FileBrowser, the – uh – file browser app for iOS, has gotten a slew of new features in a recent update, one of which will make movie-downloading iPad owners very happy: Now the app can not only browse network-attached drives (like the Time Capsule), it can stream movies of any format to other apps on your iPad.
FileBrowser is a utility made for browsing other devices, whether they’re computers (Mac and PCs on the network), Dropbox or pretty much any NAS around. This is plenty handy already, as was the ability to stream movies and watch them in FB itself. But with the v2.5 update, released last week, you can browse to a movie of any format (not just the iPad-friendly m4v) and choose to send it straight to any streaming-capable app on your iPad.
Why? Because apps like the excellent CineXPlayer not only support pretty much every format, but they have a lot of extra movie-playing features FB doesn’t. To stream movies, just navigate to the file in FB (you’ll still need you passwords and so on, but FB will now scan the network and automatically discover any shares so you don’t have to manually enter addresses any more) and tap the little arrow by the file name.
You can now choose to stream the movie to another app. The options are to copy the streaming URL, or use “QuickStream.” Hit the latter and you’ll see the familiar “open in” dialog, with compatible apps listed. I chose CineXPlayer, which then throws up this dialog on launch:
What happens next is a little confusing. Small files start streaming immediately. Larger ones do too, but the player remains blank. If you quit out and go back to CineXPlayer’s file management screen, then you see that the whole movie is actually being downloaded to the app, although it will disappear when you have finished watching it.
So it may not be true streaming in all cases, but who cares? Your home network is fast enough to send over a whole movie in the time it takes to grab a beer from the fridge, so it really works out just the same.
This is pretty great for me. The Lady often wants to watch movies when I’m out, but they’re all stored on my Mac, and I refuse to give my password to anyone. Now, I will store the movies folder on a USB hard drive hooked up to the Time Capsule. The Mac is joined to the TC via ethernet, so it’ll be no slower for me, but it means that the Lady can stream whatever she likes without the Mac even being switched on. Neat.