VLC’s Media Player For iOS Sneaks Back Into The App Store

VLC for iOS, a popular media player application that has had a shaky history with the iOS App Store, now appears to be returning to the mobile app marketplace following its removal around the time iOS 8 launched in September 2014. The app’s developers never officially commented on the removal, beyond stating that they would be “working with Apple on a solution,” and later promised the app would arrive some time in early 2015. [Post updated, see below]

The app’s popularity has to do with the way it enables iOS users to watch a wider variety of media files than is supported natively through the iOS software, including MKV files, AVI files, DivX and more. It also supports network streams, subtitles, and allows for library uploads over Wi-Fi or via cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive.

One of VLC’s earlier removals from the App Store had to do with a licensing issue around mobile applications built off of open-source projects. The app later returned to iTunes in 2013 only to be pulled again this past fall for unknown reasons.

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The app’s more recent reappearance in iTunes was first spotted by users on Reddit, who shared screenshots of the new version, 2.4.1, which has been optimized for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and also offers folder support, some are reporting, showing images of the updated interface.

However, at this time, the app is not fully available on the App Store in all markets, it seems.

Instead, users who had previously downloaded VLC for iOS before its removal have been able to go back into the “Purchased” section on the App Store and then re-download the latest version. This, notes one user, has been the case “for a few days now.” That indicates that the app has not yet been made live to the public by VLC’s developers. App Store propagation – the process of releasing an app to the worldwide market and then waiting for it to be made available across all Apple’s servers – does take some time. But usually, this time can be measured in hours, not multiple days.

It’s unclear at what point the app will be made available to the public for download, but the availability of the new version for some is a positive sign that a larger rollout may be at hand. We’ve reached out to the app’s developers for more information, and will update if they respond.

While we have not yet been able to access it here in the Eastern U.S., some early reports indicate that there may be issues with the new release. Notes one commenter on MacRumors’ forum, for example, support for Dolby/AC3 seems to be missing from the new version, which is impacting MKV movie playback.

Update, Monday 12:20 PM ET: The company has responded, and confirms that the release is, in fact, legitimate, but say this is only a “partial rollout” for those who have downloaded the app in the past, allowing them to test everything works. “So this is not the general release for iOS, because most people will not be able to download it,” VideoLAN president Jean-Baptiste Kempf tells TechCrunch. The company did not say when the general release is expected, but hinted that there is some news related to iOS (and more) expected this week.


Image credits: Imgur, via Reddit