How many times do you pick up your smartphone when watching TV? Whether its tweeting a friend to chat about the show you’re watching or to check some detail in an episode that you missed, the use of mobile devices whilst sat in front of the has become a phenomenon, dubbed ‘second screen viewing.’
Figures from eDigitalResearch published in The Guardian earlier this year claimed that 80% of smartphone owners use their handset whilst watching TV. Broadcasters are catching in to this, with many shows having dedicated apps to accompany them, but there is also a new breed emerging which combines TV viewing with social networking, pushing even more information towards the viewer.
Here, we take a look at five of the best apps to have on your smartphone when you’re curled up on the sofa with your favourite show.
Working very in very much the same way as a TV guide, Yap.TV allows the user to tailor the way in which television schedules are shown so that their favourites appear above everything else. Reminders can also be set for upcoming episodes so that you don’t miss out.
Miso links to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and allows users to ‘check-in’ with TV shows when viewing them. However, the app has bigger plans for the future.
While at the moment users can join conversations with each other whilst a particular show is being broadcast, Miso’s developers aim to create a “WordPress for TV” which allows users to blog about particular shows, providing extra information. While Miso’s capabilities are a little limited at the moment the possibilities it holds for the future are exciting. Available for iOS and Android.
Get Glue allows users to rate their favourite shows and then delivers suggestions to them, eventually tailoring its services to suit each person who makes use of the app. Also included are a range of connectivity options for social networks so that friends and contacts can be invited into conversations based around shows.
Get Glue’s system of making recommendations has received particular praise from reviewers and users alike, giving the app something of an edge over similar services. The app also extends its reach beyond TV and movies, allowing users to also rate music, books and games. Available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
Although IMDB was not initially developed as a second screen app, and the service itself has existed in a desktop version for some years, the wealth of information it offers makes it the perfect accompaniment to any TV show.
Serving as a database for information about movies and TV programmes, IMDB provides exhaustive details about cast and crew across a vast range of productions. The app also provides technical information about shows and films along with fun trivia and notable mistakes made by filmmakers. IMDB is perfect for those moments when an obscure actor who you vaguely recognise walks on screen and you think “What was he in?”. Available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
The biggest name in second screen viewing, Zeebox is a UK start-up that has since gained a large audience and won investment from BSkyB. Working as a programme guide that tailors itself to what users are watching, Zeebox also integrates social features which allows users to join a discussion community about their favourite programmes.
Anthony Rose, the app’s developer and former BBC technology chief, recently spoke at a debate held by the Royal Television Society in London. He said that second-screen viewers want three things: “They want more information about what they see on TV, they want to buy stuff they see on TV, and they want links to new episodes.”
Zeebox aims to provide all of these and certainly goes a great deal of the way towards achieving it, creating an excellent TV companion with one of the best user interfaces we’ve seen on an app of this kind. While others on this list have a multitude of excellent features, Zeebox pulls many of them together into one place, lifting it just above the competition. Available foriOS and Android.