Reviewed : Twitch.TV iOS app - Sigh, A frustrating mess but I'm hooked - UPDATE IT FINALLY WORKS!
Moving to the Mac means a great deal of pleasure / pain experiences, what you get in the way of a stable operating system, app store goodness and other cool features you feel the pain in other ways. Office sucks on anything but a high-end iMac and you sacrifice gaming in almost all senses when compared to pc counterparts. Sure steam gives access to some ports but Mac's have never been well-known for their graphics card prowess.Updated. Theres a newer Twitch.tv iOS APP Version 2.3.3 Review. Basically Less Features, More Adverts, Same Blank Video Streams.
So if you can't play those AAA titles because you don't want to boot camp just to play some games there is Twitch.TV and the Twitch iPhone app. Think of Twitch.TV's iPhone app as a directory of streams to watch people streaming and narrating their gameplay experiences with a chat room to interact with the caster and other viewers.
I used to be a caster and occasionally bootcamp to do the odd case (urbanstreamer). Playing games or streaming with that social element added something new to it. Problems were solved with a group mentality of thinking and I'm not afraid to say some friendships were formed via this. Online yes, but people you could have a laugh with nonetheless.
switching to the Mac basically said goodbye to steaming and hello to watching, especially on the iPad at night when TV in the Uk is full of useless repeats.
TwithTV was born from Justin.Tv, which I used since the start. In the early days Korean laden streams, with their love for Starcraft, dominated channel listings leaving viewers like me with a task and a half to get to differing content. Twitch.TV was then launched to combat this, separating social streaming from gaming streaming.
This review started off with the first inception of the application and I've been updating ever since, charting the progress of TwictTV app along the way. In the most recent incarnation everything is well displayed to start with. If you've followed someone via their website, logging in with the app transports those across as you would think. But is when you start to do try and do anything the experience starts to fall apart.
Finding a place to start this review is a challenge in itself when there's so much wrong. So let's work down from the top.
Jumping ahead a little here but it will make sense is the ability to follow a channel. After following a channel it appears on the left and works just fine on the apps first launch or from a fresh state.
So far so good, Followed channels work just, fine unless the stream stop and then we hit our first lot of confusions
So should you be watching a stream, press done in the top right hand corner to go back to your list of follows, that's not updated and you'll find the stream that's stopped is still there and does tend to linger. To update that list you pull down the menu bar on the right to refresh that list. That's fine as long as it works but it's an extremely hit and miss affair, often steadfastly refusing to do anything or just crashing you back to the app screen.
Is that stream going to load or not?
Speaking of hit and miss that's exactly what happens when you tap on a stream to load. My stream is solid, all testing is done in the same room removing any wi-fi anomalies and yet some streams do nothing. You refresh the stream list, give is a tap, screen changes to show chat at the bottom half of the screen and you wait for video to load. Sometimes that video loads but that's hugely dependant on the caster but you've no way of knowing this till you get a "feel" for the caster.
A lot of the time you're left wondering if any video will load so to be on the safe side I end up pressing the home button, ending the application, relaunching Twitch.TV, going back into it making sure the iPad is in portrait mode, launching the same stream and that normally sorts things out.
Portrait or Landscape Mode?
Should it matter how you hold your iPad? Yes it does. I 100% agree that landscape mode is for enjoyment of watching the stream as the keyboard takes up a lot of real estate in that orientation Portrait mode is used for chat and watching. All makes sense so far until you hit problems. If a stream fails to load for whatever reason in landscape mode you're left with having to rotate the pad, hope the stream title and done button appears so you can go back channel selection.
After rotation you can still be left with no menu system but a partial chat box and as there is no done button guess what, it's back to the home screen, quit the app, reload to make sure that channel is live. Same problem if you resume the app and the steam is no longer alive.
All of these problems are common user issues that you can see at the forums and yet Twitch developers have focused more on a pretty interface than bug fixing.
That pretty interface.
Obviously the Twitch and Justin.TV labs run fast as can be fiber optic internet connections otherwise they would realise scrolling through channels or genres is frustrating.
All games shows a 3 x 3 grid of whats available, all channels shows a 2 x 4 list. The only common denominator is that when you scroll the list up it'll then load whats available. So you scroll past the first screen and you see Sleeping Dogs but DON'T click it. It wont be that channel as you have to wait for it to reload and then reorder whats available. I can't tell you how many time's I've chased a channel or game I want to watch.
But When It Works...
It's great. Streams can adapt to your connection speed so the quality of the stream will suit what's best for you. Not all the bandwidth available is automatically consumed so you can work, browse, whatever without crippling side effect as in the case of Torrents.
Overall Twitch.TV for iOS Thoughts.
I still use this app day to day but I'll stick with the 2 star rating for now as all my gripes could be solved easily. I'd sacrifice icon representations of games for text if that shows be a properly formatted list without the reshuffle hassles.
Why landscape has to be turned to portrait to get a simple button back to the main screen doesn't make sense and the sheer amount of app crashes which are apparently solved on each build still (pardon the pun) bugs me.
Twitch.TV for iOS hints.
Always close the app, Dont resume... If a battery warning dialogue pops up, quit and resume the stream to stay in sync.
TwitchTV 2.1.1 updated 27th August 2012
According to the update log revamped search to give better search results. The best and most recent feedback of "Great update, hunt more efficiently for black, skipping, crashing streams.." And unfortunately the bad news comments don't stop there you only have to scroll down a few to see that it's all mainly negative. So it looks like you update this out at your peril and not for the first time.
TwitchTV 2.2 Released 18th September
Just released is another long overdue update that might help fix some of the major issues mentioned above in my review. It's worth noting that most of the major bugs have been clear now for the best part of a year.
Twitch.TV Version 2.2 claims to fix the long-standing issues with video playback As well as letting you choose between different stream types such as the iPhone low, iPhone high, 240p, 360p, 480p or 720p for the best viewing experience.
Also featured on this new update is the wrench icon letting the report any issues with the streams WHEN (and believe me it happens a lot) they arise. Hopefully this means that the developers will start listening to the feedback from Apple device users.
In addition to several bug fixes, chart also works when the iPad is in landscape mode finally!
Other fixes include :
- fixing a crash that would occur when the video is lagging.
- Small rotation and video issues.
- And other miscellaneous crashes that would infrequently occur.
So far the update seems to be a vast improvement and more importantly gives a level of stability to the application which means it's finally usable once again. Don't go thinking that all streams will load as for some unbeknownst reason other streams seem to work better than others. Perhaps this is a caster or a bit rate issue but even with some of the stream is not working Twitch.TV for iOS is once again usable..0232
Update 20th October 2012
Those bugs seem to be back. Anything from wrongly named channels to the majority of them showing no video at all. Again my recommendation here is to flit between the Justin.TV HD app and the Twitch app and see what works.
Update 11th March 2013
I honestly don't know who does the quality assurance over at Justin.TV or Twitch.TV but it's gotta be a blind man, I mean how else would they miss streams not loading. Ok so yes you can set a default stream resolution but it's pointless when only featured streams load. Even trying to browse channels results in the app crashing.
Update 18th March
TwitchTV Version 2.3.1 Released 18th March
Well here we go another update. In this release we see more new features in the shape of
- TwitchTV Turbo Support!
- Support For blocking users in chat
- Support for mod actions (ban/timeout/voice/op people)
- A bug that would case the app to freeze up after logging in.
- Other miscellaneous fixes.
Color me skeptical but a release that supports their paid for streaming service (see TwitchTV Turbo coverage). Well here goes nothing (goes off to do the update)..
Well for a brief while things loaded up and I could at least browse the games currently being streamed. All goes well for me right up until I tried to watch something and guess what..... blank screen and then yet another app crash.
TwitchTV Version 2.3.2 Released 1st April.
Fixed hang after logging in!.
Finally, it's back up and running and for the longest time I've been able to watch some streams on both iPhone and iPad with no messing around.
Twitch.tv Version 2.3.3
There's a new version of Twitch.TV for iOS Twitch.tv iOS APP Version 2.3.3 Review. Basically Less Features, More Adverts, Same Blank Video Streams.
What's New in Version 2.3.13 • Addresses issues when launching streams from other applications
Watch TwitchTV 3.0.1 in Action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjgbz8AHhO4