[Updated: December 17, 2014]
Everybody knows you can get loads of free apps from the App Store. But what about the rest of iTunes? There are free TV shows, ebooks, music, and more — if you know where to look.
Apple maintains a page in the iTunes Store that’s their home for all things free TV. Among its extensive freebie catalog, you’ll find selected full-length episodes of some of your favorite shows, as well as behind-the-scenes features about the making of dozens of shows. There are TV news specials like 9/11: The Day That Changed the World, debut episodes of new shows like Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., reality show freebies like the premiere of HGTV’s Renovation Raiders, sneak peeks at hotly-anticipated shows like the final episodes of Breaking Bad, and more.
[Update] Recent additions include full episodes of the sci-fi series Ascension, as special sneak preview of the first episode of the new FOX hip-hop drama Empire, and the first episode of the 2014 season of Duck Dynasty, amongst others.
Only interested in full-length TV episodes? There’s a special page for that.
iTunes’ home for free books is right here. While the iBookstore may not have a library quite as extensive as Amazon’s Kindle Store, it’s got plenty to offer nonetheless. Including free books — and more than just classics (though there are plenty of those). There are freebies on all sorts of topics, from pop fiction like Hugh Howey’s Wool to educational nonfiction titles like this one that teaches you French.
If you’d like to zero-in on the most popular free ebooks, iBooks maintains a freebie bestsellers list, which you can then break down into individual genres. And just like apps, there are plenty of ebooks that are free for a limited time only. To stay on top of those, keep an eye on this page.
Apple also offers a newly free ebook every week, that’s only free for that one week.
[Update] Some of the top free books on the iBook store at the moment include several books in the Life on Earth science series, classic books like Much Ado About Nothing and Moby Dick, as well as the iPhone User Guide to iOS 8.1 and Book 1 of Brandon Sanderon’s “The Stormlight Archive” series The Way of Kings.
As the newest category of ebooks available from iBooks, I think it’s worth special mention that there are plenty of free comic books available to download. There’s a little of everything, including story arc beginnings from Marvel and DC, samplers and sneak peeks, children’s comics, loads of lesser-known publishers and indies, and even some Manga. Your best jumping-on point is this list of freebie bestsellers.
[Update] Comic books continue to be hot sellers on iTunes, and there are plenty of great issues to be had for free. Marvel fans will enjoy The Avengers Vol. 1, as well as specially designed e-book The Wolverine Revealed. If you’re more of a DC fan, there are plenty of free issues of Superman and Batman titles to add to your collection, although Justice League: Origin shouldn’t be overlooked, and Nightwing 201 is worth a read as well.]
Made with iBooks Author
Apple’s proprietary software for creating interactive textbooks is being put to use to create all sorts of cool ebooks, and many of them are free. Sure, there are educational titles like Leonardo da Vinci and Earthquake. But there are also photography books, such as The Incredible Shrinking Tour of Chicago and Street Photography. There are some newly interactive re-releases of classics like Pride and Prejudice. Travel and cooking guides like Fodor’s 100 Hotel Awards 2012 and Tasting Table Chefs’ Recipes: Summer Cookbook 2012.
You can keep track of these interactive freebies on this iTunes page.
[Update] The Made for iBooks program continues to create impressive titles, including a wonderful 2014 Year in Focus guide filled with amazing Getty Images, an intriguing novel by William Boyd entitled The Vanishing Game, and numerous others.
iTunes doesn’t keep a list of bestselling free music, but they’ve been offering a “Free Single of the Week” for years now. Here’s a handy link that always points to whatever the current freebie download is (among other free iTunes items).
[Update] Apple continues to offer a free song each week on iTunes, and it is worth using the link above to continue to build your collection. Free music is always a good thing, and there are often some surprisingly good tracks as part of the program. The free download is also a good way to discover new artists.
Think how cool it would be if iTunes offered one movie every week as a free download, like the free music Single of the Week. Sadly, they don’t. What they do offer, however, are free downloads of movie trailers. The Movie Trailers section of iTunes is essentially an archive of trailers going back many years (remember, Apple’s been posting the latest trailers in QuickTime format at trailers.apple.com for a very long time now). This part of iTunes got a nifty makeover recently that reorganized this archive and made it much simpler and faster to find the trailer you’re looking for. It even has its own search bar, so the rest of iTunes isn’t mixed in with its search results.
And yes, all of the trailers are available to download for free — and most of them are provided in high-def.
To check out the latest trailers from big Hollywood blockbusters, intriguing foreign films, and quirky independent flicks, click here.
Podcasts & iTunes U
Don’t knock ‘em till you try ‘em. These two often-overlooked parts of the iTunes Store are teeming with fantastic content, and everything you’ll find in them both is 100% free. Podcasts ain’t just for audiophiles anymore; a vast percentage of the podcasts available are in video format now. Check out Apple’s own Events at the Apple Store podcast series for some insightful on-stage conversations with filmmakers, musicians, authors, and innovators.