The DIRECTV iPad app is one of many apps that Cable TV and Satellite TV providers are marketing for their subscribers to enhance their TV viewing experience. Comcast, Dish Networks, and Time Warner all have apps available at the iTunes store to allow you to watch TV anywhere that you happen to be with your iPad and have an active Internet connection. Just don’t let your boss catch you using them at work!
DirecTV iPad App
With the DirecTV iPad app, you can watch TV on your iPad from anywhere. The description of the app at the iTunes Store is a little confusing. First, it says “Watch TV in any room of your home,” but then it goes on to say, “whenever and wherever you want — at home or on the go.” You’ll get access to the DirecTV channel Audience Network. You’ll also have access to all the premium channels like HBO and Cinemax that you’re subscribed to.
Obviously, you’ll need to have an active DirecTV account and have it registered on DirecTV’s website. The programming available is somewhat limited and will be based upon your current programming package. For streaming at home, you’ll need an HD DVR (models R22, HR20, or higher) that’s connected to a broadband Internet connection. For viewing outside the home, you’ll need an active High Speed Internet connection, preferably a strong Wi-Fi signal, although 3G and 4G will also work.
One thing to note is that some customers seem to be having problems watching TV outside of their homes and others are having problems syncing it with AT&T’s U-verse.
Time Warner Cable’s TWC TV allows you to control you TV and watch TV from your iPad or iPhone. You’ll need iOS 4.3 or later to use the app, as well as a 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi broadband connection. You’ll need a TWC Navigator set-top box or DVR, also. The app will give you expanded control over your DVR, as well as enhanced parental controls. From what I can find, you only get to use it while at home, though.
The description of this app says that you’ll be able to watch “selected live Cable channels” but doesn’t mention exactly which channels they are. One item to note is that you don’t have to be a current TWC Cable Internet subscriber to use the app, although the setup is said to be tricky and they suggest you call customer service for help with it. I’m also seeing unhappy customer reviews at the iTunes Store.
Comcast’s XFINITY TV for iPad
Comcast’s XFINITY TV iPad app looks to be the best iPad app for watching TV, at this moment, but even it seems to have some flaws. With a compatible device (i-device running iOS 4.3 or later and having a broadband Internet connection), you can watch what looks to be any network from any broadband Internet connection, anywhere. Except internationally, that is.
Whether you want to watch home shopping networks, news networks, or purely entertainment networks, this seems to be the app you need. You will need either an XFINTIY TV or Comcast Digital Video subscription. To watch premium channels (HBO, STARZ, etc.) you’ll need active subscriptions to those, as well.
Perusing the reviews section, I see nothing but unhappy customers. Some are saying that the claimed functionality (DVR control, changing channels, etc.) isn’t there. There are others saying they can’t watch anything on their iPad.
Although, this isn’t an app that will allow you to watch TV on your iPad, but it does have some features that deem it worthy of mention. This is a purely communications app. You’ll have access to your Comcast email, be able to send and receive text messages, and be able to check your home voicemail, as well, if you have XFINITY Phone. All from your iPad. iTunes App Store reviews on this are mixed.
In short, this is an app that keeps you in contact and control of your life. With it, you have custom control of your Comcast digital phone service. As an example, you can have calls forwarded to your iPhone from your home phone when you’re away. If you choose to not set call forwarding up, you can still see who is calling your home phone with customizable alerts.
DISH Remote Access
For DISH Network subscribers, the company has recently made available the DISH Remote Access iPad app for any i-device with iOS 4.2.5 or later. You will need a broadband Internet connection and DVR equipped with a Sling Adapter to use this app, although it is advertised that you can use it to watch TV on your iPad anywhere.
If you have one of the full-featured DVR devices at home (like the Dish Network Hopper), you can also use the app to control it. It appears that shows are recorded by the home DVR and then re-broadcast to the app. Reviews of this app are unhappy.
All in all, it looks like the providers need to do some polishing on their apps because customer reviews show the apps falling short of expectations. Most of the functionality is there, however, like with the DirecTV iPad app. Unfortunately, they have some work to do until we’re all happy. Luckily, most of these apps are free with our service.