Part of the difficulty Apple is going to have with any next-generation, disruptive Apple TV product is corralling all the stakeholders, rights owners and interested parties. Luckily there are already other solutions for finding, watching and saving video on TV or via streaming services. Enter NextGuide, the new iPad app from Dijit (makers of the remote software used in Griffin's IR remote product, which we reviewed here). The app is on the App Store here.
NextGuide is pretty much the ultimate answer to the age-old question, "What should I watch?" But it's not just a recommendation engine, or a simple listing guide. It's a powerful discovery tool and a launcher, with an array of filters and search options for finding what you want, plus deep integration with services like Netflix and DIRECTV satellite service. With Netflix movies, it will take you directly to what you want to watch. For DIRECTV customers, it can initiate recordings.
The app is free, so I'll let you try it out for yourself. It's iPad-only, because the experience wouldn't be the same on an iPhone. The demo I saw was quite impressive, however. If you're looking for something, you can do a basic search, which will extend across online and TV content, and you can look at what your friends on Facebook might be watching or would recommend (this is smartly done, and I'm very picky about social integration), plus there are Rotten Tomatoes film ratings built right in.
The interface is quite lovely as well, eschewing the standard grid for a more dynamic tiled grouping of shows (seen above). Plus, you can create your own categories from anything -- an actor, a place, your favorite sports team, etc. Later you can also hide the stuff you don't want to see, so if you hate Westerns, you'll rarely see them and you can focus on discovering even more shows.
There's an alert system in NextGuide, to help remind you of that show you wanted to watch, but it also reminds you if a particular artist will be on. Say Tavis Smiley is interviewing Sheryl Crow and you have her as an alert -- you'll be notified when she is on the show.
Of course there's also the usual lineup of features, like show info, trailers, etc. but the social integration is clever and subtle. As seen below, a show with fans on Facebook is seen with the show's info, and some of the fans you might know. That's really clever and doesn't get in your face or require a lot of work like most social tools that are grafted into apps like a Frankenthumb.
Until Apple comes up with whatever groundbreaking interface for TV discovery it's hiding in the labs, NextGuide is likely the next best thing. Check it out and let us know what you find.