THE RACE TO MAKE THE BEST TV STREAM APP IN UGANDA BEGINS WITH NBS TV’S APP
I have always been a fan of media streaming apps, in fact I stream 70% of my radio listening experience, and I have found most TV and video or movie streaming apps lacking in functionality and user experience apart from the top dogs like Hulu and Netflix. As Uganda transits slowly into the digital age, NBS TV has become the first TV broadcaster to separate its self from
the crowd and released an Android App to showcase the best of local TV programing. The company says that they designed this app for the youth, working class and Ugandans in the diaspora and it was developed in collaboration with Oddman Ltd, a local digital agency. With no subscription required, one can watch NBS television shows from the instant streaming catalogue anywhere over a WiFi signal, as well as a 3G and 4G LTE connection. This ability to watch LIVE TV streaming and recorded TV shows anywhere makes the UGX 0 app a worthwhile download—if you have the right Android-based phone and the right data bundle.
LOADING APPS FROM THE WEB = LAZY DEVELOPER
The 2.3MB Android app, has no iPhone or Windows phone counterpart version and works best with a reliable Wi-Fi signal, with which unfortunately delivers a mediocre picture quality (my guess its about 360p) and flawless audio. When you start using mobile wireless networks, the picture quality downgrades further over 4G, and slightly more over 3G, but the streaming itself is well optimized in most cases. One of my big disappointments is that the developers were so freaking lazy and couldn’t build a standalone User Interface for the video streaming experience, as one has to stream all video content via a webpage but we shall forgive all this since it’s just a version 1.0 of the app. Using this app on a tablet is a disaster and I would advice to stay clear from it, it bares the virus of a poor Android Tablet UI due scalability issues. So before you think you might waste your data on downloading and using this App, let the techjaja team go down this dark hole for you and tell you if it’s worth a try.
APP FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS
To use the app, all you need to do is download it from the Google Play store on your phone open the app and you are good to go (No subscriptions or SignIn required). That’s it. The red beautiful home interface shows six straightforward options including LiveStream, Newsfeed, Videos, Talent, Facebook and Twitter.
The LiveSteam icon will take you directly to a webpage where the station uploads its live broadcast via USTREAM, a popular online video streaming service and for the best viewing experience we advice using the phone in portrait form. On large phones, phablets and tablets the viewing window becomes smaller, but the developer provides a gingerbread like zooming icon that lefts you fill the screen with the content being viewed. The more you zoom in, expect to pay a price on picture
quality. There is that annoying NBS logo on the top left corner that we wished would give way to the entire screen since there is another NBS logo at the top right watermarked into live broadcast stream. The developer wants you to quickly access other menus as you want but we hope this could be stacked away in the menu bar at the top-right corner.
The Newsfeed icon takes you to the daily news blog of some sorts. I guess this is a good option for the data conscious users who don’t want to scream lost of video but also want to stay in touch. Will they keep the new feed blog up-to-date with the latest info?
Now here is where things get interesting, in the video section, it just links you to the TV station’s YouTube page (that i personally find rarely updated with the latest content). NBS TV do the needful upload your consent online regularly for this app to be worthwhile. The Video section brings you clips from various programs like the hilarious Big Deal, NBS Morning Breeze, NBS sunset, Titie Show, Can men cook?, the list is endless.
The talent icon introduces you to the presenters of NBS TV from News Anchors like Shawn, Doreen and Mabel , Latifah and Justine of big deal and Humphrey of the Mixup. A whole list of twenty-three presenters and show hosts will be found under this section.
The last two icons (Facebook and Twitter) do the obvious, nowdays a company’s brand is a good as the number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers its has (social media presence) and both these icons do just that. They take you to NBS TV’s Facebook’s page and Twitter feeds. (Don’t forget to follow them if you haven’t yet).
NETWORK QUALITY MATTERS
When a reliable Wi-Fi signal is near, NBS TV streams beautifully, with almost crisp pictures, good sound, and no stuttering. I did experience one crash midway through watching the morning breeze news. With Wi-Fi, the app works great, and if you have the patience to wait for the Instant catalogue to beef up, the app can only get better.
Streaming over 3G is another story. With one or two bars of service, I could barely page through the main menu options. With three or four bars, I was able to launch a television show to watch, but every minute or so, I’d have to endure a pause for buffering. Additionally, the picture becomes more pixilated, as one might expect. The developers still have a lot to do to deliver a good job optimizing this Android app especially for lager size screens. Plus, move away from loading webpages to do functional work in a native app, it screams laziness. Its seems like there was deadline to hit and you just gushed out the quickest and easiest escape out to cash in the pay cheque. Back to reception issues, such as, if you’re in an area where phone service signal strength fluctuates, the buffering works in such a way that you can get your fill of entertainment fairly seamlessly, provided the signal flickers into the three to four bar range at least once every 30 seconds, give or take a few.
OVER 200MB IN JUST 30 MINUTES
We all know by now that media streaming apps have a high affinity for data and in my time trying out how this app, I loaded 500 MB currently costing UGX 20,000 ($ 8) worth of Orange data on an LTE connected HTC One and I was ready to stream away. In a period of 30 minutes I was able deplete 263 MBs of data on a 4G -LTE connection. So do the math and gauge if it’s really worth your money. Basically 500MB would probably have lasted for 57 minutes.
As part of our tips to save on mobile data we always advice to use a steady wi-fi connection. On the battery side of things during the same 15 minutes the battery life depleted from 96% to 88% which means it would take like 2 hours 8 minutes if the app had continued to run till I had drained up all my battery. But this assumes there are no other apps running in the background.
FUTURE NBS TV APP WISH LIST
For a version 1.0, a lot of glitches can be excused, I think a lot has been said in this review on where the app is lacking. The streaming is great. The app is simple. The home UI is great but after that things get disorganized. We would have loved to see a better USTREAM experience, so guys please work on it. I know we can do it. Including an HD streaming option in future for those who don’t want to compromise on viewing experience would be a great option.
The Facebook and Twitter icons could all be placed in one social media option.There is also a need to optimize this app for large screen devices.