People have been saying that the best things in life are free for a long time, but it's only now we live in the app era that I've started to truly believe it. For example, there's a huge number of apps that let you stream movies and TV shows for free on Android. We've gathered the best of them together for you here.
A note on Popcorn Time
You may have heard of Popcorn Time, a Netflix-like app with an even bigger selection of current movies and TV shows. Sadly we cannot sanction the use of this app, because Popcorn Time is illegal. Try out some of the other options below instead.
Stream movies in the US
The stand-alone app corresponding to arguably the greatest TV network on the planet had a bit of a shaky start in life, with many users reporting that they'd been having trouble starting it on launch day (at the time of writing, it also didn't work with rooted devices).
But if you can get it to work, then you gain access to the greatest TV catalog in history (US$14.99 a month after a 30-day trial). Its big-hitting shows include Game of Thrones, The Wire, True Detective, The Sopranos – it's worth a gamble for those alone, right?HBO NOW
Hulu lets users watch premium TV shows and movies on their smartphones or tablets without paying a subscription fee. It's packed with current and classic shows, Hulu originals, movies and plenty of kids' shows, making it a perfect family tablet companion.
If you want full access to the Hulu library you will need to pay US$7.99 a month, but there are plenty of gems in the free version too.Hulu
Stream movies in Canada / the US
Crackle is a hugely popular free app available in the US and Canada, which is updated monthly with new TV shows and movies. Created by Grouper but later bought by Sony, the app features ads which run at regular intervals throughout the content, the trade-off for which is that you get an excellent selection of media and an app that functions far better than some of the other TV service ports on the list.Crackle - Free TV & Movies
Stream movies and TV shows in the UK
This catch-up service has been going strong for a number of years and the slick Android app is a great way to watch TV series and movies.
It doesn’t have a huge archive to sift through, but the iPlayer catch-up service was extended to 30 days last year, meaning you have a month to catch up on almost anything played on the BBC in the past month.BBC iPlayer
The ITV Player app suffered a woefully bad introduction to the Play Store (it was essentially broken on many devices) but it's finally in a decent state. The ITV Player app lets you stream ITV channels live to your device, as well as catch up on any shows you may have missed from the past week.ITV Hub
All 4 (4oD)
The recently rebranded All 4 – formerly known as 4oD – has a fantastic selection of shows, aimed at a slightly younger crowd than BBC iPlayer. Many users have been reporting crashing and inconsistent performance recently, but it's free and has some great content, so don't let that put you off.
Featuring interesting experimental shows such as Black Mirror and Utopia, as well as the inimitable comedy, Peep Show, All 4 is the place to go for the best of British offbeat TV.All 4
Channel Five’s premier catch-up service Demand 5 is now available on Android. The updates aren’t as regular as we would like, but nonetheless, Demand 5 offers a wide selection of Channel 5 shows and archived programs to re-watch on your Android smartphone or tablet.
The programming quality is arguably lower than the standard offered by Channel 4 and the BBC, although a bit of American Horror Story or reality cop shows never goes amiss.My5
Stream movies and TV shows worldwide
The Android SPB TV app is not region-specific and offers content from around the world via a selection of weird and wonderful stations.
You won't find the latest Hollywood blockbuster, NBC or Showtime on SPB TV, but if you want to take a chance on a wild card, this is the app to use. A few of the stations definitely appear to be of a more adult nature (how you choose to use that information is up to you).SPB TV
For your anime needs, it's hard to beat Toonmania, which offers a huge selection of the dubbed cartoons. Everything is easily navigable thanks to the app's clean and intuitive layout, and you can browse shows sorted by popularity or most recently added. There's also an exhaustive list of filters, so you can narrow down your search to find exactly what you're looking for.
This app isn't available from the Play Store, but if you head to mobi24, you can download the APK file. Just makes sure you head to Settings > Lock screen and security and enable Uknown sources before trying to install the file.
LiveNow!TV streams a broad range of channels from around the world live, as well as a variety of classic/B-movies; mostly a bizarre but entertaining mix of horror and Kung Fu movies.
LiveNow!TV is a free service supported by ads and doesn't have the same clout as Netflix or even Hulu, but the live TV streams work well, and it's a great option for streaming a number of well-known channels.FilmOn Free Live TV & RECORD
Those are just a few suggestions for how to stream free movies and TV shows on your smartphone. Do you know any others? Share them in the comments.