They took their sweet time, but Orb has finally released an Android app for us non-iPhone users. As some of you might already know, Orb is a service that streams all kinds of online and offline media from your PC/Mac to your mobile device. Everything from Hulu and Netflix to your local music files can be accessed via a WiFi or 3G/4G connection on your Android or iOS device. The service even lets you access your computer’s webcam if you ever need to.
Previously, the Orb Live app was only available for our iOS-toting friends. But starting today, the app will be available for Android users as well. (Although, I’m not seeing the app on the Market just yet. UPDATE: It is now.). Once it does appear on the Market, the app will cost $10. But after that, everything is free. Including the ability to watch Hulu on your phone even if you don’t have a Hulu Plus subscription.
I’m quite sure Hulu won’t like that at all. Hulu has been pushing people pretty hard lately to upgrade to their $7.99/month Hulu Plus subscription, which gives you access to Hulu on your Android phone and other devices. However, most people are not comfortable with the idea of paying $8/month for something they’re getting for free on their PCs.
On the other hand, paying a one-time fee of $10 to be able to access all your home media on your phone sounds like a more reasonable idea. Having said that, there are a few concerns if you choose to go the Orb route. Mainly, the video streaming quality. We haven’t been able to test this for ourselves, but GigaOM reports that things don’t work quite as promised on some phones:
The MyTouch had some notable playback issues, with videos looking pretty jerky even when streamed via WiFi.Janko RoettgersGigaOM
I’m sure the Orb team will improve the streaming quality over time, but it’s just something to be aware of. Another issue that might pop up with Orb in the future is the fact that it’s an awesome service. But wait, how is being an awesome service a downside?
Well, Orb is doing a couple of things here that will surely piss off the wrong kind of people. First, they’re taking all the media you consume, (whether it comes from a TV, the Internet or your hard drive) and putting it all on your phone for just $10. That’s unheard of in a world where every single media company is trying to nickel and dime you for every single device that you want to consume their content on. You just have to look at the recent spat between Netflix and Starz as an example.
To top it all off, Orb is giving you access to all this content through a well-designed and easy-to-use Android app. The audacity! Hopefully, Orb will manage to fly under the radar and stay hidden from trigger-happy copyright lawyers.