iPhone app review: MovieLingo

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I’m not a huge movie buff, but I have a pretty good memory and do well enough at movie trivia games. I am also often able to repeat lines verbatim from movies I saw years ago, and usually enjoy doing so. So I was pretty intrigued when I saw Avalinx’s new app, MovieLingo. It’s a simple app, but I think it’s a good example of how to use mobile computing and always-on Internet connectivity to improve the social experience.

movielingo main screenMovieLingo is a fun, free app that plays famous (and not-so-famous) quotes from movies. You shake your iPhone and a genre and era will be randomly selected. A movie will then be randomly selected that fits the criteria, and a clip from that movie will begin to play. If you prefer to lock in a specific genre or era, you can simply select it from the scroll list and click the lock icon beneath that list. This is handy if you only like Comedies from the 1980s, as it’ll improve your chances of hitting on all those wonderful Steve Guttenberg vehicles! Once a movie has been selected, you can click the “Reveal Movie” button to find out the source of the quote. This will display for you the movie poster, and provide you with a few options.

You can click the top-right button to get a movie summary, in case you get a movie you never heard of before. This is good for me for all those Golden Age of Cinema films about which I know nothing. You can click the Back button to return to the main screen to shake for a new set of parameters and quote, or you can click the Forward button to randomly select a new movie from within the current era and genre. You can replay clips, and scroll back through clips you’ve already played. The default option is to retain your last 25 quotes in the app’s history.

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movielingo005If you click the action button at the bottom right of the screen, you can select several things to do with the movie, like bookmark it as a favorite, share it on your Facebook wall so all your Facebook friends can enjoy it, buy it from Amazon, or add it to your Netflix queue. Now that Apple has announced the ability to buy movies from the iTunes Music Store directly from your iPhone, expect to see a “Buy Now” option added to the action menu. That’ll be a neat addition to this free application. MovieLingo provides a list of featured quotes you can scroll through, if you don’t feel like taking your chances with a random quote.

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The thing that interests me about MovieLingo is that very little of the data is stored in the app itself. Part of building this app was assembling a collection of assets that could be fetched on demand, including the sound files themselves, movie summaries, poster art, and links to the various third-party services. When a movie is selected, the MovieLingo application goes out to the internet to fetch what it needs. This means that new quotes can be added on the fly, presumably without requiring any sort of update to the core app itself.

Is this a killer app for the iPhone? Absolutely not. Will this be an app you pull out at parties? Probably. You can even use it when you’re standing in the Blockbuster, totally overwhelmed by the selection of films and unable to reach a decision with your significant other whether to rent Zombie Strippers or When Nietzsche Wept. Shake your iPhone and rent whatever clip comes up!

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