Smartphones and tablets can add to the big screen TV experience, with "second screen" apps allowing users to search for supplementary information such as series synopsis, cast details and schedules. In addition to TV companion apps, selected channels and networks are even releasing apps that allow you to stream content right after release. And of course, subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are putting pressure on classic television providers with high quality, all you can watch video streaming. Check out 15 of our favorite second screen, TV channel, and companion apps below.
In addition to serving as a remote control app (for IR-capable Android phones, or for WiFi-enabled TVs and set-top boxes), Peel (Android, iOS) also functions as a personalized TV guide. Input your cable provider and/or zip code to bring up a list of upcoming broadcasts and mark your favorite shows, your guilty pleasures and shows you don't want to see. The app learns from your selections, creating personalized suggestions, as well as reminders of upcoming screentimes. While the IR remote functions only work on Android devices with an IR blaster, the Wi-Fi features and TV guides are a useful addition to your smartphone's bag of tricks, regardless of OS.
The venerable TV Guide has its own mobile app (Android and iOS) that answers the age old question of "What's on tonight?" and more. As you'd expect, the TV Guide app provides detailed listings for a variety of networks and programs. Users can create personal watchlists for particular TV shows and sports teams, with users able to set up alerts for screen times as well as searches for shows and HD or standard def channels. Multiple filters let you find out what's new and premiering, shows that are trending with other TV Guide users, and items in your watchlist.
Television Time is a slick and feature-packed iOS TV show tracker that allows you to easily make sense of the many TV series you're following, whether you're looking for reminders of episode premieres, or need to manage your multi-episode marathons. Users can easily search for their favorite TV shows or discover new series, get notifications for the latest show times, track a list of episodes watched (or missed), and view detailed show and season information. Apple Watch support lets you view upcoming showtimes and your to-watch list right on your wrist, and Trak.tv and iCloud support means you can easily sync your data between devices.
TVShow Time is another good show-tracking app available to Android and iOS users. The free app allows users to set up a custom calendar of TV shows they're following, complete with notifications of show times, an episode checklist, and social features that allow you to interact with other users and talk about your favorite episodes, plot twists and characters.
The Internet Movie Database or IMDb (Android or iOS) is a mammoth collection of TV, movie and celebrity information, with users able to pull up casting details, trailers, plot synopsis, photos, reviews, trivia and more. In addition to the rich database, you can look up TV listings, movie showtimes and even recaps of last night's episodes as well as rate their favorite movies and TV shows. Whether you're a movie buff looking up production minutiae or a casual viewer who just needs the times for the latest episode, IMDb has got something to offer.
Keep track of your favorite TV series with TV Guide, an open source Android app. Series Guide allows users to track individual TV series, providing a guide to previous and upcoming episodes. Select your favorite shows and Series Guide will download show details such as episode listings, synopses for released episodes, and air times for new episodes. Show details are stored locally for offline access, and can be updated manually or automatically. Check in through Trakt.tv, view trending series, mark individual episodes as watched and set alerts on your calendar to inform you of upcoming episodes.
Get your favorite TV channels streamed straight into your device with Sling Television (Android, iOS), a subscription streaming service that skips the cable and the TV to bring the latest TV series to your touchscreen. Sling TV starts at $20 a month with a "Best of Live TV" package that bundles together channels such as ESPN, CNN and HGTV, with other packages and bundles available as addons. The app provides you with a quick at-a-glance view of what's on now, fast forward, rewind, and pause on most channels, and up to 3 days of replays.