The inconsistency of video apps and controls within streaming apps is frustrating. John Siracusa wrote An Unsolicited Streaming App Spec that details everything. I find it most frustrating to use it with iPadOs and the Magic Keyboard.

Many nights I watch a television show on my iPad instead of on the TV in the bedroom because my wife has gone to sleep, and I don’t want to light the entire room up. I set it on my bedside table and put on a pair of AirPods or AirPods Pro II, and I can now watch and not disturb her.

The sound levels vary between each app, even at a baseline. So, MAX might be at 32%, but Paramount+ might need to be 54% (this excludes the type of show it is). So I have to adjust for each channel and usually higher.1

I don’t like using the volume hardware buttons on the iPad if I don’t have to. What makes me the most crazy is how each app uses the arrow keys and space bar.

I think Arrow Up/Down should be volume up and down. Arrow Left/Right should be used for skipping ahead or back.2the space bar should always be pause or resume.

Here is the behavior of some of the more common apps.

Streaming Skip ←/→ Volume ↑/↓ Play/Pause ␣
Amazon Prime N/A N/A N/A
Max (HBO) N/A N/A N/A
Netflix Yes N/A Yes
Paramount+ Yes Yes Yes
Disney+ Yes N/A Yes
AppleTV+ Yes Yes Yes
  • Amazon Prime Video: No support for either volume or skip with arrows
  • Max (HBO): No support for either volume or skip with arrows
  • Netflix: No support for volume, but arrows work for skipping ahead and back
  • Paramount+: Full support of arrow functions
  • Disney+: No support for volume, but arrows work for skipping ahead and back
  • AppleTV+: Full support of arrow functions
  • Hulu: I don’t have a subscription to confirm their iPad apps.

Every company wants its Bespoke video streaming app, but some core consistency within the video space would add to a better user experience. You don’t want users frustrated with simple tasks like Play/Pause or Volume Up and Down. You do that fine on your own, trying to get people to subscribe and remain a customer.

  1. Rock and roll ears and tinnitus are the reason.↩︎

  2. I don’t even care what the amount is 15 or 30 seconds; I will accept whatever they use as their defaults.↩︎

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