If you’re an Amazon Prime member and an owner of an iPad, Amazon gave you a big old virtual hug today by releasing Amazon Instant Video in the App Store. Amazon Instant Video lets Prime members view movies and TV shows from its entire Prime Instant Video library of more than 20,000 videos.
If you’re not familiar with Amazon Prime, it’s an annual membership for the online shopping giant that offers free two-day shipping on items sold or fulfilled by Amazon, the ability to “borrow” Kindle ebooks for free, and access to the Prime Instant Video library. Membership costs $79 per year, an amount that can quickly be made up from the savings in shipping costs if you shop at Amazon often (I’m a Prime member solely for this reason).
In Amazon Instant Video, all you need to do is log in with your Amazon credentials to access content and start streaming away. You can access your personalized video library of content you’ve purchased in the past or videos you’ve rented. These items can be downloaded to your iPad so you can watch them later even if you don’t have an internet connection.
However, it’s not all butterflies and unicorns since you can’t search available content or rent or buy new content to watch. The former feels like a major oversight that will hopefully be remedied in an update very soon while the latter is a function of Apple’s restrictions on selling content within apps without giving Apple a 30% cut. For now, you can only check out the content that Amazon has chosen to recommend or feature in certain categories, plus your video library of past purchases and rentals. To rent or purchase new videos, you’ll need to go to Amazon’s web site to do this directly.
Amazon Instant Video is free and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.