Twitch (www.twitch.tv) is a very popular website in the video gaming community. The site is a live streaming video platform that claims 35 million viewers each month with the average viewer watching an hour and a half a day. From casuals to pros, anyone can stream their current gaming session. Windows Phone fans of Twitch will be happy to hear about the first unofficial Twitch app in the Store. More after the break.
So what’s the big deal with Twitch? It’s a great way for someone to share a live stream of their video game. You can use Twitch on most gaming platforms, doesn’t matter if you’re slaying BK’s in Halo or doing a Zerg rush in StarCraft. Why would you want to share or watch a live stream of a game? Well sharing is up to you, but typically people watch to learn new play styles from the pros in their favorite games. Twitch Player for Windows Phone allows you access to that world. Here are some features:
- Browse live streams by games or by channels
- Play live streams
- Support for multiple resolutions and bitrates
- Record live streams to your phone storage and watch them later
- Transfer recorded files between your phone and your computers
- Files manager to browse and to manage recorded files in both your phone and your computers
- Save play positions for recorded streams and resume playing from saved positions
- Application password protection
The app is functional and I found myself enjoying a handful of live game streams the past few days I’ve been playing with it. I don’t have a PS3 but somehow managed to get sucked up into a live stream of The Last of US for 20 minutes or so, looks like a great game. However, I have been sneaking in some live Halo 4 games here and there. Watching the pros play teaches you a few things and I quickly implemented them into my gameplay. But that speaks more about Twitch than the app itself.
So what about Twitch Player for Windows Phone? It’s good, but not great. It’s got a solid foundation and can easily become great if a few things are tweaked here and there. For example, when browsing the game by game the order is determined by popularity. If the game you want to watch isn’t as popular you need to scroll quite a bit and might miss it. If the app had the option to alphabetize lists it would increase usability. The video player UI could be cleaned up as well. For example the start/stop record button has some iOS gloss, a big no-no in the Windows Phone UI/UX world. To start, the developer should check out some of the free icons available from Austin Andrew at Modern UI Icons (www.modernuiicons.com) that would be great here. You also can’t sign into your account or search for users/channels, but from what I’ve read on the web that’s a limitation of the Twitch API and not really the developers.
Those little niggles aside the app is good. You can browse by channel or game, I recommend using the game browse since you’ll have better luck finding content you want to watch. Once you find your game and a stream that looks interesting the experience is solid. I streamed the app over both WiFi and LTE and it started up in a handful of seconds after buffering, which is cool because you can adjust the buffer size in the settings among a variety of tweaks for default video quality. What’s also cool is you can start recording live streams and save them to your device. From where you can transfer to your PC or hard drive.
Twitch Player is available for both Windows Phone 7.x and 8 devices. There’s a trial that limits how long you can view a stream before it asks you to buy. The app itself costs $1.99, so do the trial and see how it works for you before parting with two dollar bills. If you’re into Twitch you really can’t go wrong since this is the only app like it available on Windows Phone right now. Grab it here in the Store, use the QR code below, or swipe to the right in our app.
Thanks for the tip JD!