Hello, my name is Rita El Khoury and I’m a TV series addict. As my Trakt.tv profile would attest, I’m not using the term “addict” loosely. I’ve seen over 4700 TV episodes (that I could remember) and collected more than 7600. And it doesn’t stop at TV series either, I’ve been passionate about movies for a long time as well.
It’s safe to say that I take my entertainment pretty seriously, and I always scour the Play Store looking for the best Android apps to help me discover and watch new material, enhance my experience, and organize my collections. Here are the best 30 apps I would recommend to any fellow movie or TV lover.
This roundup will focus on internationally available apps, and hence won’t include some popular apps that are limited to certain countries like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Flixter, Fandango, Zeebox, Peel, TV Guide Mobile, Boxfish, Eurochannel, Crackle and so on.
For the One Who Wants it All
IMDb is so popular nowadays, it almost doesn’t require any introduction. It’s one of the best references — if not the best — for movies, actors, directors, and TV series. Included are photos, biographies, trailers, descriptions, reviews, trivia, movie showtimes, TV listings, and more. The IMDb app even lets you login to manage your watchlist and add reviews. It’s the ultimate must-have movie and TV app.
SeriesGuide was selected among Google’s 12 best apps of 2012, and that’s for a good reason. Besides being designed to look gorgeous on phones and tablets alike, SeriesGuide is often updated, fast, full of functionality and proves to be an invaluable tool for TV addicts like me — I’ve been using it for over a year and I simply can not switch to any other app.
SeriesGuide presents series organized by seasons and episodes, along with specials. It plugs into Trakt.tv (but can also work by itself) to track your seen and collected progress, lets you check-in to episodes, love them, post comments, or access their details on IMDb, TheTVDB and more. You can even hide certain series, favorite them, or organize them by lists. Add the fact that it recently started supporting some movie features and the bottomline is this: if you’re serious about your TV entertainment, there’s no other app that can come close.
Although originating from South Korea, Viki doesn’t limit itself to that country. Sure, it offers a lot of Korean series and movies (with English subtitles), but it also provides content from all over the world, including anime and cartoons, dramas and even music videos. The app is well designed too, with an adaptable tablet-friendly interface, and a nice search engine that lets you find content based on the genre but also the country of origin.
While XBMC is still in its testing stages for Android, there is a valid alternative — that I personally prefer — in Plex. Mark recently reviewed the Plex for PlexPass beta app that eventually became available as the official Plex app.
Plex is a media library for local, network or server-based, and online content. Along with the Media Server installed on other devices, Plex can stream all of your movies and TV series — but also music and photos — to your phone. The new app design also embraces simplicity and speed, with a tablet-friendly interface and a focus on big thumbnail images for a more visual experience.
If, instead of streaming, you carry a lot of movies and TV series on your microSD card, then mVideoPlayer will not fail to impress you. The app acts as both a visual library and a player, fetching details for all of your media and organizing it with posters and synopsis, but also playing different video formats with a variety of settings and gestures.
Over the past year that I’ve been using it, mVideoPlayer’s differentiating feature has been its ability to look for subtitles for any of my movies or episodes, in any language, then download the file, extract it, place it in the same folder as the video file and rename it to fit. It’s a small feature but it’s so seamless that it never fails to make me smile.
For the Movie Lover
Movie Mate Pro was a personal app discovery that exemplified the words “hidden gem”. With a design for both phones and tablets, a clean look and oodles of functionality, Movie Mate raises the bar for movie discovery apps. It presents movies as tabs of Box Office, Opening, Coming Soon and DVD Releases, but also allows you to search for any title from years or decades ago. You can create movie lists based on favorites, watchlists and seen films, a function that appealed to Joseph when he reviewed the app a few months ago.
Three features distinguish Movie Mate Pro and make it invaluable for movie lovers. First, there’s a short consensus below each movie, taken from Rotten Tomatoes, which acts as a summary of all the reviews. Second, the app displays movie ratings from all the major sources: Rotten Tomatoes (critics and users), IMDb and Metacritic. And third, there’s a dedicated Tweets tab that lets you see what others are saying about the movie. Movie Mate Pro may not completely replace IMDb, but it definitely holds its grounds for anyone who’s looking for a quick opinion about a movie.
Movie App HD is quite similar to Movie Mate Pro in that it presents the lists of currently playing or coming soon movies, but also lets you search for titles. There is also a similar overview page with Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and TMDb ratings, and a tab dedicated to reviews. However, Movie App HD distinguishes itself by adding two tabs to each movie discovery page. The first is Backdrops which contains fanart images available for download. The second is Similar Movies which suggests more movies to watch in the same style and genre.
Movie Twist is one of the few “Froyo looking” apps on this list, but I had to make an exception because of its novel approach to movie discovery. The app can recommend movies in two original ways. The first uses parameters such as humor, violence and cleverness as well as genre or year. The second can make recommendations based on your mood, or a specific category or tag. The mood option feels very similar to Songza’s approach to music recommendation and it’s refreshing to see it applied to movies as well.
Cinotic is a movie search engine that finds movies based on the presence of two common actors. Say you want to find if there are any movies with both Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford, or maybe you remember watching a movie with both Colin Farrell and Jim Sturgess but can’t recall the name, Cinotic will easily help you find the titles without you having to go through each actor’s filmography. And even though it caters to a very specific need, Cinotic is always nice to have in your arsenal of movie apps.
Although apps like IMDb, Movie Mate Pro and Movie App HD provide access to trailers, some people would still prefer an app dedicated to trailers, and nothing but. That’s where Trailer Addict comes, with its extensive search and database, along with a simple way of watching — you guessed it — trailers.
For the TV Series Lover
I might have caused an intergalactic rift by proclaiming SeriesGuide as the ultimate app for TV lovers at the beginning of the post, despite TV Show Favs’ popularity and extensive feature set. However, for me, TV Show Favs will always come as a close second to SeriesGuide. I was using it as my main app for a long period of time, but what made me dismiss it was its inability to track collections. It was either seen or not seen with TV Show Favs, but any TV fanatic will tell you that they sometimes collect episodes before watching them, or watch episodes they haven’t collected, so the distinction is very important.
Aside from this missing feature, TV Show Favs offers all the bells and whistles of any decent TV tracking app, with episode details, check-in, favorites, progress bars, watchlists, lists, but also adds a few distinguishing features. There are tags to categorize content even further, a calendar to easily view upcoming episodes, very customizable widgets, a to-do list that only lists the episodes you haven’t seen yet, and a simple label applied to any show that lets you know if it’s currently new, canceled, continuing, or in its final season.
I stumbled on TV Series 2 while doing my research for this post and I have to say I was pretty impressed by the screenshots that I decided to give it a try. Besides being gorgeous, the app is fast and offers a unique mix of functionality.
Sure, there’s the show description along with season and episode details, an easy way to mark episodes as seen and a calendar function, but the app misses a lot of the advanced options of SeriesGuide and TV Show Favs — namely check-ins, integration with Trakt.tv, lists and favorites. However, it makes up for it by offering specific actor and director pages — along with their roles in other series — as well as fanart and poster images for any series. TV Series 2 won’t satisfy the OCD TV addict, but it is surely a nice alternative for the casual watcher who wants a single resource for their hobby.
Cliffhanger is one of the rising stars of this category, with a responsive and beautiful grey, white and green design, an interface that scales nicely to phones and tablets, a side menu that slides fluidly to reveal all your series, and frequent updates that keep expanding the app’s featureset. For now, Cliffhanger is worth using if you’re only interested in tracking your watch progress across TV series, or if you need more but don’t mind waiting for the app to develop further. It doesn’t hurt that the app is seriously gorgeous to look at and use.
Twee is another newcomer with frequent updates that adopts the Holo and Cards look to the letter. The app is still in beta, but already offers widgets, integration with Dashclock, a calendar view of your shows, themes, and even multiple profiles if you plan to use the app to manage two different persons’ TV show progress. Twee is even promising integration with Trakt.tv and MyEpisodes, so it’s definitely an app to keep an eye on.
Any TV fan will tell you that one of the best resources to find out more about a show is TheTVDB.com. This third-party client harnesses the power of the online database, by providing the show’s detail, cast, along with episode details and ratings. Also available are the posters, banners and fanart that have made TheTVDB so popular amongst the TV crowd.
For the On-Device Watcher
Questionable legality aside, Freebox is one cool app. It provides access to full-length movies that are hosted on YouTube, browsed by categories or through search. There’s also a section dedicated to concerts, which isn’t specifically related to movies and TV series, but is worth mentioning nonetheless.
Archos’ recently released media center for Android is a fantastic solution for users who want to play their local or network shared videos. The app organizes content as movies or TV series, automatically downloads info and posters to populate the library, supports subtitle downloading as well, can play several file formats, and is even keyboard or remote control friendly. This makes it the go-to app for Android-based media servers and TV sticks.
Mizzu is a gorgeous video center application — although it relies on other apps to actually play the content — with support for online sources like YouTube, Reddit and TED. Mizuu organizes your locally stored or network shared movies and TV series with extensive data, including plot, images, actors, reviews and trailers. It is the ultimate media library app to have if you prefer to use third-party players like VLC or MX Player.
Although both Archos and mVideoPlayer have built-in options to download subtitles for your movies and series, GMT Subtitles can still prove to be useful for users who carry their videos on their devices, but prefer the default video player or third-party clients and don’t want to use a full media center. The app combs through folders looking for movies and series, and can either automatically or manually download the missing subtitles.
For the One Who Likes to Impress
IntoNow is SoundHound — or Shazam — for TV and movies. Basically, you let the app listen to a few seconds of what you’re watching, regardless of whether it’s live or recorded, and it will recognize the movie title or the series episode. The app packs in social features and a CapIt option that lets you share screenshots of your favorite moments. However, it’s still the live TV instant recognition that amuses everyone whenever I demonstrate it.
Limopo is an augmented reality movie poster recognition app that doubles as a trailer player. Whenever you see a movie poster in real life or on the web, you can scan it with Limopo and it will give you the movie’s title and details, but also allow you to play the trailer instantly, either in full screen or impressively laid in AR-form over the live view of the poster. Limopo can be quite useful — and awesome — whenever you’re at the theatre and debating which movie to watch with your friends.
Although it doesn’t carry the most glorious app name, RunPee is an invaluable app for movie goers. Search for a movie and it will normally give you two distinct times when you can dash for the mens/ladiesroom without missing a critical scene. It also lets you know if there’s any bonus material worth checking after the end credits start rolling. Whether you have a small bladder and still go for the large coke, or whether you only rarely feel the need to interrupt a movie, RunPee is nice to have installed on your phone — just in case.
Like the title suggests, Anything After takes the bonus material after the movie credits — or stinger for the technical word — to heart. Movie goers can say whether a stinger is included or not, if it’s worth waiting for, if it occurs during or after the credits, and even post comments and descriptions of it. All of this data is tallied up and served to you whenever you search for a movie.
Also available in a version for the HTC One, Smart Remote uses the newly included InfraRed blaster on this year’s generation of high-end devices to act as a universal remote for all of your media appliances — TV, set top box, projector, home theater and more.
The app is very configurable with the option to create one-screen remotes that control several appliances at once. It also supports air gestures, can mute the sound when you receive a phone call, and uses the phone’s microphone to dynamically detect and adjust the volume when it’s too loud or too low.
For the Collector
Moviethek is a cataloguing application for the movie collector. Designed with both phones and tablets in mind, Moviethek is one of the quickest and most efficient apps in this category. Search for a movie title, click to add, and all of its details and its poster will be automatically downloaded. IMDb links are included for more information, you can specify the medium on which you own the movie, and the app sports several sorting and viewing options for a personalized experience.
Although My Movies Pro is very similar to MovieThek, it provides an overwhelming amount of added options. Movies can be added by scanning barcodes or images, included in different lists, filtered, tagged, rated. You can add notes, track your loaned movies, watch trailers, view your collection by actors, and even sync everything online to share on your other devices or with your friends. It’s the perfect app for the OCD collector who takes his movies very seriously.
For the Social Watcher
Just like Foursquare lets you check-in to venues, GetGlue offers check-in for media. Movies and TV series are supported, but also books and movies and more. GetGlue can also recommend content based on your previous check-ins, lets you view or post comments to a movie or a TV’s page, and even takes the Foursquare approach of providing you with badges for watching content.
Miso’s approach is very similar to GetGlue, with check-ins and badges, but it limits itself to movies and TV series. Miso is also more specific in that it allows you to check in to a specific episode, whereas GetGlue is limited to only the series as a whole, regardless of the episode. The app hasn’t been updated in a long time, but still serves its purpose dutifully.
For the Expert
Guess The Movie offers a novel approach to movie aficionados who want to test their knowledge. Based on a very simplified version of the poster, you are asked to write the movie’s title. It can get difficult at times, so a hint system is introduced based on plots, then on a hangman-style puzzle. If you like the concept but you’re into actors and celebrities, the developer also provides Guess The Celeb.
MovieCat adds a whimsical spin to movie trivia games, by offering cat-themed illustrations. The game involves several types of quizzes, ranging from poster guessing, to costume recognition, multiple choices and more. There’s also a timer, a score card, and some cat lives to pay attention to while playing. Mistakes and delays are not very cat-friendly.
Only Thirty Apps?
When you start searching the Play Store for movie and TV apps, you can quickly get overwhelmed by the choice. There are apps for specific channels, networks, theaters, shows or movies, apps dedicated to certain countries, and even general apps that satisfy everyone like the ones listed above.
And one thing that kept surprising me while compiling this post is the amount of new and gorgeously designed apps that are being added every day, especially ones with support for tablet-friendly UIs. I had trouble narrowing down the list to just thirty apps, and that’s why I had to add the little notes after each section recommending more similar options.
Are you a movie and TV fanatic? Do you like using your Android device to discover, watch or even improve your experience? If so, what apps do you use — from this list or ones that we forgot to mention?