Channels has grown to become one of the more popular applications for cord cutters who want to watch, pause, rewind and fast-forward live television on their 4th-generation Apple TV. Now that same functionality is arriving on iOS in a new app, launched this week. In addition to letting you watch live TV, the mobile application also lets you see what’s on in a full-grid TV guide.
While Apple itself has been toying with the idea of making its Apple TV a platform for cord cutters by launching its own streaming video service, those plans have not yet gotten off the ground.
Instead, its Apple TV platform today supports third-party applications, like Netflix, HBO, Hulu and others, that let you watch TV and movies for a subscription fee. It also hosts a number of TV apps from networks, including those you need a pay TV subscription to access.
Channels, however, offers a different type of solution for watching television via the Apple TV, and now, mobile.
Its tvOS app works with a variety of TV tuners from HDHomeRun, which connect with your Apple TV and HD antenna. (Some devices can also work with a CableCARD as well.) When setup is complete, you can then watch full HD TV right on your Apple TV. The app also supports closed captioning, surround sound, favoriting channels, channel flipping with swipes, and more. Plus, you can pause and seek live TV or jump back to prior channels by clicking.
Now on iOS, the mobile version of Channels offers the same feature set as its big-screen counterpart.
You can favorite channels in the Settings tab of the app, then click over to the “What’s On” tab to see what’s currently airing. You can also tap on a channel to view more information about it, or use 3D Touch. And the app lets you use gestures to move through channels and the live TV stream.
For example, you can skip ahead 30 seconds by swiping right or skip back 7 seconds with a left swipe. You can also double-tap with 2 fingers to go back to the previous channel or swipe up or down on the Quick Guide to see what else is on.
Channels says its live TV buffer works for about 90 minutes, more or less, given how much storage you have available on your mobile device.
According to (Channels’ maker) Fancy Bits’ co-founder Jon Maddox, Channels has earned the company revenue in “the several thousands” and sees a retention rate of about 71 percent when it comes to monthly active users on the Apple TV.
Like Channels for Apple TV, the iOS application is not free. The app costs a one-time fee of $14.99, and works on all iOS devices that have the A7 chip and up. Those who own the Apple TV version ($24.99) will have to purchase the new SKU as well, if they want to watch on mobile.