Boxee is releasing a new iPad app Tuesday that it hopes will entice new users to check out its media center software and maybe even buy one of its broadband set-top boxes. But while the Boxee Box has increasingly been focused on adding premium content, the app is all about social sharing and video bookmarking.
The Boxee app gives users the ability to connect with social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, find friends on those networks and discover videos that their friends have shared. Users can also share videos with their friends and followers through their social networking accounts.
The Boxee iPad app gives users the ability to bookmark videos, and users can also save videos for later through a web browser bookmarklet. That will let users watch videos later on an iPad, on their TVs through the Boxee Box or a computer with the Boxee Media Center software installed.
With the app’s “My Media” tab, viewers can watch media streamed from their PCs to the iPad over WiFi without having to convert those files. On the flip side, users can also send videos to the Boxee Box from the iPad app through a “Watch on Boxee” button, as well as using AirPlay as part of an experimental release of the Boxee Box firmware.
The app itself works well enough, but it’s not what one might expect from Boxee. Unlike the Boxee Box, or even Boxee’s media center software, the iPad app misses channels of premium content like Netlix, Hulu Plus and CBS. Instead, it has content publicly available on video sites like YouTube and Vimeo, which could be a disappointment to existing Boxee users.
At the same time, the mix of social sharing and video bookmarking is already available on a number of other apps. Apps like Remixation’s Showyou enable viewers to browse through videos shared by their friends on multiple networks. That includes subscriptions and channels on YouTube and Vimeo, which aren’t supported by the Boxee app. There are also apps like Squrl and WatchLater that let users bookmark videos for later viewing.
Boxee VP of marketing Andrew Kippen told us in a phone interview that the primary reason the app doesn’t include the same content of the Boxee Box is that the same content isn’t always available because it’s in Flash or because it’s locked onto the content creator’s app. Rather than create an experience where the user is forwarded to another app, Boxee instead wanted to make sure users could aggregate content from available sources. While the startup is constrained by the available content, Boxee has launched an app that is in a highly competitive market.
(Disclosure: Remixation is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.)