Want to watch a TV show like Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family or 24 on your iPad? Or how about news, sports or viral videos? There’s an app for that — and then some. App developers are quickly jumping onto Apples new device, submitting tons of apps, including quite a few to watch video. However, just as with the iPhone, there’s a lot of mediocre stuff to browse through, some of which actually comes from major publishers who just haven’t quite figured out how to make their media work on the device.
Luckily, there’s also quite a few gems that will make you burn through the iPad’s 10 hour battery life in no time. We decided to review the most important video apps and compile them to a handy little guide, complete with our take on whether an app is worth downloading or not.
Note: This list is all about video apps for the iPad only. Many video sites haven’t published an app yet, but some have instead opted to optimize their sites to play video straight in the iPad’s Safari browser. For a list of those sites, please check The NewTeeVee Guide to Watching Web Video on the iPad. We will keep both lists updated as as more publishers enable iPad support.
Movie and TV show apps on the iPad
ABC Player. ABCs app offers access to full episodes of its shows, including Lost, V, Grey’s Anatomy and others. The app forces you into landscape mode to browse its catalog, which gives it a kind of TV Guide feel. It’s fairly snappy, and the video quality is really good, even when watched full screen in landscape mode. Episodes do feature commercials, just like they do on the ABC web site. The verdict: A great free download, if you’re into ABCs shows.
Netflix. This free app offers Netflix subscribers access to the complete catalog of Watch Instantly content. Users can watch movies or TV shows from their queue, or select any other title from the catalog. Check out our detailed review over at GigaOm if you want to know more. The verdict: A must have for Netflix subscribers.
News video apps on the iPad
AP News. The AP serves up some videos on its iPad news app, but someone apparently had the idea to make this app look not-so-newsy. The result is an app that looks and feels like a scrapbook, including a video gallery without any context, so you don’t really know what each clip is about. The videos are really small, and the quality is crappy if you watch them in full screen mode. The verdict: Avoid if possible.
BBC News. Due to regulatory issues, this app is currently available everywhere but in the U.K. It features some video, but it’s hard to find those clips, as they’re integrated with the articles. There is a dedicated audio/video section but it only featured segments from BBC’s radio stations at the time of testing. Videos automatically play full screen, and the quality is acceptable. The verdict: A good start, but needs more video.
France 24. The iPad app of this English-language news station puts video front and center with a player that may not be pretty, but it makes up for it with ease of use. News, business, sports and weather are prominently featured, and accessing various France 24 shows is easy as well. The video quality is great when viewed in context, and really good in full-screen mode. The verdict: Best news app for the iPad so far.
Reuters News Pro for iPad. This app is easy to navigate, but the video component is severely lacking. Some videos simply wouldn’t play during our test. The videos look crappy in the apps player and even worse in full-screen mode. Reuters is obviously recycling some mobile footage, which doesn’t do the iPad justice. The verdict: Only for the articles.
Fun and entertainment video apps
Dailymotion for iPad. Dailymotion’s iPad app is a little overwhelming, as it welcomes you with a seemingly endless grid of clips. The app’s video player works best in landscape mode, and the video quality is good, even when watched in full-screen mode. The app also offers an option to log in to watch your personalized playlists. The verdict: Pretty solid experience.
Joost – Videos at your Fingertips. Joost slightly updated its app for the iPad, but its iPhone roots shine through at every corner. The app serves up some featured videos at start, but anyone who wants to explore the catalog inevitably has to deal with an iPhone-like interface. Videos play full screen, and the quality is okay, but the catalog is severely lacking. The verdict: Sure, but why?
Yahoo Entertainment. Don’t let first impressions fool you: Yahoo’s iPad app may have a really dorky theater splash screen, but it features a great video catalog, including news, sports, tech and fashion videos. The app also serves up videos from JibJab, the Onion and select local news stations around the country. The video quality is not always great, but all that content definitely makes up for it. The verdict: This is a keeper.
Related content on NewTeeVee:
Can Anyone Compete With the iPad? (subscription required)