Android mobile devices are portable powerhouses with a lot of power under the hood. The screen sizes can be huge, with top notch resolutions, making them perfect for watching high resolution video and listening to high fidelity audio. Yet despite the built in storage space and the extendable memory card slots, encoding and carrying around audio and video files is such a pain.
How awesome would it be to stream the media stored in your house to your mobile screens via WiFi or mobile broadband? Skifta is an easy way to control, play and enjoy your music, videos and photos at home and on the move. In this article, we’ll see how best to set it up for enjoying media files on the go.
Skifta works like magic. There’s no uploading to the web or syncing to your phone. In fact, you don’t copy or move your stuff at all. You just leave it where it is. Then, whether it’s somewhere on the Internet or on your computer at home, you can access your stuff remotely using your smartphone or tablet.
Not only can you access your digital media from anywhere, with your smartphone or tablet you can also stream it to DLNA certified and UPnP compatible TVs, IP connected stereos, PlayStation 3 consoles, Windows 7 PCs and thousands of other connected consumer electronics devices anywhere.
Signing Up for Skifta
To unlock the digital media we own, we begin by downloading and installing the Skifta desktop app. A version of it is available for both Windows and Mac; I experimented with the Windows version, where my wealth of multimedia is residing. It was a fairly painless process and the wizard even lets you create a Skifta account without having to open the web browser.
Setting Up a Place
If you own multiple computers, you should use the Places feature to label your media centers correctly. This way it will be a lot easier for you to add many sources and manage them all from the mobile phone without confusion.
Setting Up the Mobile App
Main Screen and Choosing a Local Media Source
At launch, the app always checks if there is an updated version available before taking you to the main screen. As you will see, there are three steps to go through before you can enjoy your content wirelessly. It’s a great thing that the developers have chosen to clearly define and label each step, helping even tech novices understand the whole process clearly.
Signing In to Connect Remotely
Predictably, the first step is for you to identify the source from where you would like the content to stream. You can either play from the local device storage or sign in to access the content remotely. Enter the login credentials and wait for a few seconds for the app to interact with the server and identify your computer, where the Skifta desktop companion app is installed.
My HTC Wildfire isn’t known to play well with complex apps like Skifta. But, unexpectedly everything went smooth and fast. There is also an option to add content from the Internet under the Channels tab.
Establishing the Connection
Once the mobile app is able to locate the remote computer, you are good to go. In the second step, you will be presented with two options, just like in the previous step. Here, you will have to choose the device that you want to connect with and you will be shown all the compatible devices to stream the content to.
I’m not privy to the technical nuances of the app, but in future, it would be great if the first two steps were merged together to make the app more simple to use.
Choosing a Playback Location
Wait for a few seconds so that the connection is made. Once that’s done, you can access the content from the third option in the main screen – Browse and play media. The folders and files available in your remote computer (which you have added in the desktop app) will show up for you to access.
Accessing Remote Files
It was nice to have the same exact folder structure as the desktop. Images were displayed perfectly and it did not take too long for them load. Playing music was fantastic too, and there the playback quality was great without any noise or skip.
I was floored by Skifta’s features and performance. The app comes loaded with all the features that a multimedia lover will ever want. Initially, I wasn’t sure if it would be simple to set the app up, despite the claim by developers that it can connect with virtually any device. But, the whole process was a breeze.
In Windows, the firewall and anti-virus software might block the outbound connections from the app, so go into the interactive mode to allow the services to make contact. I wish the services were clearly labeled though; this would make it easy to clear them for outbound access.
Another irritating aspect of Skifta is the poor navigation of the mobile app. There are just way too many back and forths to access one step from another. Every time you go back from one step, the connection gets disconnected and you will have to select and reconnect again. It takes just a few seconds more, but brings down the otherwise awesome user experience by a notch. But this is just one nagging flaw; overall, I’m happy to have discovered Skifta and you should try it too!