This Week's Sponsor:

Listen Later

Listen to Articles as Podcasts

Letterboxd 2.0 Brings iPad Version, Support for iOS Automation Apps

I’ve always been fascinated by Letterboxd, the popular service to catalog and rate movies you’ve watched, as well as share your appreciation for the art of film with other users in a social network-type environment. My problem, however, is that dedicating serious time to watching quality movies (instead of whatever is on TV) has mostly been an aspirational effort; I never truly attempted to make a list of films I want to watch and set aside a good chunk of time every week to enjoy them.

Among various “quality of life” improvements (which I briefly mentioned in this episode of Analog(ue) with Myke Hurley), earlier this year I decided to create an Airtable database with a list of movies I want to see, trying to tick one off at least every week. Since I started testing a beta of Letterboxd 2.0 for iOS last week though, I’m wondering if maybe now is the time for me to consider using a dedicated service to collect, rate, and discover movies.

Launching today on the App Store, the most notable change in Letterboxd 2.0 is the addition of a native iPad app. Based on the same principles and structure of the iPhone version, navigation in Letterboxd for iPad happens primarily via five tabs at the bottom of the screen; unlike the iPhone app, these tabs are labeled and easier to identify at a glance. Thanks to the larger canvas, every UI element in the app is bigger and more comfortable to interact with – which is unsurprising – but the Letterboxd iOS team also took the time to rethink how other controls should be laid out on the iPad’s screen.

In the Profile page, for instance, links to open sections for films you’ve rated, your likes, and watchlist have been relocated to a sidebar; when you open a movie’s individual listing, the iPad app shows larger cover art at the top, followed by a bigger movie poster than the iPhone version, with ratings and other actions grouped together on the left, leaving room for reviews and other useful information in the main view on the right.

One day, I'll be like Matthew. One day.

One day, I’ll be like Matthew. One day.

As Letterboxd founder Matthew Buchanan wrote in a blog post:

In the 22 months since the launch of our iPhone app, we’ve consistently received the same feedback: please make this work on my iPad! We’re pleased to announce that today we’ve shipped Letterboxd 2.0 for iOS, a universal app with native iPad support that brings the richness of our community to the larger form factor.

This was no small task. Some screens from the phone app just made sense larger (browsing grids of popular films) or presented in a popover (sorting and filtering options), while others (like member profiles) required more of a rethink. The results are glorious—our Patron profile pages have never looked so good! With three iPad resolutions and two orientations to consider, we’ve concentrated our efforts on the most commonly used views in the app, and we’ll continue to refine ancillary screens in future releases.

While browsing the Letterboxd iPad app in full-screen feels good, I’m particularly happy to see the company has embraced modern iPad multitasking too. Letterboxd fully supports Slide Over, Split View, and basic drag and drop for text fields (such as the search one); I’m going to be using Letterboxd next to apps like Safari or iTunes when I’m browsing around looking for movies to add to my watchlist, and I’m glad I won’t have to switch between multiple spaces to do so.

In addition to making the iOS app Universal, version 2.0 of Letterboxd has also adopted the x-callback-url protocol to support inter-app automation through URL schemes.

As detailed in the documentation available here, Letterboxd 2.0 supports three different actions: search (to perform a search on the service and filter by results by film, member, list, and other parameters), addToWatchlist (fairly self-explanatory), and log. With the latter, you can add a new entry to the app (either a review or a personal diary entry), pre-filling key details such as a movie’s title, date, and review from other apps, sending a request directly to Letterboxd’s compose window, which will populate each field based on what has been passed by the URL scheme.

A search for a movie that started in Drafts. After confirming a result, it will be added to your watchlist in Letterboxd.

A search for a movie that started in Drafts. After confirming a result, it will be added to your watchlist in Letterboxd.

For years, I’ve seen iOS users create workflows to log watched movies or archive reviews in note-taking apps that supported a rich URL scheme or web APIs, such as Day One (a popular choice for this task given its diary nature) or the aforementioned Airtable. With a URL scheme, Letterboxd can now be integrated with Drafts and Workflow on iOS, which opens up interesting possibilities as the log action supports HTML content in the review field. This means you could write a review in a Markdown environment like Bear and Ulysses, then use a workflow to convert it to HTML and send everything to Letterboxd, retaining formatting and content for other fields as well. The Letterboxd team has created some sample actions and workflows you can find here.

As I said above, I’m not a movie expert, but I want to discover and watch more movies in 2018. Letterboxd – which also offers two types of premium subscription on its website – is a thriving community with hundreds of thematic collections and excellent recommendations by movie aficionados who are passionate about this industry and art form. With an iPad version, Letterboxd now provides a rich and modern iOS experience that, hopefully, will help me grow my movie knowledge over the next few months.

Letterboxd 2.0 is available on the App Store.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.