Since purchasing my iPad back in September, I've been making the most of it by integrating it into as many aspects of my life as I can. As it turns out, even watching TV has become an enhanced experience, thanks to a couple of TV-related apps I use. Between making my home channels available to me when traveling to making my TV viewing a more social experience, these are my two favorite TV-related apps (available for both the iPad and Android).
1 - Slingbox: Imagine being able to tune into your home TV from anywhere: at work, when you travel, when you go shopping, etc. Owning a Slingbox makes that possible. Basically, it's a device that you hook up to your cable or satellite box and Internet connection, then it streams your signal out onto the Internet for you to access either via the Slingbox Web site or through the SlingPlayer Mobile app for iPad or Android. Using the latter turns your device into an ultra-portable TV!
Personally, I've used this setup for over a year now (first, on Android; now, on my iPad as well) and I still love it just as much as when I first implemented it. When I travel, I can watch my home TV while waiting at the airport, while in the hotel room (I just set my iPad up beside me and have the SlingPlayer Mobile app going while I work/surf on my laptop), while being "that guy" who's sitting all by himself in a restaurant, etc. The uses are endless once you start thinking to yourself, "Oh, wow... I can watch TV here!" I never have to miss my home team play when I'm out of town, I can watch my local news from anywhere, and the list just goes on.
Now, I feel obligated to point out the current version of the SlingPlayer Mobile app has a ton of negative reviews, but I have it installed on both my iPad and my HTC Thunderbolt (an Android phone) and everything works great for me, sans areas with low signal strength. With that said, it's also worth mentioning the Slingbox route isn't the most cost-friendly solution. You can expect to pay anywhere between $200-$300 between the device and the app. For me, this remote TV solution was a splurge, but it has been worth every cent.
2 - IntoNow by Yahoo: Honestly, this is the coolest app I've downloaded in a very long time! It's kind of like Shazam, but for TV and with a social component built in. Basically, when you're watching a TV show, you fire up the IntoNow app and have it listen to what you're watching. In anywhere from 3-10 seconds, it recognizes what you're watching and returns information about the show: name, episode number, episode description, and more. But it gets much more awesome than that.
Perhaps the greatest part of the app is that also brings up related news and social conversations taking place about the show, so while you're watching, you can sit there and chat with other people who are either also watching at the same you are, or are watching at different times and talking about it via Twitter, Facebook, etc. Additionally, you can add friends who you share TV interests with. Go ahead and check out Yahoo's minute-long promo video below and make note of the awesome usage they decided to demonstrate with making a live sporting event a social experience:
I'll tell you, Yahoo really got it right with IntoNow. Personally, it's been a while since an app made me smile with excitement when I used it. You're sure to trip out after the first time you have it listen to a show and it finds it, even though it only "heard" applause or the sound of someone walking through the woods, etc. My guess is that it has something to do with digital signatures being created for what are actually very specific audio cues, but whatever the case may be, you ultimately end up being astonished by how awesome the app is.
Oh, and it's free.
So far, I've only had one show that the app didn't recognize: American Ninja Warrior on G4. The first thing I wanted to do was submit the show to Yahoo when it wasn't recognized, but there isn't a submit function to the app, currently. That's about the only thing I would request for the time being.
To close, I know this is an extremely short list and I'm sure there are plenty more TV-related apps out there (which I would love for you to recommend in the comments below, if you've tried others you're fond of), but the usefulness provided by these two apps alone should serve to keep you a satisfied tablet-owning TV buff for quite some time!