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A TV listing iPhone app featuring thumbnail images rather than text listings, organized and optimized for your individual viewing habits, sounds like the perfect next-generation iteration of the classic “TV Guide” format. Unfortunately, the free Peel iPhone app feels more like a momentary blip on the radar rather than the future of TV listings.
The idea behind Peel is that after filling out a brief survey of the sort of television you like to watch, the app will organize the day’s given programs based on what you’ve suggested. This premise doesn’t pay off, however, and instead leaves a cluttered app where shows are separated by genre, but incredibly hard to find otherwise.
For starters, because Peel uses a visual programming guide rather than a text-based one, there isn’t a lot of room to list programs. This means that the block of scheduling you get to look at only contains a half-hour’s worth of programming. This feels frustrating and inefficient.
As much as I’d like to know what action/adventure shows are on television on Sunday afternoon, I’d like to be able to see more than 30 minutes’ worth of options. Having to tap a button to scroll through each half-hour feels clunky and slow.
Listing programs by genre is also a bit of a problem. While I certainly like the option, the idea that there isn’t a way to view a programming guide by channel seems strange. Obviously this listing must exist, because the app is pulling in a broadcast schedule from somewhere, but you won’t be able to find it on the Peel app at all.
The search function is also limited, only allowing users to search for programs that are airing in the current week. So there is no ability to put a wish list or reminder notification for shows that have aired in the past that aren’t currently on television.
I can appreciate the visual approach that Peel takes towards TV scheduling. If the app worked a bit faster and allowed you to see more than a half-hour of programming at a time, it might even be of some use. But as it exists now, Peel will not make television viewing any easier or efficient, and can easily be skipped.