VLC for iOS review: If you have content, it's the best for video playback

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

5 stars 1 user review

The Good VLC Media Player is a video player with great onscreen controls, numerous ways to upload media and support for both Dropbox and Google Drive.

The Bad Building a video library from scratch will take a long time.

The Bottom Line As long as you have the videos to watch, VLC's gesture controls on mobile and smooth performance on any device make it an excellent app for video playback.

8.5 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 9.0
  • Features and Support 7.0
  • Interface 10.0
  • Performance 9.0

Editors' note: This review was updated on February 27, 2015, with information about the latest version that works across all platforms.

VLC Media Player (iOS|Android|Windows|Mac) brings the popular open-source media player to your all your devices, letting you watch videos from almost any format directly, and connect with streaming and cloud services to access your video library.

VLC's latest release marks the popular video-playing software's global return to Apple's App Store. It's the first time that VideoLAN, the player's nonprofit developer, has released a version that spans Android, iOS, Mac and Windows.

Getting your content

Don't be alarmed, but when you first launch VLC, there is nothing to watch or listen to, nor is there any way to explore video content. VLC is a player, not a browser, so you'll need to connect it to services where you already have videos: a streaming server, a UPnP media server or your personal video library on your computer. I say this all to point out that VLC is not a streaming video service like Netflix, YouTube or Vimeo; you will have to go out and get the videos on your own if you want to watch them in the app.

Fortunately, if you already have videos available, connecting to services is easy. VLC lets you connect with Dropbox or Google Drive, or you can connect with your iTunes video library or another network stream. All are accessible by hitting the menu button in the top left (where you'll find all the app features and settings) and you simply need to sign in to a service to access your library.

The app also has a nifty browser-based Wi-Fi upload process to add content to VLC. In the slide-out menu on mobile devices, you'll find a Wi-Fi upload button that is off by default. When you flip it to the on position, you're given a Web address you can enter into your desktop Web browser. From there, a window opens to let you drag and drop video content that will be automatically uploaded to your smartphone. It's a really simple process for adding videos.

Watching movies and videos

Part of what sets VLC apart from other video players is the things you can do once you're actively watching a video. You get all the usual controls, like play and pause, and a slider to advance the movie on its timeline. But you can also control video speed, use gesture-based controls on mobile to adjust video playback, and you can apply filters to make the video look better on any device.

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