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NAB Report: SnapStream Brings Improvements to New Mac Version

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It’s surprising for a company that works with so many media clients, but SnapStream, the video recording, transcribing, and clipping service used by "The Daily Show" (among many others) didn’t have a Mac version until January of this year. Now that it does, however, it’s rushing to create feature parity with the more-established Windows version.

There simply wasn’t a big customer demand for a Mac version, explains SnapStream president Aaron Thompson. Customers generally have mixed platform environments, so they had Windows machines available for SnapStream. Or, if not, they could always run Parallels. 

That first Mac version in January could only play MPEG-2 transport streams. Now, the Mac version plays H.264 video, as well. The SnapStream team also made the Mac version more reliable and added support for the Chrome and Safari browsers (the original was Firefox-only).

The reception for the Mac version has been positive so far, says Thompson. All the customers that requested a Mac version prior to its release have upgraded their software so they could use it. Those early adopters were essentially the beta testers for the improvements now released.

“What we wanted to do is get the first version in customer’s hands in a minimum-viable release and have them poke holes in it,” says Thompson. Sounds like a strategy Apple itself uses for new products.

SnapStream executives originally intended for the Mac version to be created by third-party developers, since no one of SnapStream’s 17 employees had Mac coding experience. When the process dragged on too long, however, Thompson and several of his developers learned Objective-C and Xcode, bringing the project in-house. They were able to complete the first version in two months.

The Mac improvements will continue, with WMV support coming, as well as the abilities to record live TV and play from the beginning a show currently being recorded. SnapStream will also create remote workflows for both systems. When completed, the Mac version should be nearly equal to the Windows version. The one missing feature will be the ability to burn DVDs. Thompson hasn’t heard any requests for that yet from Mac users.

Now that Thompson and company are Xcode experts, expect to see a SnapStream iPad app client coming soon. The one big challenge is transcoding video so that it’s small enough to stream easily to the iPad, yet still looks high-definition.

“This will happen, hopefully this year,” says Thompson.

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