Zumocast is a new free app available to download for the iPhone and iPad. Once you’ve installed a free piece of software on your PC (or Mac), you can then stream all your media and documents to your iPhone that are stored on your computer. Music, videos, photos, and even documents can all be accessed on your mobile device, so you no longer have to be restricted by the limits of of it’s internal storage. You can stream your iTunes playlists and it even supports album artwork (if embedded in the file), giving a more satisfying user experience. Streaming requires a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, but Zumocast also offers the added ability to download music or video files wirelessly, in case you’ll be going somewhere where you can’t get a signal. Although not currently available for Android phones, it is expected to be at some point.
Zumocast is not the first application to offer the features of music and video streaming to an iPhone, but offering them within the same app is certainly a welcome direction to be heading in. An early offering for music on iPhone was Simplify Media 2 which I used frequently until the company withdrew support for it a few months ago, and currently available is another one called Jukefly. On the video side of things, Air Video Server has offered video streaming for some time now, claiming to be able to handle pretty much any type of video file you can throw at it. Before I discuss how Zumocast compares to those, here’s a brief YouTube video showcasing the app…
Setting up and installing Zumocast was a pretty quick and easy affair. After signing up with an e-mail address and setting up a password, all you really have to left to do is tell Zumocast which files and folders you want to be available to access/stream. The default setting is your standard Music, Video and Documents folders, but you can add as many other as you like.
Streaming Music Files
As well as the previously mentioned ability to transfer files to your device, Zumocast can stream the songs stored on your PC at the following bitrates :-
LAN Connection – 320 kbps
Wi-Fi – 192 kbps
3G – 64 kbps
Obviously the higher the bitrate, the better the sound quality, so whilst a lower audio quality may be more perceivable over 3G, it’ll be quite acceptable to most ears, and a fair trade-off for the luxury of being able to access a large collection of songs and mp3’s almost anywhere you go. However for those of you who still want more than that on 3G, a future update has been promised by the Zumocast team that will hopefully be available in the iTunes App Store soon.
The addition of album artwork support is a very welcome one in my view, and it works here very well, although my iPhone 3GS took a little while for them to cache in the device. This is something that it appears to handle much better than Simplify Media 2 and Jukefly in this respect, which both used to display far less in my experience.
Streaming Video Files
Zumocast claims to transcode any video file of any resolution, far more than I have available to test on it, and has indeed handled what I’ve thrown at it so far. However on my set up, it seems to struggle to stream larger files (such as .mkv, for example), freezing up and pausing every thirty seconds or so. Whether this is due to limits of my home broadband speeds (I believe mine is around 10 mbps) and PC’s running speed, I don’t know. It did seem to be a little CPU hungry too on my Acer Laptop, running at close to 100% throughout. I seem to have no problems with playing .avi files though, good news as it’s a very commonly used one. In comparison, Air Video Server has always suffered similarly on such large files, so Zumocast certainly seems to perform as well as it from what I’ve seen.
For a full list of supported video file codecs, see the Zumocast FAQ here
Accessing Files and Documents
This not a function I have a huge need of on my iPhone, personally, so I’m not really sure what else is available on the market in this area. It seems to work here very well, although at present all files are ‘read only’, but I was able to open and browse files in Excel, Microsoft Word, and PDFs.
Zumocast seems to work very well so far, and delivers what it promises in most areas. Set up was painless, and the appearance of it looks nice to this user. There are some things not present I’d like to see though, such as support for Last FM scrobbling (something Simplify Media 2 offered, and is currently available on Jukefly), although I believe this is something Zumocast are looking to add in a future update. I’m hoping too that they continue to make improvements to their service so that streaming of larger video files becomes more manageable.
A premium version of Zumocast is due to be launched soon too, although as yet I can’t find any firm details as to what this will offer in addition to the basic free features.
Download the Zumocast software for PC and Mac here
Download the Zumocast app for iPhone or iPad here