TVGuide.co.uk for iPhone review

For those in the know, TVGuide.co.uk offers an excellent and free online TV guide, covering a plethora of channel listings from the popular to the obscure. Freeview, Sky, HD, Virgin Media cable, Tiscali, Top Up TV and a selection of Freesat channels are covered, with the added opportunity to rate TV programmes and view top rated shows recommended by other viewers. With analogue channels being switched off in the North West later this year and the digital switchover due to be completed by 2012, every household will eventually have a minimum of around 50 channels to choose from.

All those extensive TVGuide.co.uk listings are great then, but a pain to read on any mobile device. Introduced in May 2009, TVGuide.co.uk for iPhone and iPod touch essentially resolves the problem, formatting small screen listings for a smaller screen. Open the application and you’re presented with a 'Now & Next' list of programmes rather like the electronic program guide (EPG) found on modern televisions and set-top boxes. BBC, ITV, Channel Four and five top the list, followed by dozens of other channels. You can add to this list, from around 400 channel listings, and customise settings to move or group favourite or most viewed channels together. You can also set your region for localised variations or add to them if you have access to regional programming via satellite.

Each channel listing comes with a station ident and each programme a user rating. Click on a channel on 'Now & Next' and you get full channel listings for the day for that channel. When you first power up the application it takes a few seconds for fresh listings to load but once downloaded these can be read without the need for an Internet connection. This proves ideal for browsing listings on the way home from work, for instance, travelling on bus or tube.

TVGuide.co.uk links to content from BBC iPlayer.

Subtitled, signed, audio-described and interactive programmes are indicated but Videoplus and channel numbers on individual platforms are missing. Episode names and numbers, as well as series numbers are included when relevant. Each listing comes with a brief description. When possible TVGuide.co.uk links to compatible streaming content from BBC iPlayer although the iPhone can't yet stream live content, which relies on Flash. Select the iPlayer ident and Safari will open without having to search for content on the BBC site manually.

If you have access to mainland European channels TVGuide.co.uk also has a limited list of channels listings, including Rai Uno from Italy, Sat 1 from Germany, TV3 from Spain and BBC Prime. We'd like to see the ability to link TV listings with the iPhones built in calendar for programme reminders. TVGuide.co.uk is currently missing a search function, which would be a tremendous addition to an already impressive application.

OUR VERDICT

A popular and well reviewed application on the Apple iTunes App Store, TVGuide.co.uk gets full marks for offering a quality professional service free when sheer value suggests many would be happy to pay for it. Ease of use and easy on the eye good looks, plus the ability to browse listings offline, makes this an essential addition to iPhone or iPod touch.

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