Last year we looked at a number of movie-related tablet apps prompted by the rise of the second screen app market, which has been fraught with peril and success in equal measure. Fans of a particular show now have their own app to cuddle up with while their show is on to enjoy a live stream of tweets, network-approved trivia and behind the scenes information to complement their viewing. And this is just the beginning.

While many of us prefer to cradle our tablets locked onto IMDb (for films, to find out exactly who did voice that chimp), or Twitter (for TV, to enjoy the cast tweeting how bad the catering was on that particular set, or to argue the toss about the best Doctor Who story) app makers are now set on creating all-in-one experiences. Combining relevant tweets, highlighting other shows you might like based on your viewing habits, linking to trivia and other online miscellany is now the goal. So you would have a true second screen experience to properly complement your first.

Where this leads us to, with its public tweeting of what you’re watching and when, is a succession of global watercooler moment – the holy grail for TV Networks. It provides instant and visible feedback as to who is watching, and what they are watching for. Polls, stickers, and other loyalty-inspired add-ons can make for an addictive experience. Cinephiles have long enjoyed the downloadable mp3s of directors providing unofficial commentary tracks for their movies; Rian Johnson and Kevin Smith are two such directors to embrace this new technology.

Beyond the Screen app

Studios are following suit, and are using some of the same Shazam-esque technology of listening out for the film’s audio and matching up the content on the app. We reviewed Universal’s Beyond the Screen app a few months ago and found the Edgar Wright specific trivia, soundtrack info and so on was a worthwhile accompaniment for the films.

In public things have also changed, and not without some controversy. Nestled ostentatiously between the adverts and trailers in your local multiplex Cinime asks you to whip out your phone in the cinema – purists were up in arms as this is a definite no-no. We’ll see how this pans out in the next year or so but as it doesn’t offer anything extra to the experience (free hot dogs aren’t exactly an enticement) it all depends on how stubborn the creators are.

So what’s in it for you? For a start there’s an addictive quality to watching certain shows with Twitter fluttering updates in real time. Yes, most of the comments range from ‘Oh Em Gee…’ to ‘Are people really that stupid?’ but that’s up to you and your twitter feed. Attention and retention is everything in the app game. Get Glue recently relaunched itself as the more obviously named Tv Tag and recently attempted to buoy their users by sending a Walter White bobblehead into space.

Why is all of this important? And why are the studios and network desperately scrabbling for your attention? Firstly it’s data gathering, plain and simple. You’re using their platforms and they will reap as much as they can about you to further sell you more stuff. Secondly, though no less importantly, this is the last gasp of the scheduled programming scene. Having to cope with the onslaught of a dozen new channels each year, the convenience of catchup TV, and then the internet and Generation YouTube, traditional TV is embracing the internet to return people to their sofas. When shows trend on Twitter, or we are pointed via a gruff voiceover to a network TV website while the credits roll, someone is getting paid. So, what of the future?

There will be moderate leaps in the use of social networking but it’s hard to see where else they can go. Until we see dreamatoriums on sale in our local high street and the holographic form of a director is beamed onto our sofa to sit with us through the movie, stealing the popcorn and commenting on how bad the catering was the day they shot that scene we’ll have to keep our eyes on our tablets. And that’s exactly what the networks and studios are hoping we’ll do.

Click here for more on our recommended movie-related tablet apps and check out the latest iPads available from most retails outlets.