I wish Apple would add quality selection to its media streaming apps
My new iPad goes just about everywhere with me. It’s light and thin, yet very powerful, making it the perfect mobile companion. Plus, the screen makes everything from text to movies look fantastic.
Unfortunately, where I live, connectivity is slow, so I can’t make full use of that beautiful display very easily. I do pay for the fastest internet speed available to me, but it’s only 3Mb/s – which obviously means that HD streaming isn’t an option for me. And as you know, iOS’ streaming apps always stream in the highest quality available.
The Retina display on the iPad has a larger resolution than full HD 1080p, so it always plays 1080p content when it’s available. My skimpy 3Mb/s connection is unable to keep up with even 720p streaming, which makes trying to watch anything through Apple’s media apps a serious pain.
Fortunately, sites like YouTube offer iPad-compatible mobile versions of their sites that allow me to change the quality of the streaming video on-demand. Still, I don’t like having to go to mobile sites because they lack the polish and easy navigation that native apps always have.
It seems silly to me that there isn’t an option in iOS’ settings or individual YouTube settings to make the video play at a lower quality than what the iPad can theoretically handle. The mobile YouTube site has a very small ‘HQ’ button that, when toggled off, allows the video to play at a lower quality. For the entire time I’ve owned my iPad, this is how I’ve been watching YouTube videos.
On Android, this isn’t a problem: the YouTube app on my Galaxy Nexus allows me to switch between HD and SD videos right from the video itself. It’s gotten to the point now that if I want to watch a YouTube video, I usually go for my Galaxy Nexus before my iPad.
I do love my iPad, and this is just a minor issue that’s easily remedied by typing in ‘youtube.com’ in Safari, but I wish it didn’t have to be a problem. I want to be able to open up my iPad, tap the YouTube icon, and start watching videos without waiting a half-hour for it to buffer.
Of course, it’s not just about the quickness of the streaming; it’s also about how much data it takes up. My new iPad is a Verizon LTE model, and while I hardly ever pay for the month of data, I am very careful not to go over my limit when I do pay for it. HD video takes up a lot of data, and I would like to be able to choose between stunningly beautiful videos or data savings.
Would you like to have a quality setting on your iDevice?