For a while now we’ve been able to watch movies and TV shows on the go with smartphones, but the experience can be less than enjoyable. When the iPad was released it seemed like the perfect combination of size and portability for easily watching media while traveling.
The Crackle app brings feature films and television offerings to the iPad for free, but how does it stack up against other free and paid apps in this category?
What Does It Offer?
If you’re like me and you don’t have a vast library of videos to stream from your home computer to your iPad, Crackle could be a good fit. Unlike most apps for watching movies and television that offer B movies and documentaries, Crackle offers content from Columbia Pictures, Tri-Star, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classics and more. The selection varies in genre and release date and 20 new movies and television episodes are added monthly across Crackle’s website, iPad, and iPhone apps.
The full length movie library currently consists of nearly 175 titles such as Beverly Hills Ninja, Pineapple Express, Men in Black, Gridiron Gang, The Patriot, Stranger than Fiction, The Mothman Prophecies and more.
The television library consists of nearly 50 series with episodes from shows like Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Married with Children, News Radio, Seinfeld, and classics like The Three Stooges and I Dream of Jeannie. Crackle also offers a number of original shows and collections, which are movie playlists based on genre. There are a number of clips from movies and minisodes from television shows available as well.
The app provides a slick interface for quickly flipping through all Crackle has to offer. You can easily browse the library using the search bar, tabbed browsing features, alphabetical listing, and filters for genres and length (full length, trailers, and clips). The layout is so simple that I was able to pick out a movie or television show to watch in less than a minute and it took me roughly 5 minutes to look through all the offerings.
Like most free media services Crackle is ad supported, but I found that most commercial breaks have only one ad which is almost always 30 seconds or less. For me, ads are a small sacrifice to make in order to watch feature films and shows for free. All content is viewable in full screen and the video quality is as good as you can expect from a screen of this size.
There are of course other services available for watching media on the iPad. Netflix and Hulu Plus have bigger libraries, but both require a monthly subscription plan ($7.99/mo.) and Hulu Plus still includes advertisements. Snagfilms and Muviez are good free options for viewing documentaries and independent films, but not feature films. NFB Films for iPad is one of the few free iPad apps that also offers feature films and documentaries with over 1,000 Canadian titles available.
Once you choose something to watch there are extra options available by tapping the screen. Some of these include sharing with your friends through email, Facebook, and Twitter. Also, with the tap of a button you can head over to iTunes to purchase and if you have a Crackle account you can create a queue.
Signing up for a Crackle account is easy to do by going to the more tab at the bottom of the app, or you can sign in using your Facebook account. Creating an account is free and also keeps track of your viewing history, enables you to comment on and rate movies and shows (website only), as well as giving you access to your settings in the Crackle iPhone app and on Crackle’s website.
In the end,Crackle has more positives than negatives. While the selection isn’t very large yet, it’s growing and it’s great to be able to watch feature films and television shows from studios like Sony and Columbia Pictures for free on the iPad.
I really enjoyed some of the features such as New Release Fridays, which features two newly available feature films each week, and the ability to resume playing a video from where you left off after taking a short break and exiting the app. Some of the disappointments are that some series are only available as minisodes, which are clips of shows instead of the full show (as mentioned above), and the fact that content is not available offline means that you will need to have a consistently strong Wi-Fi or 3G connection if you’re using the app, which could be difficult while traveling.
Overall, watching from home would still be my first choice for movies and television, but if you want to catch a short episode of Seinfeld or a movie while traveling Crackle is a great way to go. The price can’t be beat as long as you don’t mind your viewing being interrupted by advertising, and this app provides a way to legally watch great content on the iPad. With an ever-growing library Crackle has a promising future.