VLC for Android is a version of the popular media player, for mobile devices running the Google operating system.
Work in progress
This beta version of VLC for Android is still in development stages and, as a message warns when you launch the app, it is not stable and can cause problems if you don't know what you're doing with it. I've experienced glitches on several occasions and, in one instance, it froze our Motorola Xoom completely in testing, though the ride on a Nexus 10 seems much smoother.
When it's working, VLC for Android makes for a good alternative to the stock Android media player. It handles a decent range of file formats (audio, video, and streaming media), and has the same minimalist interface as the desktop version (in black or white). It also supports subtitle files and offers hardware acceleration automatically (though this can be disabled).
The video player window in VLC for Android is well designed, playing video at full screen resolution (or at a ratio of your choosing), with gesture-based controls for changing volume and brightness settings. You can scrobble through videos simply by sliding your finger across the screen.
Video-wise, VLC for Android supports a range of formats and playback of these is generally very smooth. However, full HD video is not officially supported, and we found watching certain 1080p movies to be impossible due to lag, or simply getting a black screen.
VLC for Android performs better when handling audio files, with simple player controls and a widget that gives you basic controls from your home screen.
I hope that when we see the first stable release of VLC for Android, the app will be loaded with support for Chromecast. Until then, if you're looking to cast from your device to your TV, I'd recommend RealPlayer Cloud or Plex.
A promising start
There's no question that VLC for Android is very rough around the edges, and you'll likely encounter problems if you want to play HD video. However, as an early build, it shows signs of emulating the success of the desktop version of VLC.
- This release fixes crashes, lockscreen widget, AVI, MP4 playback and bluetooth control.
- The 0.9.x series is a major release with hardware decoding and a new interface available in dark or white colors. It integrates DVD ISO and menu support, an equalizer, playlist management, WiDi screens support and updated SD cards detection.
- Hardware acceleration is now enabled by default on Android 4.3 upwards and has better subtitles support. Software decoding has been accelerated too.