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Samsung's Milk Video app goes big with design, but falls short with content

Joining its music service, Milk Video is a Samsung-only app for watching entertaining videos.

Samsung's Milk Music streaming service gets a sibling today called Milk Video. The free app, which is only available for select Samsung smartphones, brings you short, entertaining videos from all over the Internet, from sports and news to comedy and gaming.

Like Milk Music, Milk Video promises to give you a personalized experience and to learn from your tastes in videos. If you log in with your Facebook account, which is optional, Milk Video remembers what you like and lets you create your own channels of videos that others can follow.

Entertaining and exclusive clips

For its launch, Samsung partnered with a handful of content and media companies to host their videos. You'll find videos from Vevo, Buzzfeed, Red Bull, Funny or Die, Maker Studios and more. Many of the videos you can find elsewhere online, but some are exclusive to the app and other exclusive content is due early next year. The app also brings in other popular videos circulating around the Web, so you might see a beauty video from Glamour or a skit from SNL.

Most of the videos are short, meant to be watched on your commute or while waiting in line. There are occasional longer videos, but many are just a few minutes long.

You won't find any user-generated content in Milk Video, at least not yet. For now, you cannot shoot and share your own videos, but that could change in a later update.

Find, play and share

Milk Video has a sophisticated look that's not far off from Milk Music. It's certainly sleeker and more colorful than competitor YouTube, and the app makes it really easy to browse videos. Samsung focused on simplicity with the app, with few menus that get in the way.

The main screen shows a feed of videos from friends and content creators you're following. Instead of the Dial control from Milk Music, there's a rainbow-colored menu along the right side that you slide your finger along to switch among the themed channels. You can also search for videos using a few keywords and the search results load as you type, which is a plus.

samsung-milk-music-promo.jpg
Milk Video offers curated feeds of videos, all grouped by genre. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Each channel has a continuous feed of videos, each with the video title and a small icon that shows the author. Tap any video to start playing immediately, and it plays at the top of channel, with the next videos below. Rotate your screen to play the video full-screen and tap the screen to pause it. The whole experience feels fluid, and I really like that you don't need to open a separate page to watch a video, which is what happens in the YouTube app.

There are few advanced features that you'll need to sign in with Facebook to use. First, you can tap and hold each video to bring up controls to repost it to one of your channels, star it or share it outside of the app. You can also swipe right to hide a video. As you repost, star and hide videos, Milk Video learns what you like and what you don't to help surface videos that match your tastes. Though I wasn't able to fully test these personalization features, on paper they seem a bit better than YouTube's curation options.

There's no offline mode in Milk Video, so if you have a limited data plan, you might want to stick with Wi-Fi when using the app.

Availability

Like Samsung's music streaming app, Milk Video is only available for Samsung devices. Specifically, you can download it for the Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S3 Mini, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy Mega. It's not yet available for Samsung tablets, and you cannot install it on non-Samsung Android devices unless you sideload it.

Outlook

Samsung says Milk Video isn't meant to compete with YouTube, but that leaves me wondering exactly where the app is supposed to fit. It's a bit of mashup of Vevo, which is known for music videos, YouTube, where you can find original content, and Hulu, which hosts movie trailers. The app is chock-full of videos worth watching, but it feels limited because there are no videos from other users.

Though it might seem puzzling that Milk Video is only available on Samsung devices, the Korean company did this on purpose to entice more people to buy its phones. So if you're rocking an HTC, LG or some other Android, you may as well forget about the Milk apps because they aren't meant for you. If you do have a Galaxy phone, it's worth giving Milk Video a try, but you'll find that it won't replace YouTube, it just supplements it.

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