VLC coming to Android

The open Android ecosystem keeps on getting more interesting. Austen Dicken, a key developer on the CyanogenMod project, is making great strides in porting VLC Player, the best, most versatile media player in the universe, to run on Android handsets and tablets.


  1. We’ll see how long this lasts until a VLC developer throws a fit and has it removed.

    If I recall correctly (and I may not), the issue wasn’t Apple’s walled garden, but that you couldn’t distribute the digital signature necessary to run it freely. Doesn’t Android have a similar system, even for “sideloaded” apps?

    1. It’s Android, you are allowed to install anything regardless of the source (if you set the option for it). Just throw the *.apk on it and run it if none of the various AppStores offers it. So I can’t see any problem with any digital signatures, as the system seems exactly like on Linux or Windows in this regard.

    2. Can you explain why you think a VLC developer would “throw a fit and have it removed”?

      They fundamentally can’t, because VLC is open source, licensed under the GPL. They can, of course, enforce their trademark but the exact same code can be used under a different name and logo if necessary. Even so, I’m not sure why they would do that.

      1. He is simply misinformed about the state of mandatory DRM – or rather the lack of it – on Android.  If Android had mandatory DRM,  it would be a violation of the GPL.

      2. It wasn’t a copyright issue; in fact the VLC organization supported the iOS app. However, one of the contributing developers objected to their code being used as he felt (rightly or wrongly) that the use of DRM on App Store binaries conflicted with the GPL. As a result, it was pulled from the store.

        Android uses similar DRM on Marketplace binaries, so if this is being treated equally, it should end up pulled. I will note, however, that plenty of programs on the App Store and Marketplace utilize GPL code and none of them have been pulled. It’s really just this one developer who decided to throw a fit.

        Personally I predict it *won’t* be pulled, because this was never actually about the GPL, and it was just a developer with an axe to grind against Apple. I’ve quit using VLC ever since and can’t say I’ve missed it.

    3. You remember correctly. One of the original developers asserted his rights by pointing out that the VLC licence and the App Store license are incompatible. Since Apple wouldn’t compromise up their DRM scheme,  they had to pull the app from the store. 

      Android’s DRM is optional, i.e. app can have it, but not mandatory. I don’t know if it’s mandatory in the Android Market. I don’t think it is. If it is, it would indeed needed to get pulled. 

      However, it’s generally probably to distribute Android apps as DRM-free bainaries, so people would get their VLC simply elsewhere.

      Myself, I don’t habe much need of it. It has a horrid interface, is sometime blocky. I rather download something and use a script to have HandBraleCLI converit it to M4v, use AtomicParsely to assign the necesary tags as tiltle, year, season, genre, etc and have it put into iTunes automatically.

      Can’t watch stuff right  away, but I rarely do so anyway. 

      1. “Android’s DRM is optional, i.e. app can have it, but not mandatory. I don’t know if it’s mandatory in the Android Market. I don’t think it is. If it is, it would indeed needed to get pulled. ”

        Ah, and that was the missing piece for me, thank you. So they could distribute it for side-loading while complying with the GPL (or at least, complying with that particular developer’s idiosyncratic view of it), but they may not be able to put it in the Android Market, as then it falls under the same issues that VLC did in the Apple App Store.

  2. This is the part of Cory I don’t get.   ‘open’ android.  Cory, you are smarter than that.   

    When I buy the Android alternative I am paying for my privacy.   They fact that Cory doesn’t get this baffles me.  Disappointing. 

    1. We definitely have evidence that non-android devices are more architecturally user hostile, and we definitely have evidence that Google-blessed devices are interested primarily in you as a pair of eyeballs; but do we have any evidence that non-android devices are protecting your privacy, or that Google somehow has its sinister claws in 3rd-party distributions over which it lacks control?

      The ToS, and historical behavior, of Apple and Microsoft certainly don’t leave one feeling warm and fuzzy about privacy, and none of the telcos can be trusted further than one can throw them. Google is also at least as evil as the rest; but(because android is a mixture of GPL linux components and Apache dalvik and bionic) there are compatible 3rd party variants over which Google has about as much control as they do over FreeDOS or ReactOS…

  3. tbh VLC isn’t the be all and end all of media players, sure it handles lots of things nativly but there is a whole RAFT of HD level formats it just will not play smoothly no matter the system!

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