Android app review: TED

John Walton
Cell Phone Editor
| January 28, 2009

TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design. The gatherings, also known as TED Talks, are an annual conference at which some of the brightest minds in the world discuss science, technology, socio-economic, and environmental issues... among other things. The revolving consortium's tagline is ideas worth spreading. And the happenings produce such ideas on a consistent basis.

TED was an exclusive event for over twenty years. High admission fees and invitation-only status gave the  congregations an air of surreptitious importance. The inspirational speeches of charismatic people and the profound insights of luminous minds characteristic of TED were limited to a privileged, wealthy few.

Beginning in 2007, TED Talks were made available to anyone with an inkling to listen. And in case I haven't already done enough to imply so, I highly recommend you check some out. They are a reliable resource of invaluable proposals and considerations regarding the understanding and improving of the quality of life on Earth; as well as the exploration of the Universe.

A software developer called VenueM makes TED audio and video feeds available to iPhone and Android users via a slick, navigable interface. I tested the app on the G1 only, and the iPhone experience may differ.

TED (the app) consists of a branding banner at the top of the screen, a large content section, and four buttons at the bottom: Home, Videos, Audio, and Favorites. The home screen offers a general description of TED Talks and a listing of newly-added content. These additions are not necessarily from the most recent conference. For instance, the current top item is a video of Aimee Mullins from 1998 in a video entitled, "Running without legs."

Whether selecting a Talk from the FeedBurner-powered home screen, or clicking first on the Audio or Video button for an expanded list, the user is taken to a description page with a play button. The play button launches the browser, which immediately loads a full-screen video (or the audio player). I was happy to find that the video's orientation relies solely on the accelerometers and is not affected by sliding the G1's keyboard in our out. Response was snappy. As for the video stream, I experienced no buffering issues.

While accessing a Talk, hitting the back button once takes you to a blank browser page. Hitting it again takes you back to the app's description page - where you can tap one of the four main buttons at the bottom to select new content. So, while not completely self-contained, the program is polished and consistent with TED's web presence. The description page also enables some menu button functions, like sharing a link to an online video via GMail.

If you don't have Android or an iPhone, take the time to watch a few presentations at the TED website. If you poke around and give it a chance, I promise you'll find something that will change - at a minimum - your mindset for the day.

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