Good news: You're can now watch some free shows on your iPhone or iPad with the Amazon Instant Video app. The bad news: You'll have to sit through some ads to do it.
Version 2.7 of the iOS app came out this week and makes the first episode of a number of TV programs free to watch--if you're willing to sit through an ad, both at the start and in the middle of the show. The ad-supported viewing feature, new to iOS, was already available for Kindle Fire tablets and Roku streaming devices.
Think of it as a way of trying out Amazon Instant Video without having to first subscribe to the retail giant's $99-a-year Amazon Prime service, which includes access to on-demand movies and TV shows in addition to free shipping.
Amazon is offering a fairly broad selection of ad-supported viewing via the Instant Video app--everything from the first episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard and Parks & Recreation to more recent fare like Orphan Black and Key & Peele. Most notably, those HBO shows that recently landed on Amazon Prime are offered through Amazon Instant Video, so enduring an ad or two now lets you sample the likes of The Sopranos, Deadwood, and other older programs from the pay-cable channel.
The app update includes other new features, such 10-second skip forward and backward buttons, a Next episode button for queuing up episodes of the show you're watching, and the promise of faster playback start time. Based on our initial tests of the 2.7 update, we'd hate to see what playback start times were like before.