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@ The Cable Show: Boston will soon get Xcalibur, renamed X1

Mon, 05/21/2012 - 2:08pm
Brian Santo

Comcast's X1Comcast is on the verge of commercializing its X1 cloud-based on-demand service.

Sometime in the next few weeks, the company will release its X1 app for subscribers in Boston to download and begin using. That will be the beginning of a gradual, national rollout for the service, announced exactly a year ago at the last Cable Show, although at the time the company referred to it as Xcalibur.

With X1, Comcast is integrating customized apps and social media features with its traditional video services, allowing customers to use their handhelds not only as remote controls, but also as companion devices with apps that can complement what’s on their TV screens.

The new X1 remote control app enables customers to use motion and gesture control to drive their TV experience through the touchscreen of their handheld iPhones and iPod Touches.

For instance, customers can swipe their device to page through the interactive TV guides on their television screen, program personalized shortcuts and favorites (“Quick Links”) on the TV, and even shake the device to pause on-demand content playing on the television.

In addition, customers can use their devices’ virtual keyboards to search through content and play it. Demonstrations of the app make it clear that searching in this manner is significantly faster than using a traditional remote control.

“The X1 remote app unites the TV screen with customers’ mobile devices by creating an integrated experience between the customers’ swipe controls on their device and the viewing experience on the TV – they truly mirror each other,” said Sree Kotay, senior vice president and chief software architect for Comcast Cable. “By building this new app, we’ve made the remote control smarter and more functional … and just plain fun.”

X1 has been in customer trials in Augusta, Ga., since 2011. The service will be available to new Xfinity triple-play HD/DVR service customers at no additional cost.

Separately, Comcast announced a user interface (UI) that will be common across TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Called “Project Dayview,” the UI is designed to present a single dashboard that combines alerts, appointments, texts, emails, voicemails and DVR data, and even a customer’s Xfinity home alarm system status, lights, thermostat/room temperatures and security video feed.

In addition, it will allow users to put their personal media and photos on the TV by synching with a variety of third-party media sources.

In short, it is meant to be an easy way to check in on a variety of daily information from any integrated social media, news and local information sources for updates on traffic, weather and other breaking items.

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