23 votes

VLC on iOS - Late to the party on this but I have to GUSH!

Like many on here I've been moving away from cloud services. I used to think that the open-source-heads that grumbled about loss of control were just out of touch. Just "get-off-my-lawn-types" but now I'm one of them. One of the things that pushed me over the edge was Amazon removing a bunch of tracks I had in my workout mix. Just so not cool.

So I'm done with Amazon but hesitated to stop paying for Prime because I couldn't figure out a good way of getting music onto my old iPhone 5S that didn't involve the absolute steaming pile of garbage that is iTunes sync. Why oh why does ti have to be so hard? And the answer is DRM. It's always DRM. Fuck DRM.

I have mp3s from hundreds of CDs I bought and burned to my computer back in the 90s and early 00s. These have largely sat unused. But not now! Now they are free!

And that is all thanks to the magical open source media player VLC. I've long used it on my laptop and desktops but didn't even know there was a mobile option for iOS. I stumbled across it while struggling to find the default iPhone Music app in Apple's app store. I never found it - I found one that looked like it could be it but it talked about an online store to buy music from so I wasn't sure. Anyways, up popped VLC.

The VLC app is awesome! I can get audio/video to it so, so easily in a variety of ways. I can drag-and-drop across my network, use a number of different kind of online services like dropbox, etc (which is not what I did, but that's cool). In theory, I could sync through iTunes as well, but F that noise!

So now I have 5-10 of my favorite albums, including good music to work out to. And best of all, I have "you are my sunshine" which I was able to download off of Youtube. I play that every night for my daughter and ever since they nerfed the YouTube app to prevent it from playing music while other apps were open, well it's been a pain to just sit an listen to it while she falls asleep each night without doing anything else. But not now! VLC isn't trying to market the shit out of me and lock me into their app. I can put on a song and finally use other apps.

So if you are one of those "get-off-my-lawn" types like me, I invite you to check it out. I don't know if there is an Android version but I sure hope so.

This is all stream of consciousness so forgive my typos and likely poor grammar. I'll clean it up after a I get tired of rocking out to these awesome tunes (maybe...)

29 comments

  1. [6]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [4]
      Pilgrim Link Parent
      Definitely checking out F-Droid once I finally get away from Apple. :)

      Definitely checking out F-Droid once I finally get away from Apple. :)

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Askme_about_penguins Link Parent
        Android is worse for privacy, unless you flash LineageOS. Just as an FYI.

        Android is worse for privacy, unless you flash LineageOS. Just as an FYI.

        15 votes
        1. Pilgrim Link Parent
          Thanks! I have every intention of using LineageOS. :-)

          Thanks! I have every intention of using LineageOS. :-)

          5 votes
      2. DeFaced Link Parent
        I always check if there's an open source alternative on F-Droid, it's so incredibly satisfying finding open source apps not looking to harvest my data or my behaviors for profit.

        I always check if there's an open source alternative on F-Droid, it's so incredibly satisfying finding open source apps not looking to harvest my data or my behaviors for profit.

        8 votes
    2. JustABanana (edited ) Link Parent
      It allows you to play youtube videos in the background or in pip mode. That's technically against play store's tos but 🤷

      It allows you to play youtube videos in the background or in pip mode. That's technically against play store's tos but 🤷

      1 vote
  2. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Pilgrim Link Parent
      Great ideas! I'm almost exclusively using audio books, which I can often listen to (or half listen to) while working, depending on the complexity of the task. I may end up getting that music...

      Great ideas! I'm almost exclusively using audio books, which I can often listen to (or half listen to) while working, depending on the complexity of the task.

      I may end up getting that music player though. That's pretty sweet!

      2 votes
  3. [11]
    babypuncher Link
    I don't mind paying for subscriptions (I have Netflix, Hulu, and HBO), but I refuse to buy "digital" copies of movies. I prefer to buy discs at the store and rip them. If you think VLC is cool...

    I don't mind paying for subscriptions (I have Netflix, Hulu, and HBO), but I refuse to buy "digital" copies of movies. I prefer to buy discs at the store and rip them.

    If you think VLC is cool wait until you've seen Plex. It collates all your music and video files, downloads metadata for them, and serves them up over your network to any DLNA compliant device, any device with the Plex app, or any device with Kodi/XBMC and the Plex plugin.

    I keep VLC around for when I want to watch a movie offline (like on plane rides), but Plex these days absolutely dominates my media consumption.

    9 votes
    1. [10]
      Pilgrim Link Parent
      I already use Plex but I hope to one day move to Kodi as it's open source. Unfortunately (from that perspective), I've invested in a Roku TV and Roku doesn't currently offer support for Kodi. And...

      I already use Plex but I hope to one day move to Kodi as it's open source. Unfortunately (from that perspective), I've invested in a Roku TV and Roku doesn't currently offer support for Kodi. And I don't want the Amazon Fire stick because then I'm back in that ecosystem again. Another reason I'd like to ditch Plex is they've dramatically changed the UI several times and give users ZERO control over it. The UI now is 10x worse than it was a year or two ago.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        pew Link Parent
        I'm also trying to move away from Plex since I don't like the direction they're going. Did you check out emby yet? It seems to be available on Roku. They have a github repo and some source code...

        I'm also trying to move away from Plex since I don't like the direction they're going. Did you check out emby yet? It seems to be available on Roku. They have a github repo and some source code available but I think to use the apps in any meaningful way they also want you to purchase a subscription or lifetime license like Plex. But I like the interface way better.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Pilgrim Link Parent
          I have not. Thank you for that. I'll be looking into it.

          I have not. Thank you for that. I'll be looking into it.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. Pilgrim Link Parent
              Thank you! I am trying to move to open source where ever I can.

              Thank you! I am trying to move to open source where ever I can.

              2 votes
      2. [3]
        Akir Link Parent
        Why not just use a Raspberry Pi? You can even run Kodi directly from it.

        Why not just use a Raspberry Pi? You can even run Kodi directly from it.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Pilgrim Link Parent
          I actually have one sitting unused in my basement that I was planning on turning into a Pi-Hole. My media server is an old desktop running Plex. The issue is I've adopted Roku as my front-end and...

          I actually have one sitting unused in my basement that I was planning on turning into a Pi-Hole. My media server is an old desktop running Plex. The issue is I've adopted Roku as my front-end and I like almost everything about it, except it doesn't have an app for Kodi. One of my favorite features of the Roku TV is that it has an "app" for OTA so I don't have to change inputs on the TV. Long term though I'm not sure. Roku is making some very smart business moves that will position them well for the long term. However, I'm not sure that they're going in a direction that I'll like as a consumer.

          1 vote
          1. Akir Link Parent
            Kodi works with live TV as well. You will have to get a USB TV tuner though. You should be able to get one for $20-30.

            Kodi works with live TV as well. You will have to get a USB TV tuner though. You should be able to get one for $20-30.

            1 vote
      3. [3]
        babypuncher Link Parent
        Kodi runs great on the Nvidia shield. It's the way I watch Plex the most, only using the official app when on my iPad or iPhone.

        Kodi runs great on the Nvidia shield. It's the way I watch Plex the most, only using the official app when on my iPad or iPhone.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Pilgrim Link Parent
          I haven't hear of the NVidia Shield before. This is very intersting. Am I able to remove/disable the Google voice assistant? I find the current implementations of interacting with a machine via...

          I haven't hear of the NVidia Shield before. This is very intersting. Am I able to remove/disable the Google voice assistant? I find the current implementations of interacting with a machine via voice as very cringe-y. I doubt that'll change until we're at a Star Trek-level of AI.

          2 votes
          1. babypuncher Link Parent
            You can turn off the voice assistant, it's hot trash anyways. My only beef with the Shield right now is the lack of Dolby Vision support.

            You can turn off the voice assistant, it's hot trash anyways. My only beef with the Shield right now is the lack of Dolby Vision support.

            2 votes
  4. [7]
    Weldawadyathink Link
    I really don't understand most of this. To be clear, I understand being mad at Amazon for removal of tracks (although I do understand that it is an unfortunate reality of streaming services). I...

    I really don't understand most of this. To be clear, I understand being mad at Amazon for removal of tracks (although I do understand that it is an unfortunate reality of streaming services). I don't understand the frustration with apple and iTunes.

    I have not used an Apple product since the iPod touch 4, so things may have changed. Please correct me if I am wrong. Apple sells all of their music drm free. You need iTunes to download it, but you can take the file and move it to any device (that supports their encoding, I think m4a, or transcode it into any file type including FLAC and wav). You can add any drm free files into iTunes and sync them with iPhones. You can enable file sharing on your device (through iTunes) and then use it plugged into any computer with any file manager and use any mp3s withough touching iTunes at all (after enabling that setting).

    I just don't understand how you got to the solution that you did. I get that Amazon removing tracks is frustrating. I get that iTunes being a giant slow mess is frustrating. I get that no YouTube background play is frustrating. But you had many solutions. There has never been a better time to own drm free music. Even the most closed down music players (the ones for streaming services) allow you, in some way, to upload your own music and have it in your library. I don't know if Amazon music allows that, but Google music definitely does, Apple music I think does, and Spotify I think let's you stream from your desktop if it is on. You also could have paid for YouTube red to get background play, which would have gotten you Google play music too, which has hundreds of covers of you are my Sunshine. You could also have bought the song, to actually support the artist you took the song from.

    That all being said, yes VLC is a great program. I hope this post doesn't come across as aggressive, I just don't understand how the solution you got to follows from the problems you were having.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      hungariantoast Link Parent
      > Apple sells all of their music drm free. > You need iTunes to download it 🤔 I could genuinely be wrong, but isn't this a form of DRM? Requiring people to download a desktop client to buy music...

      > Apple sells all of their music drm free.

      > You need iTunes to download it

      🤔

      I could genuinely be wrong, but isn't this a form of DRM? Requiring people to download a desktop client to buy music sounds like a form of DRM to me.

      Am I wrong in thinking this?

      I mean, to be fair, like you said, you can copy your music bought through iTunes to other devices and storage disks, and you can convert the file formats to others, but does Apple even serve lossless files to customers who buy music through iTunes? Isn't it all served through their lossy, in-house format? If so, then converting it to a lossless format is useless.

      Also, iTunes has had performance issues on Windows for a decade now. It just isn't a good client. There's also no Linux support.

      7 votes
      1. Pilgrim Link Parent
        That matches my thinking. iTunes lets me sync my own personal collection to my iPhone, but I have to use that specific piece of software. So maybe my gripe should be aimed more at the iPhone than...

        That matches my thinking. iTunes lets me sync my own personal collection to my iPhone, but I have to use that specific piece of software. So maybe my gripe should be aimed more at the iPhone than iTunes. iTunes itself is a particularly nasty bit of software IMO and hasn't been substantially upgraded (in a meaningful way to me) since I had an old iPod way before the iPhone, despite prompting me to update every time I open it.

        I'm also a Linux user and basically have kept a Windows machine around because of iTunes...so now I can move that to Linux as well so that's nice.

        4 votes
      2. Weldawadyathink Link Parent
        In my opinion no, but there are many who would agree with you. I see it as similar to any other transaction where you have to agree to the initial distribution terms. I am sure that if you could...

        In my opinion no, but there are many who would agree with you. I see it as similar to any other transaction where you have to agree to the initial distribution terms. I am sure that if you could find a store across the world that sold CDs and called them, they would agree to a sale regardless of whether you had any intention to go to their store to actually pick up the CD. It is up to the consumer to ensure the ability to receive the goods they purchased. If you buy something on amazon, you have to have a shipping address, or access to an amazon locker.

        As to your technical question, it is distributed as Apple Lossless Audio Codec in a .m4a file. It is a proprietary format, but it is still widely supported. FFMpeg can convert to and from alac. That being said, any music purchased before they made that change is only distributed to you through their drm locked files.

        3 votes
    2. [3]
      Pilgrim (edited ) Link Parent
      I don't purchase music from Apple. I already have quite a collection. The UI of iTunes is terrible - I mean unspeakably bad. The processing of syncing is archaic - why can't I just drag and drop...

      I don't purchase music from Apple. I already have quite a collection. The UI of iTunes is terrible - I mean unspeakably bad. The processing of syncing is archaic - why can't I just drag and drop my music to the iPhone? In iTunes I first have to specify a library, let it read the library which can take some time, uses the iTunes interface to browse that library, check mark the albums/songs that I want to sync, then finally do the sync. It makes me tired just typing it out.

      Even the most closed down music players (the ones for streaming services) allow you, in some way, to upload your own music

      This isn't true. Amazon recently removed the capability to upload your own music without paying a monthly fee. Others may but why would I want to stream music to my phone and use up my data plan? Most of these players require you to pay a monthly fee if you want to download music to your phone. I used Amazon because I already had prime and it had that feature. It costs money with Spotify. I believe the same is true with Play but I didn't investigate it that one as thoroughly. Most of these require me to install music manager software - which I don't believe is supported on Linux. All of this is harder than dragging and dropping my music to VLC's intuitive interface.

      . You also could have paid for YouTube red to get background play, which would have gotten you Google play music too, which has hundreds of covers of you are my Sunshine.

      Why? I have that functionality now with VLC. Why is it acceptable in your mind for a company to downgrade their free service in order to start charging for it?

      You could also have bought the song, to actually support the artist you took the song from.

      It was an ad-free channel with no artist listed. It's set to a home made slide show that I assume the up loader put together. I couldn't have purchased it if I wanted to.

      I got to this place because I was after the same sort of solution that used to be available on all hardware mp3 players (pre iPhone) where I had complete control over my music without being trapped into paying for some monthly service that I do not want.

      I didn't take your response as aggressive. Rather your thoughts mirrored my own from several years ago. Cheers!

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Weldawadyathink Link Parent
        I am really glad my post didn't seem aggressive. I debated with myself before posting, but decided I should not be part of the 90%. It seems to me from your post that you view amazon music as a...

        I am really glad my post didn't seem aggressive. I debated with myself before posting, but decided I should not be part of the 90%.

        It seems to me from your post that you view amazon music as a music player first, and a service second. Please correct me and ignore this part if I am wrong. It, along with other subscription services are first and foremost a service. you pay for the access to music and the app is just a way to access their music. It is completely understandable (to me) that there would be drm on a service where you pay for access and not the product, which is what those services are. It also doesn't help that, as far as I have seen, Amazon music is by far the worst music streaming service. I pay for amazon prime, and I would not bat an eye if they got rid of the service today. All, I think, of the other services let you import your own music. Google Play Music offers a frustrating way to import your own music, but once it is complete, it is treated as a first-class citizen along with other music you get with all access (streaming, and downloading). Even if you don't pay for all access, you get these features for songs you upload and ones you buy through google.

        Anyway, it seems like the rest of your criticism is against apple and itunes. That criticism is well placed in my opinion. I would say, however, that itunes was a known quantity when you bought an iphone. For reference, on an android, playing an mp3 is as simple as plugging your phone, transferring files (with no special software), and using a music app. Phones will probably have one on them by default, and there are hundreds of aftermarket ones available. You don't have to pay a monthly fee to use a music app, except for the ones that are a companion app to a subscription service.

        I got to this place because I was after the same sort of solution that used to be available on all hardware mp3 players (pre iPhone) where I had complete control over my music without being trapped into paying for some monthly service that I do not want.

        What I am trying to say is that, as far as I can tell, this never went away. Your original post reads to me as "Why are all of these apps for subscription services trying to sell me a subscription?" and seemed to imply that VLC is a lonely island because it is the only app that doesn't make you pay for a monthly fee. It is a great app, but it is far from the only app that doesn't try to upsell you. I would bet that there are many times more free or one-time-purchase music programs than apps for streaming services.

        3 votes
        1. Pilgrim Link Parent
          I think you’re largely spot on. I think on iOS there are more limited options for music players and drag and drop is not a thing for iPhones really (outside of VLC). I have an iPhone 5S. My first...

          I think you’re largely spot on. I think on iOS there are more limited options for music players and drag and drop is not a thing for iPhones really (outside of VLC). I have an iPhone 5S. My first smartphone is was a iPhone 4. Music streaming services were either not a thing or barely a thing when I got my first smartphone and I’ve never had any interest in paying for them.

          1 vote
  5. [3]
    a5e3qw Link
    I'd love to go this route but what I'd miss is an ability to discover new songs. Spotify's recommendation algorithm is amazing - it has made me listen to so many bands that I hadn't (and might...

    I'd love to go this route but what I'd miss is an ability to discover new songs. Spotify's recommendation algorithm is amazing - it has made me listen to so many bands that I hadn't (and might never have) found on my own.

    Any ideas on fixing that?

    2 votes
    1. elcuello Link Parent
      This might come down to the previously mentioned convenience. I also love this feature Spotify has but I also find a lot of inspiration on subreddits dedicated to genres I like and just general...

      This might come down to the previously mentioned convenience. I also love this feature Spotify has but I also find a lot of inspiration on subreddits dedicated to genres I like and just general discussion online and IRL.

      1 vote
    2. Pilgrim Link Parent
      None, except the old fashion way of asking friends what they're listening to. Those algorithm's are pretty darn good!

      None, except the old fashion way of asking friends what they're listening to. Those algorithm's are pretty darn good!

  6. bee Link
    Personally I've found Infuse to be a much better experience than VLC on iOS. You can pass files through a wired connection without iTunes (good for linux), and I like the interface a lot better....

    Personally I've found Infuse to be a much better experience than VLC on iOS. You can pass files through a wired connection without iTunes (good for linux), and I like the interface a lot better. However, it's not open source.

    1 vote
  7. Jimmni Link
    You might want to consider running a Plex server and using the Prism client to play the music back on your phone. Sync over the songs/albums you want, but still have access to stream everything...

    You might want to consider running a Plex server and using the Prism client to play the music back on your phone. Sync over the songs/albums you want, but still have access to stream everything else. The Plex app is trash for music playback, but Prism is great.

    https://prism-music.app/

    1 vote