Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Google Drive Home Media Streaming

After several years dealing with iTunes Home Media Sharing, I decided to attempt an upgrade. With the recent price cuts in Google Drive, it has now become possible to dump the entire video history of humankind onto the cloud for a like a quarter. So I decided to guinea-pig this out on my digitized copy of Friends (yes, yes, copyright holders, I bought this on Amazon and ripped it with my own two hands and will never share it with anyone, which means you got your pound of flesh and you can relax, okay?).

First step, I moved all my Friends episodes into a Google Drive folder and waited for them to finish uploading. This took about 2 days for me; your results may vary depending on what despotic ISP shackles your home. But at least the process required absolutely no intervention after that initial drag-and-drop. Though there is one caveat: once you upload your videos, they have to be processed before they can be streamed.

Next you download the Google Drive app, log in, and navigate to your folder. All the thumbnails show up right away, and they're not skewed as with the Apple Videos app:
Ah, so civilized ...
They're also in alphabetical order, but you can sort them by date modified, and time last opened. You can also search:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Yes, search. That amazing technology that finds you stuff. A technology that was apparently not slated for Apple's Videos app.

Combined we're already about forty-two thousand points ahead of iTunes Home Media. But the pièce de résistance is that the Google Drive app can show you the recent history of things you've opened. For TV series this outright solves the sequential watching problem:
Ah, so I was watching episode 717 last. Thank you, HAL.
The stream is also more stable than the Videos app, even though it is more subject to network conditions—since it comes down out of the internet instead of your home network. But not having to have a base computer up all the time to stream from is a big win. I also don't have to deal with any extra programs—like iTunes—, since just moving files into my Drive directory is enough to get them backed up and usable from the app.