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Actually watching a channel directly isn’t as easy. Clicking on the channel symbol displays the upcoming schedule. Clicking it again will take you to the live channel. Given that one can already see the upcoming schedule on the grid, this UI decision is puzzling.



There’s a lot of content available on DIRECTV NOW. Unfortunately, a lot of it is garbage. With the proliferation of cable channels and inexpensive production technology (most shows and movies are edited on a Mac), there’s simply too much TV. While there are amazing shows, there’s also a lot of bad TV. Using favorite channels and a watchlist can pare down your choices, making sense out of the chaos.

We’ve already covered how to add shows and movies to the Watchlist. This function is available on virtually every show and movie detail screen. When you finally want to watch one of these saved programs, simply swipe down on the Home screen and select Watchlist from the top menu. Shows added to the Watchlist appear as a grid of icons, providing easy access.


DIRECTV NOW Settings Screen

Despite being labelled as Settings, this screen mostly provides information. Users can view their account information and legal agreements. One can sign out of the app and also opt out of Nielsen measurement, but those are the only actions. If you’re looking for help, all you get is a web address. This part of the app was so rushed that the Nielsen section simply displays html code instead of actual text meant for end users. They didn’t even have time to clean that up, which couldn’t have taken more than a minute. It’s just another indication of the poor, rushed quality of DIRECTV NOW for Apple TV.

DIRECTV NOW Live TV Playback


Channel surfers may have something to like about DIRECTV NOW. For those who enjoy flipping through channels, DIRECTV NOW makes this easy to do. Simply swipe left or right on the Siri Remote’s Touch surface to change channels. Unfortunately, this feature is a bit sensitive. I found myself accidentally changing channels simply by picking up the Siri remote.

Other controls are offered while playing live TV. Clicking on the Touch surface displays playback controls. Users can pause live TV, start from the beginning of a show, toggle CC and display information. This control panel also displays the current and next programs for the channel. Unfortunately, while you can pause live TV, there are some rules which limit what you can do. You can only start a program from the beginning or resume.

If you pause live TV, you cannot fast forward to catch up. With their current design, that would allow users to bypass commercials. Apparently, no one at DIRECTV has used Hulu. They allow users to randomly access a show at any point, without skipping commercials. They simply insert a commercial break into the stream. This could be done with live TV, and it would really improve the interactivity of DIRECTV. I understand that advertising pays the bills, but there’s no need to hobble basic interactive features. It’s not easy to provide dynamic advertising for live TV, but it is possible. (continue…)

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