After the launch of the latest dashboard updates, Apps are all the rage on the Xbox 360. While Microsoft was a bit late to the party calling these applications “Apps,” they have been on the service for several years now. It just wasn’t until recently that these Apps went from infrequent add-ons to central components of the multimedia experience. Unlike bigger platforms, the Xbox has only 31 apps on the service (32 if you’re rocking an external HD DVD player like me!). While they have a lot of ground to catch up, there are several very strong Apps worth your time. Here’s my list of the best Apps on Xbox 360:
Without a doubt, Netflix is the best App available on Xbox. With a cheap-as-hell Netflix streaming account you will have years of TV and video at your fingertips. When compared to other video services, Netflix easily has the best library to choose from. With full seasons of Lost, The Jersey Shore, Arrested Development and Grey’s Anatomy, there is something for everyone on Netflix. The only downside to Netflix is that the service is light on big name new releases. With news of exclusives like Drive and the Avengers, let’s hope this is a new direction for Netflix. Thanks to the great breadth of content and inexpensive subscription cost, Netflix is the cream of the crop amongst the Apps on Xbox 360.
The strongest competition for Netflix is HBO Go. Tied to your premium HBO subscription, HBO Go brings the best TV programming on cable to your console. If you’re like me and missed out on shows like The Wire or True Blood, HBO Go offers tons of great TV to suck away your weekends. Throw in classic miniseries like Band of Brothers, John Adams, and Rome and it’s obvious HBO Go is a great value. One of the only downsides is that the service will only work if your cable provider plays well with Microsoft. If it doesn’t, HBO Go will not work for you and you’d be better off avoiding the service.
One of the biggest complaints about the Xbox 360 is the system’s complete lack of a web browser. Fortunately, with the inclusion of YouTube, some of the best video content on the web is right at the tips of your fingers. I found checking out personal videos to be incredibly convenient on my home TV with the 360’s YouTube App. This App also works as a decent library of movie trailers and music videos when you need to check something out on the fly. Like most of the Apps, the search function is hindered greatly by Kinect functionality that helps absolutely no one.
Alongside HBO Go, the ESPN App has the most original and unique content of any of the Apps. In fact, when calculating the number of hours of original content, ESPN easily has more hours of original content than any other service. Being the world leader in sports has its benefits. The depth of content here is astounding. Looking for a KHL match played 7 days ago? ESPN has it. Hoping to see an NCAA Lacrosse playoff live? ESPN has it. While the service does not allow you to check out SportsCenter, there is enough original sports content here to keep every fan’s obscure obsessions covered. Considering this App is free for cable subscribers, ESPN is a steal.
For the longest time Last.fm was my go-to App for streaming music on my Xbox. Unfortunately, the unpredictability of the radio playlists forced me to listen to more dreck than good tunes. While I’d love to have a podcast stream or Live365 on the Xbox, Vevo’s video playlists provide enough customization to recommend. They have a ton of music to choose from and the fact that it’s a video playlist keeps this nearly dead art form alive and breathing.
The newest App on the block has a decent amount of ground to catch up. Fortunately, Amazon is being run by some of the most savvy nerds on the planet. While it’s streaming selection feels like a cut & paste of what Netflix offers, Amazon delivers some of the best Video On Demand content you can find. They easily eclipse the rentals found on Xbox Live and the straw that broke this camel’s back is the sales they offer. Keep your eyes peeled for Amazon’s daily $.99 rental deals. You can’t find a service that discounts better and newer movie rentals than Amazon. Plus, after you rent the movie you can sit on it for up to a month. That, my friends, is a bargain.
While these are the best Apps, a lot of nice things can be said about the MLB.tv App, the Facebook App, and even the IGN App. I’d love to comment on the UFC App, but I just can’t get into the sport. Perhaps if someone out there reading this has, please leave your thoughts down below. I defer to your judgement!