Skip to main content

Sling TV's new redesigned app is a huge upgrade — we went hands-on

Sling TV new app
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

Sling TV is redesigning its app — finally — and we got to see it for ourselves. While this app isn't out on devices at the time of publishing, I got to give it a test drive on a Fire TV stick that Sling sent over. 

Overall, the new Sling TV just looks a lot cleaner and fresher than before, with bigger art and less empty  space between buttons. It delivers some big changes to the Guide and DVR interfaces that were long overdue, enough to keep it in our best streaming services list, but Sling has still left out one feature that I hope to see in the future.

Sling TV app: What's new

Sling TV new app - search

(Image credit: Sling TV)

Of course, the new Sling TV app's biggest changes come with its new home screen. The "MY TV" screen (a grid with your channels, recordings, recommended content and popular content) is gone, and in its place is a screen that promotes a "Top Channel Pick." In my case, it was pulling from TBS, recommending the shows that were on at the time: Friends and (later) American Dad. 

Up next, more Top Channel Picks, showing what's on popular networks. First, it's The Jump on ESPN, then CNN Newsroom, Chicago P.D. on USA, Return to Amish on TLC and Chopped on Food Network. This row had 15 recommendations in total, and I eventually landed on a South Park episode. 

The most interesting change so far comes in the next row, which displays your most watched channels. Of the home screen sections so far, this is probably the best way to find something you might actually want to watch. Then, you get content by category (sports, news, shows, movies and kids), your recent recordings and a Continue Watching section. If I had to make any changes here, I'd move Continue Watching up a little bit, since it's a little more personalized than the Top Channel Picks.

Sling fixes the Guide screen

Sling TV new app guide

(Image credit: Sling TV)

But the best change, if you ask me, is on the Guide screen. Now, it's super easy to mark a channel as a favorite, as there's a little heart on the far left column of each channel row. 

Filtering down to just your selected favorites is easy, because there's a Favorites tab right at the top. It would be great if you could manually sort your favorites, as the only available option is to let Sling sort them alphabetically. "But what if I watch more on USA than AMC?" I wondered to myself during testing. Guide has other tabs: A-Z, Recents, Sports, News, Movies and Kids. 

DVR gets its own tab

Sling TV new app DVR

(Image credit: Sling TV)

This is one of those "no brainer" changes. Over the last few years, Sling has been integrating DVR capability to its system, expanding how much space you get, and catching up to everyone else.

So, now that DVR is where it should be on the service, it makes sense that Sling has a unified DVR section. It's right below Guide on the left rail, and has a little bar graphic for how much space you're using, followed by art for each of your DVR'd programs. 

This is the kind of change you wish didn't wait for a big update, but it's welcome nonetheless. 

What's left for the Sling TV app?

While user profiles may not sound like an app feature — and more like a service feature — the lack of multiple user profiles means that Sling can still get more cluttered than it should. This could allow you to have a more personal DVR or Favorite Channels list, and enable more personal recommendations.

This is annoying especially for Sling Blue and Sling Orange + Blue subscribers, as they get three and four (respectively) simultaneous streams, but everyone still uses the same DVR and list of favorite channels.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is an editor writer at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and Apple. Prior to joining Tom's Guide — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and looking for the headphone adapter that he unplugged from his iPhone.

  • bumble bee 80808
    admin said:
    The new Sling TV app is great — but leaves us wanting more. Here's what's great about it, and what Sling should deliver.

    Sling TV's new redesigned app is a huge upgrade — we went hands-on : Read more
    This new app is TERRIBLE!!! Now you have to wade through garbage you don't need or want, you only have 4 channels showing in the guide, you cannot switch back and forth from channels easily as before, I do not need large icons telling me what they THINK I want to watch. They need to switch back to the other format, and if I want more information on a listing, I can do that myself.
    Reply
  • bumble bee 80808
    This just might be a deal breaker for me and sling with their new design. I love sling, I want to keep it, but the new design is so saturated with garbage you do not need to know or want to know before you can even see what is on. You could easily switch back a forth between channels, but now that is more annoying, you cannot access the channel listings from the program you are watching so I must now exit a program to get through the overly informative guide. Sling needs to return to the other design or at least make it an option for those of us who cannot fathom why they ended up with this dreadful bombardment of shows I do not care about.
    Reply
  • sgtx666
    Agree with bumble bee 80808. New guide is garbage.
    shows fewer lines (channels) and fewer columns (time) than old one.
    I can no longer just press the options button on my Fire TV remote to get to the guide.
    significantly slower than old guide.
    Reply
  • Skiesrblue
    The new app is awful. You can no longer watch programming while scrolling the mini-guide. While watching a show, button functions have completely changed. VOD is a useless hot mess and the experience is not at all intuitive. Well, if you like the way OTA services work I guess it may be, but if you want it to act like TV, it just doesn't work at all.
    Reply
  • ZiadRN
    I've been a Sling customer for a few years and I agree with the comments that the new UI is awful. While better esthetically, it lacks several of the convenient features the older UI had. It is now extremely frustrating to use Sling
    Reply