we reviewed i.TV, which is an excellent way to find information related to a given show. Which is the best app for enhancing the social experience? We looked at quite a few of them and selected our favorite below.Here on ReadWriteWeb, we've been taking a close look at some of the best "second screen" apps designed to supplement the TV-watching process. Last week,
The cross section between television and social media is undeniably a huge deal. As services like Twitter and Facebook continue to grow, more and more people are inclined to use them to discuss TV shows. Whether it's during an initial broadcast or after the fact, people take to their respective digital networks to comment on programs in real time.
Increasingly, viewers are doing this from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Nielsen's latest data suggests that nearly 90% of tablet owners use the devices while watching TV. That's a huge increase over previous stats, which had the number just above 40%.
It's more than just chatter. Studies have shown that there's actually a correlation between social media buzz and television ratings. This means big things for broadcasters and advertisers alike, so we're not likely to see the trend go away anytime soon.
There are many ways to converse with others about TV via social media. One obvious approach would be to go straight to Twitter or Facebook and fire away. If the show was currently popular, chances are that others would be tuned in. But there are no guarantees. For a better experience, there is a growing selection of apps designed to bring that social TV experience to the forefront and narrow the focus of the conversation.
One of the better apps of this type is yap.TV. The 19-month-old startup aims to serve as a sort of TV Guide of the future, offering an hourly lineup of television shows but with a ton of interactivity built on top of it.
A Tablet-Friendly UI and Deep Social Integrations
One of yap.TV's strong suits is its design. Some iPad apps are sufficiently functional but don't necessarily look great, while others have clearly been thoughtfully designed with the tablet-form factor in mind. yap.TV fits in the latter category. It sports a tile-based UI with animations that are fluid without being distracting. It breaks content down by time, genre, or whether or not you've added it to your list of favorites.
Tapping on a given show reveals a multipanel grid of squares, each displaying a different type of content: tweets, polls, live chats, photos and a tile containing general information about the show.
The social integration is very tight. The option to say, "I'm watching such-and-such" on Twitter or Facebook is standard fare for this kind of app. yap.TV goes well beyond that, allowing users to engage in Twitter conversations in real time or use its own native live-chat feature. The in-app chats are sometimes vacant and thus aren't incredibly useful, but presumably that will change as its user base grows. In the meantime, most shows have an active stream of tweets flowing through the app.
The integration with Facebook runs deep as well, but it could be even better. Facebook chat works natively inside yap.TV, which is a nice touch. The app also pulls in data about which movies and TV shows your friends have liked on Facebook and lists those. Additionally, you can announce that you're watching a given show on Facebook, but the app doesn't allow you to customize that message - which is an unfortunate limitation.
This category of app is still evolving, but yap.TV does a pretty solid job of nailing the social side of the second screen experience.