Free iPad Video AppsPosted: August 22, 2011
The 11 Best Free iPad Video Apps: Showyou, ABC Player And More
The Huffington Post Jason Gilbert
The ever-popular Apple iPad, with its wide, high-resolution screen, is a great device for watching video (better than the tiny iPhone, anyway); and yet the options for video discovery are surprisingly limited, given how tailor-made the iPad seems to be for media consumption of all kinds.
Sure, you’ve got YouTube for your standard viral video-viewing pleasure, iTunes for individual purchases and rentals, and Netflix and Hulu Plus for those with subscriptions. But what about for us freeloaders?
Here are eleven zero-dollar apps we found that can be quite useful both for finding new videos online and for watching them full-screen on your iPad, or hooked up to your wide-screen television at home. Just be sure you plan ahead: you’ll need an Internet connection to stream the clips, as the free apps don’t allow for downloads.
ABC wins the award for best iPad app among the television networks, mainly because it is the only one of the Big 4 networks that allows you to watch full episodes on your Apple tablet.
Sure, you have to wait through ads, but the fact that ABC is willing to let users stream full episodes of Secret Millionaire, Primetime and (personal favorite braindead show) Wipeout onto your iPad is a huge plus for the network and a good way to make fans.
Of course PBS has free shows! Joining ABC, PBS has an iPad app streaming full episodes of Masterpiece Theater, Austin City Limits and worldwide dad-favorite Antiques Roadshow.
Sure, you can only watch previews of PBS’s incredibly popular children shows (oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to watch The Electric Company on my tablet), but if you’re an adult looking for some stimulating video content for your iPad, the PBS iPad app is an excellent place to turn.
The TED series–“riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”–are also free to you on your iPad with an attractive interface on a white background, videos are searchable by category and length of time, and can also be saved to watch offline.
Watch some TEDTalks for free and maybe, just maybe, learn something or be inspired to change the world. Not a bad deal at a zero dollar price tag.
Showyou is a well-designed and well-conceived video app that utilizes all the best features of the iPad in its interface. Showyou gives you a user-friendly sliding grid of videos against a black background and the clips are sorted either by publisher (featuring collections by Reddit, The Colbert Report, CollegeHumor and a few dozen others) or by what your friends are sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social networks.
In the “All” view, the “Publisher” and “Social Network” options are combined with the videos that are currently the most shared on the Internet. Your subscriptions are pushed to the top-left corner for easy, swipe-based scanning.
You can also search all videos on Showyou and the results are displayed in the app’s standard grid view.
Sony owns Crackle, a video streaming site, and the company recently built a Crackle iPad app that showcases Sony’s content. Though it’s a little buggy (as we found when tried out the app and as numerous other reviewers have noted), Crackle users can expect a nice selection of ad-supported television and movies from Sony Studios. Be forewarned, however, that most of the content is fairly old. While you won’t be getting, say, Breaking Bad, you do get some episodes News Radio, Seinfeld and The Tick, as well as movies like Pineapple Express, Beverly Hills Ninja and Stand by Me, among other 80s and 90s favorites.
If you don’t mind ads or a small selection that skews older, Crackle is a nice choice for free, professional content for the iPad.
Similar to Showyou, Squrl is a video aggregation app that offers collections of videos from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Vimeo sorted by topic. Think of it as an endlessly iterating selection of playlists on different themes: Movie trailers, politics, sports highlights, music videos, and everything else you would expect across the major video streaming platforms.
Though it does not have the beautiful interface of Showyou, Squrl does a nice job of cataloging your different options so you navigate to a particular category with just a few taps. Its search function can be a bit less intimidating than the image-only Showyou search as well.
Fanhattan is a fun way to find new on-demand and free content for the iPad. Split into “movies and “TV shows,” Fanhattan features an attractive sliding line of titles that gives price points on Netflix, Hulu and iTunes, and links up to Rotten Tomatoes reviews, cast information, recommendations and more.
Fanhattan is a good choice for those who are willing to shell out some cash to watch on their iPads, but so far its ability to find (or even search for) free content is somewhere between limited and non-existent. Hopefully the people behind Fanhattan will add the capability to showcase free movies and television when they next update the app, as it is sorely lacking as of now.
Plizy is another video aggregator, one that sorts videos by channels on a user-curated front page. You start out with a few pre-determined Plizy categories (all of which can be deleted) including “Plizy Buzz” (the most popular videos on Plizy), Google News, TED Talks, Vimeo Staff Picks, Bloomberg, NPR Music and the videos shared by your friends on Facebook and Twitter; from there you can add channels from about a dozen different categories including Animation, Comedy, Culture, Politics and more.
The interface is a little clunky, and the fact that there is no list view for videos is puzzling (once you click on a category, it auto-plays, rather than letting you scan through your options), but overall it’s a helpful app for finding and watching videos that you care about.
“Brought to you by Goldman Sachs” is probably not what you want to hear about a free video app, but guess what? The Goldman Sachs-sponsored video app SnagFilms is a really good app for viewing free documentaries on the iPad!
No, you won’t be able to watch “Inside Job,” but you are able to view several dozen both short and full-length documentaries full-screen on SnagFilms, including critical hits like “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man,” “Winnebago Man,” and “Buena Vista Social Club.”
And while “The views and opinions expressed in these films do not necessarily reflect those of Goldman Sachs,” perhaps that’s a good thing: The documentaries on offer, though currently a bit light, are well-varied and interesting.