With TV App, Dijit Hopes to Ride Out the Coming Apple Revolution in TV

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smartphones, which use radio protocols like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and televisions, most of which are limited to infrared input. For now, such adapters are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of all multi-screen schemes. Dijit competitor Peel, of Mountain View, CA, uses a pear-shaped adapter, whereas the Beacon resembles a rounded beach stone. “Yeah, it’s one more thing” to stick in your living room, Toeman admits. “But we think that one more thing actually eases a lot of pains.”

Toeman was a key hire at Dijit: he’s a “smart TV” veteran who ran product development at Sling Media, creator of the Slingbox appliance that lets users tap into their home TVs and DVRs from their laptops and mobile devices. Toeman’s biggest project since joining Dijit in June has been building the iPad version of the Dijit app, which came out last Friday.

“We believe that the remote control is the anchor point of the entertainment-consumption cycle,” Toeman proclaims. That’s probably been the case since 1955, when families started fighting over Zenith’s first wireless TV clicker. What’s changed recently, of course, is that the iPad and the iPhone are full-fledged, touchscreen-driven computers, meaning they’re much better adapted for navigating information than that giant screen on the other side of the living room. “The second screen is going to be the place to control your TV experience and get things done,” Toeman says. “That’s where we want to be.”

Dijit's default full-screen remote control on the iPad

When you first bring home the Beacon, you pair it over Bluetooth with your iOS device, download the Dijit app (an Android version is coming for non-Apple people), and go through a few screens designed to configure the app so that it knows your local channel lineup and can simulate the remotes for your TV and other video devices, spitting out the codes they expect. Once that’s done, you’ll spend most of your time in using the app’s listings page, where you can swipe through a grid of all local programs. If you select the listing for a particular program, Dijit shows you a “Watch” button which, if you tap it, will cause your TV to tune to that channel. The app also shows you a variety of information about the program, including an episode summary, comments and likes from other Dijit users, IMDB-style cast and crew listings, and links to related YouTube videos (which you can watch from within the app). It also lets you leave your own comments, which you can optionally post to Facebook or Twitter.

If you choose to connect the Dijit app to your Facebook account, you can see a second listings page made up of shows recommended by your Facebook friends. And if you connect Dijit to your Netflix account, you can browse and manage your queue there—though, sadly, there’s no “Watch” button for Netflix Watch Instantly programs. That’s because the Dijit app isn’t truly universal yet. While you can use it in place of the remotes that came with your Apple TV or Roku Player or Tivo, there’s no grid showing … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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