The theory behind the Crunchyroll iPhone application is solid. The entire library of the streaming service available on your mobile device. What is there to dislike? Well, there is a whole lot to dislike in this attempt at a mobile solution for the popular anime network.
The application itself looks and feels fantastic. The content is easy to navigate and search. All the content is grouped by show and all the episodes, in descending order, are displayed. I was able to get to Skip Beat! with only a few taps and clicked play. That’s when I encountered the first error, “You must be on wifi in order to stream content.” Well, that doesn’t make any sense. What is the point in having a mobile application if you need to be on Wifi? The reason I want to watch content on my phone is because I do not have my laptop or desktop around. If I have Wifi then chances are I probably have my laptop close by and would rather watch anime on the 13 inch screen instead of the iPhone’s 3 inch screen.
But I let that slide. Not everyone carries their laptop everywhere and I can see someone wanting to watch an episode of something while waiting for class to start or in a doctors office. So I exited the application, turned on wifi, and returned only to be brought back to the login page. Unlike most decent applications Crunchyroll doesn’t save where you were when you close it. So I again had to navigate to Skip Beat!, find the episode, and start it. Before the video begins Crunchyroll shows a short ten second ad, which is a welcome break from the 30 second ads on their full site, and the video begins. The episodes starts without subtitles but the toggle is easy to use and there is no added delay once they are applied. The quality of the content is good and that might be the reason they are unable to deliver the service over the cell network.
At this point everything seemed to be going fine. I leaned back and started to enjoy the episode when I received a phone call. I answered it, spoke with the person for a few minutes, and then hung up expecting the Crunchyroll application to pop up and I could continue watching from where I left off. That didn’t happen. When the application reloaded it was back at the login screen.
I was, and this goes without saying, frustrated at this point. I wanted to see if I could save shows that I wanted to watch in my account so I didn’t have to search for Skip Beat! Everytime I recived a phone call. So I signed up for a Crunchyroll account and logged in using the App. The only benefit about signing into your account is that you can now see the image you set for yourself, you age, gender, and the date you joined. No other new features open up once you sign in.
So I decided to go back and pick up Skip Beat! from where I left off. I navigate back to the episode and play it. I get the same ad again, in fact the only ad they have on their mobile content is for the game Batman: Arkham Asylum which I already own and even if I didn’t would still be annoying. The episode resumes playing… from the start once again. One of my major issues with steaming in general is the inability to save your place and resume later. The Crunchyroll iPhone application is no different.
The Crunchyroll application is a good start but I cannot recommend it because of its inability to play content over the cell network, its inability to resume playing video after receiving a call or leaving the application, and the fact that it doesn’t save your place inside the video if you close it Stick to the website if you have to use Crunchyroll. If you have an iPod touch and find yourself with some time to kill and access to a WiFi network then Crunchyroll will be fantastic for you. But on the iPhone, where your video can be restarted at anytime by receiving a simple phone call, you are better off just waiting till you get home.