Sky has moved to create an interactive digital TV guide out of the iPad, with a new app designed specifically for the Apple tablet that lets you select programmes to record without having to pick up your traditional remote; and yes, moments after it hit the iTunes store, we’ve downloaded it to have a hands-on to see whether you should bother too.
For those who’ve already got the Sky+ app for their iPhone, the new offering takes the same TV guide elements, but adds a more “discovery” focused experience that highlights shows and movies you may want to record.
Power up the app and you're presented with the picks of the week. The app works in both landscape and portrait mode, and the design changes subtly when you change the orientation of the iPad.
Press on one of the highlights and a further screen appears giving you more information on the show: like its length, whether or not it's in HD, the audio quality and if it’s on at other times (you wouldn’t want it to clash with another recording would you?)
The information card also displays a “You may also like...” panel suggesting other shows or movies you might be interested in; and judging by the shows and movies that are highlighted when we fired up the app, the Sky team has done a good job of matching the genre. Avatar for example suggests you should also watch The Day The Earth Stood Still, Armageddon, Minority Report, and District 9.
Press record and moments later it will match up with your Sky box under your television (as long as you’ve pre-created an account) and you're done.
Getting away from the “Sky Showcase” area of the app reveals the TV guide. Here you can view the planner by day, bychannel categories (HD for example) or choose whether or not the additional info is displayed straight away.
The interface is incredibly fluid with you being able to swipe your way through hours of TV listing within seconds, up to 7 days from that moment.
It’s restricted to 7 days because of limitations with the way broadcasters lock down the TV schedules, rather than Sky’s decision to keep you coming back week after week.
The whole premise of the app is to let you schedule your television viewing at the start of the week, whether you are sitting on the train coming home or actually on the sofa in front of the television.
In that guise it works very well indeed, with the extra real estate that the iPad has over the iPhone giving you a more commander on the battlefield approach.
We especially like the search box that lets you search all the listings if you are looking for something specific.
Grumbles? It would be nice to simply roll on to the next day of listings rather that just stop at midnight, and of course the ability to at least earmark programmes that you know are coming, but are further than a week out (at time of writing we can’t record Alice in Wonderland in 3D for example).
If you’ve got an iPad and you’ve got Sky+ this is a no brainer really.