Joost gets back on our radar with iPhone app

The online video start-up has just launched a streaming video app for the iPhone.

Men in Black playing on Joost's new iPhone app.

If ever there was a Web service that experienced a rapid fall from grace, it was online video start-up Joost. What started out as a much anticipated new service ultimately fell short of expectations and has recently struggled for attention. Friday, Joost released an iPhone app for its service that might be a game changer. Joost's iPhone app lets users stream and watch any of Joost's 46,000-plus videos for free.

Say what you will about Joost's library of content, the concept behind this app is fantastic. The ability to stream a movie, TV show, or other piece of video content on the go is great. I know the technology is nothing revolutionary--after all the iPhone has had a YouTube app, complete with streaming video, since the device launched. Even given that, when you load up Men in Black on Joost, it just feels like a whole different ballgame. This isn't a video of a dog on a skateboard anymore. This is real, Hollywood-produced content, delivered to your phone, for free.

I have not experienced the major hiccups that very early users, like MG Siegler did, so those issues seem to have been taken care of. I did notice some occassional stuttering of the stream over Wi-Fi. I am, however, disheartened by the lack of streaming support over EDGE or 3G. Joost requires a Wi-Fi connection to work.

Even though Joost appears to have a really slick UI (in many ways it does), it breaks some of the conventions for UI design set forth by Apple. Flicking to view the next page of search results does work. However, it does not slide over as you would expect, rather a spinning wheel is displayed while the next page loads. Joost also did not implement the incremental find that we have all grown accustomed to for searching.

For me, Joost's iPhone app falls just short of greatness. I really like what they are going for here, but I would certainly like to see more content added to Joost's library and support for 3G at the very least, if not EDGE. Even though the videos appear to choke at times, even over Wi-Fi, 3G should be more than capable of streaming video.

I hope that Hulu and Netflix, with their expansive content libraries, are paying attention to what Joost is doing because they are both prime candidates for this sort of mobile application. I get excited just thinking about having access to all of those videos (almost) anytime I want.

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