App

Could this movie listings utility help combat the “problem of choice?”

Price: Free
Version: 1.0.1
Size: 43.6 MB
Developer: Grabble Apps
Platform: iPhone & iPad

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In this modern age of instant streaming and on-demand video services, choosing which movie to watch can take almost as long as the movie itself. Popcorn offers itself as a solution; a way to cut through the crap and find a great movie, quickly. It does this by providing hand-picked recommendations on a variety of popular topics.

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Content is sorted into themed lists

Lists are pleasantly displayed as stacks of movie posters, with Popcorn utilizing the swipe interface popularized by dating app Tinder to good effect. Swipe left to discard a movie, or right to add it to your watchlist for later. The system works well, though the app never actually explains this functionality and there are no visual cues to even suggest that right-swiping and left-swiping have different outcomes. A single introductory tooltip would fix that.

The lists themselves are pretty decent (aside from a few odd choices – we’re pretty sure the kids film Sing isn’t a Wes Anderson flick) and are updated often to keep up with the latest releases as well as to look back on forgotten classics. However, though Popcorn is a human-driven feed of recommendations, there’s no sign of notes or opinion from the editors; the lists lack any kind of added insight. This keeps interactions brief, but for added value we’d like to see an articles section of the kind seen in Popcorn’s sister app, Grabble.

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Swipe right if you like the look of a movie

The real issue with editorial lists as an alternative to the algorithm-based recommendations of other services is that it all seems rather impersonal. Where Netflix learns what you like over time based on your viewing habits, Popcorn doesn’t care what you’re interested in, offering a broad feed of content to appeal to all tastes at once. This somewhat flies in the face of the app’s bold claim that it could help you find your new favorite movie.

Having high definition trailers available at the drop of a hat is a great feature, but the other information available isn’t quite as helpful. Pressing “watch” will take you directly to the movie – assuming you’re happy to buy it from the iTunes Store. If you routinely watch films on Netflix or Amazon you’ll have to search those services yourself, as Popcorn can’t tell you which streaming services feature which films. Meanwhile, we’re not sure where these movie ratings are coming from, but they’re a bit off – not a single film in the app is worth five stars, apparently, despite some of the best films ever made featuring heavily.

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Filtering the watchlist by genre is a nice touch

Ultimately, Popcorn a useful and inspiring feed, which will spur you on to revisit long-forgotten classics just as readily as it’ll remind you to check out all the recent Oscar winners. But despite its good looks and charm, its lack of personalized recommendations and knowledge of streaming services makes Popcorn only half as useful as it perhaps could be.

Review: Popcorn – find your new favorite movie
Useful, but limited
For
  • Movie selections are (mostly) good
  • Easy access to HD trailers
  • Good-looking interface
Against
  • No real personalization
  • No knowledge of streaming services
  • Lacking in insight and extra info
3.5Overall Score