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Hands on With RunPee for iPhone

One movie. One iPhone. One app. One blogger. That was the scenario last night when I put RunPee for iPhone to the test. Available from Rock Software (iTunes Link) for $0.99, RunPee lets you know which points in a given movie that are safe to miss.

When word of this app first hit TUAW, it inspired a lively discussion about the appropriateness of missing any part of a movie. Our own Christina Warren argued passionately that to do so would take you out of the movie, even if you never got up and left. Other, smaller-bladdered bloggers, welcomed the idea saying that if you had to go, it was better to go at a time where less was happening on-screen.

Since I knew I was going to be seeing Star Trek, I volunteered to put the software to the test. RunPee provides a timed list for most of the newest releases, Star Trek among them. I took my iPhone and headed off to the Cinema.

So how did things go? Well, to be frank, not as well as I'd hoped. First of all, the RunPee software provides a list of times and cues, so you know when to head loo-wards. For example, at nearly an hour into the movie, one character says to another to take the con. Notice that I do not mention which characters are involved.

RunPee is not that discreet. In fact, its relatively short list of times and actions can be seen as a series of movie spoilers. There's no timed/reveal of each successive break so I was inadvertently spoiled from the start by several big plot developments, which are all shown on-screen at once.

In use it's also really hard to track the suggested break times. The app comes with a built-in timer but no other cues. You cannot stick the iPhone in your pocket and wait for alarmed vibrations, pulling it out to see if you're at the proper place or not. This feature is not in the software. Instead, you have to keep unlocking the screen and checking the time. It feels like work and it's really annoying to the people around you who keep getting flashed by the lit iPhone screen.

To use this application, you need Internet access. There's no way to download the data and then read it later offline. If your theater has poor cell reception, you're out of luck.

In short, RunPee does not yet bring anything to the table that a spoiler website couldn't. Yes, you get access to pre-timed lists that you could possibly use to service bladder interruptus but between the difficulty of use, the annoyance to other patrons, and the outright spoiling of movie points, RunPee didn't do what I had hoped. So points to Christina, who argued exactly that.

In e-mail, the developer has promised to add vibration support and is working on improving the product in other ways. For now, if you don't mind spoilers and you want to avoid the whole crazy astronaut woman syndrome, RunPee may supply the information you want. And the movie? Thumbs up. One of the better Star Trek offerings.

Name: Run Pee Mobile (iTunes link)
Developer: Rock Software
Platform: iPhone or iPod touch
Price: 0.99

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