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Despite the support of nearly every Hollywood studio, cloud locker service Ultraviolet has failed to gain much traction with consumers. Ultraviolet holdout Disney thinks there’s a better way, and the company has released an app to prove it. Disney Movies Anywhere is a free, universal app serving up more than 400 Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies (no TV shows yet) to any iOS device. Digital-only purchases made via the app are handed off to the iTunes Store, but now include the same kind of Disney Movie Reward perks that DVD and Blu-ray buyers are accustomed to.
While this alone might not be cause for celebration, the slickly produced software also makes older Digital Copy redemptions suddenly more valuable by magically upgrading previously SD quality content to HD at no extra cost. All that’s required is linking the app to an existing iTunes account, which was quick and painless. Although iTunes purchases often cost nearly as much as their disc-based equivalents, DMA makes it convenient to stream or download family favorites in a quality, graphic-rich user interface, complete with bonus features typically reserved for disc-only releases. It’s also perfect for parents, who can sign into their Disney account on a kid’s iOS device, rather than exposing them to everything purchased from iTunes.
Disney Movies Anywhere also offers a perk that might not be obvious at first. Now that iTunes is included by default when redeeming reward points (which can be done right from inside the app), disc buyers can use their Digital Copy Plus code to also add the movie to another cross-platform streaming provider, such as VUDU or Amazon. If that’s not enough incentive, Disney even throws in a free copy of Pixar’s The Incredibles just for connecting accounts.
The process still has a few kinks to be worked out, however. Titles occasionally take longer to show up in one or both accounts, often failing to refresh artwork inside Apple’s own Videos app. Disney Movies Anywhere also doesn’t currently offer a Netflix-style subscription—it’s strictly for buying digital versions.
The bottom line. Disney Movies Anywhere makes it easy to create a cloud-based collection of your favorite family-friendly movies, and it’s a must for owners of older digital copies.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 7.0 or later
Cloud-based digital locker for Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies. Automatic HD upgrades for formerly SD-quality Digital Copy titles. Earn Disney Movie Reward points on iTunes purchases. Includes app-only bonus features.
Frequent refresh and sync issues. Support iTunes only at launch. No TV shows or “all you can view,” subscription-based streaming. Can only link to different iTunes account every 180 days.