MovieBuddy for Netflix [US $0.99] is a new native iPad app that serves as a graphically beautiful front-end for Netflix subscribers. Billy Crystal, as Fernando on Saturday Night Live, had a catch-phrase that went: "It's better to look good than to feel good," and that's what kept going through my mind as I looked at this app.
It looks great. You are presented with a beautiful velvet movie curtain that raises to show movies in your queue, or lets you browse for films by category by displaying lines of posters with a nicely rendered spotlight over each one. You swipe left to see more movies, or select See All to get a grid or CoverFlow view of all the movies in the category. When a movie is selected a box pops up allowing you to Add to Instant, Add to DVD, or Add to Blu-ray to put the movie in your queue. If the movie is available to stream, tapping on Watch Now plays the movie. Tapping on View Details brings up a lovely looking screen showing a large poster and the same information you saw before, but in a much nicer presentation. Not much new information is added outside of a slightly larger cast list. It all looks great. But how does it feel?
I didn't think it felt that great at all, since for a nice display you are giving up a ton of functionality found in the free Netflix iPad app, which must be installed on your iPad anyway before MovieBuddy will work. What you don't get is the artificial intelligence engine found on the Netflix site and on its app. I was told by the developers that the categories you get IS personalized in the same way it appears on the XBox, PS3 and WII, but I don't have one of these to see. The results didn't seem personalized to me and what was displayed in the Netlix app appeared much more aligned to my individual tastes. But something is going on since every movie in every category were films I had already seen and rated. Since MovieBuddy is competing with the Netflix app, here's a list of things that the Netflix app lets you do that MovieBuddy doesn't.