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VLC for iOS does rather a lot that Apple would probably rather it didn’t. This includes opening media files directly from Safari, reading all sorts of weird and wonderful file formats Know When to Use Which File Format: PNG vs. JPG, DOC vs. PDF, MP3 vs. FLAC Know When to Use Which File Format: PNG vs. JPG, DOC vs. PDF, MP3 vs. FLAC When the Internet was small and young, file formats were pretty much limited to image types and media file types that the browsers of the time could handle. At the very beginning, text was almost... Read More and loading up on media without the need to pair your phone with an iTunes library.

Best of all, VLC is available in the App Store, which means the app finally has Apple’s blessing after a rocky start. Just in case you don’t already have it installed, here’s what you’ve been missing out on.

Hello Media

VLC for iOS has a few standout features that users coming from Android and other, less strictly-controlled environments take for granted. On the whole I’m happy with my daily iOS experience, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad for an app like VLC to level the playing field when it comes to what I can do with my own media.

VLC for iOS plays every file format that its bigger, fatter, desktop cousin can. This includes formats typically not recognised by iTunes, including .MKV containers and .FLV files and audio files like .OGG and .FLAC too. For the full list, check out the official list of supported file formats.

Goodbye iTunes

Transferring media to VLC is a painless affair, even if the computer you’re using isn’t paired with your device. You could use iTunes File Sharing, but this requires pairing with a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes. VLC can get around the requirement for iTunes using a variety of methods, my favourite of which is Wi-Fi file transfer.

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Under VLC’s menu is an option for Wi-Fi Upload, which (when tapped) will return a URL that looks something like http://192.168.0.x. Provided your computer is on the same network as your iOS device, you will be able to upload files by visiting the URL in a web browser and dragging and dropping media. And yes, this works on any network – so if you’re round a friend’s house without a paired iTunes library nearby, it will work. Naturally, the media won’t show up in your core iOS media library afterwards, but what did you expect.

While that’s the quickest method of transferring files, it’s by no means the only option. VLC for iOS supports local FTP transfer, HTTP and FTP download by pasting in a direct URL and cloud storage services Dropbox and Google Drive VLC Player Updates For iOS 7 With Streaming Support From Dropbox & Google Drive VLC Player Updates For iOS 7 With Streaming Support From Dropbox & Google Drive With the coming of iOS 7, VLC Player also comes out with a fresh new interface. The design makeover aside, VLC Player version 2.2.0 also comes with a very useful streaming support from Dropbox and... Read More . You can also locate a media file on the web using Safari, then choose the Open in… option to open previously-unsupported media files in iOS with VLC (you’ll need to wait for them to “download” first though, which involves watching a webpage load for a while with no indication of progress).

Party Streamers

The desktop version of VLC is an excellent little streaming player, able to open a huge number of streams using a variety of protocols. Thankfully the iOS version is no different, with VLC for iOS even including support for uPnP (DLNA) media servers. This requires no prior set-up, simply connect to the same network, open VLC and access your streams.

Theres barely an internet radio stream Start an Online Radio Station of Your Own: Here's How Start an Online Radio Station of Your Own: Here's How If you've been wondering how one goes about setting up an online radio station then you're in luck. There are a number of simple ways to make an online radio station involving nothing more than... Read More , live webcam feed or remotely located file that VLC cannot open, with full support for web-based HTTP, FTP, RTSP, RTMP and MMS. There’s no support for any of those protocols included with iOS out of the box, just iTunes Radio, Match and Home Sharing.

Playback Advantages

The good news doesn’t stop there, because VLC implements a few nifty features even when it comes to playback – the first of which are gestures. While watching or listening to media, a two-finger tap will pause playback and a pinch will stop it. You can also slide left and right anywhere on screen to finely adjust playback position. Lastly, brightness and volume can be adjusted by scrolling up and down on the left and right sides of the screen respectively.

Much like the desktop application, VLC for iOS also allows you to make changes to the picture by modifying contrast, brightness and other settings. There’s also the option of adjusting the playback speed from 0.25x to 4x its original value, and playback continues in the background if you hit the home button. VLC will even resume where you left off when reopening a file and there is excellent support for subtitles, with options for font, size and text colour under Settings.

The Best

VLC is the best way to consume media on your iPhone or iPad. It provides the fastest method of transferring media, even if the computer is not paired or running iTunes. The organisational side of VLC for iOS could be better, but the core functionality is already there: you can play essentially any media file on your iOS device with this one, free app.

Download: VLC for iOS (Free)

  1. FinemAN
    March 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Sorry its not related to this topic, but why sign-up is not possible from chrome browser?

  2. Dan
    March 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Plays ac3 / dts .mkv files for free - currently the best solution

  3. Tim B
    March 16, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    That's unfortunate, but the organisational side is pretty poor to tell you the truth. I haven't used VLC for music very much, just a few quick tester files – I mostly use it for video, which I delete once I've watched. I'm guessing the developers (who have actually seen this article, according to a few tweets I read) will be working on the library/organisational side going forward.

  4. Jim S
    March 15, 2014 at 5:00 am

    I used the wi-fi upload to transfer music. It worked so fast and great, but every track displayed the name of the last song that was uploaded . The edit/rename option did not work either. Is there a fix to these problems?

  5. Don Gateley
    March 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    VLC refuses to consider an audio/video plugin architecture such as VST or .foo so what you hear is all you get. On iOS I can see the difficulty but for desktop that's merely stubbornness.

    BTW you ask for my email address so how about the ability to subscribe to a story's comments with automatic subscription when I comment. Somebody might provide further information or correct an inaccuracy in my comment and I'll never have a clue that happened.

    • Tim B
      March 14, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      As a rule, you should get email notifications for any subsequent replies to your comment (such as this one). We used to use Disqus which supported thread subscriptions (it was handy) but we switched from that a while ago and the functionality has been absent since.

    • Don Gateley
      March 14, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Well I guess that just goes to show that nobody is responding to any of my comments. I think I can handle that but I'm not sure. :-)

      I do wish that you would put some thought into supporting the thread subscription. That is really, really useful.

  6. Anonymous
    March 14, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Doesn't support Apple TV. Waste of time for iOS users.

    • Tim B
      March 14, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      It supports AirPlay mirroring, if that's what you mean. I can display content from VLC using an Apple TV if I want – AirPlay compatibility isn't hard to implement, being a core feature of the OS and all.

  7. Andrey Z
    March 14, 2014 at 1:25 am

    not support samba - it's bad!

  8. Just Curious
    March 13, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Who uses iTunes? Most annoying piece of software ever created.

    • Tim B
      March 13, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Anyone with an iOS device who wants to transfer media and files or make local backups – that's who!

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