Alongside the new MacBook Pro models today, Apple announced not new Apple TV ($50 at eBay) hardware, but a seemingly small yet important software upgrade for the Apple TV. It's an app, simply called TV.
This new application replaces the two existing applications, Movies and TV Shows, and combines them into a single app, where you can find all your rentals and purchases. It will also let you browse for new purchases.
But the more important feature of the new TV app are the Watch Now, Up Next and Recommended features. This lets you track your favorite shows across any installed streaming applications (such as Hulu, HBO, Starz, etc.) and view them all in one location. It also suggests things to watch based on popularity and curated lists.
In other words, TV makes Apple TV more like ... TV.
Unfortunately, the new TV app won't be available until sometime in December. On the bright side, you don't have to wait for similar functionality. All you need is Reelgood. To install and set up Reelgood:
- Press and hold the Siri button on the Siri remote for your Apple TV and say "Reelgood" or open the App Store and manually search for it. (Here's an easy link for your iOS device.)
- Click Get and wait for the app to download and install.
- Click Open or find the new icon on the home screen and click to open.
- Select each of the services you want to pull content from. Reelgood currently supports FXNow, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime and Starz.
- Click Done.
- Scroll to the left and click Login/Sign up.
- Log in using your existing credentials or create a new account with an email address or using Facebook authentication.
Once the app is set up, you can view all the content from all your favorite streaming sources in a single app. You can also view the trailers for movies, which isn't a standard feature for all the streaming services. Clicking Play will open the movie or show in the streaming app it's offered in, which is indicated by a small icon along the right side of the screen.
The UI is very intuitive and easy to navigate. At the top of the home page, you can switch between Movies and TV Series. Both sections have several categories, each with horizontal lists of shows and movies that you can scroll through. It's a familiar interface that makes Reelgood feel very natural to use.
Under the Movies section, you can add movies you want to see to your Watchlist or those you've already seen to your Seenlist. Under TV Series, you can add television shows to the Shows you watch. Doing this will put the movies and TV shows you want to see front and center when you open the app. It won't, however, add those shows or movies to your watchlists within each app -- this only builds your Watchlist for Reelgood. Items added to your Seenlist will be available at the very bottom of the Reelgood app home screen.
The one feature that seems like it would be important for a service like this is search. But that's completely missing from Reelgood. The upshot is that you can already search for shows and movies with Siri. If they're available for streaming in an app that is installed, you can opt to open the show or movie in the streaming app instead of purchasing from iTunes.
Reelgood is missing some of the pizazz of the official TV app, particularly in the ability to discover new streaming services that a user doesn't already have installed and view their existing purchases or rentals from iTunes from within the app. But until the official TV app arrives, Reelgood is certainly the best alternative for finding things to watch without endless switching between streaming apps.