Peel originally launched as a hardware/software combo to bring smart remote features for your TV to the iPhone, but that was a few years ago, and the company has since focused more on building software, with a mobile app that provides social TV viewing features and personalized recommendations. The startup has been working with Android devices with built-in IR blasters to unite its social software and actual TV remote control, but the iPhone of course features no IR tech on board.
Today, however, the company is relaunching its smart remote app specifically for connected set-top box equipment available to DISH Network and DirectTV customers. The app can control these boxes via Wi-Fi connections, giving the iPhone software full control over DVR functions including channel changing, smart guide navigation, setting and playing back recordings and more.
Peel has had success on Android thus far, in part because of manufacturers’ willingness to include IR blasters in their devices, including the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Some devices also come with Peel’s Smart Remote software pre-loaded, which helps them extend their consumer reach.
The key market to access in order to move forward with any kind of smart TV/dual-screen social viewing strategy is iOS, however, given the demographics of iOS users and the markets where Apple’s operating system is strongest (the U.S., where TV viewing is most normalized and commercialized. It’s unlikely that Apple will bother introducing IR hardware anytime soon, and as Peel itself has discovered, aftermarket solutions like an intermediary dongle don’t seem to lure in many buyers. Working with cable and satellite providers is likely the best solution, especially now that most modern set-top boxes offer alternate connectivity options like Wi-Fi.
Peel says it will continue to work with other providers to expand the compatibility of its app, and the iPhone app will also work with its Peel.in platform, which makes it possible for networks to distribute unique links over social media that when clicked, will open the Peel.in app and change the channel to relevant content immediately.