Earlier this year, VEVO unveiled a huge new redesign, adding continusous playback and social features designed to get more people engaged when watching its music videos. And while it made that experience available on its website and on its Xbox Live app, there was one device clearly missing — the iPad. Well, it just released an updated version of its iPad app, making a lot of the same features available, as well as a few more that have not yet made it to other platforms.
I got a chance to get a walkthrough of the app from VEVO SVP of Product Michael Cerda in the company’s brand-new San Francisco development office today — more on that later — and the thing is pretty slick. The first thing that you’ll notice when you open the app is a rotating carousel of featured artists that, when clicked, brings you directly to videos by those artists.
The iPad app, like other apps from VEVO, is focused on increasing viewership time. As a result, it defaults to a continuous playlist of videos. Once one is finished, users will automatically start watching another. After an initial pre-roll ad, the app inserts additional ads after every three or four music videos, according to Cerda.
The iPad app also pulls in a lot of social features that came online with the spring relaunch of the website. That includes Facebook Connect and Open Graph integration — letting users import their “likes” and get personalized playlists based on those artists. They’ll also be able to see what music videos their friends on the social network are watching, and share out what they’re watching with others. Users can also import their iTunes libraries to get playlists based on the music that they already own.
But a lot of what makes the new iPad app cool is stuff that wasn’t in the homepage redesign. Cerda told me that one area of improvement was adding the ability to add and customize playlists, which was a bit constrained in the initial release. VEVO has also done a good job of building out artist profiles, which show biographical information on the musicians that viewers want to watch, while also providing a list of videos, tweets, and tour dates. The app also collapses a lot of the menu options that appear on the website into a more manageable navigation flow. The biggest feature, though, might be AirPlay integration, which allows users to instantly stream continuous playlists of music videos to their TVs through Apple TV.
A lot of the new iPad-specific features — like the condensed menu, artist profiles, and better playlist management — will eventually make their way back to other VEVO products, like the homepage or mobile web site, Cerda told me.
Cerda, who has founded startups like Threadbox, Jangl, and Ooma, joined VEVO late last year to lead the company’s product initiatives. Recently, he opened up the Silicon Valley branch of VEVO and drafted some developers he knew — and a couple he didn’t — to help out on product. While the team was previously working out of his garage, it just opened a brand new, very startup-ish office in downtown San Francisco.
He’s divided VEVO product mostly into front-end and back-end teams, with one in charge of user experience and the other making sure the plumbing works. But product work is still split between developers in New York, and those who recently joined or agreed to ship themselves out to the West Coast. In fact, the teams have a dedicated video hangout setup so that its developers can ask or answer questions of each other from across the country.
While the iPad app is one recent innovation for VEVO, it’s not the only one. The company is looking for new ways to reach consumers wherever they are — whether that means making embedding videos available in users’ Twitter streams (which is available now) or streaming directly within Facebook wall posts (which could be coming soon). Look for more updates as time goes on!