Delivering Media to Mobile Devices

  • Jason@DPD
  • July 8, 2012
  • 1 Comment

Here at DPD we often get asked what is the best format to deliver a file to Mobile Devices. These include Android, Blackberry, and iOS devices like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod.

Delivering Files to Apple Devices

The bottom line: You can’t without special apps.

iOS devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod do not have a user accessible file system. It’s not like a PC or Mac where you just download the file with the browser to your desktop. There is no way for a user of an Apple mobile device to “download” or “save” a file to their device from the internet without a specific app that is associated with that file type and includes the ability to save it.  

For example, if buyers have iBooks and you’re selling a compatible PDF, they’ll probably be able to save it (if they know how).   If you’re delivering a zip file that contains a PDF, chances are they won’t be able to open it unless they have an app that handles zip files and allows them to save and open them.

There are free apps available in the iTunes App Store like iDownloader Pro Free that will let you download just about anything, but there is no guarantee that buyers will have an app like that on their device or that once they download the file they’ll have an app that will play it!  As you can guess, delivery gets complicated when every single file type needs to have an associated app.

This is not a limitation of DPD. This is a limitation of Apple that affects every single web page, shopping cart provider, and content delivery service on the internet. With DPD the user will be able to stream compatible media types immediately to their iOS device, but they will never be able to save directly to the device without an associated app.

Because of the above reasons, iOS devices only have one option to get the media on to their device that works 100% of the time- to download it to their PC or Mac and use the iTunes proprietary system to move the media over to the device.

Delivering Files to Android and BlackBerry Devices

Android and BlackBerry devices can save files directly to the device. Your only considerations with these devices are to

1. Deliver a file that is compatible for playback

2. Be aware that the download speeds of mobile data connections to these devices (3G, 4G, whatever) will be slower in most cases than home or office broadband connections, and encode / pack your files with this in mind (aim for a smaller size).

So What’s the Best Format for Mobile Devices?

As a vendor, if you want to deliver files that work with the vast majority of mobile devices, including Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices (once they are transferred through iTunes to the device from a computer) you should deliver the file in a format that can be played by the device. Below are the most cross-compatible formats for all mobile devices:

Documents:  PDF, epub, mobi (it really depends on the reading app they’re using)

Video: MP4 – H.264 Video / AAC Audio

Audio: MP3 – All bitrates are acceptable, including VBR


Comparison of e-book Formats: Supporting Platforms
iOS Supported Media Types

Android Supported Media Types
BlackBerry Supported Media Types

Responses (1) / Trackbacks (0)

    by Al Lewis
    Aug 28th, 2012


    Hi guys! This is a great and very helpful, informative article. Im in the process of
    Selecting a service to host and deliver my document download, and this article alone goes a long way in helping me make a decision, along with your pricing. Thanks DPW!

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