Take heed, tablet app developers: The one-size-fits-all approach is dead. Vodio, a video curation app for iOS and Android, may carry the same name across platforms, but the way it delivers content is like comparing Apples to KitKats. By taking advantage of each platform’s strengths, Vodio Labs has created a product worth downloading no matter what OS you carry.
On a 4th gen iPad, Vodio is downright pretty. Its various categories (sports, entertainment, tech, etc.) are separated by rectangular color-coded tabs, giving each genre a unique visual identity without forcing users to check the subheads at the top of each section. The videos within an unselected category gray out to put even more focus on your chosen genre. Though the iOS design isn’t without fault — forced landscape viewing, for instance — it’s the prettier of the two by a wide margin.
Another pleasant aspect of the Apple version is the excellent menu design. Users can skip videos, “like” content, share what they’re watching and more without interrupting their current selection thanks to a smart navigation panel optimized for the iPad’s screen. Swiping right-to-left pulls up a category navigation bar (also color-coded), making it just as easy to switch from sports to tech or whatever else the user feels like watching.
While it’s hard to quantify the things that make one design better than another, there’s little doubt that the iPad version of Vodio is superior on the visual front. It’s also a breeze from a navigation standpoint, thanks to the intuitive controls and easy-to-understand icons users have come to expect from iOS products. That said, the Android version is no slouch.
Content is definitely the focus of Vodio’s Android app. Gone are the bookmark-style tabs and compartmentalized genre-switching options. Instead, users get a 3×3 grid for each of their chosen categories and a full-screen viewing experience once they’ve selected the video they want to watch.
In some cases, this works very well. The grid, for instance, makes it much easier to scan multiple bits of content within a given category, and the icons fit much more naturally when the selected video takes center screen. Share-happy users will also make great use of the share to other apps feature, which allows the viewer to share the current video to other apps, including Evernote, Dropbox and Facebook’s Pages Manager.
The expanded sharing options and Google Plus support certainly increase the appeal of Vodio’s Android app, but we still miss the ability to switch between video categories like you can with the iOS app. The Android’s boxy design isn’t up to par with the iPad’s gorgeous looks either. If you like a little glitz with your online video and don’t mind limited sharing capability, the iPad version is the way to go.
With thousands of downloads (and positive ratings) on both the App Store and Google Play, there’s no doubt Vodio offers a superior video curation experience no matter which platform you choose. However, there are definitely a few lessons designers can learn by viewing the two apps side-by-side.
It may be easier to build one app for two (or more) platforms, but should you? Heck, no! If anything, it’s best to play to every platform’s strengths, much like Vodio has successfully done. There’s a reason Vodio looks flashier on iOS and turns towards functionality on Android. In general, that’s probably what users want. If your Android users wanted an iPad experience, they’d have picked up an iPad to begin with. Tipping your cap to the end user with OS-specific functionality is never a bad idea, if you’ve got the time and money for it.