HBO iPhone app has good looks, but little purpose

Jan 5, 2010
TV

With the launch of HBO‘s iPhone app (free), the premium cable network has joined the ranks of companies with branded iPhone apps. But, like many others, HBO’s slick design doesn’t overshadow the fact that this iPhone app is promoware and offers little incentive for users to keep the free download on their springboards. Once you get the […]

With the launch of HBO‘s iPhone app (free), the premium cable network has joined the ranks of companies with branded iPhone apps. But, like many others, HBO’s slick design doesn’t overshadow the fact that this iPhone app is promoware and offers little incentive for users to keep the free download on their springboards.

Once you get the iPhone app up and running—make a pizza or something in the interim because it takes forever—you’ll be able to view schedules, episode guides, video clips and photos of HBO’s programming. The schedule feature is the iPhone app’s primary purpose, but it is location-based and the iPhone app repeatedly errored-out while trying to find mine (It’s Chicago, for the record). You can’t search for showtimes, but you can enable SMS notification for your favorite shows. Push notifications would be one thing, but SMS? Really? This feature almost seems antiquated now that push is available. Plus, I’d guess that iPhone users, who are big enough HBO fans to download a dedicated HBO iPhone app, are also likely to be DVR users with a season pass already scheduled.

Yes, HBO was smart to offer direct links in-app to download its programming via iTunes or Amazon.com when available, but not all of the network’s shows are even included with basic cast or episode information. (I’m talking about you,  “Eastbound & Down.”)

If you want to see a great-looking, smartly designed iPhone app, HBO is worth a download. But when it comes to extra-incentive content, the iPhone app doesn’t measure up.

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Kathryn Swartz

Kathryn Swartz is a freelance writer/editor who doesn't know how people lived pre iPhone. She attended the Missouri School of Journalism.

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