Look at Pete

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Is Your App a Reference or a Guide?

Remember the movie showtimes you used to find in the newspaper? They were near the back of the Living section, or whichever section was the thinnest. Growing up, every theater in my city would take out an ad and stuff their showtimes into the smallest box they could. And that was how we found movie showtimes. It was the only way.

Now that the age of apps is upon us, there are plenty that have tried to replace the movie showtimes advertisements in the back of the newspaper. I've thrown my hat in the ring, with my app Cinematic.

But the unfortunate thing about these apps is that they've merely replaced the ads, they've haven't really improved upon them.

Phase 1: Becoming Better than Paper

I made my app with the goal of improving upon the newspaper ads. For example, my app doesn't display showtimes that have already passed. Many movie showtimes apps still do. It also lets you save and filter by your favorite theaters. Finally, it displays the approximate end time for each showing, for convenience. Simple stuff, for sure, but it makes a better experience.

But even with these improvements, the app is still just a reference. It's the digital equivalent of those tiny newspaper ads. Which, frankly, isn't enough for me.

Phase 2: From Reference to Guide

The next feature I have planned for Cinematic is intended to turn it from a reference into a guide. In the current version of the app, once you've found your showtime, my work is done. But that doesn't have to be the end of the use case.

What if someone intends to go to a 7:00 showtime, but then they open up Cinematic again at 7:05 and they're 2 miles away from the theater? They've missed their movie, and are probably looking for something else at that theater. What would the app look like in this case? Right now, it looks the same as it always does. But I already know the theater they're headed to, and the movie they intended to see. Soon, it will show the next time their movie is playing at the theater, and the next three showings for any movie at the theater, in case they want to switch.

The advantages Cinematic has over those newspaper ads is that I know the context. I know the movie you want to see, the theater you want to go to, and whether or not you're going to make it. Taking this information into account is what elevates an app like mine from a reference to a guide.

How about yours?

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