Plizy is an app that promised to be "Pandora for viewing video" on the iPad. It launched last week and also announced a $1.2 million angel funding round. The app goes through your Twitter and Facebook to find you an initial list of videos, as well as acts like Flipboard, providing channels of video like TedTalks, CNN, Vimeo Staff picks and more. You can add channels based on genre as well as source. The way the app works is that it uses public APIs from DailyMotion, YouTube and Vimeo and displays ad supported videos from those sites. CEO Jonathan Benassaya says that eventually they would like to get Hulu and Netflix on the playlist as well. Right now, Plizy is an app available for the iPad only, however, there are plans to roll out to other connected devices, like televisions, set top boxes and other tablets.
Plizy's homescreen (Flipboard reminder?)
Plizy's video player
Plizy's design is very much like Flipboard's. You have a basic layout of all your channels, the ability to add more channels (seemingly limited by only the number of channels it offers, unlike Flipboard, where you're limited to 9 sources), the ability to like videos and share them via Facebook or Twitter when playing the video. For the features that the app offers, the design is pretty user friendly. The only thing I would change about the design is the bottom bar that shows up when you play a video. The whole bar is used in the description of a video, and the tabs 'older' and 'newer' are used to scroll between videos. However, if a line of video thumbnail images were used with the ability to see a pop-up description by tapping on them, the space would really be more efficiently used.
This is where some of the issues with this app come up. The biggest thing, for instance, is that the app hypes up its 'Pandora' like function in that it says it's a way to discover videos based on what you like. Pandora uses algorithms for music based on chord styles, major/minor keys, record company representation etc. to give you a stream of music you can listen to based on one artist or song that you enter. This app, however, pretty much works exactly like Flipboard. It gives you one stream for the videos your friends stream on Facebook and another for Twitter, which stays pretty standard (instead of looking for more videos posted on Facebook based on videos you like). It then gives you channels for single source streams. For instance, under the category comedy, I added the Onion News Network videos and in that one channel, I will only be able to see Onion News Network videos without mattering what videos I've 'liked' in the application. The other thing is, Pandora allows you to both like and dislike a song. Disliking a song will ensure it never plays again whereas likeing it, obviously, is an encouragement for Pandora to keep playing that particular song or others like it more often. Liking a video on Plizy has no immediate effect on what the application plays for you and there's no option to dislike a video.
The Facebook and Twitter streams of the app only really work if you have friends who are frequent video posters. This feature is a good way to make sure you don't miss out on any videos your friends post, and similarly with other channels, the app is a good way to make sure you haven't missed any videos. However, the app needs to expand a little bit, by allowing you to see videos your friends have liked, as well as their friends have posted, basically offering more than what you can already see on your Facebook homepage feed.
In addition, the way that the app posts videos to Facebook and Twitter is a little old school. The app literally just 'sends the news' to Facebook and Twitter. All it says is "*your name* just liked *name of video* on Plizy". It really should allow you to add a comment whie maintaining the "on Plizy". There are a few problems with supported video formats as the iPad itself gives error messages when trying to play certain videos. Furthermore, there are some videos that aren't able to be accessed in this country. The one thing I do like about the app, which Pandora could facilitate as well, is that the list of videos that you have 'liked' is easily accessible. Pandora has this list too but it's hidden and a convoluted process is necessary to get to it.
Regional Content issues?
The app is currently in beta and for private usage only. You can download the app but will need an invite to be able to sign up and use it. The permission doesn't take too long though, at least not yet (took half an hour for me). You use your Facebook or Twitter or both to sign up for the app (one of the three scenarios is necessary). The app is really a content aggregator for videos, however does offer some organization to your video viewing habits. The drawback is that it isn't really what it promises to be, it really isn't the Pandora of video viewing because it doesn't use subtle algorithms to find you more videos you'd like. It is a free app right now and will be interesting when it increases its repertoire by adding more sources of videos eventually.
Updated 23 May, 2013, 8:58 am IST
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