Popcorn Time is an open source app for Mac, Windows, and Linux that acts essentially like Netflix for streaming video torrents. The project is “the result of many developers and designers putting a bunch of APIs together to make the experience of watching torrent movies as simple as possible.”
Yes, it really works. Is it legal? That depends.
Torrenting as a method of distribution is not illegal, but in many countries, including the U.S, it’s illegal to download pirated content. Therein lies the ethical dilemma of the situation, and by extension, an app like Popcorn Time.
The interface is a collection of posters with different movie categories to choose, and clicking a movie shows a brief description with its Rotten Tomatoes rating. Depending on the movie and your bandwidth connection, you can choose to have it play with subtitles or 720/1080p HD.
Technically, when you’re steaming a movie in the app, you’re downloading it while simultaneously seeding. Once downloaded completely, the app hides the movie file in a buried folder that is automatically deleted when your Mac restarts. It’s a pretty smart way to get around the torrenting dilemma; you normally have to wait until a file is completely downloaded before you can play it. Not anymore.
The overall experience is nothing too fancy, but it works well, especially considering that the app is still in beta.
Source: Popcorn Time.