Time Warner’s TWCable TV for iPad, is an app that although released just a few days ago, it has generated a lot of buzz. That is because this app lets Time Warner Cable customers stream live TV channels onto their iPad via WiFi for free, essential transforming your iPad into a portable TV.
Lets face it, cable customers pay an arm and a leg nowadays. Here in New York, my cable TV bill alone costs over $130 a month. The high cost of cable TV, plus the increasing amount of TV shows available to watch online – many of which are free, have caused many cable customers to jump ship. I can’t say that I haven’t considered quitting cable altogether either. While I do enjoy relaxing in front of the my big screen TV, I find myself watching about half of my favorite TV shows on my computer or iPad.
The TWCable TV for iPad app, which is free to download, adds some much needed value to your cable TV subscription. Currently the service provides users with 32 live streaming TV stations. Available channels include A&E, ABC Family, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Disney Channel, E!, Food Network, Fox News, FX, Galavision, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, History, HLN, Lifetime Movie Network, MSNBC, MTV HD, National Geographic, Nick, Spike, SyFy, TLC, Travel Channel, USA and VH1. The “catch” however is that there are no DVR functions, so you cant record a show to watch it later. The concept for this app is pretty similar the Slingbox iPad app which lets you stream live TV shows to your iPad. Except the hardware required to make Slingbox work costs money and so does the App. However, Slingbox is able to support most DVRs.
We tried the TWCable TV for iPad app and are so far very impressed. First we had to download the app, and then we had to sign up and get an account with Time Warner Cable’s web site. That requires inputting some information, including a code from your bill. But overall the process was simple. For the first few hours we had difficulty accessing TV channels, so much so that we even tweeted about our experience. Amazingly enough, a Time Warner rep saw our tweet and addressed us within minutes. He explained that they were experiencing some difficulties due to the overwhelming demand that the app had yesterday – it was actually the most downloaded app of the day in the Appstore.
Today we were finally able to successfully access the live TV channels and each TV station streamed onto or iPad without a hitch! Playback is smooth and the quality is pretty good too. Unfortunately, it takes about a minute for the app to load, but it’s not too much of a big deal. The app’s interface is simple. A simple tap brings up a TV channel guide which includes what shows are currently playing.. At the top right there is also a button which brings up your channel history. There’s not much else going on with the app, and there isn’t any portrait viewing support, but that isn’t a big deal. However, one thing that bugs us with the app’s interface, is that the application’s window bar stays on top while you’re watching a live channel. It would be more ideal if it disappeared after a few seconds.
Overall, we’re loving the TWCable TV app. It makes us feel like we’re getting more value out of our expensive Cable TV subscription. Not to mention that our iPad now serves yet one more useful function as a TV! The app also can’t help but remind us of FLO TV which failed miserably. Alas, the biggest problem with FLO TV and services like it, is that people didn’t want to pay for a portable TV, nor did they want to carry around yet another device.
It’s also nice to see that Time Warner Cable is being so forward thinking, as this certainly helps them stand out from other traditional cable providers which all need to desperately start innovating if they what to survive in the long term. We do hope that Time Warner Cable improves the app by adding more channels and by offering customers access to their DVR, just like AT&T’s U-verse Mobile app does. Unfortunately, what happens to this app remains to be seen. Already Engadget has reported some troubles for the app, as it seems that greedy TV networks are whining about Time Warner Cable’s right to stream their stations. Sigh. We certainly hope that this app doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Hulu – you know, starting off as a massive hit and then blowing it by charging people for what they should be getting for free.
You can download the TWCable TV iPad App here.