Posted on by Peter Rettig

7 iPad Apps we Like for Watching German and French Movies

ipad Once you have mastered more than the basics of any language, listening to radio or watching movies is a great way to expand your vocabulary, and - maybe as important – keeping you interested in learning.

(Not to overlook: READING is for many learners the earlier, easier step for building vocabulary. It will be the topic of another post.)

Increasingly, we are finding the use of iPad apps to be quite convenient. (All the apps mentioned below are also available on the Play Store for Android devices, and, I assume, with very similar or even identical features.)

Yes, you can connect to many sites on your PC and watch your movies there or connect your laptop to your television, especially if you have newer models with HDMI ports.

We've only recently started to use our iPad/HDMI connector and hooked up our iPad to our large flat screen TV. The experience of watching a movie on a large screen with a much better sound is certainly worth it. But whether you're watching a clip or movie on the iPad or on a bigger screen, here are our current app choices:

German iPad Apps

tagesschau logo tagesschau – (also:, a free app, the German “tagesschau” is a 15-minute news magazine, which airs daily at 8 PM German time. It also has a 10:15 PM edition called “tagesthemen” as well as a “nachtmagazin,” which airs just past midnight.

Note that the shows' titles these days are NOT capitalized, as they should be according to German spelling rules. Maybe this is a nod to being trendy and “cool.”

I remember the “Tagesschau” (which could be translated as “Daily View”) from the early days of German television, when the ARD was the only public channel. (”ARD” stands for “Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” - definitely a mouthful. Anybody interested in the legal structure of this “public-law” institution can consult this wiki entry:

As I am wrting this, I can see on the “tagesschau” that the “Rosetta-Mission” landing of a mini-laboratory on a comet has been successful; “Live stream,” “Aktuelle Videos,” and “Tagesschau in 100 Sekunden,” and “Das Wetter” complete the Homepage.

For those interested in German Fußball (soccer), a disappointment: Some legal issues apparently does not allow the “tagesschau” to show any clips of German soccer. Nevertheless, by clicking on the many links, you can find a variety of clips and videos on many national and international topics.

ZDF logoZDF – (also: ) a free app of the 2nd German channel (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), which is a German “public-law” institution as well. There is also a news magazine “Heute” which airs in Germany at 7 PM German time.

The extensive Menu on the left side takes some time to get used to. For example, under “Rubriken,” and “Film,” you can find “Der Fernsehfilm der Woche” (TV movie of the week), “Ganze Filme im ZDF” (Entire films in ZDF); or under “Krimis” (crime movies), you'll find many popular German series, such as “Kommissarin Heller,” “Der Krimminalist,” etc. If you want to listen to Bavarian dialect, “Die Rosenheim Cops” is a fun show to watch.

Deutsche Welle Logo DW (also: ) Deutsche Welle,a free app, is another great resource. You can actually modify several settings on the menu icon, top right: Refresh the content; choose among 6 languages: Arabic, English, German, Persian, Russian, and Spanish; and select the channel to be displayed on the main screen: Germany, Europe, Arabia, America, Latinoamérica.

In addition to a number of video clips, there are also many articles to read about the topics of the day. And, if you have trouble reading an article in German, you can get the English version just by switching the language.

TV-Spielfilm logoTV–Spielfilm – (also a free app, lets you choose on the Menu button, top left: “Highlights des Tages” (highlights of the day), “TV-Program,” “Tagestipps,” and “Social Ranking.” We found “Mediathek” to be the most useful, with “Spielfilme, Serien, Reportagen, Unterhaltung, and Kinder” (videos for kids).

While the “Play arrow” in the middle of the video lets us play many of these, there are some that either give you the message “Der Vorgang konnte nicht abgeschlossen werden” (the event couldn't be completed).

Or after seeing “Möchten Sie die Seite in Safari öffnen? (Would you like to open the page in Safari?) and pressing “Ja,” we get the message in Safari: “Inhalte technisch nicht verfügbar” (content not available technically) - all of which have caused us some frustration.

French iPad Apps

ARTE logo - (also: ) is a free app and actually a Franco-German TV network that promotes programming in the areas of culture and the arts and a perfect transition to the French apps.

Clicking on the top left menu, you'll open a number of program choices as well as a “setting” wheel at the bottom that lets choose you the language (German or French) plus a number of other settings, including reminders for certain live shows, email alerts, synchronizing with iCloud, etc.

Back to the Homepage, you see the “Accueil” (welcome) and you can scroll down to see the ARTE +7 choices: “Les plus vues,” “Les plus recentes,” and those soon to be deleted “Dernière chance.” Selecting "Programmes" you'll see the program of the day. Those marked in red +7 can then be either watched, either in a short clip or later, with a note (e.g."Plus que 6 jours") indicating how long it will be available.

Back to the Menu, you'll see a number of other options, all of which will certainly lead you to topics and videos that interest you.

France TV logo       
France TV Pro is a free iPad app that lets you watch live TV on many of the French TV channels. It also uses advertisements but has the unusual feature that lets you earn ad viewing points.

After accumulating enough points, you can watch programs ad-free for some time. With each viewing you accumulate 500 points and when you reach 20,000 points (40 views!) you, supposedly, can upgrade to the "Pro" version and now watch for free. (We are not there yet, so I don't know whether this works!)

The Homepage opens up many options: You can watch soaps, news, sports, etc. right there, or click on the Menu button, top left, which gives you many more choices, which include TV VOD, KIDs, Music, Movies, as well as Live Channels, Youtube and more VOD choices.

Clicking on "Movies" you'll find 11 more categories, including, "Top", "New", "Comedy", "Drama", etc. One caution: You may not be able to watch all movies listed due to some access restrictions in the country you are watching.

For example, clicking on "Freelancers" resulted in:  "This video is not available in your country". Also, you'll see some English movies dubbed in French.
Because we mostly watch French movies, I have not explored many of these possibilities. (Of note: there is an on-screen Volume control button, on the bottom left.)

20 minutes- logo 20 minutes (also: I have enjoyed this app for some time now. (There is another, very similar Swiss app: 20 Minuten (also:, which is the electronic version of the free “20 Minuten” newspaper that you find everywhere in Switzerland in German, French and Italian language.)

Different from the free German apps, this one uses advertisements, (which you can delete right away by clicking on the x on top).

The Homepage gives you a choice of six(6) categories: “Videos, Live, En images, Sport, Actualité, Entertainment, Météo/Horoscope, PDF/Jeux, and Guide TV.”

While the other sections also make good reading – and you're sure to find something that interests you – I have used mostly the Videos. At the bottom of that section you'll find 12 subheadings with videoclips, starting with “General” and “Le Rewind” and ending with “Entertainment” and “Actus 20minutes.”

I enjoy “Le Rewind” a lot. The young man who presents and comments on sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre events is hilarious. He also speaks rapid French, so may have to practice a bit before you get all his jokes, but you'll certainly have fun with many of the video clips. Regrettably, I just learned that “le Rewind” will only run until the end of the year.

All the apps mentioned below are also available on the Play Store for Android devices, and, I assume, with very similar or even identical features.
And, please let us know YOUR favorite apps to watch French and German movies and videos.