an app for filmfest

No festival is complete without its own app, and the Sydney filmfest is no exception, and it makes a lot of sense. It’s much easier to pull out your phone and look up the next movie than pore over a newspaper style programme while squinting in the poor light of intermission. There’s never quite enough light to read, though it doesn’t help that the printed programme is in darker shades.

Last year I used the iphone app and this year they’ve developed an android app which was released recently. I haven’t used it extensively though I had intended to use it to buy some tickets – except that the extra films I wanted to see keep selling out. So I’ve been using it to look up approaching films and check running times. It’s mostly been good for that. It has been a little frustrating, particularly as every so often it will freeze or rather, you can still scroll but it doesn’t let you click on a movie. I suspect it may be downloading data/film updates but I’m not clear why they can’t be done in the background without affecting the app. That’s just a guess though.

Not all films seem to be indexed properly eg I’ll check the programme at the State for that evening and there’s occasionally a film missing. The film is in the database and I can search for it…so long as I know what it is. Though they all do appear under my account ticket section. However the ticket section only has QR codes for the tickets, it doesn’t seem possible to click through to info on the movie from there. For example, today I have 4 movies in the evening subscription series. When I view the programme by venue (State Theatre), it displays 2 movies, whereas my account ticket section is displaying 4 movies as I would expect.

filmfest appThe other minor frustration I’m having, and I recall that the iphone app had the same problem, is the screen layout. For a particular movie,  the movie blurb takes up less than a third of the screen as you can see. It’s a fairly tight box to scroll in with my thumb too, especially a clumsy one like mine. On the screenshot, the scrolling text starts with the word “Althina” – the date/location/mins don’t scroll. With that said, I had the same issue with the iphone version last year. There seems to be a lot of wasted space (eg the movie title appears twice), or at least space that could be better utilised, especially as it’s an issue regardless of whether you have a 3.5″ iphone screen or the 4.3″ screen of my Galaxy S2. My larger screen doesn’t seem to have eased the size of the scrolling description at all.

The final annoyance, and this is android specific, is voting. Only people with iphones can vote via phone. That option is not available on the android app at all. It should be said that I haven’t actually voted on a film in a few years though this year I have no idea how to. In past years, ushers would walk round the seats with voting slips but that can be a bit time consuming and they’re not doing it this year which is fair enough. According to the info on the screen, I can vote via SMS using the code for that film on the ticket. Except that I have a subscription pass and thus no individual film codes. That information doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the app either.

[update: I just remembered that I can vote if I log into the website directly via my phone ie bypass the app]

Regardless, it’s still useful for looking up movies and checking times. Plus, should I happen to lose my subscription pass, heaven forbid, I can use the phone tickets instead.

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