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What Happened to DIRECTV's 'Apple-Like' Guide?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to

Q. I remember reading a few years ago that DIRECTV was going to introduce what it called, 'An Apple-like' on-screen guide. It was supposed to be fast, innovative and creative. Did they ever launch it? If not, where is it? -- Jay, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

On November 3, 2011, DIRECTV CEO Mike White told Wall Street analysts in an investors call that: "I think you'll see a little bit of the future in our HD user will give you a sense of how we're looking at kind of speed of response, search engines, recommendations, shows you might like...I would say, Apple-like, to be honest, experience from an interface standpoint."

White was referring to the satcaster's plans for a new on-screen guide that would give subscribers more program recommendations and Internet-based features such as Pandora, YouTube and apps. The guide was supposed to also be part of a new system that would dramatically increase the speed of the HD DVR, making it a snap to switch channels and set up options such as recording shows.

White's use of the term, Apple-like, stirred a lot of interest in the DIRECTV community with subscribers hoping for an experience comparable to using an iPhone or iPad. In other words, bold, innovative, fast and easy to use.

Well, DIRECTV last year rolled out that new guide and HD DVR system, complete with expanded program recommendations, Internet apps and Pandora.

But is it Apple-like?

Anyone who has used the new guide -- and DIRECTV's new Genie HD DVR -- might not think of Apple when using it. While the Genie is indeed innovative -- you can watch programming in multiple rooms and record up to five shows at the same time -- the interface itself is still slow and sometimes mind-numbingly so. You push in channel numbers and sometimes it takes several seconds or more before the channel changes. This is not what you would expect from an Apple-like product.

The satcaster's new Internet-based apps and features are okay, but not terribly innovative. Again, not exactly Apple-like.

So that's what happened to that Apple-like guide you were asking about, Jay. The new DIRECTV guide and interface is certainly more colorful and offers more options, but it fails to meet the high standards of a new Apple product.

In retrospect, Mr. White probably wishes he hadn't used the term, Apple-like, to describe it. Ah, live and learn.

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