iPhone Video Out from Ars Technica on Vimeo.

Ars Technica had a nice piece a couple of weeks ago on an undocumented Apple API for sending video out of the iPhone. I’ve been dreaming of having just such a capability – ideally, also mirroring the onscreen action for screencasts on iPhone/iPod touch apps, though that’s another story.

The main draw: imagine the iPhone as a video output device, plugged into a mixer for live performance. You could use it to trigger videos or run interactive visuals that take advantage of the device’s 3D and animation capabilities. You can do some of this now, but of course for performance you might not want the standard video navigation interface, and you certainly wouldn’t want any kind of navigation overlay.

Now the bad news: aside from being undocumented, the API sounds so far to be rather crippled. It does send video out the connector port, but it also disables the touchscreen. (Uh….) Erica Sadun at Ars cleverly makes use of the accelerometer, which is cool, but not ideal (certainly not if you’re forced to use it). Integrating input is tricky. And output is limited in one test to 15 fps.

Oddly, it sounds easier to get video output from some less popular devices – think Zune and Sony PSP. So I still have hopes for mobile visual devices, even if the iPhone isn’t quite ready. (Let me psychically transmit a message to Google trying to convey the need to do this with Android’s APIs and hardware support.)

Other thoughts on mobile video out? Any budding iPhone devs want to chat about this, now that the NDA on development has been lifted?

iPhone 2.2 SDK offers undocumented TV-out features [Ars Technica]