Thursday, December 25, 2008

My app reviewed...

Quite a good review, they are looking for DVD support, but that's what all the other apps do, and this one is intended to make it easier to deal with instant watching. If I added all the DVD stuff then it would be much more complex. Also the full size boxshots for each movie are only for instant movies, they are used in the HD versions of the on-TV display.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Version 3 is Now Available

I submitted to the App Store on Monday, and just got notice that its been accepted. Please let me know what you think and what you would like to see in the next version.

Some ideas I have:

- add more info per movie, all genres, ratings etc.
- save queue etc. data in the iPhone so it starts up quickly and synchronize using a background thread.
- redesign the user interface from scratch
- allow more movies to be pulled for each search, at present it gets the first 100 and picks out the instant ones

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Moving movies in your queue

I decided to add one more thing, and allow re-arranging movies in the queue. This got a bit more complicated since the saved items that appear at the end of the queue can't be moved, and its taking longer than expected to debug everything. Its going to be a few more days before it gets submitted to the app store.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Instant Queue View and Delete On The Way

The latest version is now functionally complete, your instant queue is loaded, movies that are already in your queue are greyed out when they appear in lists, you can see the entire queue and delete movies from it. There is some cosmetic clean-up to do, and more testing to make sure the code is robust. Version 3 should be ready to submit to the app store soon...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Queue add problems

If you have had problems adding movies to your queue in the last few days, this is due to an intermittent problem with the Netflix API service. Hopefully it will be fixed permanently soon. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Version 3 coming soon with Instant Queue

The next version in development now loads your instant queue at startup or when sign-in completes, it indicates movies that are already in your queue whenever they appear in a list, and it changes the [+] to [more] to pull up similar movies. To see the complete queue an option was added to the search menu popup (which now also sets input focus automatically).

The occasional problem where an added movie would not have any similars was a bug in the Netflix API, and it was fixed on Nov 24th, so now every movie should have similars available.

The app now takes longer to startup (depending on your queue size) so some better user feedback is needed, and a delete from queue option needs to be implemented, but a new release should be out soon.

The user interface isn't very "polished" as some reviewers have noted. I have some ideas, and that is likely to be the main focus of the subsequent release. Sales have stepped up to a new level with V2, which is encouraging, many thanks to everyone....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

App updated: Searching is here...

I submitted the update to the app store last Thursday morning, and it was approved Sunday evening, which seems pretty quick, and shows that they work weekends at Apple...

The new screenshots show the search feature and the similars feature. I will explain in detail what changed in the new version and how the new features work in this posting.  Please let me know what you think of the new features by commenting here, or providing a review on the app store.

There is a small change to the user login button. It always starts off saying [user] but it shows the first name of the user once the app has made a call to Netflix to get the user information. The information it gets is the first and last name, and whether the user can use instant watch. This is important since it is possible to login using a profile, and profiles do not support instant watching. On a slow network connection you may see the button start off as [user] and change on its own shortly afterwards, this is caused by the delay in getting Netflix to respond.

If you try to select the search button before you have logged in, it takes you to the login page, as if you had selected the user button. In normal use a popup appears, you need to touch the text field to select it for input to bring up the keyboard. You should enter some text that will help you find the title of a movie or TV show. The call to Netflix returns up to 100 titles, but the app only looks for instant titles, so you usually get between 5 and 25 shown in the resulting list.

The best matches are listed first, once you select a title it shows you the large format boxshot, and a description that includes title and genre. You can add the title to your queue, or return to the search results list and pick a different title.

The description of the title includes the genre and synopsis, it is obtained via a different call to Netflix compared to the main list of top and new choices that shows when you start the app. The names of actors are clickable, and if you are patient it will launch the full Netflix site in the window, showing you the summary page for that actor.

If you click on the [+] button the title is added to your queue. If the title is already in your queue you get a "can't add" message. You may also get a "continue" popup or a "more like this" popup. The "continue" popup is due to a bug in the Netflix API where it fails to provide a way to get the similar titles in all cases. It has been tracked down and should be fixed soon. The "more like this" option calls Netflix, and processes the results, which takes a few seconds. The resulting list of similar titles consists of the titles that are available for instant watching, taken from a list of up to 100 titles so it usually contains between 5 and 25 entries. Once you have picked a title from that list, if you add it you can get another list of similar titles. You can go several layers deep into the lists of similars, but eventually the iPhone will run out of memory and the application will quit.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Searching is on the way...

The next update will add a search capability, the results will be filtered to only show instant titles, since that is the focus for this application.

Other features being worked on include a view of your instant queue, and an indication that movies in other lists are already in your queue.

Updates to the application are free for existing users, many thanks to the thousands of people who have already downloaded this application.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Login Issue Resolved

The problem was caused by a configuration issue in the API service which has now been resolved, so login should be working correctly now. Sorry for any inconvenience.

User Login Issue

Something changed in the API server response, and now Instant Queue Add for Netflix isn't getting back the response it expects when it looks up the user name and whether that user can watch instantly. We are looking into it....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to add a movie

The app brings up a list of movies, and when you pick one it takes you to a big box shot picture, scroll up to see the description and full title.

If you have setup a user, then there is a + at the top right. Tap it and wait a second or two and it will confirm with a popup message. If the movie is already in your queue, then it will tell you that you could not add it again.

If you do not see a +, then you have not setup a user, so hit the user button on the home screen and login with your Netflix account. The login screen is a web page on the Netflix site, so you are not actually entering your Netflix password into the app. It uses "OAuth" security which is a safe way to authenticate applications.

Free for the first week!

Instant Queue Add for Netflix will be a free application until Weds 29th Oct, when it will revert to the ranks of the 99c bargain collection.

It seems to take a few hours for any changes to take effect in the iTunes App Store.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Non-obvious feature... browsing Netflix

If you tap on the movie box-shot there isn't a lot of user feedback but the Netflix website movie display page for that movie starts to load in the web view. If you wait a while for it to load you can see the full details of the movie, including reviews, star ratings etc, and add to DVD queue. The first time you do this you will have to login to Netflix, but it will remember your login for subsequent visits.

When you go back to the movie list, it may have been kicked out of memory by the web page, so it could take a few seconds to re-load the list of movies, and you will start at the beginning of the list.

At any time you can instantly go back to the movie list and abandon the netflix site page load.

Up on the App Store...

Instant Queue Add for Netflix is now available...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's in the App Store review process...

I finally got everything lined up for the submission to go through a few days ago. Now we get to find out how long it actually takes to review the code and appear in the store.

In the meantime, I'm cleaning up my code base and building a generic test program that will be posted as open source code to help other people get Netflix on iPhone apps up and running more quickly.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Instant Queue Add for Netflix

Home screen, teaser while its going through beta testing and the App Store process.