ToDoMovies 2: A One-trick Pony With a Really Good Trick

I love movies. I don’t mean that I love movies the way every college student ever said they loved movies; I mean I truly love movies. For a long time, I wrote screenplays as a hobby (my spare time to do that seems to continuously disappear these days). I have a personal collection encompassing hundreds and hundreds of movies and TV shows. For me, movies are what I do to relax, unwind, and creatively excite myself.

I find there’s a truckload of films I want to see, though, and they’re all very difficult to remember. I used to keep this insane list in Notes.app back in the day. It was ridiculous, and it’s not a wonder it didn’t help me at all. I tried using IMDB’s list function for a while, but the service didn’t blow me away and I found IMDB was more a pain than anything else. ToDoMovies, though, really got me excited. It looked like it solved my problem: how do you keep tracks of the movies you want to see? Read on to find out whether or not ToDoMovies is the answer.

Like the article? You should subscribe and follow us on twitter.

Old School

The first thing I’m going to say is that ToDoMovies has not yet been updated for iOS 7. Talking with the developer confirms that this is still a ways off. Admittedly, I was a little bothered by this at first, but after a few weeks of use, I’ve come to love his interface. Its iOS 6 trappings, while not being my favourite, appear refreshing after playing around with so many poor implementations of iOS 7’s UI in other apps. I’m not saying that I don’t want to see an iOS 7 update to the app, but I’m saying that its current design is so lovingly detailed that I don’t mind the wait.

ToDoMovies hasn't been updated for iOS 7 yet, but it's beautiful nonetheless.

ToDoMovies hasn’t been updated for iOS 7 yet, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

The app is very dark, the polar opposite of what many of us have gotten used to over the past couple months, but that doesn’t seem to be without merit. It reminds me of the cinema itself: your content displayed in total darkness. As a result, the app is oddly immersive. Colour isn’t the be-all, end-all, but ToDoMovies replicates that dark theatre experience well enough that it’s obviously of great importance.

This is accentuated by the app icon. Again, the details matter here. The curtains being pulled back to darkness are subtle hints of what’s to come in the app’s interface. Again, these things aren’t of the utmost importance, but they reveal a rare attentiveness to detail that most developers don’t have. It’s an app design so thorough that it’s hard to think any details were not considered.

Browsing through movies is a sheer joy.

Browsing through movies is a sheer joy.

It’s this attention to detail that makes the app look so good, even on iOS 7. After a short period of time, the details are what make me realize I don’t really care if and when this app’s UI gets updated for the new OS. And it’s this attention to detail that makes me sure any update will be worth the wait.

Making a List

ToDoMovies offers two lists: To Watch and Watched. That’s it. It’s quite simple. Obviously, To Watch is a list of films you’ve added to your list but have yet to see. And Watched are the movies from you list that you’ve marked as seen. In other words, ToDoMovies is not about maintaining a catalogue of the 4,500 movies you have seen throughout your life, but rather about making a catalogue of the ones you have yet to see.

There are only two lists in the app: To Watch and Watched.

There are only two lists in the app: To Watch and Watched.

Adding a movie is a really fun part of the app. My closest friend and I make it a habit to keep up with what’s coming out in the next couple of months. We have two methods: IMDB and the Apple TV trailers. With ToDoMovies, we’ve come up with a third way.

All you do is hit the Plus button and browse the movies that are out. You can browse from movies that are already out on DVD, of course, or films that are popular right now. And it’s also really easy to search for films. This is handy for me. I’ve stopped buying movies for my collection because, as you might imagine, I have a backlog of films I have yet to watch. So I’ve started marking the ones I need to watch in the app — often classics like Casablanca. (I know, what kind of film fan hasn’t seen that? I apologize.) And for films that are arriving in theatres, ToDoMovies pings me on the day of their release.

ToDoMovies 2 is the only app that has accurately notified me of a film's release date.

ToDoMovies 2 is the only app that has accurately notified me of a film’s release date.

Now, I’ve tried a lot of apps that claim to send you a notification when a film on your must-see list hits theatres! but in practice, none of them have worked. That’s the thing about ToDoMovies: it’s never failed me. It works, every time. This is far more invaluable than it sounds, especially since I consistently feel like I can’t keep up anymore.

The Movie Screen

The most important place in the app, though, is the movie’s detailed view. This is quite unique to ToDoMovies: each movie has its when button to add it to your list (which is replaced by a checkmark when you do add it to a list), and provides a ton of useful information. The film’s poster is shown in all its glory, and with one tap you can view user ratings, a brief synopsis, the technical details like runtime and release date, and the cast and crew.

I love the photo gallery in each film's page.

I love the photo gallery in each film’s page.

That’s pretty standard, though, and ToDo’s beautiful presentation isn’t enough to keep some of us from shrugging our shoulders empathetically. That’s why I like the other information in the app as well. There’s a photo gallery of screen shots and promotional stills. They’re shown off in what looks like a traditional film reel; it’s simply gorgeous. The trailer is viewable with the tap of a button, and the Share sheet is lovingly animated. (I do mean lovingly; this Share Sheet has more personality than any other that I’ve ever seen.)

Of course, the app also includes the normal glutton of useful movie-related information.

Of course, the app also includes the normal glutton of useful movie-related information.

Finally, the app includes an option to look at any related items in the iTunes stores, like books, movie downloads, or games. It’s a really cool feature that I’m surprised tougher developers haven’t implemented.

You can check out affiliated releases in the iTunes Store as well — and even purchase movies that have already been released.

You can check out affiliated releases in the iTunes Store as well — and even purchase movies that have already been released.

The app also has an option to sync your lists via iCloud, which is great if you happen to get a new iPhone and want a backup. All that being said, there is one thing that bothers me. When you mark a film off as watched, nothing really happens. There’s no animation; you’ve just tapped on a checkmark and the movie is marked as watched. It just doesn’t feel satisfying. I don’t know how to fix the problem — after all, how do your reward somebody for watching a movie? But nevertheless, it is a problem.

More Useful Updates

ToDoMovies now includes a host of improvements that have been added since it’s 2.0 update that make it revisiting for those of us who are looking for a powerful option to catalogue our must-see films. The film uses motion posters for movies that support them, like Iron ManStar Trek Into Darkness, and the like. It’s actually pretty cool to see in action.

The film also includes a ton of gestures. What does that mean for you? It means that even though the app isn’t necessarily good to go for iOS 7, it often feels like it is. Swiping on movies marks them as watched as To Watch, and it’s easy to delete movies in the same way.

Finally, the biggest improvement is a URL scheme — useful for people who use Launch Centre Pro. I’d love to see an implementation of this in Drafts that allows me to search for a movie in ToDoMovies just by typing in a draft. Steps like this are small, but important: ToDoMovies becoming more powerful is a step in the right direction.

Final Thoughts

ToDoMovies is a beautiful app that does one thing well. It does it so well that, for many people, this might be the only movie app they need on their iPhones. But it hasn’t been updated for iOS 7 yet and there’s no real reward for using the app. It’s not social like Limelight or points-based like Foursquare’s checkins. For some people, they won’t find a reason to use it consistently, and there’s no getting around that.

But if you’re a movie buff who has trouble keeping up with the times, I can’t recommend ToDoMovies strongly enough for you. It’s got everything you need and it does it all beautifully, despite its more traditional aesthetics. ToDoMovies might be a one-trick pony, but it’s plenty good at it’s one trick.


Summary

ToDoMovies doesn't let you do anything beyond keep track of movies you want to see. But it is exceptionally good at that one trick — movie lovers are going to love it. I just wish it had a couple extra flourishes.

7