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Comcast unveils iPad remote

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 7:50am
Mike Robuck

Comcast's much-ballyhooed iPad remote application will be available later this week, and additional applications are also being developed for Android, Blackberry and other smartphones.

In May, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts demonstrated an iPad remote application during The Cable Show. Last month at the CTAM Summit, Comcast's Todd Walker, senior vice president of product development, said the iPad remote application was "very, very close" to being ready. Walker also called the iPad remote, which Comcast has dubbed the Xfinity TV App, "a fundamental game changer" during the CTAM session.

The iPad Xfinity TV App will let Comcast's digital subscribers watch programming at home or on the road. It also serves as a guide, which would allow a viewer to peruse Comcast's immense library online while watching a different show on TV, and as a means to program a DVR remotely.

The guide function cuts through clutter by enabling searches across liner, on-demand and online video choices for both movies and shows. The search function also searches by keyword and by title in TV or on-demand listings.

The iPad Xfinity TV App

The iPad app, which is being demonstrated today at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco by Comcast Cable President Neil Smit, will be available for downloading later this week at Apple's iTunes store.

With the free app, Comcast's digital subscribers will be able to watch movies and TV shows on their iPads starting next month. In the future, the Xfinity TV App will also let users personalize their viewing through the "MyTV" feature to create watchlists.

"This Xfinity TV app is part of a much larger effort to reinvent the way consumers interact with their televisions by transforming the way they search, navigate, discover and share entertainment," Smit said. "The remote control hasn't changed in years, and this app will enable millions of consumers to instantly search thousands of live TV and on-demand choices, and also watch the best content whenever and wherever they want."

Initially, Comcast said it would offer hit shows and blockbuster movies from the top premium networks on the app. In the coming weeks and months, the app will continue to expand its content and functionality through a series of regular development updates. It will include thousands of additional entertainment choices, added remote control features and enhanced search across platforms.

By developing applications on the iPad in an IP environment, Comcast can enable watching content "anywhere, anytime and on any device" with a shorter turnaround time for development than past cable applications and services that ran on set-top boxes.

Comcast said this week's launch on the iTunes Store is the first in a series of scheduled app releases Comcast's development team will deliver for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Comcast also plans to launch several Android apps this year and also plans to offer apps with similar functionality on as many different devices as possible, including BlackBerry and other smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs.

Speaking on the CTAM panel last month, Walker said Comcast was working to insure that the other devices have the same look and feel as its iPad app to ensure ease of use.

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