November 28, 2008

TiVo's Mobile Interface Gets Things Recording on the Go

Despite having pioneered the world of set top boxes and time shifting recordings, TiVo hasn't become the dominant business success its many hard-core fans (including me) had hoped it would. While its issues ranged from competing with monopolistic cable companies to rigid payment structures, to being a near zero when it comes to blogs and the social Web, they have eked out the occasional update that has us hoping more is to come. Among them is their new mobile Web site, which launched just last week. (See WebWare and Gizmodo) On the road myself this week, thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, I can connect with our home TiVo boxes using my iPhone and make sure I don't miss any TV I may have forgotten to tell the units to record before leaving the house.

TiVo's mobile application may not be as ground-breaking as their DVR interface is (or once was), but the offering is simple and just works. If you head to, you gain the equivalent of their Web site, from daily picks and most popular TV shows, to a search option that lets you search for TV show titles, actors, directors and other show-related items.

TiVo Mobile's Simple Interface

Most importantly, by choosing the "Settings" option, you can choose which DVR is linked to your mobile account, after you have logged in, and you can add shows to the scheduled list of recordings. Either select a show from the daily picks and most popular items, or from your own search results.

Searching for NFL Turns Up a 49er Game

Using the mobile TiVo site via my iPhone, I was able to search on the term "NFL" and find all shows that had the NFL in the title. A few clicks later, and I was able to find the San Francisco 49ers' game at the Buffalo Bills is to be played on Fox this upcoming Sunday at 10 a.m. I could then click to "Record This Episode", determine the recording's priority, quality and whether it would start or stop outside of its scheduled time. Upon completion, I even got an e-mail confirmation to my account to let me know the request had been successful.

Setting the Recording and Getting Confirmation

Some of the characteristics of the mobile site are rather basic, from the links on gray backgrounds to the pull-down menus, but assuming the site is intended for use on a wide variety of mobile phones, and not elite smartphones like the iPhone, that makes sense. Now, if I find myself learning of a new show or one I'd like to record on the go, I can do so just by grabbing the iPhone and heading to to TiVo's mobile site. Maybe there's hope yet still to keep this tech pioneer alive.