My New Favorite Apps
Some of you might have noticed that I jumped on that cable cutters train a while back. I have to say (other than occasionally missing Cartoon Network) I have no regrets about doing so. You might also remember that I purchased a couple of Roku set-top boxes to make up for the lack of cabley goodness in my home.
Recently, I came across a couple of Android (also available on iPhone, if that’s your kind of thing) apps that make the Roku experience so much better.
First, the official Roku app. The Roku app is simple and sweet. It turns your Android device into a Roku remote.
“So what?”, I can hear you thinking. Well, for one thing, it adds a much-needed keyboard option to the various search forms inside Roku channels. That alone is worth it for me. I’ve always hated navigating a grid of letters with the remotes D-pad. Now I can type (or use the voice search on my phone) to find what I’m looking for.
The interface for selecting channels and content is also pretty slick. In fact, I actually like it better in some ways than the normal Roku interface, because it’s a lot faster to navigate. Another nifty little feature is that it lets you stream music or a slideshow of your photos from your phone through your Roku.
One of my biggest pet peeves about Roku is that there’s no official YouTube channel, and a lot of the work-arounds for getting YouTube video to stream via your Roku have been shut down because YouTube had a problem with their existence.
Enter the Twonky Beam app.
One think to note about this app, which the app itself doesn’t make abundantly clear when you download it, is that to use it with a Roku, you have to install the Twonky channel on your Roku.
Twonky is a pretty awesome little app. It beams a video feed you browse to in the Twonky Beam app to your Roku and plays it on your TV screen. And it works with more than just YouTube. In fact, it works with more than just the recommended video sites displayed on the apps home screen. So far, I haven’t found a streaming video yet that I haven’t been able to beam via Twonky.
So there you go… two apps that, if you have a Roku, you should go out and download right now.