Review: TV Guide Mobile for iOS

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TV Guide has earned cred in television listings—the company has produced a printed guide of TV show listings since 1953. However, the way we watch TV has changed quite a bit since then, and the app that bears the company’s name attempts to keep up with the times. If you like a traditional list-type guide to find what’s on, TV Guide’s free app is a solid choice. The app makes it easy to find what’s new and if streaming versions are available, though its social features lack in comparison to other TV companion options.

TV Guide Mobile’s listings take on a familiar grid layout, but the touch interface makes it easier to zip through than using the guide on a TV screen. Tap a show to get an overview, set a reminder to watch it, check in to let others know that you plan to watch it, or add it to your Watchlist, which is a quick view tab that highlights your favorite shows.  It’s more convenient to add shows to your Watchlist through its wizard or search for shows. To get the most out of the Listing view, you should take the time to set up favorite channels; otherwise the app lists every channel from your provider, including premiums. You can also read relevant articles about the shows and actors you like that are posted on right through the app. The app is compatible with any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5 or later.

If you’re wondering what shows are airing new episodes, the New Tonight tab lists only new shows and can sort them by how many people are planning to watch, which is a gauge of how popular a show might be. The social features of the app are limited to saying you’ll watch a show and sharing it with others, along with an optional comment to Facebook and Twitter. There’s no option to chat directly with other users; however, I liked seeing how popular shows were with other users based on the number of show check-ins.

If you’re less interested in live TV—or if watching shows live doesn’t quite fit in with your busy schedule—you can find where a show or movie is available for streaming online. I found listings for iTunes, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Crackle, and ABC, but not Netflix or Amazon. Still, TV Guide Mobile offers the most streaming services of any second screen app that I’ve seen. TV Guide Mobile users would benefit from the service if we could specify which streaming services we subscribe to—that way, we won’t see a Hulu Plus option if we don’t subscribe, for example.

TV Guide Mobile’s familiar grid interface and integration of streaming options are a step forward for finding what’s on, but only a small step. The app will need to integrate more social features, like live chat, if it wants to remain relevant beyond its print days.

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