November 07, 2012

At last...

Virgin Media's TV Anywhere App for iPhone and iPad is released:
"The service is available to all Virgin TV customers at no extra cost, and can be enjoyed online through a web browser or on mobile/tablet devices (iOS initially, Android to follow in 2013) giving customers the ability to enjoy TV as well as fully manage their TiVo service when at work or out and about."


Vesper Bell said...

It says you have to link TiVo box to main network in order to access remote control features/remote recording etc, but then surely that defeats the point of TiVo having its own separate broadband? Any ideas?

Jon said...

Just been playing with it and as a way to manage your TiVo it is great - a significant improvement over the regular TiVo interface. But.... What has taken them so long. This looks like what we saw 2 years ago. Still no way to watch recorded shows on a tablet or other device even at home, let alone on the move.

If it's "TV Anywhere", what about streaming to Smart TVs? Or at least a discless TiVo box, so we can watch on TVs around the home, without redundant 500GB discs?

And a seemingly random collection of channels that can be watched live by app or online, with little bearing on which are most wanted. Yes, some are available,via other apps, like iPlayer, but surely Virgin should be pulling this all together for us.

Feels a bit half thought through, which given the gestation period is a bit of a disappointment, if not that much of a surprised,

Jon said...


You shouldn't need the TiVo on your network to set or manage recordings, only to use it as a remote control and, it seems, to watch on a tablet. I kinda understand the former, but not the latter, especially as you cannot watch all channels using the app only a poor subset. In fact an even poorer subset than the online PC/Mac option!

Anthony said...


Only been waiting god know how longs!

Can't wiat to have a play when I get home.

Too bad Androiders , you'll probably be waiting another 2 years!

Graham Spratt said...

Maximum of two devices pointless, laptop and iPad what about the rest of the family?

Unknown said...

I thought the whole delay was mean to be a result of Virgin not wanting the TiVo box to have to be connected to a home network!

Mike H. said...

And where's the BBC and ITV channels?

mattbuk said...

They could have made it iPhone 5 ready :-(

Nialli said...

Mike H : BBC on the iPlayer App, ITV on their App. No point reinventing the wheel.

Jon said...

Nialli, I disagree. If Virgin are to have a role in the medium term they have to do the slickest job of aggregating content from all their sources and exploit their supposed tight relationships with content providers to offer a better all round experience than using a combo of iPlayer + 4OD + Netflix/NowTV on mobile devices and Smart TVs..

Right now they are not pulling things together and their supposed closeness to content providers just seems to mean more restrictions on how and where we view than with the alternatives.

As I said.... Disappointing.

Jon said...

....and what's with the clumsy implementation of "Home and Away" modes?

Right now every time I leave the house I have to:

- wait for the app to timeout trying to connect to the TiVo
- tell it I want to switch to Away Mode
- log in with my Virgin ID and password

Every time I return home and want to use the app to its fullest, eg. as a remote, I have to logout from away mode, using settings and re-input my media access key.

Repeat when I leave home!!

Surely, for an app this long in development, someone would have thought to keep both credentials and seamlessly roam from Home to Away modes without bothering the user?

Just to repeat, the basic Tivo functionality of the app, as a second info scree and remote control, is great, but why the half baked Virgin add-ons have taken 2 years to still be so immature I don't know.

streaky_7 said...

I love the way you can manage your series links using this without leaving yourself with the donut of death for 10mins whilst it does its magic. Using this app means you can manage the links and it does it all in the background not disrupting your tv viewing . Nice. Love the gesture remote. And the interface looks good, in fact I prefer to the actual TiVo on the TV. Overall pretty good. But not perfect and definitely late for what we got. But pretty good indeed.

Jon said...

OK. I've found a way to switch between Home and Away without re-entering usernames, passwords and media access keys. It's not pretty though!

- Make sure you first register your media access key. Don't use Away Mode first, or the iPhone app will forget your username and password when you log out and log in using your MAK.

- After logging on to your TiVo using the MAK go through the process of device and player registration, even if you do not want to use your iPhone to play video. This will log you on using your Virgin Media ID and remember the credentials for future use. If you do not want to use your iPhone as one of your 2 devices, just click "finished" after logging on to the device registration site.

- When you leave home the app will timeout connecting via your home network and will display a popup. Click OK to that and then select Away Mode. The app should then connect using your saved Virgin credentials.

- When you return home you will find the app is stuck in Away Mode! Any attempt to access "Info" or use as a remote control will display a popup saying you need to connect your TiVo to the same network as the app device and offer to show you a help page on how to connect them. There is no way I can find within the app to switch back to Home Mode. So what you need to do is press the iPhones home button, then double click the home button to bring up the active app bar. Then click on the top left corner of the Virgin TV Anywhere app to close it. Then, if you restart the app it will connect to your TiVo in Home Mode!!

Horrible, but it works, without reentering IDs/passwords/MAKs! So frsutrating that none of this shoud be necessary. The app should be able to switch seemlessly once it has all the credentials saved.

Phil Standen said...

So do I have to buy some sort of Netgear connectors to Watch TV on this app.

Paul Beech said...

The same place they are on Sky go!

denyo1977 said...

What no one on here or e.g. Cableforum wants to answer (or simply can't) and what Unknown mentioned here: What about delaying the app for half a year to apparently make sure people don't have to connect the TiVo box and the router with a LAN cable? Was that just complete BS?

Lakota said...

I was pissed this wasn't out on Android until I just had a play with it on my daughter's shitePad.
I won't be worrying about missing it now. Thoroughly pointless app and way off the mark at the moment.

Richard said...

Wow what a bunch of interesting responses... What confused expectations people have had.
1. The app has always been said it will be released for iOS before android, lots of simple reasons why! Basically lest testing due to less screen, hardware, os versions to test for.
Remember rather e is a massive backed system to support some of the functionality.
2. As a controller for a TiVo device it is brilliant. I Have been testing the app for a while now and stopped using the peanut ages ago. To watch stuff and sort out guides, recordings, on demand, info about the program etc in the background is sooo cool. Yep it is an expensive remote control, but if you have an iPhone, itouch or iPad laying around, why not!!!
3. Streaming when away... Right get serious here for a second, if you can stream one channel, you can stream 1000 channels.. What stops you is licensing, so the limitations are down to licensing the channels for online streaming and the number of channels will Improve over time.
4. For all those who are underwhelmed because x feature isn't there... Well they delivered what they said they would. All the speculation about features has never been stated by vm just other people wishing for them.
5. Connecting to smart TVs... .??? Why.. The tv is inthe house and you have a TiVo box and a cable, why would yu use the Internet to stream from a TiVo box to a tv?
Oh you want to stream to a second tv. Put yourself in VMs shoes... 1 box streaming to multiple TVs or multiple boxes to multiple TVs?
6. Non hard disc tivos.. Aka TiVo in the cloud. Read the shareholder meeting transcript. They are working on this but it will take a while to develop, but imagine, you record to the cloud and can replay on any device anywhere that is connected to the Internet.
7. Why do you need a Internet backbone to run stuff inside the house. I also questioned this, but it makes sense. Multiroom streaming and remote control work more effectively on our internal network connection rather than your external backbone.
I've test both home plugs (devolo 200s) and direct Ethernet connection and it works fine even streaming hd recordings between tivos.

Whilst my biggest disappointment is the lack of channels for streaming, I agree with nialli that there are companion solutions which can be used in the short term.

As for Jon's problem... Yep I wish they had said connect internally first. If you don't you need to log out, connect and add the media access keys (which it will now remember) and then log in again.
It should be easy to move between inside and outside.
I didn't test on an iPhone so not sure if there is a problem with being connected on 3G then switching to wifi.

For those with questions can I suggest you either ask specific question on the vm support site on the tv anywhere area, where both testers and vm people will answer you or I'm happy to answer stuff here if you are polite... I've been flamed before when helping people because they didn't like hearing the answer!

But rather than criticise the app, why not have a play and see what it does. It is pretty cool at managing your TiVo.

Richard said...

@denyo. Vm never said they were making it so it wouldn't need the LAN. They said they were aware people need to connect to the LAN and try different options in testing and identify the simplest solution for people.
The app is very complex in its design of different services connected in different ways. These were what required testing. Alongside that, functionality was being added to the firmware on the TiVo boxes and that needed testing too.
All this takes time and the level of detail the testing undertook was quite amazing. Lots of spurious bugs people would shout and moan about we're ironed out. This app is remarkably stable for a release 1.
Would you prefer a buggy solution 6 months earlier... I can imagine the comments people would have made to that.

Jon said...

@Richard, as I lead with and mentioned a second time, I do agree the app is a first class tool for managing the TiVo. I disagree with the comment above that it is pointless. It makes management of recordings and series links far easier and is a great second screen for show info.

My problem is that this, with the admitted addition of On Demand, was all there in the original TiVo app demonstrated long, long ago. It is Virgin who have promised a ground breaking new service. The name says it all - "TV Anywhere" and marketing statements prior to launch suggested this was not mere hyperbole. Is it any surprise we are disappointed by the very poor, almost irrelevant, channel selection and the very limited playback options - no recorded shows, no "on the road" app access, no access to recorded shows from other TVs in the house unless you rent multiple HDD TiVos?

VM have talked about using other STBs for TiVo since before the product first arrived, I don't think it was unreasonable to think that the long delayed TV Anywhere might be when this arrived. If the app had arrived a year ago as just that - a TiVo support app - I would have been far more understanding.

I do understand the licensing issues with some of what I am asking for but frankly that is not my problem and if Virgin want a part to play they need to bash some heads. A YouView box, or SmartTV, would have integrated BBC, CH4, ITV in one UI, with direct access to other services like Netflix and NowTV. There is not a whole lot of time for Virgin to prove itself relevant. I have always rubbished people thinking TIVo was dead. A lot of prime content still appears first on broadcast TV and that is likely to be true for some years, but TiVo MUST be a bridge to the future, not a barrier to it. This current offering suggests that for whatever reason it is not being allowed to fulfil this role.

(And the problems with the iPhone app (or iPad used out of the home on a WiFi access point) is just sloppy in the extreme!)

Richard said...

@jon... I hear and I can't defend VM on these comments.
As someone not on the payroll of VM I can go as far as to agree with some of your points.

The app is actually a great app. It may not be perfect and has some problems which will be fixed over time.

The streaming technology is superb, I was part of a test where we saw severs in simulated catastrophic failure and how well the load was handled and redistributed. Note this we using both the app and the pc version. It is pretty cool tech.

But as you say it is disappointing that the tech isn't supported by more channels. We can only assume this is being worked on quickly.

As for the name.., the app is predominantly about managing a TiVo. So when the streaming was enabled and then the name was changed it came as a little bit of a suprise. I think TiVo buddy is more apt because I believe TiVo benefits from the app.

Changing to this name does give the app a strange personality. Is this app about TiVo or about streaming? What do we all think?

But let's not focus in the negatives and celebrate the good points. It is actually a good app with some good tech behind it.

Jon said...

I agree Richard, it is a great app. Makes managing TiVo a joy and something you might do much more often rather than just when you really have too, as before, especially with the old SD menus.

It is just this new service that seems, shall we say, prematurely launched. Let's hope it is beefed up soon.

Kevin Lloyd said...

Had this on the iPad for a couple of days exclusively in home mode. As others have said, as an expensive remote it has superb functionality and the steam driven handset remote is now hardly used. If they can up the ante on channel availability and integration for streaming that would be a big step forward but sorting out with rights holders access to recorded programmes would be the biggest win. But I knew almost from the outset that this app is going to be heavily used.

Richard said...
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