If you've got Comcast service and an iOS device, there's no reason you can't download the brand spanking new Xfinity TV DVR remote app
right now, but it won't have the software's spiffiest feature -- direct-to-device streaming video. That's set to roll out in either "a couple of weeks" or "by the end of the year," depending on which Comcast representative you ask, and we got to try it for ourselves (along with the rest of the app) at the Web 2.0 Summit this week. Right now the featureset is fairly limited -- you just pick programs from a guide and either watch them, beam them to your TV, or tell your DVR to record -- but what is there was leagues more intuitive than a physical remote and about as responsive as we could hope for. Comcast tells us that Apple itself helped insure the user experience was polished, and it showed in every swipe and tap we made. Find out more and watch the app in action after the break!
Right now content is divided into three silos, TV Listings, On Demand and (in the prototype version we saw) Play Now, with the first a touchscreen TV guide, the second Comcast's traditional video-on-demand and pay-per-view offerings, and the last streaming video content from the likes of Starz, Showtime and HBO. You'll only be able to watch streaming shows from the premium channels you already pay for, of course. Avatar looked pretty good, albeit letterboxed on the iPad's 4:3 screen, and over a good WiFi connection the app was able to jump from spot to spot in the film with no perceptible delay.
Comcast reps told us the company's getting so many suggestions for ways to improve the app that it's going to try to issue new updates every month, with streaming video the first out of the gate, followed by (in no particular order) the ability to manage and delete DVR recordings, suggest new programming using push notifications, and emulate the regular set of buttons on a standard Comcast remote. If that sounds like yet another reason to make the iPad the center of your home, however, don't run out to the Apple Store quite yet -- Comcast's hastily working on versions for BlackBerry, Android, and even your web browser too, in the quest to make all our personal computers bow to the power of cable. We're finding it hard to complain.