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Viewing streams on Camstreams with Android and VLC / GoodPlayer
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Introduction and Help, updated 31st July 2013.

Camstreams and Android - An Introduction

Camstreams was launched in 2004 using stable streaming technology that is still in use today. We are a small outfit and over the years have tried to cater for the developments in technology so that our streams will play in as many places as possible whilst not going bankrupt in the process attempting to adopt systems and streaming technologies that cost vast amounts of money to license and deploy.

To that end, we commissioned and spent almost two years developing an Android app. Unfortunately (for everyone), it was not particularly successful. Android is a very diverse platform with thousands of different devices with lots of different hardware under the hood. Creating an app which 'just worked' on just a percentage of these devices turned out to be an almost impossible task on a modest budget.

As time went on, we noticed that open source ports of popular desktop video utilities (such as FFMPEG) were being used by developers which have been gradually improving over the last couple of years at a greater pace than our efforts. Our app development reached a tipping point where it was simply better and quicker for you and simpler for us to scrap our app and offer you the ease of use of a third-party app which works well with our streams and which works with a lot of the latest (and some older) Android devices. After extensive testing, we chose to recommend VLC.

There are alternatives to VLC, such as GoodPlayer for Android - which is not quite as stable with our streams.

Please note that there is no official app developed by us for Android and therefore any terms and conditions you accept while installing any recommended third-party app will be between you and the app's developers.

Camstreams receives no money or benefit for recommending, or having users install and use a particular third-party app. We have no official relationship with VLC (or GoodPlayer), we merely think they're the best apps there are at the moment to play our streams on Android.

Bear in mind when streaming video over a mobile data connection, you may be charged if you exceed data limits (if any) you have on your mobile phone subscription. Video generally eats up data, so be careful.

Troubleshooting Android with VLC or GoodPlayer

    Installation Problems

  • If the Play Store complains that VLC is not compatible with your device, try installing via one of their nightly builds, which are direct APK downloads.
  • If both options do not work on your device, try installing GoodPlayer - Play Store - or - Direct Download - Once installed select Step 2 whenever coming across an embedded stream of ours ('Tap Here To Play Stream').
  • If none of the above work, it's just not going to work out between us and your device, sorry :(

    Playback Problems

  • If when you try to start a stream and you're using VLC it completely bails out, this is a broadcaster encoding issue that they ideally need to fix (info below for them). You can try using GoodPlayer instead (above) which may cope with it better. Make sure you uninstall VLC first or our links will keep opening VLC and not GoodPlayer.
  • If you are browsing to our streams on an Android device but do not see the playback instructions where the stream is embedded, make sure that your web browser is browsing as an Android device and not a desktop one. Check the settings for browsing - many Android tablets, for example, mimick browsing as a PC or Mac by default. Sometimes this setting is called 'User Agent'. If this is set to 'Desktop' on your device, we won't recognise your device as Android and will present the Silverlight player instead which will not show or work.
  • If you are browsing to our streams but not on (i.e. the stream is embedded on the broadcaster's website) and don't see the playback instructions, the broadcaster needs to update their embedding code (they can find it in the User Area). In the meantime, browsing streams on itself should present you with the playback instructions.
  • If a stream won't start at all, it may be offline. Try on a desktop device and see for sure. If there is a truely problematic stream which only doesn't work on Android, it is likely to be a problem at the broadcaster's end (see below).

    Stream Quality Problems

    A stream bailing out/freezing/basically constantly malfunctioning can be an encoding problem with the broadcaster's software. If you are the broadcaster, make sure:

  • You have uninstalled version 3.0 and are using version 3.5 of our encoder (info here)
  • Try a different compression profile in Options > Compression before broadcasting. The old profiles may remain if you did not uninstall version 3.0 before installing version 3.5. You should select any that simply say 'Default' and not 'Camstreams Default'.
  • If this problem continues in version 3.5 with the newer compression profile, make sure the audio tick box is unselected in the Options > Devices tab before broadcasting. If you require audio, try experimenting without it to see if that is the cause.
  • Make sure the video seems good from the preview window of the encoder when you are broadcasting
  • If all else fails, try using the Microsoft encoder, which can be downloaded from the 'Advanced' section of this page.
  • If using the Microsoft Encoder, avoid codecs like 'WMA Professional' and 'Windows Media Video V8' as these require extra CPU time on the device. (Use WMV Version 9 and standard WMA codecs).