Need to know what’s on – and where? These apps will help you track what you want to watch
There’s so much TV these days that it can be overwhelming. Many shows have also been ‘freed’ from the shackles of terrestrial TV networks and cable, instead appearing on ad-free all-you-can-eat streaming services. The snag: working out where something is showing – and when – takes far too much time and effort. Throw in movies, and keeping tabs on everything becomes akin to a full-time job. Unless you have these great apps installed, of course.
This round-up, then, is all about the best apps for tracking your viewing habits. Some enable you to check out what’s on. Others are concerned with listing what you’ve watched – and what you thought – so you can revisit the best stuff and never rewatch a duff flick again. Depending on your needs and preferences, you might choose to run a couple of the apps listed; in all cases, they should reduce how long it takes to find something to watch, thereby freeing up more time for the actual viewing part.
Free • v2.5.9 • 44 MB • By JustWatch GmbH
JustWatch gives you a fighting chance of figuring out where to watch shows and movies you like the sound of. You kick things off by informing the app about your preferences (by tapping cover art), and then stating which streaming services you have access to.
The first three of JustWatch’s tabs enable different forms of discovery. Home lists TV shows and movies it thinks you’ll like. New and Popular, respectively, outline new arrivals and what others are watching, on the services you defined. These tabs have advanced filtering options, so you can hone in on a particular provider, rating, price, or genre. It’s also possible to search for specific movies or TV shows.
Once you find something interesting, tap the show or movie’s artwork to access an info page, which provides trailers, casting information, runtime and ratings. This page is also where you add the item to your Watchlist tab, and find out how you can view it. When your choice is something you can watch at home, options will be listed by price or – if available on streaming – number of available episodes. For movies still in theaters, you’ll get local listings.
The Watchlist itself has a couple of drawbacks compared to other apps in this round-up. Ratings are binary (like/dislike), and there’s no ‘upcoming’ list for traditionally broadcast shows. So if you want a reminder about the next episode of Doctor Who or Picard, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But for quickly discovering which services or cinemas are showing something you’d like to see, JustWatch is an excellent option.
$3/£3 • v1.6.1 • 21.2 MB • By Maximilian Litteral
Rather than assisting you in finding out where a TV show is available, Television Time’s primarily interested in helping you keep track of shows you’ve seen – right down to each individual episode – and making time for ones you’d like to see.
You get started by adding a bunch of TV shows you’re interested in. The Discover tab mostly concentrates on wildly popular fare, but Search can get you to the more obscure end of the spectrum. Once you’ve added some shows, the app clearly makes a distinction between the different ways in which modern TV is consumed.
In the Shows tab, you’ll find countdowns for the next episodes of traditional broadcasts (and those released, for example, weekly on streaming networks), along with an indication of when announced shows are going to arrive. The To Watch tab, though, provides a running total of how many episodes you have to get through in those shows you’ve already stored. (56 episodes of The Walking Dead waiting, because you can’t bear to see what Negan did with his baseball bat? Yeah.)
Speaking of, To Watch wisely lets you quickly state how far you’ve got in any given series. Swipe the show’s banner to the right, tap Episodes, and then tap the most recent one you’ve seen. You’ll get the option to mark all previous episodes as watched – and set that as the default action in future, if you like. For traditional broadcasts, you can also add upcoming shows to Calendar – although the timings only work if you’re in the USA.
Dig deeper and you’ll find more features: Trakt support; spoiler hiding; ratings; data export; a Stats tap for if you really want to know how long you’ve spent with your eyes glued to a TV screen. So whether you’re a light or advanced user, this app’s top-notch for tracking your TV habits.
Free • v2.7.10 • 37.1 MB • By Letterboxd
If you’re keen on movies, Letterboxd feels like a must. It’s a combination of discovery engine, tracker, and social network. The app excels at most of these things; but, importantly, none of these things gets in the way if you want to focus on one particular feature.
The leftmost tab is your entry point for browsing. You can check out current popular films, reviews, and lists. Alternatively, you can find films using the powerful search engine. In either case, tap a movie poster and you’ll access the production’s page, which is packed full of information.
Tap the … button and an actions panel appears. You can then add the film to your watchlist. Later, having watched the movie, said panel is where you set a rating, flag it as liked, and – if you feel the need – unleash your inner Roger Ebert by sharing your deeper thoughts with the entire Letterboxd community.
Even if you only partake in more basic interactions, such as remembering to rate films, that gradually builds up a useful archive. In your profile tab, you can view every film you’ve rated, and sort the list by various criteria. Also, this data is not locked in – although the app has no export functionality, letterboxd.com does.
There is, note, a pro version of the app, for if you want to take things further. This costs $19/£19 annually, and – along with removing ads – ramps up filtering, customization, and list creation; however, just the free version is a good bet for keeping tabs on movies you’d like to see – and those you’ve already seen.
Sofa: Downtime Organizer
Free • v2.9.2 • 8.5 MB • By Astrio, LLC
Our final choice, Sofa, is seemingly designed for people who like the idea of tracking movies and TV shows, but don’t want complexity nor the slightest bit of clutter. Essentially, it’s a to-do manager, but one based around pastimes rather than tasks and events. You can create as many custom lists as you like, and then tap the + button to add a new item.
At the time of writing, Sofa allows you to add books, movies/TV shows, albums, podcasts, and video games. Movies and TV shows each end up in separate lists. Tap on an item within a list and you get a brief synopsis, and some other information, like airdates and season count. Once you’ve watched a TV show or movie, mark it done and it’s archived to the Activity menu. A couple of themes and data export round out the app.
That might strike you as rather simple compared to the other apps in this round-up – and Sofa really is stripped right back. There’s no sync, no native iPad version, no ratings, and no way to separate or track individual TV episodes or even series/seasons – only entire shows. But that’s all intentional. Sofa is a straightforward means of reminding yourself about media you’d like to experience. For that, it works very nicely; but if you want more, you’ll have to check out one of the other apps on test instead.