Check in to your TV screen with TVcheck

TVcheckTVcheck is a new iOS and Android app from Orange FT. It’s currently available as a free download from the App Store (only in the U.K.) and Google Play, and presently only works with selected TV channels from the United Kingdom.

TVcheck is a “social TV” app that allows its users to “check in” to their favorite TV shows while they are watching, show their love for particular programming and join a community of other viewers keen to talk about what is going on. At the core of the experience is some impressive image-recognition technology that allows the user to point their device’s camera at their TV screen and the show they are watching be automatically recognized within a matter of seconds — assuming it is on one of the supported channels.

Like most other “check in” apps, TVcheck has an element of gamification about it — users are rewarded with points for checking in to TV shows and can earn badges for completing specific achievements on the service. Points are used to calculate who is the “Top Dog” of a particular show, and may also be earned by answering trivia questions about selected shows. The service also promises regular competitions with real-world prizes, though none were running at the time of writing.

The app features a number of community features. Users are able to share any of their activity or recommend a particular TV show via Twitter or Facebook. When looking at the page for a specific show, users may also post comments to TVcheck, Facebook and/or Twitter. These are automatically (and optionally) appended with a hashtag, which allows TVcheck to track the number of tweets per minute about a specific show, which gives a good indication of the amount of “buzz” surrounding it — though this only takes public Twitter posts into account rather than Facebook updates. Users may also “follow” each other if they find someone with whom they have enjoyed discussion about a particular show, or someone who appears to have similar tastes. Private messages may also be exchanged with other users if both parties are following each other.

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TVcheck is a good idea, but it will live or die based on two things: the size of its community, and its supported channels. At present, there is mostly good support for widely-accessible TV channels in the United Kingdom with a few obvious omissions such as the popular “freeview” digital channel Dave. Support for channels will doubtless only expand over time, but the currently rather small size of the community is a bigger concern. At the time of writing, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of checking in going on, and even less in the way of discussion. This will probably improve as more people become aware of the service, but Orange FT will need to ensure that the wider Internet community is aware of the service’s existence in order to grow. The fact that the service does not currently appear to have any potential for monetization may also prove to be an issue down the line, too.

These issues aside, the app itself is a slick experience that works extremely well, and the image recognition technology that allows checking in through simply pointing the camera at the TV set is very impressive. It’s a good idea that deserves to expand beyond its home territory of the UK into a global community (or perhaps more appropriately, a group of country-specific communities) of TV enthusiasts. This is definitely one to watch in the coming months, though it remains to be seen if users will take to it in healthy numbers.

You can follow TVcheck’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.