In Victor's recent reviews of iOS universal remotes, most of the products' focus was on helping you control your entertainment devices. Only one system (the Peel) delivered program recommendations in a new way, helping you decide what to watch.
The approach behind Buddy TV Guide is a bit different. Launched by the team behind the comprehensive buddytv.com site, this free iPhone app (a software-only solution, no paired hardware to buy -- with a catch) fronts a recommendation engine that does its best to learn what you want to watch based on your preferences and selections, getting better and closer to the mark over time.
Since it asks about your favorite channels and the types of things you like to watch, you can save time on finding the programs that interest you (and bypass the ones that probably don't). Company execs told me their goal is getting the 'discovery time' down to 20 seconds, from the moment you start the app to the time you find the show you want.
Behind the scenes, Buddy TV is doing some heavy data lifting to aggregate and normalize the various provider listings; not all channels or cable/satellite systems list shows in a uniform way, so the data mining is necessary to eliminate repeats and keep track of similarly-named episodes.
The guide and recommendation engine are impressive, and if you're a Netflix subscriber the app will integrate available streaming movies into its 'what you want to watch' lineup. With a single tap, you can tune into live TV, a Netflix movie or recorded content on your DVR... and there's that catch I mentioned earlier. Since Buddy TV Guide doesn't pair with an IR blaster or other remote control hardware, it does the next best thing: talks to addressable receivers over the network. Specifically, the app will control the Sony Internet TV with Google TV, Google TV Logitech Revue, TiVo Series 3, and any devices controlled by Google TV -- making TiVo or the big G's home entertainment platform the middleman.
Even if you don't own a Google TV or TiVo Series 3, it's worth checking out the app's recommendation and grid features; they're free to use. If you do have an addressable device, you definitely should try out Buddy TV and see if it speeds up your couch-to-viewing search routine.