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i.TV is back with a new-and-improved version of its iPhone app. While version 2 of this free TV app adds some key features, such as virtual remote controls and iTunes integration, it still doesn’t address the quibbles I had with the earlier version. Namely, finding and watching full episodes of your favorite TV shows remains a challenge.
Like the earlier versions, i.TV 2.0 offers a TV programming guide, customized for your cable provider and area, plus info about current movies. You can browse or search for shows, set reminders for upcoming shows, schedule recordings on your networked TiVo DVR, find local movie listings, update your Netflix queue, and watch a (very meager) selection of full TV episodes via YouTube. It also lets you find showings of current movies and helps you buy tickets.
Once you find a certain TV show or movie and click on it, you’re presented with some basic info about it, plus two options: Details or Watch. Details lets you see photo galleries, credits, reviews, and more information about the title you’ve selected. Watch presents you with the options available for actually watching the show or movie via downloads, Netflix, streams, or upcoming showings.
And this is what disappointed me most about i.TV. I want an iPhone app that offers me full episodes of TV shows, not one that just points me in the direction of them, as i.TV does. And it doesn’t even point me to all sources of these episodes. I selected The Office, for example, and was told that there are 100 episodes available for purchase on iTunes. That’s great, but if I wanted to purchase a show from iTunes, I could just as easily go there. I’d be more interested in knowing that I could buy an episode if I could be sure that a streaming version wasn’t available for free anywhere. i.TV’s streaming directory, meanwhile, is limited. It didn’t list any available streams for The Office, but when I search Hulu and YouTube, I find hundreds of available clips.
The new remote control feature in i.TV 2.0 shows some potential, but is right now very limited, too. It allows you to turn your iPhone into a remote control for certain devices. I can certainly see the allure of browsing a programming guide on your phone and then tapping a few buttons to record or watch that show on your TiVo. But right now, the only products that the remote feature works with are the TiVo HD DVR and the TiVO HD XL DVR. i.TV says more devices will be added to that list, and that’s something that would greatly benefit the app. I’d especially love to see the company add support for the DVRs that so many people rent from their cable companies.
i.TV has plenty of potential, and it’s free. If you own a TiVo HD or a TiVo HD XL, you should try it for its remote control features alone. Personally, I’m just waiting for a better selection of streaming video; if the app could offer that, I’d be hooked.