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TiVo Previews SDK and Discusses Roadmap

TiVo Premiere XL
TiVo Premiere XL

TiVo has been making some news lately with recent updates to its Series 4 Premier line. This update—which is rolling out now to TiVo premier owners and later in the year for customers using an operator-provided TiVo box—added some nice new features, but customers and analysts are still demanding more. And TiVo today announced some exciting news that will further extend the Premier’s appeal, so we spoke with TiVo’s team at CES to get a better idea of the road ahead.

Processing power

One of the biggest complaints about the initial release of TiVo’s Premier and Premier XL boxes was that they were laggy and unresponsive. The refreshed UI added many new features, but customers couldn’t get past the slow performance. Much of this was because even though the new boxes were built on dual-core systems, only one core was enabled.

Working with its hardware and software partners, TiVo enabled the second core on customers’ Premier boxes this past fall, and this latest release continues to improve performance and stability on the platform.

Multi-room

Tivo’s latest update introduces of true, multi-room streaming between devices. And through select operators, a second-room set-top box called the TiVo Preview, mirrors the TiVo experience in other rooms around the house without the need for additional full-on DVRs in each room.

HD Menus

One of the biggest improvements in this winter’s update is a set of enhancements for the HD guide and menus, which many customers abandoned due to performance and stability issues. The new guide is responsive and even more useful with quick access to Search, program info, and other features. Even the SD menus were tweaked to bring them up to the new look and feel of the Series 4 UI.

And while some users accessing online and legacy features may feel left in the standard definition dust, TiVo assured us that in the future, “you will no longer need to use SD menus if you don’t want to,” suggesting that an HD overhaul for the entire menu system is on the roadmap.

It’s unclear yet whether all legacy content will carry forward, though. KidZone fans have realized early on that the only access to this legacy feature on the Premier was through the SD menus.

Online Content Partners

TiVo continues to work with its content partners to expand and improve its offering. With Hulu, Blockbluster, Netflix, and Amazon, TiVo already has a nice complement of on-demand options. And TiVo’s leading integrated search feature takes users directly to the desired asset, without having to wade through multiple apps’ menus.

While they’re not talking about many specifics, TiVo did say Premier customers can expect a dramatically improved Netflix experience in the first or second quarter. Following Xbox’s lead, Netflix on TiVo will provide content browsing and recommendations, Dolby Digital audio, and support for subtitles. Currently, TiVo users are limited to accessing titles from their Instant Queue.

Third-party apps

TiVo’s access to third-party services and personal content has been fairly limited in the past, but that’s likely to change this year. TiVo today previewed a Developers Kit at the CEA’s Developer University event. This kit will enable third parties to extend TiVo’s capabilities through something of an application ecosystem. TiVo says it will provide access to its APIs to the Series 4 platform over the year. We expect this will be a management development community more like Xbox than, say, Roku.

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.