We first covered Jinni way back in 2009, calling it the Last.fm for movies, just as the service was opened to public beta. While Jinni may not be a name that sits on the tip of your tongue, the Israeli startup has been notching up some pretty impressive content partnerships in recent times.
In a nutshell, Jinni is a ‘semantic discovery engine’ designed to help you find ideas for movies to watch through a Web-based portal. But in June last year, it launched its first set-top box as part of its ongoing partnership with Belgian telecommunications operator Belgacom.
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And in January this year, Jinni announced seven media tie-ups with some big-name brands around the world, including Time Warner; Walmart-owned online video service VUDU; Bouygues Telecom (part of French media and telecoms company Bouygues Group); Spain’s Prisa TV; Nordic pay TV provider C More Entertainment; Asian giant SingTel, and South African pay TV provider Multichoice. This was in addition to its existing Microsoft deal.
Now, Jinni has rolled out its first native iPad app, as well as an all-new website, promising to deliver the “ultimate personalized TV guide”, including recommendations based on your mood, reminders, and watch-lists. We take a quick peek under the hood.
How it works
First up, you can log-in with your Facebook credentials or create a Jinni account by email.
Now, here is where things start to get useful, but if you’re not based in the US, you won’t be able to use its full features yet.
You indicate which country you’re in, and if it’s not the USA then you can’t select your cable or satellite TV provider – this information is obviously important for the TV guide element of the app, however there’s still enough going on here to make this worth your while.
For the record, the TV provider element will be hitting Europe in 2014, starting with the UK.
You can also connect your Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, VUDU, HBOGo and Xfinity, with Jinny pulling in all your data to serve up recommendations across the board. So if you struggle to find a good movie on Netflix, it can use other data from your profile to tell you what you might like.
Indeed, Jinny uses ratings and viewing history from services such as Netflix, Rotten Tomatos or IMDb to drill down into your tastes to establish what ‘moods’, ‘plots’ and general type of movies you like.
During the set-up process, Jinny asks specific question, requesting that you select up to 3 ‘tastes’ to get things going – for example ‘Humorous Buddies’ includes gems such as Wedding Crashers.
And it will present you with specific movies too, which you rate out of 5 – if you haven’t seen the film in question, hit the little cross and try the next one. This is all about getting things off to a good start when you first start using the app, and is obviously geared more towards those who don’t have a lot of data to tap in their other online services.
Once in, you’ll see a bunch of recommendations from your chosen services, and it even explains why you might like a movie (e.g. you liked another similar movie).
If you’re looking to go hunting for something, you can also search by mood (e.g. ‘Gloomy’ or ‘Bleak’), by plot, genres or a time period.
Throw into the mix the ability to build wish lists, receive notifications when movies or TV shows are about to begin, follow friends’ activities and receive group notifications based on shared interests, and it’s clear that Jinny offers a pretty compelling proposition.
For now, however, Jinny remains pretty US-centric given the services it integrates with. But it still offers some neat, personalized recommendations to all users and this should improve over time. Plus, it also gives a glimpse into what the rest of us can start enjoying when it opens up its full features internationally in 2014 and beyond.
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