Loading a Video on iOS w/o iTunes

Hard to believe this was as hard as it was. Just needed to move a video to my iPad for family viewing... should be simple, no? Only problem is that the last computer we have here with iTunes on it died several months back. Zero desire to get Windows or iTunes running again, unfortunately.

Most how-tos I've found on the subject (even stack-exchange) recommend some crappy-looking $3.99 App from a "fly by night" operation. Looked a bit too sketchy/dodgy to me for something that should be built-in, sorry.

Solution: VLC

After quite a bit of searching, the most elegant solution of course was VLC, the well-loved floss media player now with a professional, (if not beautiful) App on iOS.

VLC has a number of features that are very helpful on an otherwise intentionally crippled Apple product:
  • Streaming. You can stream the video directly from a URL, such as HTTP or FTP, home or cloud if you have enough bandwidth.
  • Second, you can download a video over wifi to the device from a URL as well.  I tried this on a large 2.6GB file and unfortunately the iPad put itself sleep just as it hit about 90% completion.  :/  Grrr, best for smaller files I guess.

    By the way, I used the python command-line server for this which is fine for smaller videos:
    python -m SimpleHTTPServer

  • The third and best option, is to mount the iPad and copy it over to the VLC folder!  I don't know how available this route is outside of Linux.  Yes, I just plugged the iPad cable into my Ubuntu laptop.  It mounts iOS devices as a filesystem, and you'll find a folder under Documents called VLC.  That's the one you want!  Drop your video in there and it will transfer over at full speed!
VLC will then have an icon from the new video right under the files tab.  Tap it to start playing.

No sound?

This should have been the end of the post, however I promptly hit the next roadblock.  No sound.  What?  I found the solution in a vlc forum post...  but didn't want to believe it.  In fact I avoided the solution for another half hour or so.  Finally, I gave in.  Yes, change your timezone to a city in Canada, it works.  ((facepalm))

Go into the iPad Settings App, General, Date/Time, and set the timezone city.  I chose Vancouver as it corresponds to Pacific time in California.  I then exited Settings and double-tapped the home button to go into app kill-mode (for want of a better term) and killed VLC by swiping its window up and off the screen.  Run a fresh VLC and it will stop avoiding patent issues and play the damn audio!

Everything now works, but I have to admit I cried a bit inside before falling asleep last night.

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