Do you lie awake at night worrying you’ll miss the next episode of NCIS? Do you feel lost if your other friends know the latest news about The Big Bang Theory before you? Are you sick of constantly scrolling through hours of the programming grid just to find out when Breaking Bad will air a new episode?
Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little, or maybe you really do need counseling to break your TV addiction. Either way, TV Guide Mobile is the app that brings the famous website to the iPad and scratches your television itch. Read on to learn all it has to offer.
Getting Set Up
When the app first loads you’ll need to do some quick set up. Thankfully, it takes less than two minutes to go through the process. First, you’re asked to sign in using your favorite service. You can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Google or email. Next, input your zip code and it quickly finds TV service in your area giving you the option of cable and satellite providers or antenna. There are options for international providers as well if you don’t live in the United States. Finally, you’ll go through a short tutorial explaining some of the app’s most popular features.
My first impression was that the layout was easy to understand and navigate. The majority of TV Guide’s contents are accessible through the buttons across the bottom of the screen. The main exception is adding favorites. Just tap the button in the top right corner then sort by category (like new fall shows, trending or NBC’s fall lineup) or search for a show. When you’ve found one you’d like to add as a favorite, simply tap to star it and add it to your list.
You can also tap TV Shows in the center of the screen once you’ve entered the favorites area to find your favorite movies, celebrities or sports teams.
Following Your Favorites
Once you’ve selected your favorites there are a number of useful features available to you. It’s easy to see when all your favorite shows air on TV in the watchlist including new shows and syndicated, as well as options for streaming or watching on DVD. You can also set alerts to remind you to tune in if you prefer to watch shows rather than record them. Alerts can either be for one time airings or recurring shows.
Tap “I’ll watch” to let your friends know what shows you like on Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! or through email. You can also see how many other people have said they are watching an episode. The thing I liked most about setting my favorite shows is that it provides an easier way to see when they are on instead of having to look over an entire TV guide grid and scroll through hours of shows to get from one day to the next.
For those who still prefer to see full TV listings or just what’s on tonight you still have the ability to do that. There are a couple of ways to discover new shows throughout the app as well. The featured section currently has a Fall Preview available and there’s a category called New Fall Shows when you go to add favorites.
One complaint I have is it is fairly easy to find descriptions of an episode, but not always easy to find out the overall premise of a series. For example, I could see a description of what one episode of Restaurant Impossible was about, but what is the overall concept of the show?
When trying to find shows to mark them as favorites you can use the search feature to quickly find shows or go to listings for one specific network.
Beyond Typical Providers
One of the things I liked about TV Guide Mobile is that it offered options to view shows through means other than the typical choices of satellite, antenna or cable providers. Being someone who has only antenna and watches the majority of my content online, I found it refreshing to see selections from various services presented altogether in one app.
You are given the choice of linking with many online services (Hulu Plus, iTunes, HBO Go, CW, ABC Family, ABC and Crackle) that you can then watch instantly inside the app. The majority of results I found were linked to the Hulu Plus and iTunes libraries, but shows that air on networks like HBO and ABC would direct you to download their corresponding apps.
But Wait, There’s More!
For all you couch potatoes and entertainment news junkies out there TV Guide Mobile provides a couple ways to further feed your addiction. You can keep up to speed with all the latest entertainment news or, if you prefer, just news concerning items in your watchlist, including sneak peek videos.
There are photo albums to look at from events like the Emmys to topics like “TV’s Most Precocious Kids.” Also, the videos tab is a collection of picks from TV Guide editors and sneak peeks, classic TV, movies and others available from online services. You can also see TVGuide.com exclusive interviews and see what shows your favorite celebrities like to watch too.
Is It Right For You?
There are some apps that everyone needs, but with TV Guide Mobile you need to ask, “Is it right for me?” The good thing is that it’s free, so you’re really not losing much by downloading it and checking it out (other than 14 MB of hard drive space). I’m sure many who have DVR service with built in TV listings are asking, “What’s the point?”
To me, the main benefits are being able to quickly see when your favorite shows are on using the watchlist or seeing what’s New Tonight and being reminded so you never miss an episode. For fanatics, the entertainment news and other features that take you behind the scenes will be a selling point.
There were a few other things I found disappointing. The app is sponsored by NBC and it shows throughout the app by featuring their shows and inserting small ads for them. Thankfully, I didn’t find this so prevalent that it was overwhelming. Also, if you choose to view all shows when looking at what’s New Tonight, it doesn’t actually show you every show that’s on. It’s just a random smattering of shows from a bunch of different channels, but it doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to which ones are chosen.
Aside from the few wrinkles mentioned here I think the app does a good job representing TV Guide and bringing their offerings to the iPad. People who have used this resource for years will be very happy to get this app and I’m sure they’ll gather some new fans as well.