Second Screen apps for Android - the perfect movie companion

We've talked a little already about Second Screen apps in the living room, and how they can make watching some of your favorite television shows even more entertaining. It's cool to have access to that extra information if you are a big fan, and as that experience grows and continues to take shape it'll be interesting to see just how much information we get from those experiences. While this setup is fun for TV shows, it's incredible for movies. Additional content for a TV show is nice, but all of our movies today come with hours and hours of additional content for viewers to enjoy. The advent of Blu-Ray has only made bonus content even more popular, and to take that experience one step further we've now got Second Screen apps to offer full immersion.

Read Part 1: Second Screen apps — what are they and why would you want to use one?

Google Play Movies

Second Screen apps for Movies come in a couple of different flavors, and unlike the television version these flavors are wildly different experiences. This has a lot to do with the different ways we watch movies nowadays. If you're the type to grab a movie off Google Play the day it becomes available and not bother with physical media at all, your Second Screen experience will sadly pale in comparison to the experience found in Second Screen apps that are available to those who go Blu-Ray. For the all digital folks, you're left with third party experiences like the scene by scene metadata offered in the Google Play Movies & TV app a slideshow you control manually if you install the Blu-Ray app. This is cool if you want to know who was in a scene or what song is being played, but you don't get much else.

Pirates Second Screen

Blu-Ray Second Screen experiences are all over the place, and not necessarily in a good way. Disney, for example, has stuck most of their Second Screen content on the web to be run in web app form, or on iOS. There are a couple of publishers who have gone this route, making it so Sony and Fox are the biggest publishers of Second Screen apps for Android. Unfortunately, Sony locks out a good portion of their Second Screen content to only work with Sony Android tablets. You should absolutely check out the Second Screen web apps if you get the chance, especially for films like Tron: Legacy and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, but if you've got a tablet handy the best experiences are going to be with an app and a Blu-Ray.

Xmen Second Screen

Second Screen cinema apps for Android are equal parts hardware and software experiences. Your best bet will be to use a tablet if you've got one handy. These apps perform a wireless handshake between the Blu-Ray player and your Android device to access some of the best features, so be sure to have both devices on the same wireless network if you can. Once the movie starts, the Second Screen app will automatically sync content to your device based on the timestamp in the movie. You'll see behind the scenes photos, videos, and storyboards related to the scenes, as well as the ability to play alternate scenes on the television when prompted. Your Second Screen app is effectively a whole new kind of remote control for the movie you are watching, with a mission control-esque command over the content associated with the scene. It's like taking all of the bonus material associated with the movie and putting them in context within the movie, which can be very cool.

As you can see, the Second Screen market for movies is a little on the confusing side. There's not a ton of options available to us Android folk just yet, but more movies are made all the time that support this kind of interaction, and it's the kind of technology that encourages a unique level of immersion with the user. It's the perfect accessory for those of us who watch every minute of content associated with a favorite movie, and a fantastic way to quickly learn more about the cast and content associated with the film. We just need a little more of it here in Android land.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter