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Cupertino may frown on formats like AVI and MKV, but that hasn’t stopped developers from creating apps to support playing such videos via iOS. The problem is, most of them are downright ugly. Luckily, that isn’t a problem for Infuse, a universal video player from the folks behind aTV Flash.
The first thing Infuse gets right is artwork. It’s the only third-party video player we’ve found that displays iTunes-friendly embedded artwork (and trust us, we’ve looked). Better yet, if a file is missing artwork, Infuse will find it, along with key metadata such as cast, genre, and synopsis. The app displays the results in a slick, graphically rich movie theatre-themed user interface. Placeholder icons resembling ticket stubs appear as thumbnails are added; on the iPad (or iPhone/iPod touch landscape view), a slideshow of your video library appears above icons for movies synced from iTunes or added via File Sharing.
Despite the luscious UI, there’s no way to organize media into folders or collections – for example, TV show episodes appear as individual content, rather than stacked under one title. Infuse also needs an option to keep synced iTunes videos separate from content that's added manually. While Infuse deftly fetches metadata, the app stumbles when it can’t find a title. Obscure sci-fi parody Alien vs. Alien showed up instead as big-budget blockbuster Cowboys vs. Aliens, with no way to override it. The latest version does add an “Other” option for fixing incorrect metadata, but only appears when a match exists. Thankfully, files with the Home Movies genre tag are exempt from matching.
Infuse is also capable of downloading optional subtitles from the Internet, but fails to include basic features such as AirPlay or HDMI video output support. However, you do have full control over brightness, zoom, multiple audio tracks, and support for scrobbling content to a free Trakt account for keeping track of what you’re watching.
The bottom line. Infuse certainly lives up to its claims of being beautiful, but we’d prefer a little less time in front of the mirror and a few additional features instead.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Elegant, movie theatre-themed user interface. Automatically downloads metadata, artwork, and subtitles. Only third-party video player we’ve found that displays embedded iTunes artwork.
No AirPlay or HDMI video support. Content can’t be organized into folders. No way to disable matching for unrecognized titles. iTunes File Sharing required for adding movies manually.