There’s no shortage of iOS apps for finding movies playing nearby—over the past couple years, I’ve tried a bunch of them. Plastic Trophy’s Wigglehop stands out for its unique approach to finding—and planning for—films playing in your area.
A universal app, the iPhone and iPad versions work nearly identically. Launch the app, and you’re presented with a simple screen with a large movie image at the top—Wigglehop is free, so the bills have to be paid somehow—an area with controls in the middle, and your theater or movie selections at the bottom, depending on which screen you’re viewing.
The first screen, Theaters, is where you choose your preferred theaters. Type your current location, or tap the location button to have Wigglehop find it automatically; alternatively, if you’ll be in a different area at the time you plan on seeing a movie, you can type that address or zip code. The app displays the 15 closest theaters. Tapping any theater expands its entry to display a cute Admit ticket stub, the number of movies playing at the theater and its distance from you. If you tap the theater’s map icon, you’ll see the location of all selected theaters on a map. (The map view also offers a Directions button that switches to the Maps app to tell you how to get to the chosen theater from your current location.) Tapping the theater again collapses its listing. You expand just those theaters you want to consider for your movie trip, and then tap Movies, or swipe to the left, to switch to the Movies screen.
The Movies screen shows a similar list, this one containing a consolidated list of all movies playing at your chosen theaters. Tap the appropriate day to update the list for the day of your movie trip. The available days include only today and the next three days, which means you can’t plan a Saturday night out at the start of the work week—my biggest criticism of the app.
Tap any movie in the list, and, as with the theater listing, that entry expands to reveal more details—specifically, a short synopsis, the rating, the running time, and an image of the movie’s poster. Tap the poster to view the film’s trailer. Expand the entries for the movies you’re interested in, then tap Times (or swipe to the left) to proceed to the next step.
The Times screen shows a concise list of the chosen movies playing at your chosen theaters, sorted by time. By toggling the Morning, Day, Evening, and Night buttons, you can filter the list to show only viewings at particular times of day. (Movie times that have already passed are automatically hidden.) Tap a movie in the list to display the theater it’s playing at, as well as the familiar movie-poster button for viewing the film’s trailer. As with the Theaters and Movies screens, you narrow down your possibilities by tapping specific movie showings. (On any screen, you can swipe down to view the current time—useful if you’re planning for the same day.)
Finally, you tap Plans to view a summary of your chosen movies. Each of your selected showings is listed, with each displaying the film’s poster and information, the location, the time, and—a nice touch—the amount of time until the movie starts, updated in real time. (On the iPad, the information also includes actor and director names.) Unfortunately, unlike the other screens, the Plans list doesn’t let you collapse and expand each item—each viewing is shown only in expanded form, which can mean quite a bit of scrolling to browse them all.
While it took some time to describe those steps, in actual use, they’re quick and intuitive—Wigglehop is easy and even fun to use. And having used it for a number of months, I love how easy it is to get a single list of all the movies I want to see, regardless of which nearby theater they’re showing at. But for many people, the best thing about Wigglehop is that you can share that plan with your movie-watching friends and family. Whenever you create a plan, Wigglehop produces an attractive webpage that looks like a larger version of the Plan view you created, with all the same information. Tap Email or SMS, and the URL is sent to any contacts you choose; by default, the message includes the names of the chosen movies, but you can edit the message as you please. Tap Facebook or Twitter, and the app posts the link to that page to your Facebook page or Twitter feed, respectively; you can add whatever message you like. It’s a great feature when you’ve got a group of people trying to decide what to watch. I’ve even used it to send a single, already-settled movie time as a reminder.
Another feature I like is that Wigglehop remembers your theater and movie selections between launches. This is occasionally a minor nuisance, as you may have to remove a movie that you’ve since seen, but chances are, if I wanted to see a movie last week, I’d still be interested this week. It also means that if you’re planning to be out with friends or family this evening, you can create your plan, with possible movies, earlier in the day, and it will be waiting for you on your phone—either in the Wigglehop app or on the Web—that evening.
Plastic Trophy has recently added a web-app version of Wigglehop that looks and functions much the same as the iOS app, though I find the iOS version to be a bit more responsive, and the web app doesn’t always remember your selections over multiple visits. The web app also lacks the SMS-sharing option.
If you’re a frequent moviegoer, and especially if you regularly go to the movies with family or friends, Wigglehop is a standout app that makes planning—and sharing those plans—easy. It’s only major failing is that it won’t let you plan more than a few days out.
[Dan Frakes is a senior editor for Macworld.]