Think of Popcorn Time like Netflix, just with movies worth watching. Find a title and click “Watch It Now”. That’s it.
The media catalog is impressive. Everything from first run movies to classics like Hook are available to watch. Frozen, American Hustle, Gravity — even Delivery Man if you’re a touch masochistic. Captain Philips, Dallas Buyers Club, and the Bridge on the River Kwai are there. All the videos are free. And slightly illegal.
Popcorn Time works by streaming torrents. These are the same files available to download on sites like The Pirate Bay and others. But instead of using a Torrent downloader like Utorrent and then forcing the user to playback the file in a media player, Popcorn Time does all of that in the background. Like any good technology, it’s like magic to the user.
The program is currently in beta and available for Linux, OS X 10.7, and Windows 7 and above. It installs like any other program and doesn’t require any special network configuration. Popcorn Time very well could signal the rebirth of the HTPC the way Boxee did years ago. Since the program is open source, hopefully it will make its way onto the Apple TV and other set-top boxes.
Popcorn Time is not perfect, but it’s damn close. Video playback is occasionally jittery and the files do not seem to support advance audio codecs. It takes about 10-15 seconds to start streaming the video — sometimes a bit longer. Plus there’s the whole thing about piracy.
Technically these videos are copyrighted and the sheer ease of use of Popcorn Time is not going to make Hollywood happy. Popcorn Time is the easiest way to pirate movies yet.
“The technology behind the app is very simple. We consume a group of APIs, one for the torrents, another for the movie info, and another for the poster. We also have an API for the subtitles. Everything is automated, we don’t host anything, but take existing information and put it together,” a Popcorn Time developer told TorrentFreak.
There are 20 collaborators on GitHub where the files for Popcorn Time are hosted for anyone to see. Transparency and lack of infrastructure could keep Hollywood’s lawyers away for the time being.
But the lawyers will come eventually because Popcorn Time is just that good.
Popcorn Time is how consumers want to consume media. Click a button and the video plays. Netflix, Amazon and others are attempting to bring this sort of experience to the masses, and their growth numbers show consumers are latching on. Yet Hollywood is slow to embrace the future by keeping its best content away from these legit streaming services.
It will be months if not years for Netflix and Amazon Instant to gain access to most of the content currently available for streaming on Popcorn Time. And that’s why programs, services and the entire pirating industry is thriving.