Freesat Freetime viewers can now take control of their boxes at home and away with its app for the iPhone and iPad.
Simply called the Freesat App, it lets users browse the Freetime programme guide, change channels, set up recordings remotely, control playback, and launch catch-up TV.
Emma Scott, Freesat’s managing director, said: “We’ve tried to make it as easy to use as possible. It’s a very simple, accessible way, on the front page, of showing all the functions you can have, with the ability to get home all the time through the Freesat icon.
“The evolution is in how much of the experience is appropriate to watch within the tablet environment versus on the big screen, and I’m still a great believer in viewing on the big screen and I don’t think that’s going to change, but I think discovery and the ability to plan is much better suited to the tablet than ruining the experience for everyone else in the room.”
The app is currently available on iOS6 and iOS7, connecting to your Freetime box via your home Wi-Fi, but there’s no date set for expanding onto other platforms like Android or Windows Phone.
As with Freetime, the Freesat App is designed around a simplified programme guide that makes it easier for viewers to get to TV highlights and find their own choices.
The Freetime Showcase view lets you flick between highlights of today’s TV and recent shows you can find on catch-up, using selections picked by Freesat.
There’s also a full seven-day forward and backwards programme guide, with separate sections for Freesat’s categories like HD, children’s TV and news.
Catch-up TV shows can be launched direct to the TV screen from guide, and there’s a smart search mode that tries to complete names as you type, looking at both on-demand and recordings as well as upcoming TV.
However, there’s no way to change the two TV channels you’ll see on the launch page to something other than BBC One and Two – they own the top slots.
The app will control any Freesat Freetime box in your home, and if you want to set up recordings while you’re away from home, you’ll need to pair them up online with a Freesat ID. You can also set reminders for non-recording Freetime boxes.
In-home controls let you control the channels, change the volume, pause, rewind and fast forward, on-screen menu controls, activate the Red Button and other coloured-button features, and launch recordings onto your TV screen.
Saved items include thumbnails from recordings so it’s easier to identify programmes, especially for younger users.
The app’s look and feel will also be the basis of an update to the look and feel of the Freesat Freetime on-screen interface later this year.
Scott said the app’s development roadmap includes being able to watch recordings on your phone or tablet.
“Broadcasters restrict your ability to watch recordings on this device at the moment, but you’d certainly hope in the future that you’d be looking forward to a world where that would be feasible,” Scott said.
Another forthcoming feature is Bookmarks, which will let you send reminders for catch-up TV shows to your recordings list, which has been renamed Saved Items.