5 Coolest TV Apps Unveiled at 2011 CES

TV, TV and, well, TV emerged as the big story from this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it was hard to move without bumping into a television set displaying the latest Internet-connected sets and TV apps. Yes, the future of social television is here. In this case, what happened in Vegas won't stay in Vegas.And the top apps that stole the Vegas show are...

TV, TV and, well, TV emerged as the big story from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it was hard to move without bumping into a television set displaying the latest Internet-connected sets and TV apps. Yes, the future of social television is here. In this case, what happened in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.

And the top apps that stole the Vegas show are…

  1. Yahoo showed off “broadcast interactivity,” an upgrade to its Connected TV widget platform. The software listens to TV audio and identifies unique signatures to match with widget content that then brings up an info pane showing fun facts about the show and allowing users to find more via their remotes. So addicted shoppers, for example, can make purchases on Home Shopping Network (HSN) or pick their favorite reality show star. CBS, ABC, Showtime and advertisers Ford and Mattel are in talks for the pilot, and the software already works for both live and on-demand video.
  2. Comcast made official at CES what mobile users have long wanted, the ability to watch live and on-demand TV from their iPads and Android tablets, wherever they have a WiFi connection. The Xfinity TV iPad app can now, finally, let you watch nearly 3,000 hours of On Demand content in the home or while out and about. There’s also a feature that lets customers to search for their favorite programs and change channels on a TV set from a computer via XfinityTV.com But the coolest feature is what’s to come. Comcast also made it known that future releases of the app “will include seamless access to social networking sites so customers can share what they’re watching with their friends in real time, as well as a ‘MyTV’ feature that gives customers the ability to send and receive personal recommendations with friends on what to watch.”
  3. Samsung took a more innovative, or user-friendly perhaps, approach to unveiling new apps with its “Free the TV Challenge,” a $500,000 contest to inspire developers to create apps for Samsung TV sets and Blu-ray players. The grand prizewinner, announced during CES, was “We Draw,” an interactive drawing game that projects the images players draw on their touch-screen phones onto their TV. Players can guess what other players are drawing, and the TV app keeps score. The most intriguing for social media users though may be the Numote, which won the “People’s Choice Award.” It’s essentially a social TV guide that combines “TV check-ins” with a program guide. As you watch shows, you can see if your friends are watching, win badges, and see what TV shows are trending. And, in a sign of the times, Samsung says that this year, two-thirds of its TV models on the market will be connected sets.
  4. The Tivizen, meanwhile, was unveiled as a tool to bring local broadcast television to the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The device plugs directly into the 30-pin socket (normally the home for the power cord connector) and offers up to 2.5 hours of Mobile DTV video. The Tivizen will be available in June for $99 and works with a free app, with a WiFi version of the same device also expected later this year.
  5. LG jumped into the competition with Apple TV and Google TV, unveiling the SmartTV platform it long promised. The system enables HDTVs, Blu-ray players and other sources to access streaming media, apps and the web, with four main sections, TV Live, Premium Content, TV Apps and a Launch Bar, all controlled by a Magic Remote (read: wave of the hand). And the way to access it all is a hockey puck-sized device, the SmartTV Upgrader, that connects to any TV with an HDMI connection and offers a Web browser so users don’t even have to turn on their laptops to access the Internet. News, reviews and other content can be viewed on the television screen, along wiht apps like Netflix, YouTube and Live Streaming Sports. That was just part of LG’s 2011 lineup, that also included a line of glasses-free 3-D mobile DTV sets and glasses-free 3-D displays for mobile devices, just like RCA.