Peel’s AllPlay: A More All-Encompassing Guide to What’s on TV

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Peel app

Last year, I reviewed Peel, an intriguing smartphone application–it’s free, although it also works with a gizmo that turns it into a universal remote control–designed to make it easier to find the handful of TV shows you’ll love on the 500 channels you get.

At Google I/O this week, the company announced a new version of its Android app that goes beyond your cable or satellite station lineup to include online video and stuff you’ve recorded on your DVR.

The new feature is called AllPlay TV, and it’ll be available on Google Play as a free update in July.

At the moment, though, the “All” in AllPlay is a relative term. For one thing, you need a Google TV device to use it–the Peel app talks to Google TV over your Wi-Fi network and doesn’t need the $99.95 universal-remote adapter. The only online video service it supports is Netflix. And it works only with DirecTV DVRs. In other words, you need to be a DirecTV customer who subscribes to Netflix and owns Google TV to get the full experience. (If you don’t have Google TV, Netflix and/or DirecTV, you can continue to use the Peel app as a guide to live TV.)

This initial implementation may be limited, but the idea is powerful. Using Peel’s extremely good-looking app, you can explore all the shows and movies available to you without worrying about where they are, or futzing with cryptic buttons on a plasticky standard remote. I get why the initial incarnation of this is so limited: Stitching together conventional TV, Internet TV and recorded TV is so tricky a proposition that the only other companies I can think of who have tried tackling it are Google (with Google TV itself) and TiVo.

Peel says it plans to expand AllPlay with more streaming services, support for more DVRs and an iOS version. As a Hulu fan, Comcast customer and TiVo owner, I’m looking forward to it.