Virgin Media will start updating its TiVo smart TV boxes this October. Until then, here’s an early first look at the refreshed user interface.
The first thing that’s immediately noticeable is that the old black and red colour scheme is gone. In place is a much smarter, more conservative purple and red palette or ‘plum’ as Virgin Media calls it.
It’s a very stripped down look that appears to take cues from the ‘flat’ ethos that’s ruled web design for the last few of years. But this update isn’t all about giving TiVo a fresh coat of paint. Let’s take a closer look.
The new-look Virgin Media TiVo interface does away with a lot of the clutter of old. This serves two purposes - not only does it look nicer, it also serves to focus your attention on the menus and help you find what you want more quickly.
To that end, Virgin Media has given the menus a bit of a rethink. TV Guide still sits at the top of the chain and two taps of the menu button will take you straight through to the regular Virgin Media EPG.
Catch Up and On Demand no longer sit next to each other in the same menu, they’ve now got their own separate rooms, meaning you don’t have to wade through a load of on-demand content if all you want to do is catch up on something, or vice versa. Similar to Sky's thinking behind the last major redesign of Sky+HD, it's all about making it easier for people to get to the things they want.
The biggest change to Virgin Media TiVo however is the new ‘What to Watch Now’ feature. This will serve up a selection of shows TiVo thinks you’ll be most interested in, based on the programmes that have been recently watched and a customer’s recommendations.
Initially, 'What to Watch Now' will be limited to broadcast TV but Virgin Media says TiVo will eventually start recommending content from on-demand services.
Virgin Media has also announced that it’s begun to move away from using Flash-based services and will in time replace older versions of things like BBC iPlayer with HTML5-based apps. What does this mean in plain English?
Scott Kewley, Virgin Media’s director of digital entertainment told Recombu, “Not only does it make it easier for developers to bring apps to the platform, they’re also faster which make the overall experience better.”
Kewley added that Virgin Media TiVo will be a much smoother operation once the update lands. During the brief demo we were able to see that little things like selecting menu options and moving between screens was certainly slicker than the old version of TiVo, but the transition between some menus seemed to take more time than others. Kewley said that Virgin Media is constantly refining the software and code and future updates will aim to make things even faster.
Once all of the boxes are updated, we’re told that more apps and services will come to TiVo. We asked if there was any movement on Amazon Prime Instant Video heading to Virgin Media TiVo and were told there’s nothing to share right now.
The first Virgin Media TiVo boxes will start getting the update at some point in October. Virgin aims to have all of the 2.3 million TiVo customers on the new user interface by Christmas.