YouTube is the Web’s biggest video sharing service - which is part of its problem – there is a bewildering amount of choice. If you want to discover new content, having some sort of curation would be nice to find something entertaining for a few minutes. That’s exactly what Symeo does by providing pre-loaded channels of YouTube videos (not Vimeo as the name might suggest). Read on to see how well this version 1.0 app performs.
Symeo opens up with a horizontally scrolling carousel of video categories. It has large thumbnails for each, and a white background which is not power efficient for AMOLED displays. User interface controls are presented as quarter circle icons in each corner of the screen – they’re non-standard but friendly looking. One of which is for search, allowing you to break out of Symeo’s curated content.
The categories on offer through Symeo are Music Videos, Movie Trailers, Upcoming Virals, Most Shared, and New Videos. It’s not clear to me how these channels are being compiled – YouTube does not have the same categories as these; simply searching for the above category names on the desktop yields different results than are listed in Symeo.
When browsing categories, the thumbnail carousel has a 3D effect not present in the category list. On first impression it feels inconsistent, but it is a visual cue to let you know which kind of list you’re in. Frustratingly, video thumbnails are not accompanied by a title. Neither is there any extra information about the video when you tap through to view it.
Symeo category content
In a video list, there are two icons, one to play and one to share the currently selected video. You can share via Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. However, Facebook authentication couldn’t be completed as the confirmation page couldn’t fit on the screen, and for some reason Symeo wouldn’t let me scroll down to tap the accept icon. Because of there being no video information, sharing is the only way you can find out what you were watching!
Setting up social network sharing
Failing to show Facebook’s accept button
The video player is a custom solution, rather than sending the video stream to Symbian’s built-in player. There are controls for volume, timeline, pause, fullscreen, and back (to list) – unfortunately, it has a litany of issues. Firstly, it does not force the phone to stay awake during playback. Secondly, it ignores the volume keys, and so you can only adjust via the on-screen slider. Thirdly, when fullscreen mode is engaged, the player controls are removed. However, the fullscreen control icon area is so small that it’s very difficult to find when working blind.
Symeo’s custom video player
The next disappointing part of Symeo is that the streaming quality is exceptionally poor, and there are not any settings to change the quality of the stream that Symeo uses. Furthermore, there’s no download option either, so you cannot view videos offline.
Symeo is an interesting idea, and when content is curated in the right way it can add value. However, I’m afraid the pieces didn’t fit together for me with Symeo. It’s not obvious how the curation is achieved and so how good a source of information is it? The streaming quality is almost unwatchable, and the user interface is awkward. To be fair, I should note that this is only a version 1.0 product, and so things may yet improve in later versions.
David Gilson, 3rd February 2012.
Published by David Gilson at 14:05 UTC, February 5th