hashtag.

When a video plays, a number of icons are displayed in the preview mode, including a heart to indicate favorites, a dialog bubble for comments, and a repost icon that adds the video to your personal channel. The additional ellipsis (triple dots) brings up options for sharing on Facebook or Twitter, sending a message, adding a hash tag, or copying the link. The giant orange plus button is for adding the video to “my channel.” Tapping on a video that is playing brings up its hashtag, its channel (indicating if it is another user's personal channel), and a link to the original video. Tapping on the website of origin (YouTube, for example) takes you to the video without leaving the app. There, you can add comments, subscribe to the channel, and watch related videos. Tapping on the “X” brings you back to the curated stream.

Like Spotify playlists or Qplay, other users can follow your personal channel, and vice versa. Reposting a video adds it to your channel. You can also add personal videos from your iPad or iPhone by clicking on the orange plus. Tapping on “web search” opens a browser where you can search for videos and “add” favorites to your channel. The app makes it easy to create a video playlist (“channel”) of all of your favorite videos. And you can help others find your channel by adding hashtags.

When watching a video that is included in another user’s personal channel, you can comment on the video without reposting or adding it to your list, which encourages conversation and helps create community.

N3TWORK has AirPlay integration. The app becomes a second-screen remote control when sending it to an Apple TV, or to an AirPlay app, like Air Receiver on a media player. While the video plays on the TV, you can repost, favorite, comment, or share videos, without interrupting playback, although there is a slight delay in executing commands.

Unlike any other app, N3TWORK has a different interface when the iPhone or iPad is in mirroring mode. In AirPlay mode, the app is a second-screen experience. When mirrored to an Apple TV, the app is solely a remote control with new menus displayed on TV and there is no delay in controlling the video or menus.

The N3TWORK app is addictive because of the quality of its videos and the way it constantly matches content with your tastes. I have to admit, it was hard to stop watching long enough to finish this blog.

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Before this review was published, we sent a copy to AV123 to check for factual errors and offer the opportunity for a manufacturer's comment, as we always do.

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