Monday, September 8, 2008

programming your directv reciever from your iphone

I saw a tv guide app in the app store. I thought this was pretty cool, but alas, I have a directv DVR and my local stations are not usually aligned with the published online guides. I then remembered that the Directv web page now let you browse an online tv guide and let you pick shows to record on your recievers.

I thought how cool would it be to be able to use your iphone like a remote and program your dvr. Rather than use the klunky dvr interface (cursoring around on the keyboard to search for shows) I could simply bring up the directv web page on my iphone and use the online guide to set up recording. Kind of like a smart remote.

I didn't have the greatest success. The web page definitely doesn't have an "m" mode, that is it doesn't support mobile small screens very effectively.
Also it doesn't remember your password, so you have to login each time.

Once I got past the screen layout and password, i could see the schedule and pick a show, but the jsp was failing on before I was able to pick a reciever and set up a show to record. I could see the guide though, which was pretty cool, though it took a lot of scrolling to see it all).

This seemed to take longer all in all then to just program it using my normal remote. However, if someone were to create an iphone app to do this, (ie use the mobile space effectively, allow you to scroll using multitouch techniques, and allow you to set up your account so you don't have to log in each time, it could be really powerful.

Update: Nothing new under the sun. I just found a mobile directv site. It is The main site is not smart enough to recognize your mobile app, but this url seemed to work. Here is a link to the article i found on it.

It has a very basic menu, but pretty much lets me do what i wanted. It has Search For Shows, and a Manual Record feature. No guide, but search is pretty useful and the build in dvr guide fills my requirement to just see what is on now.

The Search for Shows feature lets you enter a search string. It display a list of matching shows. Pick one, and it gives you a description and the option to Record Once, Record the Series, or see more showtimes. I have multiple recievers, so when i pick record, i get list of recievers. Once i pick the reciever, i can give it a recording priority. Since I can't see the list of what is already set up, i can say "record if possible" or "Definitely Record this".

The Manual Record feature lets you pick a channel, date, time, duration to record just like recording on your old faithful VCR. This is usually only useful when the guide data is not accurate, but neat to have.

Also, I had high hopes for the login part, because the sign in form has a remember me, but doesn't seem to work. Each time i go to the web page, i have to enter it from scratch.

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