iPhone owners have had access to Sky's 'remote record' functionality for some time now. If you've never used it, then we should explain that the service allows you to trigger your Sky+ or Sky+HD recorder to remote record TV programmes on your set-top-box.
The Sky application has finally come to Android and the good news is it's free. At first glance it appears to work exactly the same, but let's take a closer peek at the app and see how it works.
Unclear error messages
We tried scheduling some recordings to take place in the next 30 minutes, which failed. We saw a selection of different error messages, but none was especially clear. In the end, it turns out that the planner needs at least 30 minutes notice to record anything. If you try scheduling things sooner, the service might not have sufficient time to communicate with your set-top-box. The solution is simple: don’t schedule recordings within 30 minutes of the start time.
On the iPhone, rotating the device into its horizontal landscape view causes the Sky+ app to switch to a grid view for the channels. This shows you what's on at a given time and allows you to scroll through the listings with the swipe of a finger. This functionality is missing from the Android version, which is a bit of a shame.
However, there are plenty of other ways to find a programme, including the search, or simply by selecting the channel, and then using the day buttons at the top of the screen. You can see programme schedules for seven days in advance with this system, which is likely to be enough for most people.
The search function doesn't seem to find all the programmes in the seven day guide. For example, searching Top Gear only produced two results, and both of those were on Dave. The next BBC Two/HD airings weren't listed.
Sky account required
Listings on the Sky+ app are provided for free, so even if you aren't a Sky customer, you might like to download this app to keep an eye on what's on. If you want to use the remote record function, you'll need to register for an account at Sky.com. To get the system working, you'll also need your viewing card number and some other personal information. When we registered for this, there were some initial complications with the process, but it didn't take us too long to get up-and-running.
Once you've registered, you'll also be able to use the TV guide on Sky's Web site to schedule recordings.
No series link
One final minor grumble is that the app doesn't currently support Sky's superb series link functionality. That isn't too big a deal in our opinion, because you can always do this when you're in front of your box, but it would be super if Sky included this on the mobile app too.
Sky+ for Android is free, easy to use and it looks good. It makes the existing, third-party TV listings apps in the Android Market look a bit simplistic and dated and it has the advantage of not costing you any cash either. While we would love to see the iPhone style grid view, we're sure it will appear at some point in the future, and overall, it's a good use of mobile bandwidth to download it.