Sling TV announced a whole slew of features today (Aug. 31) that are coming to its new app, with the best addition set to improve channel surfing. Those with the new Sling app — which is also available for more devices — will be able to see what's on other channels without stopping the thing they're currently watching.
YouTube TV has a similar view, but it takes up more of the screen. Sling's new All Channels menu, pops up over the lower-third of the screen, as you can see above. This way, if you're not loving what you're watching — but enjoying it enough to not leave — you can still see what's going on. This should help Sling keep its top slot among our picks for the best cable TV alternatives.
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Sling broke the news in a blog post (opens in new tab), where it announced that the new Sling TV app is also landing on two new homes: AirTV Mini and Android TV. It's already been on Amazon Fire TV and Roku. Sling's post notes this isn't the end of its app's expansion, as the "new app will continue rolling out across all supported devices throughout the year."
Another new feature coming to the new Sling app is a "Browse By Channel" row on the home screen. This lets folks jump straight to the channels they like the most, to see what's on now and what's coming up. In the past, Sling has often been more focused on content and programming than the networks, so this is a welcome addition to the app.
We've checked the new Sling app on one of our Roku Ultras, and these features aren't available yet. We're guessing they'll roll out over time.
Slling took a moment to highlight Locast integration for broadcast networks. This has been rolling out since earlier this summer, and it's currently available on Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Tivo Stream HD, Apple Mobile, Android TV, Android Mobile, Sony TV and AirTV Mini. Roku is notable by its absence.
And you don't have to pay more for Locast, a donation-supported streaming service that serves local broadcast networks to viewers in 36 markets across 55% of the US population. The only problem is that Locast channels can't be DVR'd, which is a bummer.
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The new Sling app is making the service stronger as a competitor, with that sheen and polish an app needs when YouTube TV and Fubo look as slick as they do. I'm testing Fubo right now and find it pretty neat and clean.
Once Locast integration comes to Roku (the most popular streaming device platform) and Apple tvOS (one of our favorites at Tom's Guide), Sling TV will be even more competitive. Sling's lower price compared to YouTube TV and Hulu make it an attractive option as it is, but to have a more complete roster of broadcast channels (Sling Blue has Fox and NBC, Sling Orange has neither) is a huge deal.
That said, the inability to DVR Locast content is a big annoyance. That can be remedied, though, with an AirTV. We're currently testing out such an apparatus, and look forward to reporting back after spending more time with it.
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