Like most of us who spend considerable time in the Web 2.0 universe, I love to embed content on blogs and social-networking home pages. YouTube is loaded with countless hours of entertaining videos, but it wouldn't be nearly as popular without the ability to embed those wacky movies all over the Web. Now, a new online service called Yoink'd hopes to capitalize on the embedded-video craze by providing a free method of compiling, presenting, and sharing Web videos with your friends.
Yoink'd is essentially an online media player that uses AJAX and DHTML to search for, collect, and share online video files. It is an entirely self-contained, Web-based application. All of your preferences and playlists are saved within the Yoink'd Mediabox itself. There's no profile page or settings page you have to visit each time you want to add videos or change your preferences. To me, that's the beauty of Yoink'd. The entire application lives in the embeddable widget. Once you pop it on your blog, you'll never need to visit the Yoink'd site again.
The Yoink'd interface seems to have borrowed heavily, at least in concept, from the Apple iPhone. A simple main menu provides text links for your playlists, your friends' playlists, your in-box (playlists sent to you), and your Yoink'd settings. Clicking into any of those four menu options brings up another set of navigation options; a helpful "back" button will always take you one level up.
There are three ways to embed your Yoink'd playlist on your blog, Web site, or social-networking home page. The main app is the Yoink'd Mediabox, a 320x480-pixel software component that is duplicated on the main Web site. You can browse your own playlists and friends' playlists, create your own playlists, or adjust your Yoink'd settings.
For a smaller, read-only version of player, try the Yoink'd Mini, which is 320x135 pixels. The Yoink'd Widget takes the opposite approach, providing all the features of the main player in a smaller, 190x310-pixel interface.
Yoink'd Mediabox is still very much in beta release, but it's a promising start so far. The biggest limitations are in searching for and playing online videos. The Yoink'd Mediabox only returns six video results for any search term, which are not nearly enough, and there's no metadata included with any searches. In order to gain larger acceptance, Yoink'd will need to beef up its search. After all, YouTube already lets users embed their own playlists.
I also ran into some serious problems with the registration/log-in process. First, since Yoink'd is AJAX-based, Mozilla Firefox won't automatically save your password information. Second, as soon as I embedded Yoink'd Mediabox in this blog, it somehow logged me out automatically, and I can't log back in. I'm sure that my password is correct, but there's also no way to confirm it via an automatic e-mail reminder.
One interesting feature in Yoink'd is the ability to turn any RSS feed into a video playlist. You can see the results of my most recent blog posts to The Daily Download in the Yoink'd Mini widget that is embedded at the bottom of this post. Yoink'd currently offers three skins for the larger Mediabox player, but the other two widgets are quite plain.
Another cool feature in Yoink'd that I don't understand very well is the "auto-linking of dead video links." I'm not exactly sure how it works, but when you see a YouTube video that has been deleted from YouTube on another person's Yoink'd playlist, it still plays somehow. I'll have to investigate what kind of voodoo Yoink'd is using to accomplish the feat, but let me know in the comments if you understand how it works.
While you can easily embed the full-sized Yoink'd Mediabox (pictured above), I wanted to share the specific RSS playlist I created, which is only possible by using the Mini widget.
Note: I should warn that the both the embedded Yoink'd Mediabox widget and Yoink'd Mini widgets have been fairly unreliable so far. If all that you see above is a gray or white box, the Yoink'd service is not functioning correctly. The best I can suggest is reloading this page, or visiting the Yoink'd site directly to see if it works better there.