Its pretty awesome when the project you have been working on for so long is finally released. Last week, the Xfinity TV App was finally available on the Apple App Store, and has been in the top 10 most downloaded apps for the iPad pretty much since then. The app is a free app and is pretty fantastic, turning your iPad, iPhone and iTouch into a virtual remote control for controlling your Comcast Xfinity Cable box.
If you haven’t used it yet, here is a video walkthrough of the app in all its glory:
Building the app was a huge learning experience for me. Before this project I knew very little about iOS and Objective C, but working with some of the smartest developers on the platform got me to learn iOS app development pretty fast. At this point, I have worked with so many UI technologies and frameworks that I was able to apply a lot of my learnings almost directly (with syntax differences of course). For example, one feature I was responsible for was the OnDemand listings view in the app. To implement the view that was supposed to show the thousands of assets available on Xfinity, I was able to implement a virtualized list that recycles item renderers to effectively manage memory. The api and implementation of my component was very influenced by the Flex and OpenPyro List control (I have previously discussed virtualized list implementation in ActionScript here).
Btw, I have to say, if you are just getting started with iOS, the Stanford University video series on iPhone app development is a great place to start.
Building the app was quite a fantastic (even if extremely hectic) experience, but I have to say the best part was working with an awesome team. The app definitely had us working late nights on multiple occasions but thats a lot more manageable when you work with people you actually enjoy hanging around. The picture below is the app team but behind the scenes there was a huge number of engineers across the country that handled the network and set-top box updates that allowed the app to work.
The video below has Sean Brown (Sr Director of the Advanced Applications Engineering team) talk about the development process of the app. The video occasionally switches to the co-working space that is set up where Engineering, User Experience and QA teams work together.
… has been fantastic and thats amazingly gratifying. I have embedded some of the Tweets I just found doing a twitter search for “XFinity Remote”, and its awesome to see how people react to it:
For more formal reviews, check out some of the posts mentioned below:
- Gizmodo: Comcast’s Awesome Xfinity TV Remote iPad App Is Available Now
- Engadget: Comcast Xfinity remote app for iPhone, iPad launches, video streaming & Android version on the way
- Mashable: Comcast Turns Your iPad Into a Remote Control and TV Guide
As awesome as the app is, there is a lot more features that are being added to it now. Recently we demo-ed the PlayNow functionality thats being added to the app for an upcoming release at the Web 2.0 Summit. Embedded below Neil Smit, President of Comcast, giving a walkthrough of that version at the event:
If you want to keep up with app updates etc, feel free to follow XfinityTV App on Twitter. Also if you are an Android user (like I am) rest assured that the Android version is well on its way :).