Amazon Instant Video Arrives On iPad


At long last, Amazon has brought their digital video service to the iPad. And, presumably, iPhone access isn’t far behind.

Amazon Instant actually consists of two distinct tiers, and both are available via the new iPad app. Perhaps the most familiar these days is Prime Instant Streaming, which is similar to Netflix or Hulu Plus in that it provides unlimited streaming of a wide range of television and movie content. However, instead of levying  a monthly fee, video is provided “free” to Amazon Prime subscribers ($79/year) – originally pitched as a shipping service but, given new benefits, is more akin to a loyalty club these days. Beyond that, Amazon Instant also offers video rentals and sales. But, of course, to bypass Apple’s hefty 30% commission, it’s not actually handled in-app and requires a trip to

It just so happens that I purchased the first episode of Breaking Bad, Season 5 for viewing on our TiVo Premiere but fired it up on the iPad. Non-Prime video can be streamed or downloaded, which makes for a mighty flexible solution. However, Amazon streams by default and the only way I could trigger local copy playback was by disabling WiFi. It’s also safe to assume the HD video quality pales in comparison to what the TiVo download provides. Yet many of us will periodically made the trade in quality for convenience… and I’m looking forward to catching up on Fringe with my iPad from the gym treadmill.

(via 9to5 Mac)

38 thoughts on “Amazon Instant Video Arrives On iPad”

  1. This is nice. I just downloaded the app and will try it out later. In the app store, it mentions being able to sync you video so that you can continue watching on other devices. It didn’t mention the Xbox 360. Hopefully, it works on the 360, as well.

  2. THIS is terrific news indeed! It’s really been a good couple of weeks for iOS users. AppleTV gets Hulu Plus. OS X gets AirPlay video streaming. iPad gets Amazon Instant Video.

    Chris makes a great comment though. Quite amazing that they baked in Amazon Video to the Kindle Fire, which indeed runs Android OS, but yet the Nexus 7 has no app, and the iPad does. Makes you wonder who Amazon really thinks the competition is, or perhaps it’s in development, but was much easier to target iPad than trying to get it to work well across so many different Android devices.

  3. Scott, Chris, Unless they want to sell you a Kindle Fire… Although I do think it’ll ultimately come to Android.

    Rich, yeah. But I’ve got enough episodes of Fringe and Sons of Anarchy to keep me busy.

    Josh, good question. I’ll check tonight, but suspect we’ll learn the answer sooner.

  4. Wow, I really didn’t think they would do this. Prime streaming was their only real differentiator for the Kindle Fire.

    Looking forward to it coming to android next!

  5. This could be the kind of thing that makes Netflix re-think their business model eventually.

    Netflix vs Amazon Streaming is still David vs Goliath but now I can rent and watch on my Ipad via Amazon. Makes Amazon more and more appealing when I look at my monthly bills.

    Two things I want to check out –
    1) Airplay?
    2) Can I go to the amazon site (via safari) and purchase/rent on my Ipad…and then just open the app?

  6. Netflix streaming is only 21.5% more expensive than Amazon Prime ($96 versus $79/year) and has a much wider selection. Amazon Prime also provides free 2 day shipping from Amazon, of course.

    The ipad can airplay anything, so yes, you can stream amazon video to your appletv.

    And yes, you can rent a video at on the ipad in safari and then stream it in the amazon app.

  7. Dave,

    Can you also rent videos directly from the app in iOS? I was wondering if Apple blocked that since it does not go through iTunes.

  8. Rodalpho:

    “The ipad can airplay anything, so yes, you can stream amazon video to your appletv.”

    This is not true. I believe apps like HBO GO block airplay.

  9. I thought while an app can block airplay video playback, no app can block airplay video mirroring, which while being a bigger battery drained, sends everything to the screen?

  10. Yeah, Gartenberg also confirmed on Twitter that there’s no AirPlay love. And for clarification there’s AirPlay and then there’s AirPlay Mirroring. AirPlay is pretty much an app-centric feature, while Mirroring is more at the operating system level and what is sounds like. However, as we’ve learned from HBO, even that can be blocked. At least on iOS… I’m not aware of OS X Mirroring being blocked. Not yet, anyway.

  11. Well, they obviously ported it to iOS, and Apple is obviously open to allowing additional video partners (since they just added Hulu+), so maybe they’ll add Amazon streaming to the AppleTV also.

  12. “Yeah, Gartenberg also confirmed on Twitter that there’s no AirPlay love.”

    I’m always baffled as to the use-case scenario here.

    If you’re willing to blow $400+ for a tablet, wouldn’t you blow $50 on a Roku?

    Bit-rate really starts to matter in the lean-back, in a way it doesn’t really matter on handheld platforms. And even in the best case, (AirPlay instead of AirPlay Mirroring), you’re going to get a bunch of bottlenecks resulting in noticeably lower PQ in the lean-back if you go WiFi to tablet to WiFi to box, instead of going directly to the box.

    Of course, AirPlay Mirroring results in another big bottleneck hit in the re-encode.

    (I’m assuming Amazon’s whispernet magic resumes on the Roku where you left off on the tablet, which eliminates one potential rationale, though I could be wrong about that.)

    Handheld video is great. Lean-back video is great. But I’m always confused by those who want to pipe the lean-back through the handheld.

    (And I understand the above logic does not apply to web video snippets or handheld taken video, where AirPlay-like schemes have a very viable use-case scenario. I’m just talking about commercial video services which have both handheld and lean-back clients.)


    Also, I’m very unsurprised that this came about. Amazon cares less about the Fire than it does about retailing stuff to consumers no matter where they are. Same reason it makes Kindle apps for various non-Amazon hardware.

  13. Lots of people chose to buy an appletv and want to watch amazon video on it. Roku is extremely inexpensive, but it’s yet another box hooked up to your TV, with yet another remote. People want a One Box.

  14. “People want a One Box.”

    Sure. Apple could allow Amazon and HBO onto their box without taxing them, and voila. Or Apple could open up AirPlay to Roku and others, and voila.

    But as long as Apple wants to play Monopoly™ while it dominates the handheld space, there can’t be a One Box in the lean-back. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

    (But all of that is besides my point. The One Box everyone wants is one that doesn’t rely on you having to noticeably degrade your lean-back PQ by needlessly piping everything through your handheld.)

  15. i’m testing it right now and airplay VIDEO is a bust. Sure, it does audio, but that’s lame. Even the screen mirroring functionality is blacked out on my television when I try to use the ‘send everything on your ipad’s display to an apple tv’. Honestly, this feels more like a bug than Amazon disabling this feature. When HBO or Hulu, I can’t remember which one, announced ipad apps, they had a message on your ipad that said mirroring was not possible.

  16. I feel pretty confident HBO GO will come to Apple TV as a native app. Amazon, I’d say, is doubtful. Then again it was doubtful on the Xbox, too. But this would be more unlikely given Apple & Amazon’s overlap. Not sure how Amazon’s content licensing works and if AirPlay functionality was intentionally disabled or maybe they just haven’t gotten to it yet.

    As far as licensing AirPlay video, I know of one box manufacturer who discussed it with Apple at one point and they felt the cost was prohibitive (compared to the assumed benefit). Not sure if Apple still entertains licensing like that, but some apps and Boxee have done it without Apple’s blessing…

    Related to quality, it’s probably not the best. But maybe better than nothing. I streamed some to Apple TV yesterday via iMac and AirPlay Mirroring. Was it watchable? Yes. Would I watch it? No.

  17. “I streamed some to Apple TV yesterday via iMac and AirPlay Mirroring. Was it watchable? Yes. Would I watch it? No.”

    Yup. That’s essentially my point. Beyond “look at what I can do”, what’s the use-case scenario?

    I’m sure I could rig up a contraption to cook an egg in a pop-up toaster, but why would I?

  18. “I feel pretty confident HBO GO will come to Apple TV at a native app.”

    Without what seems to be an impossible way to subscribe to HBO via iTunes billing, that would represent a pretty massive shift in policy by Cupertino, no?

  19. Not at all. You just don’t talk about payment anywhere in the app. If you have a working HBO-GO login, it works. If not, not.

  20. I’m really pleased to see Amazon selling video content across multiple platforms. If I purchase a movie or tv show, I want to watch it on my other devices (Xbox 360, TivoHD, iPad etc.). They’re making movie and tv downloads easier to integrate into your life.

  21. Video quality looks great, AirPlay blocked as expected… But am I too dumb to find search? I don’t expect to buy or rent in app of course… But let me search the prime teir at least!

  22. There is no search in the app, which is kind of a let down.

    Currently the app has a horrible rating in the store since users with jailbroken iPads are giving it 1 star since it blocks playback for jailbroken devices. That’s a shame because the app is pretty good. Not perfect, but good.

  23. Regarding the jailbreak thing, if that’s true, every single one of those 1 star reviews is fully justified. Screw companies that do that.

  24. As an Amazon Prime member this app is great for me. As a long time Amazon mp3 customer, their recent cloud player update is awesome. Amazon is really making me happy these days.

  25. “Not at all. You just don’t talk about payment anywhere in the app. If you have a working HBO-GO login, it works. If not, not.”

    If I’m not mistaken, you are describing Cupertino’s terms for iOS, not the AppleTV. AFAIK, all the services on the AppleTV have an iTunes billing option, (aka a taxing mechanism).

  26. I suppose the jailbreak restriction is in effect because the app allows you to download video… and maybe DRM isn’t in place (yet)? Doesn’t bother me any – there are fewer and fewer reasons to jailbreak these days. Tethering/hotspot is probably the top one. And I wonder what percent of jailbreakers are dealing in swiped apps.

    Didn’t get started with my free episodes of Fringe yet, but I bought another $3 episode of Breaking Bad that I watched on the treadmill last night. I guess it emphasizes how annoying those Hulu Plus ads have become.

    Chucky, It’s a good point you raise… Would Apple want to provide this app while it’s not free yet users can’t actually subscribe? Apps like MLB and Netflix can be subscribed to while others like YouTube are just freely available. Hm.

  27. I’m glad we have this new option. We have iTunes for digital purchasing, Netflix for digital streaming and Amazon for both…all on the same device. I hope Netflix offers a download option for offline viewing too, at least on mobile devices. So consumers don’t have to be concerned with the silly data caps over cellular networks.

  28. “Chucky, It’s a good point you raise… Would Apple want to provide this app while it’s not free yet users can’t actually subscribe? Apps like MLB and Netflix can be subscribed to while others like YouTube are just freely available.”

    Yeah. That’s why I’d be rather surprised to see HBO Go on the AppleTV. It’d represent a major policy shift by Cupertino, and I’m not sure why on earth they’d want to make that policy shift, especially since MLB and Netflix and Hulu+ would likely then want the same deal. And AppleTV likes to play by the Parker Brothers™ rule where you pay rent when you land on Marven Gardens.

    The only way I see around that is if the FUD Apple HDTV panel with massive margins and revenues ever sees the light of day, while they simultaneously kill the hockey puck version to avoid cannibalization. If they can make beaucoup bucks on the hardware, (and force consumers into a much faster HDTV replacement cycle to keep a steady profit stream), I can see them perhaps moving the AppleTV model towards the iOS model.

  29. There are lots of reasons to jailbreak beyond tethering because apple is so controlling.

    For example, one new jailbreak app released this past week, Nitrous, allows google chrome to run as fast as safari.

  30. The thing about the app not working with jailbroken ipads is that there is an jailbreak program to “fix” that (it also works for HBO2Go app), but many people who jailbroke their iPads don’t know that’s the reason it’s not working. They simply think the app is broken, hence the 1 star.

Comments are closed.