VLC for iPhone: free app can play any video format on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

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One of the major annoyances with watching video on the iPhone is the need to convert them into iPhone friendly format first (H264 video encoder, AAC audio, 640 max width, and MP4 wrapper).

And while in theory video conversions are not that difficult, in practice I found myself simply avoiding watching video on my iPhone altogether, rather than deal with video conversions and with iTunes insisting on managing my media library.

Enter the free VLC app for iPhone. Yes, folks, this is the same multiplatform free media player that you’re familliar with on your PC, and its still super awesome.

It allows you to play any video format of any size on your iPhone or iPad, including MKV, AVI, MPEG, and over oversized MP4s with large HD resolutions, as well as most formats you could think of.

You still need to use iTunes to sync your videos with VLC, but now you can avoid dealing with iTunes as a media library management software and skip straight to dragging and dropping your videos into the VLC app (see below for a description of how this is done).

I’ve always resisted the temptation to review iPhone apps on this blog, even if they were free; however, this free app is such a revelation and has so transformed the usefulness of my iPhone device that I decided to help promote it. Plus, its VLC, familliar to every freeware aficionado and most readers of this blog. More notes on this app as follows:

  • Plays almost any format: including MKV and AVI, and files with large HD resolutions.
  • Syncs via iTunes: once you’ve installed the VLC app, click on your iPhone in the left sidebar in iTunes then on the apps tab. Scroll down to the “apps that share files with iTunes” section and click on VLC. Next drag and drop your media files onto the file window and they will immediately start to sync. iTunes will not need to recognize them as media files or insert them into its media library. VLC sync
  • Deleting videos from the device: is done within the VLC app, not in iTunes.

The verdict: an awesome app that has opened up a world of possibilites. Now you can simply drag and drop video downloaded from the internet and watch it on your device, without the need for time consuming conversions, multiple versions of your videos cluttering up your hard drive space, or dealing with iTunes’ media library.

Simply fantastic. The only question I have is if VLC could do it, surely Apple could have as well. So why in the world didn’t they enable their devices to do this in the first place?

Version Tested: 1.1.0

Compatibility: Requires iOS 3.2 or later. Runs on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, and the recent iPod touches.

Go to VLC page on iTunes to install.