Smartphones and tablets can add to the big screen TV experience, with "second screen" apps allowing users to search for supplementary information such as series synopsis, cast details and schedules. In addition to TV companion apps, selected channels and networks are even releasing apps that allow you to stream content right after release. And of course, subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are putting pressure on classic television providers with high quality, all you can watch video streaming. Check out 15 of our favorite second screen, TV channel, and companion apps below.
Peel Smart Remote & TV Guide (Android, iOS)
In addition to serving as a remote control app (for IR-capable Android phones, or for WiFi-enabled TVs and set-top boxes), Peel (Android, iOS) also functions as a personalized TV guide. Input your cable provider and/or zip code to bring up a list of upcoming broadcasts and mark your favorite shows, your guilty pleasures and shows you don't want to see. The app learns from your selections, creating personalized suggestions, as well as reminders of upcoming screentimes. While the IR remote functions only work on Android devices with an IR blaster, the Wi-Fi features and TV guides are a useful addition to your smartphone's bag of tricks, regardless of OS.
TV Guide (Android, iOS)
The venerable TV Guide has its own mobile app (Android and iOS) that answers the age old question of "What's on tonight?" and more. As you'd expect, the TV Guide app provides detailed listings for a variety of networks and programs. Users can create personal watchlists for particular TV shows and sports teams, with users able to set up alerts for screen times as well as searches for shows and HD or standard def channels. Multiple filters let you find out what's new and premiering, shows that are trending with other TV Guide users, and items in your watchlist.
Television Time (iOS) ($2.99)
Television Time is a slick and feature-packed iOS TV show tracker that allows you to easily make sense of the many TV series you're following, whether you're looking for reminders of episode premieres, or need to manage your multi-episode marathons. Users can easily search for their favorite TV shows or discover new series, get notifications for the latest show times, track a list of episodes watched (or missed), and view detailed show and season information. Apple Watch support lets you view upcoming showtimes and your to-watch list right on your wrist, and Trak.tv and iCloud support means you can easily sync your data between devices.
TVShowtime (Android, iOS)
TVShow Time is another good show-tracking app available to Android and iOS users. The free app allows users to set up a custom calendar of TV shows they're following, complete with notifications of show times, an episode checklist, and social features that allow you to interact with other users and talk about your favorite episodes, plot twists and characters.
IMDb (Android, iOS)
The Internet Movie Database or IMDb (Android or iOS) is a mammoth collection of TV, movie and celebrity information, with users able to pull up casting details, trailers, plot synopsis, photos, reviews, trivia and more. In addition to the rich database, you can look up TV listings, movie showtimes and even recaps of last night's episodes as well as rate their favorite movies and TV shows. Whether you're a movie buff looking up production minutiae or a casual viewer who just needs the times for the latest episode, IMDb has got something to offer.
Series Guide (Android)
Keep track of your favorite TV series with TV Guide, an open source Android app. Series Guide allows users to track individual TV series, providing a guide to previous and upcoming episodes. Select your favorite shows and Series Guide will download show details such as episode listings, synopses for released episodes, and air times for new episodes. Show details are stored locally for offline access, and can be updated manually or automatically. Check in through Trakt.tv, view trending series, mark individual episodes as watched and set alerts on your calendar to inform you of upcoming episodes.
Sling Television (Android, iOS) (Subscription required)
Get your favorite TV channels streamed straight into your device with Sling Television (Android, iOS), a subscription streaming service that skips the cable and the TV to bring the latest TV series to your touchscreen. Sling TV starts at $20 a month with a "Best of Live TV" package that bundles together channels such as ESPN, CNN and HGTV, with other packages and bundles available as addons. The app provides you with a quick at-a-glance view of what's on now, fast forward, rewind, and pause on most channels, and up to 3 days of replays.
HBO Go & HBO Now (Android, iOS) (Subscription required)
HBO Go lets subscribers stream their favorite HBO content straight into their Android or iOS device. Enjoy the latest and greatest in movies, as well as access to the best HBO original programming, such as Westworld, Game of Thrones, and Boardwalk Empire as well as bonus features and extras. Users can create a customized Watchlist of movies and series to catch up on at their convenience, which they can view on their mobile, laptop or TV with AirPlay. There's even a new package, HBO Now (Android, iOS), which skips the cable subscription requirement entirely in lieu of a direct subscription to HBO's streaming service.
CBS Full Episodes & Live TV (Android, iOS)
CBS's mobile TV app (Android, iOS) takes a freemium approach to its content, with free users able to stream a selection of daytime, primetime, and late night show episodes the day after they air, featuring series like Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Things start to open up with a premium subscription to CBS All Access ($5.99/mo), which has an expanded selection of shows, the ability to stream every episode and every season in the library, from the latest block busters to classic TV, as well as the ability to stream live TV from their local CBS station. There's even a CBS All Access Commercial Free plan ($9.99/mo) that removes advertising.
DISH Anywhere (Android, iOS) (Subscription required)
DISH Network's DISH Anywhere app (Android and iOS) is a great example of some of the companion apps that networks are increasingly providing to their subscribers. The DISH Anywhere app allows you to watch every single one of your subscribed channels streamed right to your mobile device, along with a selection of on-demand videos, as well as a DVR programmer that allows you to manage your recorder from anywhere with a network or Wi-Fi signal.
Bloomberg TV+ (Android, iOS)
If the latest in business news TV is more your jam, then check out Bloomberg TV+ (Android, iOS), a free app that brings you a live feed of Bloomberg TV live, 24 hours a day, complete with schedules, and show, guest, and host information. In addition to the live TV stream, the Bloomberg TV app also delivers the latest business, finance, and technology stories, as well as a series of on-demand videos and shows. Users can download some content for offline viewing, receive showtime notifications, search through Bloomberg's library of content, set up playlists, and configure a customizable news ticker.
Cartoon Network (Android, iOS)
Of course, if you're looking for something more lighthearted and kid friendly, then you've got the official Cartoon Network app (Android, iOS), which offers a selection of free episodes from CN's hit series, such as Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball, and Steven Universe. In addition to watching your favorite series, you can also create a custom mix, with the app paying attention of the shows and episodes that you liked and rated to recommend personalized playlists. If you're a subscriber to a participating cable provider, then you've got an even bigger selection of shows and episodes that you can stream straight to your mobile device.
Amazon Prime Video (Android, iOS)
Amazon has also muscled into the video streaming wars with its own Amazon Prime Video service (Android and iOS), which allows users to rent or purchase a large selection of videos, as well as stream episodes from a variety of series. Available to Prime subscribers as well as through a video-only monthly Prime Video subscription, the service allows you to stream thousands of videos on demand, including Amazon exclusives like The Man in the High Castle and The Grand Tour. iOS users can stream their videos to an Apple TV with AirPlay, and Whispersync allows you to resume viewing wherever you left off on a variety of platforms.
Netflix (Android, iOS) (Subscription required)
A bastion of streaming media, Netflix (Android and iOS) delivers subscribers an incredibly rich library of media, from classic TV shows, the latest blockbusters, and even Netflix originals such as Stranger Things and Marvel TV series such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Rather than be stuck with the tyranny of network schedules, Netflix users can stream any of the shows or movies in Netflix's library on demand. Users can search for and rate specific shows and movies, and Netflix uses your ratings to recommend other videos that you might find interesting.
Crackle (Android, iOS)
Unlike other streaming services, Sony's Crackle (Android and iOS) delivers you all of its contents for free. No sign ups, no subscriptions required. Users can stream a wealth of TV shows, movies, anime and Crackle exclusives from a vast media library on demand. The main difference? Because Crackle is free, you will get video ads, which is the price to pay.
Hulu (Android, iOS)
Hulu (Android and iOS) sits between the free, ad-supported Crackle and the subscription-based Netflix, with a two-tier free and paid service. Anyone can download the Hulu app for free and stream the current season episodes of a variety of TV series and kid's shows. Users can upgrade to a paid Hulu Plus service to gain access to thousands of episodes from current and past seasons.
Crunchyroll (Android, iOS)
If Japanese anime and dramas are more your thing, check out Crunchyroll (Android, iOS). Free tier users can stream a wealth of anime series and dramas straight to their devices (with Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku support) at standard definition, and subscribers gain access to some of the latest and greatest series simulcast from Japan, streamed ad-free at high definition.