Hundreds of channels and nothing to watch. When did TV surfing get so complicated? In the time it takes us to flip through every major cable network listing and peruse the offerings, we've surely missed out on something cool.
GetGlue aims to change that problem as they launch GetGlue HD for iPad. A GetGlue primer: the social site GetGlue.com and its GetGlue apps offer you the ability to "check in" to your favorite shows, letting your friends know what you're watching and allowing your friends to converse around big entertainment events. That functionality is behind GetGlue HD, plus a few more bells and whistles, starting with a social television guide.
GetGlue is ditching the classic grid of programming listings and moving to a calendar of shows that populates based on your interests. For the system to provide you with the most relevant suggestions, you are asked first to list all of the movies, books, albums and shows that you "like" on GetGlue. The new guide also takes into account what your friends are into, will include other media like theatrical releases, and will go as far as to display sports scores for games as they occur.
The guide looks good and is extremely simple to use. Maybe it's even too simple. It only displays up to two hours of upcoming programming at a time before skipping ahead to what is on later in the week. That simplicity makes the app mostly useful for watching shows in real time, less for planning later watching.
The app would be killer if it would also allow users to set their DVRs to record while they're on the guide. This is not an option yet, but GetGlue did tell us that they are working with Direct TV to add a button that would allow you to change the channel on your TV while browsing the guide. Here's hoping they'll let us link directly to a channel changer page, so we can tweet out when " World News" starts, and you won't even have to pick up the remote to flip over.
Wish list aside, you can search for future showtimes by program or channel. The guide is smart enough to ask what region you live in and provider you use, then suggests your local channels for programming. Considering I still can't figure out where AMC is and how much I hate to type letters using my remote, I am loving this feature.
It's not perfect, however. The guide automatically assumes you have a full television package with Starz, HBO and Showtime, which I found unhelpful when browsing the app late at night. You'll have to dive into settings to turn off each pay channel. I found myself torn; did I want the app to allow me to indicate that I did not receive specific channels, essentially banning Showtime? What if I wanted to know when "Dexter" was on next month, regardless of whether I had the package? Should I keep toggling the movie channel back and forth?
Each show has a page that facilitates conversations between you, your friends and random fans. The show pages also aggregate the show's social postings from Twitter and Facebook, all in one spot. Their algorithm is smartly designed so that if a show shares the same video on Facebook and Twitter, you won't see it twice in your feed. These pages are fun, and rich conversations can be "upvoted" by "liking" comments, though it is not very clear how the system works.
I watched a bunch of "Shark Week" segments on the "Shark Week" page and found engaging conversations around "Breaking Bad," but there were a lot of people just starting the series and the conversations weren't as satisfying as the comments on AV Club reviews or Reddit threads. If pages can get to that level of fan geekery, we may be on to something.
GetGlue's membership has grown to 3 million and they are looking for their app to become the premiere second screen for all television viewing. They have made GetGlue HD available for iPad now, while releases for Andriod/iPhone and desktops will follow this fall.