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Crackle for iOS review: Free movies and TV, but ads annoy

Crackle lets you watch free TV and movie content on your iOS device, but it lacks some basic controls and the ads can be disruptive.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jaymar Cabebe Former Associate Editor
Jaymar Cabebe covers mobile apps and Windows software for CNET. While he may be a former host of the Android Atlas Weekly podcast, he doesn't hate iOS or Mac. Jaymar has worked in online media since 2007.
Jason Parker
Jaymar Cabebe
3 min read

Crackle for iOS provides completely free streaming of television shows, movies, and other video content. Sure, it's ad-supported, and programs are occasionally interrupted by commercials, but considering the amount of content available, it's still worth it. The only problem is that none of it is in HD.

Crackle (iOS)

Crackle for iOS

The Good

<b>Crackle</b> gives you a simple interface to browse and watch free movies and TV shows.

The Bad

You can't view movies in HD. There is no search function. Ads can be very annoying.

The Bottom Line

Crackle offers a good selection of free movies and TV shows, but you'll have to suffer through annoying ads and a lack of search tools.

If you've used Netflix or HBO Go, then you'll probably notice that Crackle's user interface is similarly simple and intuitive. The Home screen starts you off with featured content, while the main navigation buttons on the bottom lead to pages with Movies, Shows, and your personal Watchlist. Content is laid out in an attractive tiled thumbnail view, or you can switch to a basic list view, if you like.

Crackle brings the content front and center (pictures)

See all photos

Because Crackle is completely free, it doesn't exactly offer all of the latest and greatest shows and movies for streaming. That said, it still has a wide selection of programs available, and not all of them are obscure. For instance, I spotted old TV favorites like "Seinfeld," "Sanford and Son," and "The Three Stooges," plus a few newer hits like "Homeland," "The Shield," and "The Walking Dead." Of course, you won't be able to find every episode for every series, but in many cases, you'll get a dozen or so to choose from. Just don't be surprised if newer series only offer an episode or two.

As far as movies are concerned, most of what Crackle offers are titles that are likely on rotation on basic cable networks. This means you have a good chance of finding something worth watching, but you're not going to find anything terribly new. Still, the selection is worth browsing, as it does cover quite a few genres. Also, it's worth noting that movies are available only for a specific period of time, with about five months being the average.

Sifting through Crackle's content is fairly simple, as you can sort videos by most popular, featured, or recently added. Otherwise, you can browse through genres, like Comedy, Crime, Drama, and Anime. As easy as it is to navigate, though, I do have a couple of issues with the interface. For one, there is no search function, which means there's no easy way to look for a specific title, actor, or director. Second, touching a movie or TV show title to get more information brings up a brand-new page instead of a lightbox-style overlay. This can get annoying because you have to then press Back to return to the list of movies you were browsing through.

The Watchlist is a useful feature for keeping track of programs you want to watch. There's even a page with recommended Watchlists that you can add, either piecemeal or as a whole, to your own queue. While these lists aren't exactly filled to the brim with Best Picture nominees, it is nice that there is some curated content for you to sift through.

While they may be necessary to fund a free movie service, the ads can be pretty frustrating. When you start a show, you'll need to watch an ad before seeing the opening credits. When the intro to the show is over, you may watch another ad. Crackle doesn't plan the timing of the ads either, so sometimes an ad will start at inopportune moments, pulling you out of the viewing experience. As I said, I understand that it may need ads, but there must be a better way to do it.

Still, it's hard to argue with free movies and TV shows that you can watch anywhere. Crackle is great for finding something to watch in a pinch, but hopefully it will have search capabilities and better timing of ads in future updates.

Crackle (iOS)

Crackle for iOS

Score Breakdown

Setup 9Features 8Interface 7Performance 8