The iPhone DVR Remote Scheduling Apps

While TiVo may have been the first to offer remote scheduling, a number of television service providers have functionally leap-frogged them by offering dedicated iPhone DVR apps. Most of which take it to the next level with two-way communication, allowing one to view a list of previously recorded programming, view upcoming recordings, and delete recordings right from an iPhone.

Comcast mobile App
Comcast mobile App

Experience the best features of Comcast Digital Voice®, Digital Cable and High Speed Internet services on the go-right on your iPhone and iPod touch. Watch trailers for the latest movies available On Demand. Schedule programs to record on your DVR from your iPhone and iPod touch and view your upcoming recordings so you never miss a show again. (expected to be available to most markets by summer 2010)

Verizon FIOS DVR Manager
Verizon FiOS DVR Manager

FiOS is making its DVRs even more accessible by giving customers the ability to program them remotely through their mobile devices. That means that Verizon FiOS customers never have to worry about missing anything they want to watch, as they’ll always be able to set their DVRs to record from virtually anywhere they happen to be. It also means that customers can set parental controls, set bookmarks, browse and search TV programming, set a series recording, view the DVR status and see how much space is left for recording, browse and search VOD listings, and see their lists of scheduled and recorded programs.

DISH Remote Access
DISH Remote Access

Introducing DISH Remote Access – a whole new way to manage your DVR and record your favorite shows – anytime, anywhere with your iPhone™ or iPod touch®. With the touch of a fingertip you can easily browse the program guide, schedule DVR recordings and manage your DVR library as if you were at home. Manage recording conflicts, delete shows you’ve already watched, view and adjust your recording schedule.

AT&T U-verse TV Mobile Remote Access
AT&T U-verse TV Mobile Remote Access

AT&T Mobile Remote Access for the iPhone allows you to access your Total Home DVR, view and search within your channel Guide, set favorite shows & channels and much more. Download it now so you can start setting your recordings today or search for your favorite actors and see what other shows they are starring in. Set recordings on your Total Home DVR, edit your scheduled and recorded shows.


With DIRECTV you can easily set your home DVR from your iPhone or iPod touch. Browse shows and movies using the simple and easy technology of Apple. Record shows by a single episode or entire series. Program DIRECTV Cinema movies to be recorded and ready to watch any time. Order movies and events without your receiver connected to a phone line.

Although TiVo hasn’t provided their own dedicated iPhone app, we’re not without options. TiVo’s somewhat spartan mobile website gets the job done for the most basic of DVR scheduling needs. Also, over the years, TiVo has allowed select third parties to tap into their scheduling API. And on the iPhone platform, the very nice i.TV (iTunes) fires off TiVo recording requests, amongst many other things – including providing a virtual TiVo remote control. While the app is free, as you can see above, ads may periodically obscure your view and that’s X is one heck of a small target to hit.

Being somewhat curious how others tap into our TiVo accounts, I did some poking around i.TV’s various files and took a look at the network traffic using Wire Shark. It appears that i.TV uses our credentials once to retrieve a token, valid for one year, which is subsequently used to access our account data and authenticate scheduling requests. While network communication appears secure, our username and password are stored in the clear by i.TV – accessible from both the iPhone file system and computer-based iTunes backup. It’s obviously not best practice; However, in the real world, the security implications are most likely inconsequential.

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15 thoughts on “The iPhone DVR Remote Scheduling Apps”

  1. These are good solutions if you own an iPhone, but I’m still waiting for something that doesn’t require a $70 per month cell phone plan. What I think TiVo needs to do is a voice recognition automated system like the one that they use when you want to check movie times. Instead of checking a list of movies though, it could check the programming in your area and then let you tell it to record via voice. This would open up mobile scheduling to anyone who has a cell phone instead of just those with a smartphone and net access.

  2. The problem is that the market of people interested in TiVo and willing to spend the premium for the service itself but aren’t interested enough in technology to get a smartphone is probably exceedingly small (and essentially guaranteed to shrink).

  3. i’m personally holding out for an Android tablet. hopefully a Dell looking glass. Hopefully by then there are some options for a DVR app/network remote.

    i am still waiting on wonderful remote to provide support for storm2’s.

  4. I’m pretty sure the only reason exists is because other virtually every other DVR had a mobile scheduling app so TiVo had to have something. It does work in a pinch, like you said. Technically the iPhone’s browser can use the real TiVo scheduling web site as well, though it’s not ideal.

    It would be nice if TiVo could write their own iPhone, Andriod, etc app, but I don’t think they have the resources to do so. Obviously there’s nothing preventing some entrepreneuring individual from writing their own app (like i.TV did).

    i.TV works if you use cable, but it has a few glitches/flaws:

    1. It doesn’t know what TiVos are subscribed or not. It lets me choose a TiVo that hasn’t been subscribed for years.
    2. It doesn’t know what channels are received on which TiVo so it will let you schedule recordings for channels the TiVo doesn’t get.
    3. It can’t schedule recordings via antenna at all.
    4. There is no separate season pass or single recording screen which makes it confusing to use since you need to know that setting “keep 1” episode actually means a one time recording.

    Also seemingly having to link your i.TV account to your TiVo account gave me a bit of pause, but I was told by i.TV that they don’t store your TiVo account info on their servers.

  5. Davis, like Derik says, I assume most folks willing to pony up for a premium DVR also have at least one smartphone in their household.

    jon, I have a feeling Android’s going to see an imminent app explosion. (Already has started.) And the Looking Glass renders sure are sexy.

    Morac, Not sure if you need a relationship/agreement with TiVo to build a scheduling app (like i.TV, Yahoo, etc). I agree that it’s weird that un-subbed units show up on i.TV. But is that an i.TV issue or a TiVo issue, though? I don’t know…

  6. Once again Tivo leads the way…oh wait…sorry….wrong universe…let me skip back to mine where Tivo has done something in the past 10 years….

  7. TiVo fairly recently added to their full-featured web site the ability to see recent recordings and upcoming recordings from your TiVo’s Now Playing and To Do lists. That’s the sort of functionality that would go over well in a web app (fine by me if just gets better) or a native app (if they decide to bother).

  8. I’m very surprised that TiVo doesn’t feel the need to develop an iPhone application, especially considering that they do have a Blackberry one.

  9. Hi Dave,
    I am one of the engineers at i.TV, and I like your researched about our app. One of my top priorities is to make TiVo work better in our app. We’re working closely with TiVo to fix the issues people are seeing, such as not being able to record via antenna. We do not receive info as to which DVRs have an up to date subscription, which is why unsubbed TiVos show up as options.
    As for the account credentials, this is only stored on the app for user convenience. Anyone who doesn’t want this can easily remove this by deleting the circles in the password field after linking their TiVo account. I wasn’t around when this was first implemented, but I changed the app to not keep this information even locally (this should appear in the next release). We transmit user’s credentials via secure https connection and do not store passwords on our servers.
    Thanks, Dave, for noting us as one of the best TiVo recording apps.

    Oh, and the clickable area is bigger than the x itself on the ads.

  10. I use the site in a pinch. Works. But like you say the ones the cable companies are offering for their own free DVRs are better. Which means this isn’t good enough.

    I’d like a simple iPhone/iPad app that lets me search like, but also look at the grid guide and shows me with the little red circles which shows are going to be recorded, and lets me click on a show and record it. And easily move between days/times.

    I’d like to be able to see what shows are going to be recorded easily, e.g. a remote todo list. Including conflicts that mean certain shows I might care about won’t be recorded.

    I’d like to see what has recently been recorded, e.g. shows I might want to watch.

    I’d like to be able to see what is recorded on each Tivo.

    And someday, I’d even like to be able to play stuff via a built-in sling feature. If it must, it can rely on my PC to do the on-the-fly transcoding in TivoToGo, but I would really prefer this to happen on the Tivo box itself…

  11. “Davis, like Derik says, I assume most folks willing to pony up for a premium DVR also have at least one smartphone in their household.”

    My TiVo cost $200 for the box + $100 for the TB = $300.
    My annual TiVo costs are about even with what I’d pay for a CableCo DVR.

    An iPhone costs $200 for the box. An iPhone costs about $1000 per year over what a (better) non-data voice-only cellphone costs.

    In other words, a decent smartphone costs $1000 per year extra over normal functionality.

    A TiVo costs $0 per year extra over normal functionality.


    In short TiVo is a bargain play, while a data-plan smartphone is a minor luxury item.


    TiVo doesn’t need to write their own mobile apps. What they do need to do is to provide better hooks for 3rd party developers. Why aren’t there the hooks so I can delete recordings remotely? That’d be job one, were I the friendly animated TV logo…

    The beauty of TiVo is that someone will write the app if the hooks are there.

  12. Glad to hear from i.TV.

    Is there a help forum?

    I’ve been getting an account token expired message when trying to schedule via the app.

    The remote functions work fine and recognize my Tivos.


  13. I would really like the direct tv app to support managing your shows on each device as well, plus things like the todo list. Also the search leaves a bit to be desired, but ti’s still a ton better then trying to use the DVR for search.

  14. I’m totally blind and an NTL customer. I desperately need a solution so that we can once again record our TV programmes. If anyone can help me get something workable for two totally blind people I’ll be more than grateful!

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