We live in a society that is in need of instant gratification. We want it all and we want it now.
But we're also a society that loves binging a good television show or spending a full Saturday watching an entire movie series. I know I've spent more than my fair share of weekends engrossed in the Harry Potter movies.
Streaming apps give us the best of both words -- instant gratification, and the videos we want to spend hours getting lost in.
Streaming apps have become increasingly popular in recent years, with new companies popping up and offering a variety of different services. Research shows that 62 percent of people aged 18 to 29 watch tv through a streaming service or on a streaming device. And people aren't stopping any time soon.
In fact, in 2017, 50 percent of households had a Netflix subscription. This was an increase from 28 percent in 2011.
Netflix was the original streaming app for television and movies, and since its conception, others have grown increasingly popular as well. But it's not just movies that can be binged.
Music streaming apps are also a mainstay in society today. I can't imagine going on a flight without a whole new Spotify playlist waiting for me, downloaded onto my device so I can stream WIFI free.
And most people feel the same. From music to TV shows to movies, streaming apps connect people with the content they want to absorb. But with the myriad of streaming options out there, it can sometimes be difficult to choose the one that's right for you.
Not all streaming apps are created equal, and not all streaming apps can offer you the same content. What shows are available on Netflix might not be available on Hulu. The music on Tidal isn't necessarily readily downloadable on Spotify.
But content isn't the only difference. User experience, personalization and intuitive interfaces are also key features that set certain streaming apps apart from the rest. But if you're in the market for a new streaming app, look no further than these 10 options. They are the top streaming apps in their field -- in looks and in functionality.
The 10 Best Streaming Apps Of 2018
Netflix is easily one of the most popular video streaming apps available today. And most households choose Netflix as their main form of video consumption -- choosing this service over traditional cable. The beauty of Netflix, too, is that it can be used across all devices. Netflix is available on TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. All you need is the app and a subscription and you can unlock hundreds of television shows and movies.
Of course, the wide variety of content available makes Netflix a clear winner, but it's also the look and design of the app that immediately grabs attention.
The dark, moody background is the perfect backdrop to showcase the many different title offerings. It's clean, its deep and it's extremely engaging. It puts you at ease almost immediately and gets you in the zone to turn down the lights, get your snack ready and start binging.
There's a clear and clean menu bar to the left of the screen. Click it, and in bold, white font you're privy to the many different categories available.
But on the main screen itself, images take center stage.
In a clean and organized manner, the video titles -- accompanied by an attention-grabbing image -- line the screen. In even rows, you get a quick glimpse into what shows and movies are available, and these are broken down by category in a very intuitive way.
At the top, you have shows and movies you've already seen -- and of which you can start again. You also have shows recommended for you which is a very personalized option that makes finding your next tv show to binge even easier.
Overall, this app design is simple and streamlined. The user experience is highly intuitive and is similar across all devices -- whether you're on your smartphone, your laptop or watching on a smart TV. Netflix makes it so incredibly easy to get lost in your next show that you can't help but let yourself.
Spotify is a heavy hitter in the music streaming department. It's an app that has grown increasingly popular in recent years and is extremely good at what it does.
Whether you want to listen to the latest artist that's on fire, or you want to listen to a throwback track, Spotify likely has your back. The service offers millions of titles from thousands of artists. The hardest part will be trying to decide on which album you want to listen to next.
From rap songs to musical numbers, Spotify has it all and it makes it easy to find new or old music to stream. The interface is extremely organized and simple to use. It's made up of a soft black background, bright white font and their iconic Spotify green.
These subtle contrasts of color really make the app pop and make navigation a breeze.
There are a variety of category options and intuitive playlists to choose from. You can listen based on genre, mood and even activity. You can create playlists, or search for public playlists. You can listen to songs that are topping the charts, or listen to a playlist Spotify has created based on your own listening.
The Spotify app is extremely intuitive and engaging. It creates a very personalized listening experience that keeps you moving and motivated. Searching for songs, albums and artists is a breeze, and each search result is broken down again by category.
Spotify is a shining example of what happens when designers give users the experience they want, custom-fit to them. And users can't get enough.
Hulu is another major video streaming app that rivals Netflix, but it has some functions that Netflix lacks.
Hulu lets you stream movies and TV shows much like Netflix, but it also offers the ability to stream popular cable shows and videos that Netflix can't get its hands on. It also partners with these networks to provide users with access to these shows earlier than Netflix can. Instead of having to wait for a season to end to air them, Hulu often has episodes updated every week so you can stay up-to-date on all your favorite shows.
Hulu also has a live TV function that allows users to stream live television, another feature that Netflix has yet to integrate.
The look and feel of Hulu is also slightly different.
Hulu is made up of a color gradient background that is moody and sleek. And it's an app that is much more personalized than Netflix. Onboarding consists of users filling in content preferences, and once completed, the app creates an experience that is customized with the user in mind.
Of course, users can search through the app to find the video content they want, but Hulu makes it easy by providing them with the titles that fit them.
The overall layout of the app is clean, modern and fresh. At the top of the app, there's a bar that lets users know what they're currently watching, what titles are recommended for them and is then further broken down by genre and category. Users swipe through the app to get to each section swiftly and smoothly.
The Hulu app is modern, clean and customized. It's an intuitive and user-friendly app that was created with the user in mind, giving them access to titles that the app thinks would best match them and their preferences.
Tidal is Jay-Z's music streaming app alternative to Spotify. It's a rich and sensual app that puts the music first, highlighting it through images, video and navigation that inspires.
Tidal allows users to stream music at the highest quality possible -- it really does emphasize music and highlights artists in a way that other services don't. There are also many more title options on Tidal -- 25 million to be exact. Spotify only offers around 5 million.
And its design aids in this artistic emphasis.
The layout is very organic and intuitive, with a seamless blending of album and artist images and music videos. Genres and categories are broken down into blocks, with a helpful navigation bar lying at the bottom of the screen and always available to guide users from the home screen, to their own music collection, the search menu and the explore section where they can listen to titles that are recommended based on their preferences and listen to titles that others are listening to.
This moody and sensual app design is a work of art itself, much like the music it focuses on. This app makes use of subtle color gradients, rich colors and a creative layout to showcase its many titles. The focus of this app is the overall experience that is created from listening to music that's played.
Amazon Prime Video is Amazon's answer to the question of video streaming. And the layout of the app itself very much so feels like typical Amazon in its grid-like layout, imagery and orientation.
Amazon Prime Video is another app that offers users content from popular networks like HBO and others without making users get a separate subscription. It also has a number of Amazon originals that can't be viewed anywhere else.
A dark, black background is a common theme amongst video streaming apps, and in this one, it's no different. That's the biggest difference between Amazon Prime Video and the regular Amazon app itself which makes use of a clean, white background.
With the Amazon Prime Video app, users can browse, add titles to a watch list, look through their library and download titles. The layout is very strategic, with the title highlights at the top, and additional titles are broken down into rows below. Users can swipe along the menu to find the categories they want to browse through.
There is very little text in the Amazon Prime Video app. This adds a cleanness and a streamlined quality to the app that makes it easy to navigate and peruse. There is no drop-down menu to clutter the screen, no unnecessary text to distract.
This is a clean and simple app design that stands out for its modernity and ease of use.
Apple Music is Apple's music and video streaming service. It allows users to create playlists and download them. It's Apple's alternative to buying albums. Instead, users can pay for this subscription service and stream this music without having to pick and choose.
The look and feel of this streaming app is vastly different than many of its competitors. Instead of a dark, sensual and moody look, the Apple Music app is bright, clean and airy. There is plenty of white space taking up the background, with pops of color that add fun and personality to the app as a whole.
The layout is also much different in the Apple Music app. Music is broken down by category, with sections that show recently played and featured artists to help expand your music offerings. There's a lightness to this design that feels very effortless and smooth.
It's very traditional in its design -- looking much like other Apple apps and services. And its integrated seamlessly into the regular Apple music app.
At the bottom of the screen, there's a helpful toolbar that guides users from their downloaded music library to the Apple Music services. The icons included are minimal and playful, and the pops of color really round out this experience and lighten the mood.
This clean and bright app design makes streaming music fun.
7. HBO Go
HBO Go is HBO's own video streaming service. With it, users with an HBO subscription can watch their favorite shows on their phone, tablet, computer and TV.
Watch shows as they air and watch classic movies with a few taps of a button. The HBO Go app truly is a remarkably simple tool. The only downside of this service is that users can only watch titles that come from HBO itself -- there are no outside programs allowed on the app.
This app opens up to a black screen with featured titles and quick hits. The titles are displayed in blocks that grab your attention and simple, clean copy to add depth to the content. On your phone, two titles appear at a time, and you can scroll to find more.
From here, users can either search directly for their title of choice or click on the small menu bar in the upper left-hand corner. Here, they are provided with a clean, concise list of options -- they can check out HBO series' or movies', or they can check for specific niches like kids movies, documentaries or late night options.
Once the user decides where they want to land, they're taken to a page broken down into columns. Movies are displayed clearly with an image and title. It's a very simple and efficient system that makes finding old classics or new favorites a breeze.
The iHeartRadio app is a fun and exciting music-streaming app. But it doesn't just let you listen to your favorite songs, it also lets you listen to your favorite radio stations. That's one distinction this music-streaming app makes for itself. The other differentiator is that it's free.
With this app, you can listen to AM and FM stations from across the globe. You can also stream popular podcasts and radio shows that you wouldn't otherwise be able to get from just listening to the radio, or using another streaming app.
This app lets you create your own stations, and even saves all of your songs in a playlist just for you. This app is extremely intuitive, and the design promotes the fun and diverse array of options available.
This design starts with a bright white background. There's a pop of red color scattered across the app which keeps branding consistent. A menu bar at the bottom of the screen helps users navigate in a clean and efficient way, and the layout overall is very minimal and simple.
There is less of a focus on images within this design, and more of a focus on text. Little images sit next to popular songs, stations and playlists, but otherwise, to navigate the app you have to use the icons and read through the offerings.
And considering this app is geared more towards listening to the radio than listening to music on its own, the design makes sense.
YouTube has entered the Live TV business with its new YouTube TV app. This app lets users stream live television from more than 50 popular cable channels. Watch the news, your favorite sports team and those hilarious cat videos all in one place. This service is available on smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs.
The design of this app is very much so in line with YouTube's branding -- on its website and in its traditional app design. Users have three options -- to go to their library, go home or watch live TV.
Once clicked, the user is brought to a screen with a column of title options. Each title option comes with a written title and an image. The app also tells you which networks you can watch certain programs -- as sports and news channels will have multiple options.
The background is white, the menu bar is black and YouTube's signature red logo sits at the top left-hand corner.
Users can navigate to their account via their icon in the top right corner, or cast to a TV Screen.
The white space that makes up this design is plentiful, giving a clean and crisp look to the app as a whole. Menu bars are clear, and options are bolded -- making them easy to find and click. There is no doubt that navigating this app is easy as pie. It's modern. It's fresh. It's clean. It's inviting. It's a winner.
Pandora's music streaming app is the most colorful and lively of the bunch. It's also the most creative when it comes to how it organizes its library of tunes. Pandora aims to give users a personalized music experience, and it provides this with a design that gets you in the mood to get funky.
Pandora recently rebranded itself, to be more modern, cool and fresh. You can see it in its logo design, which is made up of a P with waves of funky colors that lie within it. The app itself is made up of deep blues and clean whites. There is a lot of movement in this design -- with pop-ups that guide you throughout your journey, to the dynamic nature of the songs sliding in and out.
The color gradients add a calming quality to this design that puts you at ease. You can't decide if you want to close your eyes and drift off, or jump up and have a dance-off. Either way, this design relieves you of all your stress and anxieties.
You can create your own stations based on favorite songs and artists, and the app does the rest. It curates a playlist based on what you listen to, what you skip and what you search for. This is a very intuitive and engaging app that provides a custom listening experience that you can't resist.
From album covers to its own animations, Pandor plays with imagery in a fun and creative way. This app promotes enthusiasm and excitement.
Streaming App Design And The Future
When it comes to streaming apps, looks matter. Content matters. Functionality matters. If an app has an interface that falls flat, it just won't gain any traction. But these 10 streaming apps have hit the nail on the head as far as user experience, interface and features are concerned.
In a world that is becoming even more mobile-first, a streaming app needs to have all the bells and whistles without being overly complicated or disorganized. It also needs to get the job done.
From the colors used to the images included, streaming apps need to be clear, clean and concise. But they also need to include as much content as possible in order to keep people coming back for more. This goes for video streaming apps as well as music streaming apps.
If you're a developer looking for some inspiration, or an entrepreneur interested in launching the next best thing in streaming content, use these 10 apps as your guide. They are efficient, engaging and intuitive. They are user-friendly and fun.
They keep people coming back for more. And with these as your inspiration, you can create an app that does the same.
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