Saturday, March 09, 2013

DirecTV for (Android) Tablets finally debuts, but not for 7-inch hardware

Quietly, perhaps to make sure folks didn't realize just how long it had been since the company had released the iOS version of the same app, DirecTV on Thursday released something Android fans had been clamoring for: a DirecTV tablet app.

The DirecTV Android tablet app trailed the iPad app by more than two years. Truly, Android fragmentation makes support much more difficult, but considering Android's dominance globally -- admittedly, Apple still holds sway over tablets -- it is surprising it took DirecTV so long.

Android wasn't totally dismissed by DirecTV. The company has had an Android smartphone version for some time, to go along with its iPhone and iPad versions.

[A slideshow of screenshots can be seen here.]

Here's how the app is described in Google Play (notably, it is differentiated from the smartphone version by being called DirecTV for Tablets):
The ultimate video experience is just a tap away with the DIRECTV App for Android tablets. Now you can watch live TV in any room of your home. With select channels, including AUDIENCE Network™, you can tune in to them whenever and wherever you want – at home or on the go.

Limited programming available. Additional charges may apply. Available to customers in the USA only.

  • Turn your tablet into a portable TV and watch top TV channels live in any room of your home, plus select channels, including AUDIENCE Network™, inside or outside your home.
  • Browse and discover shows, movies and sports. Plus get program descriptions, cast & crew info, and parental ratings – without interrupting what you are currently watching on TV.
  • Tap to tune in to any show on your TV from your tablet.
  • Set your DVR to record your favorite shows from anywhere.
  • Track your favorite teams and get real-time scores and schedules.
HOME SCREEN (Customizable modules)
  • Customize your home screen by creating a list of your favorite channels. You can add, remove, and reorder as many modules as you like to personalize your DIRECTV experience. Tap on the Customize Layout & Content module to get started.
  • What’s Hot – Displays the most popular shows, movies and sports people are watching on DIRECTV right now.
  • Live TV Streaming – Lists the live TV channels available to watch on your tablet.
  • Currently Watching – More information about the show you are watching now and suggestions for similar shows.
  • Guide Favorites – List of favorite channels selected through the Guide.
  • Channel Guide – Displays up to 14 days of upcoming shows for a selected channel.
  • Favorite Channels – Create a custom list of your favorite channels (by category, his or her list, etc.)
  • QuickTune – One-touch selection of your favorite channels by name or icon.
  • News Channels – All the news channels in one module.
  • Kids & Family – All the kids & family friendly channels in one module.
  • Sports – Browse available sports events and scores by game or favorite teams.
DEDICATED TABS (Guide, Remote, Playlist, Movies and Sports)
  • Search the Guide up to 14 days in advance.
  • View show descriptions, Cast & Crew, Photos, Suggestions & Parental Information.
  • Share your favorite shows with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Change channels, set recordings, and get more information.
  • Organize and delete recorded programs from all of your connected HD DVR receivers.
  • Set your DVR to record On Demand movies.
  • View current sports matchups and scores by league, with the option to record or watch on TV.
  • DIRECTV customers must have a residential home account registered on DIRECTV’s website to access the DIRECTV for Tablets.
  • Watching select Live TV Streaming channels outside the home requires an active Wi-Fi or mobile network connection. For best performance, connect to a strong Wi-Fi signal.
  • Available content is based on your current programming package and premium service. Not all content is available to stream at this time.
  • Live TV Streaming in-home only channels and remote control requires a Wi-Fi connection to your home network and a DIRECTV Plus® HD DVR (models R22, and HR20 or higher) connected to a broadband Internet connection. Remote control also works with HD receivers (models H21, H23 or higher) connected to a broadband Internet connection.
  • Scheduling a recording requires a Wi-Fi, or mobile network connection and a DIRECTV Plus® DVR or HD DVR. Receivers do not require phone or Internet connection to schedule a recording.
  • Tips, Tricks, and Customer Support are available on the DIRECTV website.
Use of the DIRECTV Tablet Application by DIRECTV customers is subject to DIRECTV's Customer Agreement and Privacy Policy (available on the DIRECTV website).
There is a caveat, and not one that will sit well with owners of 7-inch Android tablets. It appears that DirecTV has made a conscious decision to exclude tablets of that size, as is evidenced by the fact that Google's flagship -- and very popular -- 7-inch tablet, the Nexus 7, cannot see the app in the Play Store.

Fortunately, though, the clever folks at XDA Developers have pulled the APK and posted it.  Another caveat, though: some parts of the UI appear to be offscreen, as it appears it was designed for 10-inch tablets and doesn't scale.

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