The best video streaming apps for iPhone and iPad, from the movies you grew up with to the shows you want to catch up on!
Streaming video apps turn our iPhones and iPads into personal movie theaters and television sets. Whether you want to watch - or re-watch - thousands of movies and TV shows from the major studio back catalogs, keep up with current network programming, or simply stream the videos already on your computer, the App Store has several apps for that. Sadly, what's available depends entirely on where you live (regional licenses, ugh.) Here are some of our favorites for the U.S.!
Note: We're not including iTunes because, while they have a good selection of movie and TV shows, they currently only stream to the Apple TV. Hopefully that changes, but for right now, iPhone and iPad are download only.
Netflix plays host to thousands of shows and movies that you can access with an all-you-can-eat subscription for $7.99 a month. Netflix supports pretty much any platform you can think of and even comes pre-installed on many gaming systems and Smart TVs. Netflix has also started offering original programming like Arrested Development, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and more. While Netflix may not have the latest blockbuster movies or hit shows, the sheer size of their collection - especially their kids collection - makes them a must have.
Amazon Instant is Amazon's own streaming service, offered at no additional cost to its Amazon Prime subscribers. If you don't have Amazon Prime, you can still use Amazon Instant Video, you will just be shown the price to rent or buy content instead. You will also see lots of new movies on Amazon Instant long before they pop up on services like Netflix.
If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't have Amazon Instant Video.
Hulu is geared strictly towards tv shows and offers popular series such as Glee, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and many more. The Hulu Plus app for iPhone and iPad requires a $10 a month subscription. That gets you access to the most recent seasons of your favorite shows and unlimited streaming from any Hulu Plus enabled device including Apple TV. Hulu is also home to many of its own original series.
Air Video isn't technically a streaming service but it does allow you to stream anything from your Mac or Windows PC to your iPhone or iPad. Most importantly, Air Video can transcode on the fly, so if you've ripped a bunch of your DVDs to DivX, MKV, or some other non-iTunes friendly format, Air Video can still get them from your drive and put them on you screen with no effort at all.
If you prefer owning content over subscribing or already have a large library on your computer, get Air Video.