With all the different browsers, devices and formats that people are using to watch online video these days, don’t you wish there was a way to ensure that everyone could watch your videos, regardless of browser, phone or device? Chrome is talking about dropping H.264; many browsers and devices are moving over to an HTML5 standard. Why can’t someone just take your videos and make them work for all phones and browsers? This is what Encoding.com is attempting to do with their new product Vid.ly, the first Universal Video URL service.
How does Vid.ly work? Basically, users start by creating their universal vid.ly video url. Users are currently assigned a vid.ly url at random, but can email vid.ly if they want to reserve a vanity url. Users then identify where their source video is – you can identify a path to an FTP location, an HTTP location, an Amazon S3 bucket, or a Rackspace CloudFiles container, or upload a file from your hard drive. Bit.ly guides you through the process in a very user-friendly fashion with simple click through instructions.
The press release from Encoding.com about the launch of Vid.ly says, “The free Vid.ly beta program, which includes encoding, storage, and delivery, begins today and is available to the first 1,000 qualified users.” Though I’m not sure what it takes to “qualify” officially, Encoding.com did offer up an invite code for all users on Twitter. The code is HNY2011 and you can enter it from the Vid.ly homepage.
I’ve been playing around with Vid.ly for the past hour or so and all in all I think it’s a pretty cool tool, though they still do have a few kinks to work out. For instance, they’ve got a great demo video hosted on the Vid.ly site that explains how the product works. I wanted to embed it in this post but the universal embed code provided on the video page didn’t work with our WordPress. We’re currently trying to work out the issue, but if this site is meant to provide truly universal video viewing then I feel like the embed code should work in all platforms, without a whole lot of work on the embedder’s part, considering that Vid.ly’s objective is to make video sharing easier on all platforms.
Additionally, I see a lack of social elements on the site in its current form. I’ve got a feeling that as browser compatibility issues become more and more complex (for example, the latest news of Chrome dropping H.264) this will be a tool that lots and lots of people will want to use to share videos in order to ensure that people can watch them in as many places as possible. Therefore, I hope that the site will add more features such as video search, commenting, sharing and more.
However, I think it’s important to note that Vid.ly is brand new, is still in beta and is likely to change quite a bit over the coming weeks and months. All in all I think Vid.ly has great potential and I can’t wait to see how it will grow and evolve.