5 apps to enhance mobile TV viewing
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The remote control is no longer the only handheld device to help you discover and tune in to quality TV shows. Smartphone and tablet applications now exist that will identify and provide background information for the shows you are watching, let you share your viewing experiences with friends and help you locate quality video clips from YouTube and elsewhere.
Here are five "must-download" TV apps:
The broadcast and cable networks are no longer the exclusive providers of video entertainment, of course. Every minute more than 72 hours of video content gets uploaded to YouTube. The challenge is to identify programs and video clips most relevant to you. Showyou beautifully showcases clips shared by those you follow on Facebook and Twitter. It is a great way to find high-quality programs in the expanding sea of digital content.
While there are plenty of applications that allow you to check in to your favorite shows and see which programs your friends are watching, IntoNow is far and away the best of the bunch. Using technology similar to what is found in music discovery apps such as Shazam and SoundHound, IntoNow recognizes what you are watching and then provides details about that specific episode. The app, acquired by Yahoo! soon after its debut, works not only for live TV but also for recorded and archived content. In addition to detailing shows stored on your DVR, IntoNow works for Netflix, Hulu Plus and episodes rented from Apple or Amazon Instant Video. IntoNow identifies songs within shows, with links to download them.
The pioneer in television listings is finding new life in mobile applications. A brand new update to TV Guide's iOS apps (the Android refresh coming soon) provides for a great "second screen" experience. Once you log in, it will ask for your location and help you identify your cable or satellite provider. With that information, you are presented with a program guide, preview clips, curated content and links to rent and download classic programs. Similar to IntoNow, you can check in to shows on TV Guide Mobile, and share what you are watching with friends across leading social networks.
While most toddlers don't understand how to work remote controls, finding episodes of "Curious George," "The Cat in the Hat" and other classic kids' shows is a snap with the PBS Kids Video app. There are more than 1,000 family-friendly videos to enjoy, and the app lets kids and their parents bookmark their favorites.
If you prefer true stories to scripted entertainment, then SnagFilms is the app for you. More than 3,000 documentaries are contained within SnagFilms, which also exists online. You can spend hours, if not days and weeks, watching award-winning documentaries on culture, politics, history and the arts. The biography library here is a nice antidote to the watered-down fare now found on A&E and other mainstream sources.