By: David Pierce
REMEMBER WHEN TV Guide was a channel? You’d flip to it, and carefully scan the scrolling grid of boxes, usually located underneath an obnoxious infomercial, to see what was on and where. You couldn’t click on anything, because this was the 90s, so you’d have to go back to the remote and hope you remembered the channel.
First things got better, with TiVo and the interactive guide that popped up over whatever you were watching. Then things got worse. Now we have 700 channels full of stuff to watch. More than that, we’re looking for things that aren’t on a channel at all. We’re on Netflix and Hulu, Amazon and Crackle, Showtime Go and HBO Now. We need a sortable, searchable interface for TV more than ever, but it’s not like Comcast, Time Warner, Netflix, and Amazon are coming together to help each other out and make a Streaming Guide channel. Not only is TV Guide not good enough anymore, there is no TV Guide.
But there is the App Store. (And the Play Store, and whatever the Windows one is called.) Over the last few years, plenty of developers have tried to create exactly the product the cord-cutting crew needs. They’ve only gotten better, too: Thanks to deep-linking, some apps let you press play and be taken not just to the right app or page, but straight to the show or movie itself. With Chromecast or Airplay, you can use the app as a full-fledged remote control. And, mercifully, there are finally a couple that aren’t hideously ugly.
There are two of these Streaming Guide apps worth downloading. There are many more in the stores, likeBuddyTV and MovieLaLa (which wins for best name) andNextGuide and CanIStream.It. They have their merits (particularly NextGuide, which is amazingly powerful and terribly confusing to use). Between them, they have almost a perfect setup: part social network, part universal remote, part TV Guide. But right now there are only two that might actually warrant a spot on your homescreen: Fan.TV and the Yahoo Video Guide.