AT&T launched a new mobile app Monday that is already enabling the company's U-verse TV subscribers to remotely manage digital video recorders as well as download and view programs in full-screen mode on Apple's iPhone. Called U-verse Mobile, the new offering is currently available for download at Apple's App Store.
The goal is to enable iPhone users to take their U-verse TV experience wherever they go at no extra charge, noted David Christopher, chief marketing officer at AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "No cable provider comes close to matching the cross-platform experience we're delivering today," he said. "And we'll continue to add unique features that further integrate these screens."
Netflix and the Dish Network -- through the satellite-TV provider's acquisition of Slingmedia in 2007 -- likewise offer remote TV viewing to mobile handset users. But in light of AT&T's heavy commitment to Apple's iPhone platform, the new mobile app is perhaps far more important to both the U.S. communications provider and its customers.
Any U-verse TV subscriber can now download the new app to schedule and otherwise manage downloads to a home DVR. However, only subscribers to AT&T's premium U300 package and higher-level subscription tiers will be able to download and watch programs on the iPhone. Even then, AT&T's free mobile app will only download U-verse content over a home wireless network or any available Wi-Fi hot spot, sparing the wireless carrier's 3G network from more data-overload problems.
After downloading U-verse Mobile from the App Store, users will need to log in to their U-verse accounts, noted a spokesperson identified as Seth in AT&T's new video demo at YouTube. "Once you do that for the first time, you'll never have to do it again," he said.
To download a TV program, select a series, locate the desired episode, and then click on the blue arrow icon at the bottom of the screen to download it to an iPhone. The content will be automatically deleted from the iPhone at the end of the alloted viewing period, usually about two weeks, Seth explained.
Though the range of TV programs available through the new app is currently limited to several popular networks, Seth said AT&T will add more content to the new mobile platform on an ongoing basis. "It's incredibly cool and easy to use," he said. "You can also click 'subscribe season' to automatically download future episodes."
U-verse Mobile gives users the ability to browse AT&T's cable-TV guide to find information about all the available programs up to two weeks in advance. To avoid the hassle of scrolling through the full guide, iPhone users can access an abbreviated list comprised of the TV channels that they designate as their favorites.
Whenever a desired program has been remotely selected for download to the home DVR, the user automatically receives a confirmation that the machine is set to record. "The show will be ready to watch when you get home," Seth said. "You can also select how long the recording is stored and personalize when you want your recording to end."