Summary:

Yahoo released its IntoNow iPad app yesterday, adding a larger form factor and more social features to the TV chec-kin service. I go hands-on to see what all the fuss is about, and find a neat interface for finding new shows based on what others watch.

intonow recommended

When Yahoo bought IntoNow in January, it was just another mobile app to share what you’re watching with friends. But IntoNow had a twist: Its audio fingerprinting technology made it easier than ever for users to find what they were watching and automatically post it to their social networks.

While audio fingerprinting might have been a big part of its appeal at the time, and could be key to the app’s integration with the Yahoo Connected TV framework, the latest iteration goes beyond just allowing users to share what they’re watching with friends. It also provides a robust platform for showing them new content they might want to watch.

Below, we go hands-on with the app to tell you what we think of the new app and interface.

What are your friends watching?

The key to any social discovery platform is making it easy for users to see what different connections have viewed, and IntoNow is no different. When a user first logs in, the app allows him or her to add connections from Facebook, Twitter and Gmail accounts, as well as search address book contacts. Once those connections are established, the user can view that network’s recent TV viewing in the “Activity” field.

But IntoNow goes well beyond that. Users can check out whatever anyone has checked into recently on the app, by tapping the “Everyone” tab, and can browse on air content that friends have liked as well. And it’s this focus on extending beyond friend lists that really sets it apart from some other social TV apps.

What’s popular and what’s recommended

The best part of the IntoNow app, in my opinion, is the “popular” tab, which lets users peruse the most-watched shows. That can be sorted over the past 24 hours, week, 30 days or all time. It then provides detailed information about the shows, including the number of friends that have tuned in, likes, dislikes, and discussions about episodes and links to Twitter discussions and IMDb  pages.

The “discover” tab, meanwhile, highlights shows that come recommended based on what you’ve liked or what’s upcoming on the current TV schedule. In my experience, some of these recommendations were no-brainers (for instance, suggesting the ultra-popular Modern Family or Mad Men), while others made no sense at all (Gossip Girl, really?). This was based on a limited test, so I’m hoping that recommendations get refined as time goes on.

Taking the conversation forward

As mentioned before, one of the benefits of the app is the discussion sections, which are available through show pages. This is implemented in a couple of ways: First, by providing a view into the official Twitter feeds of shows, as well as through comments that users can make in-app.

IntoNow is far from the first app to try to build engagement with shows in-app, and most discussions don’t provide a whole lot of value to the show pages, so it will be interesting to see how this evolves over time. At the very least, it keeps some of the conversation within the app, as opposed to other social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

Conclusion

IntoNow’s iPad app enters an already crowded market for social check-ins and discovery, and has a few good points: For one, the interface is pretty slick, and the actual check-in function is relatively seamless. But the app might suffer from trying to do too much, and therefore can be slightly confusing from a user experience perspective.

As time goes on, we’re mainly interested in what sort of synchronous experiences can be built between the TV and the second-screen app, since IntoNow knows what you’re watching based on the audio fingerprint. But for now, the IntoNow iPad app is a solid entrant into the segment.

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