TiVo Preps Customizable 3-Column View


With TiVo’s minor spring update behind us, the company has turned its attention to perhaps the most dramatic interface update since the launch of their original HDUI in 2010. It appears the primary objectives are improved UI consistency and completeness, along with additional discovery and organizational options. As RCN’s Jason Nealis alluded to just a few days ago, TiVo “plans to have the UI better present content from across these different sources in much more of a one stop shop” and a bit earlier had mentioned “some very cool enhancements coming down the pipe.”

Indeed, TiVo’s summer update is slated to bring the sharper Roamio interface to Premiere and Mini hardware, as TiVo VP Margret Schmidt had suggested several months back. Further, we see minor UI tweaks throughout. Yet, there remains work to be done as the Discovery Bar and optional Picture In Guide periodically vanish when flipping through screens.

The most dramatic addition to the refreshed UI is a third column… that makes its initial appearance in My Shows, along with a bevy of customizations (shown above) to sort our recordings (and more) beyond the “All” headliner. For me, at launch, I imagine the most effective use of this newfound capability would be to call out Movies (given my free HBO subscription). I still question TiVo’s approach of sticking video app shortcuts into My Shows, however if the Video Providers category evolved into a provider-agnostic repository of OTT video bookmarks it’d become something far more useful (and unique).


Related, “recording” options in the Guide will cover more than linear television for those with OTT sources and the need for instant gratification (above, right) – once again attempting to further blur the lines between cable and Internet content. Indeed, given intel from a reliable source back in January combined with recent outreach to Premiere owners running the standard definition interface, we expect an updated Amazon Instant will also make an appearance in the next few months. Combine that with Season Passes that bookmark and folderize On Demand content that you may have missed, TiVo’s vision becomes quite clear … and perhaps we’ll be that much closer to the “One Box” they once advertised themselves as.

17 thoughts on “TiVo Preps Customizable 3-Column View”

  1. For whatever it’s worth, in reviewing my TiVo dossier, it looks like I first heard of the current 3-column presentation back in mid-late 2013 and my Amazon Instant source spoke up in December. Maybe gives us a sense of how long a TiVo idea takes to turn into a shipped feature. Related, haven’t heard anything on Android streaming recently – the last bit of intel suggested a late June launch.

  2. I’m still hopeful we will one day see profiles. More sorting options will be welcome. Suggestions have become useless on my Roamio Pro – there’s over 1k shows in there now, and it’s practically impossible to find anything.

  3. TiVo is certainly behind when it comes to user profiles. I seem to recall some discussion of trying to automatically determine who is watching TiVo and adjusting the suggestions automatically based on the viewer. They were suggesting that they could determine who was watching via a 2nd screen device like an iPhone. I think the simplicity of the Netflix approach works well and TiVo should implement something similar.

    I also noticed from some of the videos from the NCTA Cable Show that a number of TiVo’s vendors, Cisco in particular, already have user profiles implemented for their Snowflake UI which forms the basis for Cox’s Contour and Liberty’s Horizon systems.

  4. Not bad, but I’m not that interested in it. Smart to make 3-columns optional. Dividing recordings by category sounds better on paper than actual implementation, really.

    Profiles would’ve been better. Especially now with multiple Minis going into bedrooms and such where by-device profiles would be effective. I don’t need *my* content divided up, I need my family’s collective content divided up, and these categories are too general to be effective. The kids category is somewhat useful. But at least 80% of the non-kids recordings would fall into “TV Series”. So… there’s almost no point.

    Regarding Suggestions — I have suggestions turned off because I don’t like unmanned recordings. I’d welcome OTT Suggestions compiled together though. That’d be useful. Heck knows it’s hard to find stuff on Netflix nowadays.

  5. Couple points here.

    1) This is, er, peculiar: @Mike – “Regarding Suggestions — I have suggestions turned off because I don’t like unmanned recordings.” WTF? lol

    2) I’d personally just be happy if they’d just get all the menus to match and in HD. I like to think there’s a well thought out technical reason behind this, but then again, this *is* TiVo….

  6. Mike, device profiles are very interesting. That never occurred to me before.

    Frank, I assume he feels as I do that it’s just a giant list of stuff. It’d be more useful if it grabbed a whole series or did something like the Hopper’s Prime Time Anytime where it’s maybe more predictable, less fire hose.

    Regarding user profiles, we know TiVo was at least considering them at one time (in addition to ‘Friends Recommendations’) given renders in the Premiere launch press kit:


  7. Today I looked back at Engadget’s HDUI launch article back in Mar 2010. It shows the 3-column My Shows screen cap as part of the original HDUI launch. What’s interesting is the slideshow has the same Profiles screen-cap from Dave’s post.

    Should we hold a breath that both could be turned on in the same release — 4 years later? That would be very dramatic.

  8. Nice catch! I assume Engadget and I both received the same packet of images (in addition to a few special requests I’d asked for), but we obviously didn’t run the same ones and we also had differing degrees of success in identifying discrepancies… perhaps related to covering the HDUI prior to receiving Premiere review hardware. I imagine Virgin and the other partners have been a big distraction and perhaps why we’re just now seeing some of this development pick up. (Although, it was a sound move strategically – 2.5 of TiVo’s 4.5 million customers are in Europe.) Not to mention some significant staffing changes.

  9. Definitely! I got to think the Virgin deal has helped keep the TiVos on the retail shelf here state side. Another item that caught my eye is the Friends & family screen-cap from back in 2010. It immediately made me think of your post on Tivo’s “Program Shortcuts” Patent post a few weeks back; specifically that it could “allow a user to identify other DVR users as “friends” and invite the other DVR users”. It would be curious if that capability will require a TiVo Stream.

    All of this makes me think they had a lot planned out in the HDUI pipeline and are finally coming back around to finishing it. I hope “UI consistency and completeness” means the remaining SDUI finally gets knocked out this round!

  10. It does seem like they’re finally coming around to do some fine-tuning, and even some long-requested features (Default Recording Options in 20.4.1 anybody?) I hope it continues.

    @Frank, by “unmanned recordings” I guess I meant unsolicited recordings. I don’t want it recording stuff I don’t tell it to. Mainly because the suggestions were never very accurate.

  11. “This is, er, peculiar: @Mike – “Regarding Suggestions — I have suggestions turned off because I don’t like unmanned recordings.” WTF? lol”

    I turned off Suggestions within a month after getting my first TiVo. I’d much rather leave the Deleted Items bin as a place from which I can recover stuff later. Plus, we also found the suggested recordings to be 99% useless. We’re picky about what we watch, (and thus it makes sense to be picky about what we record).

  12. Look, if things were moving at any kind of normal pace we’d already have TiVo’s that anticipated our needs. Why every TV season do I have to look for new show premieres (typically using Engadget HD’s posts) and set them up to record or use the sometimes available record-the-first show-of-new-shows TiVo list? Why doesn’t it have some sense of what I like (yes to high quality hour long dramas, no to yet another CSI/cop/firefighter show, etc, whatever my past profile suggests) and make suggestions? Why isn’t there a list with suggestions intermingled with my recordings and premieres called out with some kind of tag? Why don’t we have the kind of “why was this recorded… because it stars an actor you like… refine future suggestions” kind of thing like we have with Amazon recommendations or Netflix say? Seriously? Three column layouts?

  13. “Look, if things were moving at any kind of normal pace we’d already have TiVo’s that anticipated our needs … Why doesn’t it have some sense of what I like (yes to high quality hour long dramas, no to yet another CSI/cop/firefighter show, etc, whatever my past profile suggests) and make suggestions?”

    Cuz what you’re asking for is really, really difficult? (If not practically impossible.)

    I mean, I think we all agree that Netflix has the ‘best’ recommendation engine, but still I find the “Recommended for Chucky” section of Netflix to be pretty damn laughable considering my actual tastes. For example, if I just watched one indie doc, it’ll suddenly decide I like all indie docs, but that’s not how I, or how normal humans work…

    (Back in the olden days, when I had a 7-DVD-out plan with Netflix, things worked better. But that was primarily because it’d mainly recommend films directed by the same directors I had recently had mailed to me, which fit my personal preferences. And given that the DVD catalog consisted of a sizable percentage of movies ever released, the whole thing kinda worked. But limited catalogs make that kind of recommendation bliss incredibly harder to achieve. And the raw material that TiVo recommendations has to work with make for an even more intractable situation than with Netflix.)

  14. It’s hard to believe sometimes that TiVo has been……working? ……over four years on this UI. I remember the optimism of EVERYONE when the new UI first came out, but then the months just kept clicking by, month after month, then it kinda became year after year for a while there, with very little progress. Even many of the biggest diehards turned sour. Not that TiVo has had much momentum in the US market, but the PR damage from the “When are they going to EVER finish the UI?” was definitely a nail in the Premiere era coffin and kllled ANY chance of a turn-around product. I’m NOT really sure the “high ups” at TiVo ever really understood this – but everyone else did.

  15. And now it seems time for them to move on from the Flash App to HTML5. This is the elephant in the room for me when we’re all talking about completing the HDUI.

    While I personally hope they complete the HDUI, it seems hard (to me) to justify throwing more development dollars at an old technology stack that’s not portable. If TiVo’s real value-prop is their user experience, they need the UI to be portable across platforms, for 3rd party hardware like Roku, legacy boxes, and nDVR, and flash isn’t. The TiVo experience is beautiful, but its still a “thick” client in a market that’s moving toward thin remote UIs.

  16. “Why doesn’t it have some sense of what I like (yes to high quality hour long dramas, no to yet another CSI/cop/firefighter show, etc, whatever my past profile suggests) and make suggestions?”

    To try to answer in better detail, they can’t do what you want because your individual heuristic ins’t universal. The best they could do would be that if you record programs x & y, they could suggest program z based solely on the fact that other customers who record programs x & y tend to record program z…

Comments are closed.