N3twork puts more ‘you’ in YouTube with Pandora-style curation

n3twork offers pandora style video curation screen1
San Francisco startup N3twork today released a new iOS app aimed at curating the random world of short-form video (like Youtube clips) to give users their own hub of custom-tailored content. Sound familiar? It should. There have been a horde of different services (such as the recently failed Qplay) boasting very similar capabilities: “Find your favorite videos, organize them into a playlist, share with friends, and discover new content to make your own channel!” It’s essentially the mission statement of any service that attempts to meld aspects of social media with Youtube-style video consumption for a better experience.

Related: Here’s why TiVo’s founders just crashed and burned with Qplay

However, while we’ve heard this story before, N3twork’s delicate UI is different than most. With a balance of interactivity and passivity, direct control, and automation, the service has the potential to actually become a go-to source for organizing the nebulous realm of random videos and memes into something much more.

The service describes itself as “something that is always on, that anticipates what you want, presents only what’s relevant, and lets you watch, share, curate and create with a simple swipe of a finger.” And it really is that simple – sliding your finger in one of two directions is the crux around which N3twork’s customization functions revolve.

But first, it helps to understand the service as a whole.

You begin by downloading the free iOS app for iPhone or iPad and setting up a new account, or linking the app to an existing Twitter or Facebook account. Then, much like one would do when upon opening a new Twitter account, you select your favorites to “Follow” from a list of hashtagged topics or categories: art, design, gaming, books, and so on. From there, N3twork appears guide your account to a number of additional (again, hashtagged) subcategories within the main ones: street art, Broadway, sci-fi, etc. That’s pretty much it as far as setup goes, but the meat of the service lies within its execution.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the app looks smooth as hell, with every video thumbnail on the screen playing simultaneously with ease, muted until one is selected. It’s responsive and latency-free, which says a lot considering the amount of video content on-screen at any one time. Users can also sync their iPhone or iPad with an Apple TV for a fuller home theater experience, using their mobile device as remote.

Once your account is good to go and you’re following a handful of topics, you’ll be presented with “N3twork Now” whenever you’re sitting on the app’s main screen (your “dashboard,” essentially). N3twork Now acts like a sort of Pandora for video content. If you’re the newsy type, a video about the Israel/Gaza conflict or the situation in Ferguson, MO. might pop up. A gamer might get a trailer for the next Final Fantasy. The videos in this “Now” section are smaller, looped selections from full-length videos. And, akin to the method employed by email simplification startup Mailbox, you can either click the video to view in its entirety, swipe right to save and watch at a later date, or swipe left to “Skip.”

Like a Pandora thumbs down or song skip, every time you choose to either skip or save for later, the service is designed to remember your decision and integrate it into its constant assessment of your tastes and habits, eventually transforming the N3twork Now hub into a nonstop stream of reliably interesting (to you) videos.

At least, that’s what N3twork hopes will happen. But that depends on more than each individual user’s willingness to actually sit down and help the service flesh out its understanding of their preferences. Users will need to upload their own findings to the site for it to become, and remain, a dynamic source of content. According to VideoInk’s coverage of the service, N3twork is itself pulling in more than 1,000 hours of video per day from more than 6,500 publishers like BBC, YouTube, and Vimeo. The content is broken down and cataloged into categories via hashtags, and thrown onto the growing pile of video from which the service’s algorithms draw to supply users with their tailored selections.

But if N3twork becomes the only entity pushing content into the service, it will inevitably become a ghost town of an app. For now, the service seems to be flourishing in its first few hours of life, an important span of time for any digital startup.

Computing

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Features

Netflix’s latest price increase heralds the end of streaming’s golden age

Netflix’s recent price rise is just the latest in a string of signs that streaming’s golden age is nearly over. As more services enter the fray, content will be further partitioned, signaling the end of streaming’s good old days.
Home Theater

How much are the initials ‘LV’ worth? $700 if you put them on your earphones

If you're looking for truly wireless earbuds that make as much of a statement about the state of your finances as they do about your high-tech street cred, Louis Vuitton's Horizon earbuds fit the $995 bill.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (February 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in January and February, from new original series to classic films.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Deals

Need a smart speaker? Amazon knocks $50 off Sonos Beam soundbar with Alexa

If you're looking to add some oomph to your home audio setup, then through February 3, the Alexa-enabled Sonos Beam is on sale for $50 off, bringing this excellent smart sound bar down to just $349 on Amazon.
Home Theater

Walmart abandons its plans for a streaming Netflix killer

Rumored plans for a Walmart owned, Vudu-labeled Netflix streaming killer have been shelved according to a new report from CNBC. The billions it would have needed to invest in order to compete apparently gave the mega retailer cold feet.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.