The Video Player on Your Android Phone

By Dan Gookin

It’s not possible to watch “real” TV on your Android phone, but a few apps come close. The YouTube app is handy for watching random, meaningless drivel. Google offers the Play Movies & TV app, which lets you buy and rent real movies and TV shows from the Play Store. And when you tire of those apps, you can use the Camera app with the front-facing camera to pretend that you’re the star of your own reality TV show.

Watching YouTube

YouTube is the Internet phenomenon that proves that real life is indeed too boring and random for television. Or is that the other way around? Regardless, you can view the latest videos on YouTube — or contribute your own — by using the YouTube app on your Android phone.

Search for videos in the YouTube app by tapping the Search icon. Type the video name, a topic, or any search terms to locate videos. Zillions of videos are available.

The YouTube app displays suggestions for any channels to which you’re subscribed, which allows you to follow favorite topics or YouTube content providers.

  • Use the YouTube app to view YouTube videos, rather than use the phone’s web browser app to visit the YouTube website.

  • Orient the phone horizontally to view the video in a larger size.

  • Because you have a Google account, you also have a YouTube account. It’s recommended that you log in to your YouTube account when using the YouTube app: Tap the Action Overflow and choose Sign In. You see your account information, your videos, and any video subscriptions.

  • Not all YouTube videos are available for viewing on mobile devices.

Buying and renting movies

You can use the Play Movies & TV app to watch videos you’ve rented or purchased at the Google Play Store. Open the app and choose the video from the main screen. Items you’ve purchased show up in the app’s library.

The actual renting or purchasing is done at the Google Play Store. Check there often for freebies and discounts.

  • Movies and shows rented at the Play Store are available for viewing for up to 30 days after you pay the rental fee. After you start the movie, you can pause and watch it again and again during a 24-hour period.

  • Not every film or TV show is available for purchase. Some are rentals only.

  • You can also screencast video from your phone to a large-screen monitor or HDTV.