Crackle is one of the few legit apps on the market that 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 on offer, it's well worth it. The bad thing is that none of it is in HD.
If you've used Netflix or HBO Go on Android, 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 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.
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," "Dexter," 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. A newer series like "Dexter," though, might only offer an episode or two.
As far as movies go, 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 only available 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, clicking on, say, a movie 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. What's even more annoying is that this step back returns you to the top of the movie list, which means you have to scroll all the way back down to where you were previously.
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.
The most frustrating thing about Crackle is that all of its content is standard definition. The app's video quality has certainly improved with the last few updates, but it still maxes out only at 480p, and for the biggest TV and movie buffs, that might be unacceptable.