Time to ditch the remote -- and even ditch your telly. Virgin TV Anywhere is a new app that lets Virgin customers control their telly from anywhere in the world from your iPhone 5 or iPad, and even watch TV on your tablet or phone.
Virgin showed me how the app works in two modes: home or away. Home mode lets you control your telly like a remote, with an onscreen version of the buttons on your clicker and the added bonus of a proper keyboard for searching for your favourite shows or actors.
The app runs in Away mode when you're out and about and away from your home Wi-Fi network. When you're away you can manage your recordings and stream any of 45 channels, as long as you're in the UK. The channels available to watch online are marked with a Wi-Fi symbol, and you can filter the guide to just show streaming channels.
It works in real-time, so any changes you make to recordings or settings will be reflected immediately on your telly.
The app's TV guide looks much better than the one on the telly, because you can scroll through it with a flick of a finger. You can rate, record or watch shows from the app, and even watch something on the iPad or phone without changing the channel on the telly. There's a Watch Now button on the app, or a cool feature lets you 'throw' the show to your telly by flicking the thumbnail up towards your TV.
Streaming only works in the UK, but you can manage recording anywhere in the world with a Wi-Fi connection. Managing recordings is also much easier on the iPad than on the telly: scroll with your fingertip and simply swipe to delete a recording.
When you're watching a programme, you can drag your fingertip to rewind or fast-forward through the show -- again, much easier than using the remote.
You need a TiVo box to make use of the app, but any Virgin Media customer can access similar features online at the Virgin website (which unhelpfully doesn't support Chrome). The homepage shows Virgin's pick of interesting stuff going on at the moment, as seen on the discovery bar at the top of the TiVo screen, and you can record any shows or watch any streaming channels included in your package.
The Virgin TV Anywhere app is available to download now for the iPad and iPhone (iTunes link). An Android version is coming in the first half of next year. The website and app are free and don't add any cost on top of your existing Virgin TV package.
Do you get your telly from Virgin, Sky or someone else? What features make telly-watching a more fun experience? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.