Getting started with the Xfinity TV X1 Remote app for iOS

The X1 Remote app won't replace your cable remote, but it does have a couple of features that might make you want to use it alongside your remote.

Let me be clear: the Xfinity TV X1 Remote app for iOS will not replace the XR2 remote that accompanies the X1 cable box. The app, however, offers a couple of features that may have you keeping your iPhone resting on your coffee table next to your cable remote.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

The X1 Remote app has three primary screens. The first screen features four arrow buttons and an OK button for navigating the onscreen guide and menus. Swipe to the left for the second and third screens, which feature a number pad and playback controls, respectively. A static row with three buttons sits at the bottom of the screen with Xfinity, microphone, and Exit buttons. There are also two static buttons in the upper two corners. In the upper-left corner, the button gives access to the help section, settings, and search. In the upper-right, the button lets you access and create shortcuts.

Tapping the microphone button supposedly lets you initiate actions by speaking a variety of voice commands such as, "Record," or, "Watch CBS," or "Show me all Red Sox games." In my experience, it failed to recognize any commands other than when I instructed it to watch a specific channel, as in, "Watch channel 4."

The app also supports a few gestures when you are viewing the first screen with the four directional arrows and OK button. Swipe up with one finger to skip backward and swipe down with one finger to skip forward. By default, you will skip in 5-minute increments, but if you program the XR2 remote to skip 30 seconds instead of 5 minutes at a time, then the gestures on the app will skip 30 seconds. The same holds true for the skip-forward and back buttons on the third screen of the app.

I didn't find the app's voice commands or gestures to be more convenient than simply using the XR2 remote, but I am using the app for its search functionality and its Shortcuts feature.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Searching with the app is easier because it supplies a keyboard. With the XR2 remote and the onscreen keyboard, it's slow going as you arrow from letter to letter. With the app, it's much quicker to type out a search query, the results of which are shown on your TV, with helpful autocomplete suggestions.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

The Shortcuts screen starts you with five default shortcuts: On Demand, DVR Recordings, Just In, Guide, and Last 9. You can swipe to delete any of these to clean up the list, if you so choose. You can also add a shortcut, but for only two categories: On Demand Movies or On Demand TV. For either category, you can set up a shortcut by genre and network and filter by free, new, and HD. This feels a bit restrictive compared with the Favorites feature on the X1 box itself, which lets you set up a favorites list using parameters such as specific shows, actors, and sports teams. Still, it lets you create a handy shortcut for, say, On Demand dramas on a particular network.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Although Comcast has made previous mention of an X1 Remote app for Android coming soon, that hasn't yet made its appearance in the Google Play Store.

 

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