Howcast brings its how-to videos to the iPhone

The mobile version of the Web service, which does have some shortcomings, includes a neat feature that gives users a random video every time they shake their Apple smartphone.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn

Howcast, the how-to video host and platform, on Friday released its iPhone application, bringing its entire catalog of short-form informational videos to the popular device.

Much like YouTube's iPhone application, the Howcast app lets users search for videos, find them in a small selection of featured clips, or pick them by popularity or publication date.

Browse and view the latest how-to videos on your phone. Howcast; CNET Networks

It's wonderfully entertaining--including the option to shake the phone (or iPod Touch) and go to a random clip, no matter what part of the application you're using.

Where the mobile experience falls short of its Web counterpart is in lacking an integrated wiki system and wonderful custom Flash player.

The wikis, in particular, make the Web product far more compelling, since you can get the gist of any video in a few simple paragraphs that can be edited by the Howcast community.

For something like a food recipe, the wiki descriptions can be immensely handy, especially if you're planning to take your iPhone into the kitchen or use Howcast when you're out shopping.

Likewise, the lack of the Web service's video player, which lets you skip to different sections of the video, is a real bummer. It's something that's possible with QuickTime chapter markers, but it's not currently implemented in the iPhone app. In future versions, I'd love to see that change.

Howcast is free and available in Apple's App Store. If you're a fan of the site, it's definitely worth a download, despite its shortcomings.