First TiVo Hydra Feature Update Rolling Out

Dave Zatz —  May 9, 2018 — 39 Comments

The TiVo Hydra experience has seen a number of updates, since its October release, but they’ve primarily been focused on squashing (numerous) bugs. While that work continues, TiVo has begun rolling out their first “feature update” to existing Hydra owners — beginning two weeks ago with 5000 randomly selected boxes and now expanded to the general TiVo populace.

There are a number of visible changes, but the headline feature relates to the continued deprecation of textual lists in favor of a newly unveiled, graphically-intensive, dual-axis navigation. Another possibly notable revision is an update to the “mini guide” that closes the gap on the abandoned pioneering “Live Guide.”

As one pal told me, if you already appreciate the Hydra experience you’re gonna enjoy it that much more. If Hydra isn’t your thing, the 21.8.1 update won’t move the needle much… and I personally see no reason to give Hydra another go our home at this point. Our TiVos work just fine and predictably within the Encore HDUI. Although I do wonder if Hydra will be a pre-req when the delayed native Alexa integration hits.

(Thanks Daren, Mikey!)

39 responses to First TiVo Hydra Feature Update Rolling Out

  1. Two more notes: 1) Over 100,000 TiVo boxes are running Hydra at this point. Wonder how many are retail boxes as a test bed for their larger MSO population. 2) The company is “increasing our efforts to improve usability in Hydra” #

  2. Fred Beiderbecke May 9, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Can you roll back from Hydra? I have it on my bolt but I still prefer the old interface. There seems to be no easy way to go back like on the old interface. It is growing on me, but so are the age spots.

  3. I didn’t mind the Hydra update, but this recent one is too annoying. You cannot turn off annoying graphics to the same extent as before and it is slightly harder to get to standby.

  4. Fred, you can roll back. However, you’ll give up all your recordings and Season Passes. There are ways to backup and restore, but any way you slice it, the rollback is extremely tedious. We gave Hydra about a month at release as a public service, but ended up rolling back. Will be interesting to see what happens when they finally get around to putting Hydra on the mobile apps – will there be an old app for Encore/HDUI or will the new app/interface serve both platforms?

  5. I’m not happy with this update at all. I was ok with the original Hydra but one of my major complaints was that there was too much horizontal scrolling in place es. Now TiVo makes it worse with the main menu a horizontal scroller. Eesh.

    Reminds me of the old days of Roku and the horizontal scrolling everything. Even Roku was smart enough to move away from that style, yet Tivo doubles down on it with the horizontal main menu.

  6. Does the update fix the noisy fan? (Sarc)

  7. Any word on Google Home integration? Also, are the straming apps ever going to be up to date? My Netflix and Hulu apps are woefully outdated, literally years behind my other devices that have the same apps. I feel like I’m switching to inferior streaming apps when using my tivo.

  8. Fred Beiderbecke May 9, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    I agree about the quality of the apps. I use plex and it skips quite a bit play hi-def files. Does the Netflix app support 4K on the Bolt boxes?

  9. I got the update last week. Biggest change I noticed is the guide display – now has lines between each row, and shows fewer rows, larger.

    I’ve been surprised that each Hydra update has been pretty good at squashing bugs and improving performance. I have grown used to it and I don’t hate it.

  10. I haven’t switched yet, though I heard that using my new Vox remote will require it?

    I’m still waiting for the day when I can turn on the TV/TiVo and see a notice that says “Hey, we figured out how to get (the majority of) your season pass content without needing cable TV, so congrats, you can discontinue cable TV if you like and you won’t really notice the difference.” It might even say “For a smoother transition, you’ll need to subscribe to one or more of these OTT services, but check off the ones you want and we’ll take care of the rest.”

    Maybe I should just cancel Cable anyway and see if anyone complains (since most of our recent TV watching is Netflix and Amazon anyway). Or start deleting season passes and see if anyone notices…

  11. There is a special section of Hell reserved for UX designers who think it’s a good idea to deprecate textual lists.

  12. Hydra is a step or six backwards. A number of key features just gone. Auto play of all shows in a folder gone. Why did I “upgrade?”

  13. Tivo needs to work on 4K HDR streaming on Amazon and Vudu. Why only 4K Netflix? I’ve had to add a Roku box to achieve this which negates the whole concept of Tivo all in one interface.

  14. Bill Steinbach May 9, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    They’re going to need to figure out something to do with the iOS app. Come July they won’t be able to issue any updates to it without supporting the Plus and X phone sizes. At that point, you would think they would give in and just have a new app ready. I don’t understand what could be taking so long.

  15. I don’t like the new set up (like they say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it), don’t like you can’t do the guide like before and can’t play all shows at once in folder, don’t know what (knucklehead came up with that when you downgrade you lose everything) but if you upgrade you don’t

  16. It made my non-Vox Mini MUCH snappier than it was on the previous Hydra. It was a plus for me!

  17. Like Dave I tried Hydra for several weeks and found no reason to stay with it. Beyond being very graphically intensive it appeared to me that Hydra was really designed around helping people find stuff to watch. Being an OTA only user and not using the apps much, I have little need to have TiVo help me find new stuff to watch and really just want a simple UI to setup recordings from 6 channels and then watch those shows. The older HDUI does that just fine.

  18. Patrick Gaffney May 10, 2018 at 8:41 am

    The old interface, I always anyone could use. I could buy a tivo for 80 year olds and they could watch their shows. It just made sense.

    Hydra, while it is better and cooler looking, has lost that functionality that the old system had. I still have hydra, because for me it isnt that bad. But no longer would I rank Tivo over a cable box or anything like that. It is no longer the best box out there. It is just another box.

  19. I still don’t understand a few things about the new interface:

    1) I get it that there is a back button, but prior to the back button for years and years and years the back arrow did similar things, why disable this functionality??? Do I really need to get to my favorite channels with this action?

    2) Why in the world does the skip back/forward 15 seconds button shoot me out of Netflix/Hulu so that I now have to go back into the app, and as a bonus for my button press I’ve lost my place. Either make it work within the app or disable it within the app.

    I have other gripes, but fixing those two things would make me happier with the transition. I still need to play around more, but in general it is like someone ported the enhanced iPad app to my TV and tried to make up for the lack of a touchscreen…

  20. Fred Beiderbecke May 10, 2018 at 10:30 am

    The back button on my Harmony doesn’t seem to work in Hydra. I preferred the back arrow too. I will have to see if I can custom program that. The back not working is my biggest gripe with Hydra.

  21. I know it is so simple and so ingrained in long time TiVo users!!! Just like the 15 second button getting me out of NetFlix, skipping forward and backwards by 15 second was one of the reasons I bought a Tivo 15+ years ago…

  22. Brad, what the FF/Back buttons due seems to be app dependent. I’m not sure who writes the apps for Tivo, but it doesn’t seem to be entirely Tivo since the apps are not consistent.

  23. I can only hope Netflix doesn’t think me hitting the 15 second back button means I want to quickly get out of Netflix and forget where I was in the show I was just watching… but maybe I am wrong :).

  24. I think I may have been one of the early few. I noticed changes a little over a week ago. More importantly, stuff started to actually work again, including the TiVo minis that Hydra otherwise decimated.

  25. Mikey Fancher May 10, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    I thought the rollback was pretty easy. Hydra lasted about a week at my home

  26. Technically easy. But potentially disruptive and time consuming, especially if you’re not actively syncing Season Passes or offloading shows.

    As to the upgrade question, which I still get pretty regularly, I say this: There’s not enough upside to do it. Leaving out the interface debate and muscle memory considerations, you are or were voluntarily taking on bugs and beta testing duties while giving up features. For what?

  27. I don’t mind new look. The back button thing is a bummer. I wish TIVO offered XL TIVO expanders (4-10 TB). Also they should allow you to transfer from old expander to newer larger ones. Like a Mac or PC app.

  28. If I buy a new Bolt today, what interface will I get and, if it is Hydra, is it changeable?

  29. If it’s a VOX. Hydra is already on it.

  30. I tried Hydra when it came out, and immedialy rolled back within 24 hours. It was a no-go for me. It felt like a downgrade compared to the old interface. Very user unfriendly and unintuitive. Clunky. Style and design should never come before usability.

  31. I received the update on my bedroom Bolt that I watch about 30 minutes a night. The program guide is much easier to read across a dark room with my 50+ year old eyes. The other great addition is overscan settings. Before they added that setting, many elements of the TiVo screens were cut off on my 10 year old 720p TV.

  32. What can I do to prevent my box from automatically/accidentally being upgraded to Hydra? Because once the upgrade happens I’m canceling my TiVo service and going to their competition, but I’d like to stay with the old interface as long as possible.

  33. I’m really surprised by all the negative comments about Hydra. It’s bad, and even worse now, but it’s not that bad. You don’t spend that much time in the UI anyway.

    I find their webpage to be much more annoying–the guide and such.

  34. One thing I just noticed is the new update doesn’t show you the number of the shortcuts you can setup, so you have to remember the number. They only show up in a list on the setup page for shortcuts. On the bright side that makes not being able to set a shortcut for standby makes a tiny amount of sense now, because standby is in the same horizontal menu as the now unnumbered shortcuts, but still it would be nice to hit a number to get to standby.

  35. Chucky, others, Hydra will remain an optional upgrade for the foreseeable future. And we’re still getting new features on the old platform, like Alexa.

    “there is no reason why we would require an TE3/Encore customer to upgrade to TE4/Hydra. We will likely push future bug fix releases onto your box, but that is something we have always done”

    https://www.tivocommunity.com/community/index.php?threads/psa-tivo-changes-may-2018-user-agreement-privacy-policy-update-may-2018.560275/page-2#post-11507629

    Also reinforces Chucky’s long-held belief that monthly subscriptions carry more weight than Lifetime…

  36. Jakub Kudlacz May 14, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    It seems change is difficult. I like to try new things, and while initially things were bit hard (old habits were not helping, looking at you back arrow) eventually I got used to new UI. Only issue that was really bothering me were minor bugs and slowness of various tasks, looking at you GUIDE. After new update, 2 weeks into it, I love it, I honestly feel like this version of HYDRA is ready for prime time. Yeah it took 6 months longer than expected but I feel like I could recommend HYDRA to others now. Yeah back arrow vs back buttons is bit annoying, but you get over it eventually, unfortunately 24 hours or 2 weeks is probably not sufficient time to get rid of this habit. Some older units like Tivo Mini gen 1 does not handle HYDRA vs NETFLIX update well and back button kicks you out of the Netflix App but I got over it. I love new images, makes it actually easier/more fun for me to see what I am looking for (sure not everyone will agree, or looking at comments above 80% of people hate this thing lol), it is probably Tivo’s fault they created a great UI originally and they decided not to make significant updates to it for a years and now change is hard.

  37. I suppose the programmers at TiVo are tired of maintaining a variation on the interface that goes back to 2000. Tough. The old interface is soothing, predictable, and easy to use. The new one is jarring, requires more clicks, and more time to get things done.

    I am very sorry I switched. The worst part is that while it is easy to switch to the new interface, it is very painful to switch back. Doing so means losing all my existing content, reprogramming the One Pass stuff and so on.

    The upgrade I want is a pain-free switch back to the old interface.

  38. Hydra lasted about 3 weeks in my house… about 3 weeks longer than it should have. Between the bugs, lost functionality, and the fact certain things took 2-3 times as many steps compared to the previous UI… I’m just not seeing how people are enjoying Hydra. While visually more crisp, it doesn’t take long to figure out that you’re dealing with a less efficient & less simple experience. And is it just me, or is the font just a tad small in the new Guide and My Shows view? The back functionality mattered way more than I thought it would. TiVo really didn’t do it’s loyalists a favor by force-feeding this fundamental change into Hydra.

    Anyway, my 2 cents… DON’T DO IT!

  39. i’m with you i don’t know what dummy came up with that if you want to go back to the old interface you lose everything , but you don’t if you upgrade

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