Software & Apps

App of the Week – Flixster

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It’s almost summertime, and already the season of Summer Blockbusters has begun. Each Friday, as you pass your friendly local theater, you can usually see a line for the latest hit movie snaking around the block. Whether you’re one of the people standing in those lines or someone who would rather stay in and rent something from the comfort of your couch, Flixster can make your experience more smooth and enjoyable.

There are tons of websites that will tell you about the latest movies, so what would motivate you to install a specific app for the task? The thing that really sold me on Flixster is its integration with other services. The most exciting to me is the integration with Rotten Tomatoes’ rating systems, which combines both users’ and critics’ ratings to give you an approval percentage. While my own taste doesn’t agree 100% with theirs, I find that it’s a pretty good gauge for what I should bother seeing in the theaters.

The Home screen strikes me as the section for those die-hard movie fans that will always be there for the Friday midnight showings. There are a bunch of different options here for keeping up on the latest movie news and reviews. And it enables you to send the juiciest tidbits to your friends. There are even movie quizzes if that’s not enough to keep your head swimming with the minutiae of all things cinematic.

The Box Office section has information on shows that are already in theaters as well as upcoming releases. You have a few options for how to sort movie listings, including Rating (e.g. G, PG-13, R), Popular and Title. So whether you already have something in mind, or you’re looking something to see with the kids, or just want to know what’s good out, you’re all set. Once you see something that interests you, it’s got all the information you could possibly need: Trailers, running time, genre, cast and crew information, and reviews.

Flixster also helps you keep a running list of movies you have seen or would like to see. When you’re on a movie’s page, it gives you the option to mark whether or not you’re interested in seeing it. You can also add it to your Netflix queue, or save it to your wait list if the movie is not yet available. Once you’ve seen a movie, you can rate it.

The third section is My Movies, which allows you to log in to your Flixster account, Facebook or Netflix. The Flixster integration allows you to input the movies in your own personal collection and it will list those movies you’ve indicated you’re interested in. Netflix integration gives you a central area to view and manage your rental queue. Facebook brings the social component, as usual, so you can see your friends’ ratings and share your own.

Once you’ve decided what show you want to go see, head over to the Theaters section. You can either choose a theater by name, by what’s nearest your location, or you can choose on a map. If there are a few theaters you go to regularly, you can add them as favorites.

When you view a theater, it has the expected information, plus a couple very intuitive extras. Aside from phone number, address, and show times, it uses Yelp’s information to show you a list of restaurants nearby. You can then send the info to a friend, so you can make a night of it. My one wish for the app is that it had ratings and reviews of the theaters themselves.

For those movies you missed in the theater, or those of you who wish to skip the crowds, there are plenty of cool features for viewing movies at home. The DVD section (what’s up, dated nomenclature!) is organized similarly to the Box Office section. It features New Releases, Coming Soon, and Browse as navigation options, with Browse offering a wide variety of genres and a search bar.

These movies’ pages have all the same information as those still in the theater, including show times. This is admittedly a little weird, but it still works for those movies in second-run theaters. It also gives you the option to purchase the movie on iTunes, which is nice for those shows not yet available on Netflix.

You can find Flixster on the iOS App Store; the app is a free download.