UTV Stars has launched an entertainment app for smartphone that provides Bollywood news, Gossip, Movies, and also features live TV. The app is available for download for iOS from the iTunes Store and on Android from the Google Play Store.
Features And Content
Once installed, the user is directed to ‘Just in’, which is a consolidated timeline of all Bollywood celebrity Twitter updates and updates from @UTVStars, be it images, videos or just text. Users can filter Twitter and video content separately and also share the celebrity tweet on Twitter, Facebook, via email, and retweet a tweet by connecting their Twitter account. Users can also favorite a select tweet, however, the tweet gets favorited in the UTV Stars app and not on Twitter favorite. It also allows users to rate video content.
No user profile: Interestingly, while the app allows users to save and rate content from within the app, it doesn’t allow users to register a user profile. Which means users cannot save their user data and anonymously rate content. So if one uninstalls the app, they lose their favorites/starred Tweets, videos and movies.
The UTV Stars app features content from Twitter from a curated list of celebrities by UTV Stars. Apart from that, there are also videos bites from their TV channel UTV Stars and movies produced by UTV Motion Pictures. At the time of writing this article, we found most of the latest movies produced by UTV Motion Pictures including Rowdy Rathore, Rang De Basanti, among others. Note that these movies are free to watch on the app. It also features the UTV Stars TV channel in the Live TV tab, which is again freely available to the app users.
Sameer Pitalwalla – Director, Video & Celebrity at Disney UTV informs MediaNama that the app adopts bitrate for video content based on the type of connection, 2G or 3G, they are on. For us, the video content took too long to load on 2G connection, however, it worked well once the video started streaming. We believe the app buffers the video for few seconds before streaming it.
Augmented Reality Search
The app features a universal search icon where users can search for Bollywood content. Apart from that, it also features an augmented Reality search called Snap Search, which allows users to scan to click a movie poster to provide easy access to customized content like movie trailers, behind the scenes videos, Tweets, pictures and more. The Snap search feature is powered by Ricoh Innovations’ newly launched Ocutag mobile visual search platform. We tried the Augmented Reality snap search feature for Rowdy Rathore movie poster, and the app offered tweets from the director and actors in the movies, video content, and movie the in results. It worked quite well.
Social sharing done poorly
While the entire UTV Stars app is based around social networking sites, the app itself does the social sharing very poorly. For instance, the app could have integrated its sharing feature with the iOS’ inbuilt Facebook and Twitter sharing but instead it asks users to separately connect their Twitter account from within the app. Even on Android, the app doesn’t take advantage of Android’s sharing feature. Apart from that, the Twitter sharing feature is also poorly implemented — it shares the update without attributing the tweet to the Bollywood celebrity but instead adds a ‘via @UTVStars’ to the update. A quick search on Twitter for via @UTVStars tells us that not many people are using this Twitter sharing feature.
Not optimized for Android
The app also seems to follow iOS’ UI design on both iPhone and Android. It doesn’t make sense as to why UTV would not optimize the Android app according to the new Holo UI. We believe the target audience for the app would be India where Android is more popular than iOS devices. The direct implementation of the iOS design on Android has left the Android app more complicated and utilizes more screen space with menus instead of content.
For now, UTV Stars appears to rely on in-app display advertisements at the bottom of the app. We also noticed a full screen ad appearing right before it launched any video content.
Hungama Bollywood app also provides Bollywood entertainment news, events, celebrity photos, among others. However, the app doesn’t aggregate news from Social networking sites.