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macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 28, 2011
I've wanted this for so long. I'm not a programmer. I simply don't have enough interest in learning the process and language. But I have to ask…

Is it absolutely not in the realm of possibility to create an app for iOS that could play a DVD's file structure?

There are apps that [seem to] play every other file type that you could store directly on your iOS device.

There are apps like AirVideo that allow you to play/stream any file type that's stored on your computer.

Could there not be an app that does just what AirVideo does, but with a VIDEO_TS file that's stored on your computer's hard drive? An app that would read the file structure like any DVD player program on your computer might?

I use AirVideo a lot. I mirror to my Apple TV very often. The ability to do this with DVDs that I have ripped to my hard drive, complete with menu structure and that, would be tremendous. I know that AirVideo can play the individual VOB files inside of the DVD's folder, but you have to select each part individually and there is no menu option. It's almost there, but just not quite good enough.

I've wondered about this off and on too often. I just had to finally come out and ask in a community of people who would actually know, or maybe even perhaps be able to create such a thing.

Yes…? Useful app idea? Worthwhile opportunity for profit making?


macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2012
I don't claim to know the answer with respect to the specific platform,
but I'll take some guesses...
The MPEG2 codec used for DVD is likely not a native supported codec,
which likely means a lot of work for a programmer to implement from scratch themselves.

When some video intro is played in a game, the game author wrote the
media player at a very high level, simply a matter of having the game
program ask the iphone politely to please play this supported video clip.

The codec used for DVD might require a license to use in a program,
as use of the mp3 codec does when sold with a device.

I think the DVD video would also have to be decrypted since the key could
not be read from the disc's media descriptor within the iphone/ipad,
even if the algorithm to do the decription was ready to go in iOS.

Hmm, giving it more thought, the video files aren't exactly space efficient.
I don't think I'd want to move DVD video files to an idevice even if I could play them.


I should have read a little better...
In that case, the computer is doing the work, and just streaming the video in
whatever format to the idevice.
I have nothing to add there.... out of here..


macrumors 68030
Aug 14, 2007
There's no technical reason why its not possible. There's plenty of open-source codecs available that you can use to do this sort of thing. However, it's interesting that VLC doesn't (apparently) support playing video_ts folders with it's iOS version. Perhaps Apple would not approve such an app for the app store.

As xArtx points out, MPEG2 is both space and battery inefficient (since it's not supported natively by decoder hardware in the iPad, unlike MP4). So in general, it's a much better solution to transcode MPEG2 files to MP4 for playback on iOS devices.


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 28, 2011
Thank you for the replies. I'm sorry that it's taken me a little while to come back to my own thread (I know it's not very polite when that happens).

Licensing issues for a DVD playing codec was one thing that came to mind, but I wasn't sure if that was an actual thing that would need addressing, or if that sort of thing is up to the makers of the hardware, or the responsibility of software providers.

I can understand that storage space is an issue, so that's why I was leaning more toward an AirVideo type of app.

And yes, I do convert titles to m4v as well, but it would just be equally nice to be able to mirror the entire DVD, as I have so many in this form collected on external hard drives. I like the menus and extra features. And, I'm otherwise going just fine and happily without a set top DVD/BluRay player.

It's good to know that there doesn't seem to be any immediately obvious issues in the way of this being able to get done. Just a minor inconvenience that it hasn't yet, as it's like the only thing that feels missing from my simple set up of a flat screen, a computer with plenty of content, and iOS devices for mirroring.

I should probably also acknowledge that this issue is a little more moot now that Airplay is available on newer Macs with Mountain Lion. Even though I haven't seen for myself if DVD and video playback through Mountain Lion's mirroring works flawlessly enough (though I can confirm that AirParrot is a dreadful solution for video), it could just very well be time for me to upgrade my 2009 MBPro. :p
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