Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad (U.S.): Netflix, Amazon Instant, Air Video, and more!

Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad (U.S.): Netflix, Amazon Instant, Air Video, and more!

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.

Netflix is a great deal for everyone. Get it.

Amazon Instant Video

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 Plus

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 $7.99 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.

If current TV is what you want, get Hulu Plus.

Air Video

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.


YouTube isn't a traditional streaming video service - at least not yet! - but it's got an unbelievable amount of content. You can still find original series or short films, and with a little power searching, you can find a ton of rare stuff as well. It's the number one video database on the planet for a reason.

YouTube is free and it's awesome. Just get it.

Your picks for best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad?

If you live in the United States, how do you access video content on your iPhone or iPad? Do you use a streaming service or an app like Air Video? Let us know in the comments!

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

More Posts



← Previously

How to access open booksmarks on other devices with Chrome for iOS

Next up →

Countdown to iPhone 5S contest: Like iMore and comment on this story on Facebook for your chance to win $500!

There are 6 comments. Add yours.

valdan says:

Plex is easily becoming my replacement for streaming media. The Plex Media Server has the ability to scrape databases to auto-fill the information for you, so you get episode/movie information/images/titles, and with Plex Connect, works with the Apple TV.

The app price for Plex too makes it comparable to Air Video, as both are client dependent. If you're a fan of home media servers, Plex plays well with all my Apple products and still amazes me at all the information it can gather in a moment's notice.

The additional channels that Plex provides also makes it more valuable than just a standard media streaming application.

stilgar702 says:

Beamer is the easiest thing I have use on a Mac. Drag and drop. Even lets you add subtitles with ease. Translates all files on the fly as well. Great software.

magicBC says:

I too vote for Plex. Always enjoyed Air Video, but it uses Java on the installed server- and I completely removed Java from my Windows box.

Matej Knopp says:

Hi! We just released Air Video HD. It has no Java dependency.

MrSkoTA says:

Plex Plex Plex! All day Plex! Works phenomenally! Executed phenomenally!