I’m normally not one to use the word “finally” in a headline. Unlike some, I tend to forego snarky comments when a feature has been added to an OS or hardware device that others think should have been added long before (a typical occurrence with the annual iOS and iPhone updates). However, as a Netflix user since 2009, I’ve always been displeased with the method provided to manage my Instant Queue.
It’s true that Movies by Flixster does offer the ability to sort your queue; personally, though, I’d much rather use a single tool to manage my entire Netflix account, queue and all. Luckily, I’ve finally found that tool in the form of CineTap.
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When you fire up CineTap, you’ll first need to log in with your Netflix credentials (you can also browse around the app for a bit before signing in, if that’s your prerogative). It’s definitely worth noting that downloading CineTap is free in the App Store, however, many of the features I’m going to discuss requires a $1.99 in-app purchase.
Even though my queue is packed full of content, from time to time I enjoy scavenging for new movies and shows. I’ve had an enjoyable experience when finding content in the Netflix app for the iPad, but soon found that CineTap offers a better experience. First of all, CineTap offers a wide variety of categories from which to find new movies and shows. The main category, Suggestions for You, should be familiar to most users, as it contains many of the categories you find when using Netflix (e.g. Recently Watched, Top 10 for User, Popular on Netflix, etc.).
Using the main menu, you can search for content via a slew of categories not found in Netflix (or most of the devices used to stream Netflix), such as actors, directors, top user rated by genre, top user rated movies/shows, and even the New York Times 1,000 Best Movies Ever Made list. When you tap on any of the categories, the page will reload to display the content you requested in Netflix’s signature horizontal scrolling interface; but, if you prefer displaying results by lists, you can do so by tapping the yellow arrow icon within the category button.
When you find a category you like, you can scroll through the provided content by flicking left or right on the provided sections (movies/shows with a blue corner marking indicate that it’s already in your queue and a red corner marking indicates that the movie/show is available for disc only). All in all, it’s just like using the Netflix iPad app. One feature that goes past the official app though, is the ability to tap a See All button to view content in a vertical scrolling grid. From here, you can sort the content by a variety of options (e.g. title, star rating, release year, maturity rating). Horizontal scrolling is fine and all, but I personally love seeing gridviews, which is why this is my second favorite feature of CineTap (first being queue management).
Tapping on a movie/show will bring of a menu that displays information about your selection, such as a suggested star rating (if you haven’t rated the movie/show already), a show description and cast information, an episode list, and suggestions for similar movies/shows. You can also add the movie/show to your Instant Queue or Disc Queue. While CineTap can’t play Instant Stream movies, tapping the Watch Now button will open the Netflix app (assuming you have it installed) and it will start playing your selection instantly.
Managing Your Queues
To start the process of managing your queue, select the Queues button at the bottom of the menu. The page will reload and show you two sections — one for your Instant Queue and another for your DVD Queue (CineTap doesn’t offer a method of turning off the Disc Queue, which isn’t really necessary but would be nice to have). From this page you can scroll through your queues, and remove movies/shows by tapping on them and selecting the “Remove from Instant” button (you can also remove DVDs from your Disc Queue).
Tapping the See All button will display your queue in a vertical scrolling grid (same as before). To sort the queue, tap the Edit button at the top. The edit page displays each all your queue content in a vertical list. For each item you can remove it from your queue by using the familiar delete icon, move the item to the top of list by tapping the “to Top” button, or change the position of a movie/show in your queue using the row reorder icon.
You can use CineTap in landscape or portrait mode, but when reordering your queue I strongly suggest doing so in portrait mode, as you can see more content at one time. When you’re moving a movie/show a distance that stretches beyond the length of the screen, I sometimes encountered an issue where the item just stopped before I got to me desired spot on the list. This isn’t really an issue with CineTap as much as it is with iOS, but my advice is to play around with the app to find the sweep spot in which the item you’re sorting moves up and down the list with speed and grace, without stopping abruptly. When you’re finished reordering your list, tap the Done button at the top.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m quite fond of this app. To me, CineTap offers the experience that Netflix should have offered a long time ago (now I sound like all those other snarky commenters). I love Netflix and believe it provides a service that’s unmatched by any other, and it’s hard to complain that so much great content is offered that I can’t properly maintain my queue.
Luckily, my complaining days are a thing of past and I can look forward to easily adjusting my Instant Queue as needed from here on out. Perhaps you find Flixster’s sorting functionality to be more than satisfying (especially since it’s free); but, if you’re thinking about checking out CineTap, the developer offers a free sneak peek every day from 8 to 9 PM that allows you to use the features you’ll receive with the in-app purchase.