If there’s one thing I am adamant about (except all things Apple) it’s not missing my TV shows. It used to be easy, years ago, when the number of shows was somewhat manageable. Today though, there seem to be hundreds and hundreds of different offerings that compete for your attention. And if you get sucked into one show, it quickly becomes two, five, ten or more. How does anyone keep track of them?
You could check running times online or in your local newspaper, but there’s a much more elegant way if you own an iPhone or iPad, because, well, there’s an app for that. It’s called iTV Shows 2 and we’re going to take a look at it today.
Keep Track of All Your Shows
In the spirit of making things easier, iTV Shows 2′s premise is to help you to keep track of all your favorite TV shows. For the app to help you, the first step is to let it get to know what you’re currently watching. iTV Shows 2 makes that quite easy: hit the plus button and enter the name of a show. You’ll quickly be presented with results from which you can pick the right one. An additional tap on the info button will present more information.
Once you have entered a couple of shows, you can use the Genius button at the bottom. It analyzes the kind of shows you like and suggest other shows based on that; it’s somewhat like Apple’s own Genius in iTunes. I found the suggestions pretty accurate and actually discovered one or two new shows through this feature.
After all the shows you are currently watching have been added, iTV Shows 2 creates sections according to air dates (you can disable this feature in the settings). Apart from the benefit of being able to quickly see what airs when, I have to admire the clear design of the list. It’s fun to simply look at — it’s just so beautiful.
At the top of the list you can see two buttons — Next and Last. By default, Next is selected and shows you all the shows that will air in the future. If you think you have missed out on something, or have been away for a while and need to catch up, select Last and you’ll see the last episode of every show aired, with everything further back than the last week simply put into the Previous category.
Learn More About Episodes
Now, iTV Shows 2 doesn’t only let you manage your shows, it will also provide you with additional information. With a single tap on any show, you will bring up another window which slides up to the right of the existing pane.
There’s some gorgeous artwork on top, the air date of the next episode listed under the prominent show title and then a list view of all aired and future announced episodes complete with a thumbnail preview and air date. The bookmark next to it indicates if you’ve marked the show as watched (red) or not (gray).
Tapping on a specific show will slide up yet another panel — Twitter for iPad, anyone? — and let you preview a clip from the show and give you a summary. If you collect shows through iTunes, it will take you there as well if the show is listed.
I would have liked the preview video to open directly inside iTV Shows 2, but instead the clip is pulled from iTunes and opened in Safari. After watching it, you have to switch applications, which is not ideal, but maybe there’s no other way to do it.
Another gripe I have is with those panels holding additional information. I have to disclose that I am no fan of the iPad Twitter app, which uses the same navigation interface. I literally hate sliding those panels away and in iTV Shows 2, once you’ve called up the middle panel, which holds general information about a series, you can’t slide it away. It will change the content when you select a different series, but if I want it gone, I have to quit the app. Maybe I’m just too obsessive, but I don’t like windows I don’t have any control over. It’s distracting.
Letting You Know In Time
Ok, so you’ve got your shows in iTV Shows 2, you have everything arranged neatly. How will you make sure you won’t miss an air date, so you can live watch a show and not be spoiled by tweets or Facebook postings?
Easy. Allow iTV Shows 2 to send you push notifications (go into your iPad’s settings app and search for it under Notifications) and depending on your settings, the app will remind you beforehand so you can run and turn on your TV.
Checking Off Those Shows
Now, one of the features I like is the above mentioned ability to check off those shows you’ve already watched, giving you a clean overview of what you still need to catch up on. There’s even a separate button for it at the bottom of the left pane.
Right now for example, work has taken up most of my time in the recent three weeks so I haven’t really gotten around to watch anything. I quick glance into this category lets me know where to catch up.
Also, the ability to add shows that have long been ended, allows me to conveniently re-watch or even first-watch a show. I still haven’t made it through my complete box set of LOST DVD’s, but as I go long, I can tick off the episodes.
iTV Showsv is a recent acquisition; for years I have been a faithful user of TV Forecast. I was quite happy with what the app offered; I needed a quick overview of all the shows I was following, a content summary and not much more.
There are two main reasons I switched to iTV shows 2: first, TV Forecast pulls its information from the website TV Rage and quite often, it doesn’t perform too well. The app either hangs or doesn’t update at all because the website acts up. It’s no fault of the developer, but I as a user am terribly annoyed by it. Usually, the guys over at TV Rage fix it in a couple of days, but still. The other reason is that iTV Shows offers me better management of my shows, with ticking off watched ones and drawing video previews, et cetera. It doesn’t hurt that it’s universal, either.
The only area that TV Forecast outperforms iTV Shows 2 is when it comes to adding series that will start in the future. This year’s Fall schedule brings a number of new and interesting stuff, but I can’t add it to iTV Shows yet. Which is annoying, because in the fall, I won’t remember and will need to research all over again. While it doesn’t find everything that’s new, TV Forecast let me add a number of future series and will remind me when the pilot and first episode airs.
iTV Shows 2 was a pleasant experience after TV Forecast failed to perform due to issues with the source of its information. The additional information included and the wealth of features make iTV Shows 2 my perfect companion when it comes to keeping track of all my favorite series. It has its disadvantages when it comes to navigation (Twitter style) and future series though, which I can’t overlook since I know there are ways to do it better. Overall though, I like iTV Shows 2 and will most likely stick with it.