A big part of the iOS app ecosystem consists of paid apps, more so than its Android counterpart, the Google Play store. In this way, iOS is much like Mac OS X; it’s very common to shell out a few bucks for software now and again.
Of course, you don’t have to cough up a lot of money to find great free video player apps for your phone or tablet. Personally, I don’t mind paying the extra money for an exceptional application, but a lot of my mobile needs are already met by free applications. The same goes for video playback. Although the most popular of these applications are paid, there are some really great free video player alternatives as well.
Here, we’ll show you how to meet your video player demands with exclusively free iOS apps.
OPlayer has been covered on MakeUseOf before, first appearing in Nancy Messieh’s article on How To Watch Almost Any Type of Video On Your iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch. It was also covered in my article detailing The Top Free Ways To Stream Video From Your Computer To Your Mobile Or Tablet. There’s a reason for this; OPlayer is a really great app, and one of the best free video player apps available for iOS devices.
OPlayer can be used as a standard video player, by transferring files from your computer to your device using iTunes. Alternatively, you can transfer your video files over a wireless network, or using an FTP client. If you don’t want to watch videos hosted locally on your iPad, that’s fine too. OPlayer is able to handle video streams over HTTP, RTSP, MMS, FTP and SAMBA shares.
Over the entire line, OPlayer offers great video compatibility, effortlessly handling most types of video.
Another quality video app is RockPlayer2. In its latest iteration, RockPlayer2 implements support for streaming channels, but the app is still best suited for playing local video files. You’ll have to transfer your videos to your iPhone or iPad using iTunes file transfer, HTTP, FTP or WebDAV. One of the most interesting features of RockPlayer2 is RockShare, which allows you to effortlessly share videos between compatible devices.
All in all, RockPlayer2 is a more than decent free video player, sporting support for a wide variety of video files. However, its support for h.264 (often encountered in MP4 and MKV containers) is less than spotless and could be much improved.
RockPlayer2 is available for free as an ad-supported universal app for the iPhone and iPad. Ridding the application from its ads is possible through an in-app purchase of just under five bucks.
If you don’t plan to store your video library on your iPad, you should definitely take a look at AirPlayit. It’s one of the best and most effortless ways to stream videos from your desktop computer to your iPhone or iPad. Just download and install a small server application on your desktop computer, select the folders you wish to share over your network, and you’re good to go.
This server application is freely available for both Windows and Mac OS X computers on the Air Playit website.
If you’re going offline, you can take a fair amount of video files with you. Supported files can be downloaded to your iPhone or iPad immediately. However, AirPlayit is also capable of converting incompatible files for you; using live conversion (while you’re streaming the videos to your iPad) or offline conversion (if you want to take incompatible video files with you on the road).
One of my favorite video players for the iPad is PlayerXtreme. The free version comes with a wealth of features, including playback support for a great many types of video files. It also flawlessly plays h.264 video files. A full overview of the supported file types is available on the PlayerXtreme iTunes page.
Using the free version of PlayerXtreme, you’ll have to transfer your video files to your iPhone or iPad using iTunes. In-app upgrades (each at USD 0.99) allow you to unlock wireless video transfers, subtitle support, audio boosting, network drives, and more.
VLC Media Player (Cydia)
The VLC Media Player app for the iPhone and iPad was previously available through the app store, but was thrown out due to licensing incompatibilities. The good news that if you’ve jailbroken your iOS device, VLC Media Player can still be installed using Cydia.
The VLC app is rather basic, but supports a wide variety of video types. The biggest downside is that you’ll have to transfer your video files to your iPhone or iPad using SSH. To find out how, read how to configure your own iPad FTP server on a Jailbroken device.
To install the app, just search for VLC Media Player on Cydia. It’s listed by ZodTTD’s repository. If you don’t get any results, add the ZodTTD repo via Manage -> Sources -> More Package Sources.
What free video player apps do you use to play back videos on your iPhone or iPad? Drop a line in the comments section below the article!