Review: iPhone multimedia player Oplayer receives major update

Just some minutes ago, the small-screen version of the “Oplayer” multimedia player has received an update. The update notes are as follows:

(as with all the other images in this review, click for an enlargened, better-quality version)

(Incidentally, as has also been mentioned in yesterday's UPnP bible, DirectPlayer has also been forced to drop AC-3 support – see the bottom-most item in the list.)

The second bullet is of extreme importance. Until now (including the previous version, 2.0.05), if you did use hardware acceleration to play back your videos, the player presented the user interface of the built-in, stock Videos player:

and it'd only present its own interface with the acceleration setting disabled in Settings:

(Also note that, on a widescreen, new-generation iPhone / iPod touch, of course, the previous, non-HD version wouldn't make use of the full screen estate. This can clearly be seen in the previous two screenshots.)

This is the switch (annotated) in Settings (a screenshot from the new version; the Settings menu is identical in the two):

In the new version, independent of the state of this switch, iOS-native file formats (mov / mp4 / m4v) will always be played back using hardware acceleration – and with the app's own interface, which, among other things, allows gesture-based rewinding / fast-forwarding.

In addition to the switch, in the new version an additional, brand new icon has been included in the player bar (annotated):

If you tap it, quickly a message will be displayed telling you it's switching decoding mode. For example, if HW decoding was active (also shown by the icon being green), “Software decoding” will be shown, telling you it's disabling hardware acceleration:

As can also be seen in the first screenshot above, the player also received numerous new features. In the following section I'll elaborate on the, because of Apple's absolutely unnecessary restrictions not letting players use the hardware decoder for non-iOS-native container formats, most important aspect of any iOS player: the quality and speed of the video codecs.

What about the engine?

I've never recommended Oplayer for software playback, except for MPEG-2. (See for example THIS recent forum post of mine.)

Unfortunately, after having thoroughly tested it, I must state the new version doesn't have a better set of codecs. It's certainly lagging behind the top players, codec speed-wise (and still doesn't offer goodies like semi-hardware MKV / AVI playback offered by several other players now), meaning you should only use the player for playing back lower-resolution footage and/or on the fastest models (today: iPhone 5 / iPad 4) only. Nevertheless, not even the latter can properly play back 1080p H.264 footage with the software decoder in Oplayer – it's certainly more stuttering than the decoder of the in this regard considerably better players; for example, yaPlayer.

All in all, I still don't really recommend this player. There certainly are better ones out there: It's Playing,  yaPlayer (for pure speed / features / Universal support), GoodPlayer (much better streaming support / Universal) etc.

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<p>Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.</p>
<p>Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.</p>