LookAway Player for iOS review: Pausing video by eye? There's an app for that

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good LookAway Player gives you Smart Pause-like control of video on your iPhone before the feature is released on Samsung phones.

The Bad While the look-away feature works pretty well, LookAway Player's muting feature is less than satisfactory. It's also very limited as a YouTube browsing tool.

The Bottom Line LookAway Player's main feature works as advertised, but the muting features and limited YouTube browsing tools make it essentially a one-trick pony.


6.9 Overall
  • Features and Support 6.0
  • Installation and Setup 7.0
  • Interface 8.0
  • Performance 7.0

LookAway Player mimics the Smart Pause feature that will (as of this writing) soon be coming to the Galaxy S4, automatically pausing a video when you look away from your iPhone.

The app functions on YouTube only, so you will only be able to use LookAway Player's features on YouTube videos. In my testing it worked pretty much as advertised. Simply play a YouTube video, and when you turn your head to look away, facial-recognition software automatically pauses the video. When you turn back toward your iPhone, the video starts up again. It also worked when I looked down, but had trouble when I was looking upward. When I just turned my head away from my iPhone, the feature worked pretty well. You have an option in the settings to turn off what the app calls Vision Control, but if you're going to turn off the main feature, you might as well use a more feature-rich YouTube client.

LookAway Player has a feature for quickly muting a video as well, but it's not as reliable. When you want to mute a video, you can raise your finger to your lips in the classic "Shhh!" gesture. Doing it again turns off the muting. I was able to get it to work on some occasions, but I found the muting to be much spottier than the look-away feature. I even found that the video would mute on several occasions when I didn't use the gesture at all. There are sensitivity sliders in the settings for both the look-away feature and the muting, but no matter how I adjusted it, the muting simply didn't work reliably.

As a YouTube client, LookAway Player only provides a couple of ways to browse videos. You have a button for looking at videos currently trending on YouTube and a search button where you can enter a keyword to search. You don't get the latest videos submitted, most popular, or any of the other categories you are used to on YouTube.

Overall, LookAway Player does its job and its Vision Control main feature is fairly reliable. But the unreliable muting controls along with its very basic YouTube browsing options make it more of a gimmick to bring a Smart Pause-like feature to iPhones before the release of the Galaxy S4. Still, there's no reason not to check out a free app that works pretty well for its stated purpose.

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