Kyte mobile video broadcasting solution just came out of beta on S60. They have been around since 2006. I have seen them discussed off and on by folks like Scoble and others on TechCrunch and FastCompany.tv. Did not have a chance to get into beta. I have nothing of much interesting going on to broadcast out to the world or even to my friends. But in these days of citizen journalism, CNN iReporters and youtube voyeurists this is a nifty piece of software for the social media crowd. I am yet to check out the competition – Qik and Flixwagon. They both also seem to support S60.
After the recent Kyte S60 announcement yesterday I decided to download and check it out on my E71. Since Nokia is one of the companies involved in funding this venture, therefore I expected the install and everything to go smoothly 🙂 , which it did. It installed two icons on my application shell or desktop – one was the Kyte client and the other was the Producer.
The account creation process was fairly straightforward and easy. I decided to check it out a bit. Brought up the client to see what was going on out there. I was little confused with the Live menu option. I am not sure what it referes to as Live and whether the content is really live. They all seem to be clips recorded few minutes, hours or days ago. May be nobody was broadcasting live at that time. May be I will fire up another phone and stream from one and see what happens on the other. The Live menu option looked like same as the Just Produced option to me. What I did not find was a way to browse available channels, which I believe I can do on the web. May be it is a way to improve the user experience because browsing thousands of channels on a handset cannot be fun. The options that are there consist of Live, Just Produced, Featured, Most Watched and Search.
The other thing that confused me is the Produce Show option in the player menu. If I choose that it can only push out picture and audio to my broadcast channel, but no videos. To do video, I need to launch the Producer app. Reading Scoble’s post it did seem to me this Produce menu option was probably something that was there originally before the Video producer was developed. May be it needs to be taken out, or integrated with the Producer app, or may be I am missing something.
Anyway when I did go and select a channel it showed me list of episodes, like any video podcast, and I can choose one to play. It seems to download the entire episode before it started playing. I assume it only streams when the content is live. The picture quality is ok, but I don’t know what resolution and frame rate they were recorded and being displayed at. I could not see any obvious menu options to go full screen, even though their website shows full screen snapshots.
Also, bringing up the option menu or switching between the video segment and the title segment seems to easily interrupt the show and I need to restart it.
So far this is not much different from video podcasting. The more interesting item is the Producer app, which seems to be still labeled as Beta. I setup a channel for myself and tried out the live broadcast. Then went on to their website to check it out. I noticed the latest live broadcasts show up automatically in their list of channels. Mine was at the top and I am not sure how they decide what gets to the top of the pile. I was then able to watch it as I pointed the phone camera around. Asked couple of my friends to check it out on the web too as I was doing this. We all found the live video a bit choppy, but I guess if the content was more interesting we would not mind it :-). I had set my Live video quality to High. The other option was Normal. I am not sure if High defaults to phone camera’s video quality settings or something else. The E71 camera has High, Normal, Low modes. The best case scenario is 320×240@15fps. 😦
The thing that I am not sure yet is if I can control access to my channels. I noticed there is a lock icon on many of the channels, but I did not have any problem accessing their broadcasts. Now that I have it installed I plan to play around with it once I find something interesting to record and broadcast. Also need to check out the embeddable player feature of Kyte TV. From al the blurbs and buzz on the net it looks like the software has already been used by various media personalities and celebrities out there.
So there is no reason why it should not just work fine for rest of us mortals too 🙂 I have not been monitoring this mobile video streaming app space for a while, after the initial buzz early last year or even the year before. But it does seem like we have made good progress to almost quite acceptable solutions. The E71 camera is a very average (may be an over-statement these days) one and I don’t have a device lying around with a higher resolution and fps like the N95. I wonder if the device supports camera with higher resolution and fps will the live experience be more smooth. Or is it inherently a network bandwidth issue? I am on 3G. ATT 3G claims to support HSUPA, but E71 does not. May be I will try to borrow a suitable device or something.