Crackle: Free movies, TV shows on iOS devices!

OK, so the selection is a little limited. But let me just say this: 10 classic "Seinfeld" episodes. What more do you need to know?

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
Crackle brings full-length movies and TV shows to the iPhone and, even better, the iPad.
Crackle brings full-length movies and TV shows to the iPhone and, even better, the iPad. Screenshot by Rick Broida

Sure, you can watch movies and TV shows on your iPhone or iPad, but there's always a catch--usually a monetary one. Hulu and Netflix cost money. PlayOn costs money and requires you to leave your PC on. The ABC Player is iPad-only and, well, ABC-only.

Enter Crackle, a new app that lets you watch dozens of TV shows and a couple hundred movies, all free of charge (but with ads, natch).

Available for iPhone, iPod, and iPad (the app is universal), Crackle delivers much of (but not all) the same content as its eponymous Web service. On the TV side, you'll find shows like "10 Items or Less," "Barney Miller," "Charlie's Angels," and AMC's new "The Killing."

Unfortunately, a lot of the available series are merely "minisodes," not full eps. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I don't want 5 minutes and 30 seconds' worth of "Fat Albert"--I want the whole show. Hey, hey, hey!

On the plus side, Crackle recently added a batch of classic "Seinfeld" episodes, and plans to swap them for 10 different ones every month. I'm literally pausing my writing every few minutes so I can get back to watching "The Chinese Restaurant."

As for movies, they're mostly older titles, and mostly a mix of B-, C-, and D-grade stuff. I don't watch "Big Daddy" or "Joe Dirt" on cable, so I'm certainly not going to watch them here. What's more, a lot of the listed movies aren't full-length, but rather batches of clips. (Thankfully, you can filter the list to show only full-length titles.)

That said, there are a few gems to choose from: "Ghostbusters," "Easy Rider," "Starman," "Dr. Strangelove," and "A Few Good Men" are among those worth your time. (Underrated gem: "Go.")

The app is easy to use, smart enough to resume playback if you have to leave in the middle, and able to stream over 3G and Wi-Fi alike.

And did I mention it's free? Sure, the selection could be better, but if you're looking for something to watch and don't want to pay Apple, Hulu, or anybody else, Crackle can definitely keep you entertained.

While we're on the subject of streaming video, check out these related posts:

Watch recorded TV shows on your iPhone

PBS for iPhone streams public-TV shows for free

PlayOn Mobile hits the App Store

Hands-on look: Hulu Plus for iPhone, iPad