Second-Screen App Round-Up
Even while watching TV, the question is no longer whether you’re using an electronic device, but which ones and how many – and app-developers are eager to latch on.
Enter “second-screens”: any device that enables the user to interact with media content in real time. With the right app, that means your tablet, your smartphone, and even your laptop, on anything from movies and TV to music and radio.
Second-screen and companion viewing isn’t exactly a new phenomenon – second-screen apps have been cropping up at least since last year, and before that, users could just Google it themselves – but they are certainly becoming more refined, with a focus on real-time two-way interaction. What little divide still exists between social and entertainment spheres is fading fast.
Here, we've compiled a few of each type – network agnostic, network-based, and show-based – to give you a feel of what's there:
Network Agnostic Apps
NextGuide is only available on the web and iPads, but never again will you wonder what to watch next. It hits the sweet spot between search, discovery, and recommendation tools, with the ability to watch videos within the app. It also plays well with others: NextGuide makes it easy to find your show on third-party services, and you can even use it to control your DVR.
IMDb, the original best second-screen, everyone’s favorite web-based “But where is she from?!” database, has an app. And taking it off the web has only made it easier to swipe through the different facets of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Whether you’re looking up what’s-her-face on your laptop, smartphone, or iPad, IMDb is still the best source for information on the cast, crew, music, and other trivia for TV shows and movies.
Beamly (formerly Zeebox) is formatted much like a typical channel guide, but selecting any show will take you to its page and allow you interact with other viewers. Beamly also works to provide users with show information (and opportunities for interaction) in real time. As the show plays out on the first screen, the second-screen might ask, “Who will get the last rose? Vote now to win an iTunes gift card!”
According to some, Beamly could become the first must-have, go-to place for interacting with live content – the Facebook of the second-screen, if you will – but only time will tell.
Bravo launched a new app at the beginning of this year focused on personalizing the users’ viewing experience. Not only does it include show schedules and episode descriptions, but users can also browse photos and bios as well as vote in polls, play games, and build personalized video playlists according to their Bravo interests.
NBC’s app allows users to stream entire shows on their tablets. Anything that’s available on nbc.com is now available through the app, and in full.
CW City Wize leads users through the cities of their favorite shows – Gossip Girl, 90210, and Melrose Place, to be exact – as seen through the eyes of the characters. Provided maps pinpoint the hot spots mentioned on each show, helping users shop, eat, and drink in New York or Los Angeles in style, just like their favorite characters.
The Colbert Report's The Word allows users to search The Word segments as far back as 2005. Everything’s organized by clips, so you can sneak in some of Colbert’s signature snark no matter where you are.