The App: Video Time Machine
The Device: iPhone
The Price: $2.99
The Basics: The internet is the world’s library and YouTube is the world’s video archive. Everything you ever need to know or want to know is out there somewhere, just one proper Google search away. Still, the internet and YouTube exist as one big pile of information. Uncategorized, it sits there in a big lump of raw data with limited organization. Video Time Machine is an app with a pretty major goal: cultivate a library of thousands of videos, organize them by category and year and let your browse. Want to watch movies trailers from 1951? How about commercials from 1964? Sporting events from 1933? You can watch videos from 2011 or from 1898. It’s impressive.
The Review: Video Time Machine delivers on what it promises. Its incredibly simple layout and design ensures that there is absolutely no learning curve. Once you’ve opened the app, you already know how to use it.
Video Time Machine only has one page. The left side of the screen is a preview image of the video you’re going to watch. The right side is a slider that lets you pick a year and a category. The years go as far back as 1860 (which only has one video: the first ever sound recording) and the categories include movie trailers/clips, television commercials, sporting events, music performances, news, games and, of course, All. The slider to select the year and category is simple, but it’s incredibly satisfying to use. Playing with the slider to randomly select a year and category to watch a video will eat up hours of your day. There is also a button under the slider that will randomly select a year and category for you.
If there’s one glaring problem with Video Time Machine, it would be trying to find a specific video. As it exists now, you are given a lump of videos depending on year and category and can cycle through them one at a time. While this can be incredibly entertaining and informative, the lack of a more specific search engine can be frustrating if you want to filter your results. Additionally, each video is a essentially a YouTube embed, meaning that the quality of each video varies wildly from one to another.
Still, these problems melt away when you can compare a car commercial from 1968 with one from 1999 and see directly how much the world changed over several decades. If you fancy yourself a history buff of any kind, you can’t afford to not download Video Time Machine.
The Grade: B+