Once you start watching TV with your iPhone or iPad, there is no going back. When the big screen becomes boring, you just switch to the smaller screen, where a whole world of Twitter, email, the Web, and apps stand ready to entertain your multitasking mind. In this week’s episode of Fly or Die, CrunchGear editor John Biggs and I look at three TV apps designed to enhance your TV watching experience, not distract you from it. We give each one a “fly” or “die” verdict and, as usual, a founder from one of the companies joins us as a surprise guest to subject themselves to our grilling.
The three TV apps we evaluate in this show are IntoNow, Yap.TV, and FIOS Mobile. The first one, IntoNow, is like Shazam for TV shows. It lets you check into a show you are watching by simply listening to the audio signature of the show and comparing that agaianst its database. The app has a high gee-whiz factor, and it really nails identifying the shows with one click. But there is not much to do after that other than see what shows your friends on the app have watched and leave a comment about their bad taste in TV shows.
We both much prefer Yap.TV, which lets you navigate shows via an up-to-the-minute program guide or a grid showing trending shows. The whole point of the app is to, well, yap about TV, and not just with people you know. When you click on a show, you see a Twitter stream with all the realtime tweets about that show, along with polls, and a window where you can chat more privately with just your friends. The app goes way beyond the checkin, by giving you something to do related to the show you are watching. The app works especially well for appointment TV, things like the Superbowl, the Grammy’s, or even The Colbert Report, where lots of people are watching at the same time. Through the app, you can have a conversation about what your watching with other people across the country. I call these “apps for lonely people,” but then again as John points out, TV is a lonely medium.
Finally, the last app we review is FIOS Mobile, which is a program guide and iPad remote for Verizon FIOS TV subscribers. I am a subscriber, and this app is my new remote control. It lets you tune into any show currently on, or on-demand, through your WiFi network in your house and your set-top box. The app itself is a bit clunky (the program guide takes forever to fully load), but it is such an improvement over the traditional remote control that it is now my default. I can keep looking for something better to watch on my iPad instead of annoying my wife to no end by scrolling through the program guide every five minutes on the TV screen. I just wish it allowed for direct streaming to my iPAd like Comcast’s Xfinity app allows for on-demand movies.
Which TV apps do you swear by?