TiVo has revolutionized the way people watch television. While you may think that a TiVo device is just a run-of-the-mill digital video recorder (DVR) that has replaced the older videocassette recorder (VCR) to record your favorite television shows, recording is only one of the features offered by these devices. For example, when a TiVo is connected to your television set and you're watching a show, you can actually pause and rewind the live program.
TiVo's interactive programming guide tells you what's on TV (up to two weeks in advance), and you can record the broadcasts in multiple ways. If you set up what TiVo calls a OnePass, you simply enter the name of the show, movie, or TV series you want to record, and TiVo will capture all airings of that series, regardless of what time or on which channel it airs. Other search tools allow you to find programs or movies by title, keyword, or an actor's name, for example. Plus, based on your viewing habits, TiVo offers recommendations for other programming you might like.
When watching a recorded show on the TiVo Bolt (TiVo's newest DVR model, shown in Figure 1), you can fast-forward, rewind, or pause the program; with the touch of a single button, you can even skip commercials, when applicable. In addition to working with your existing cable service provider (and replacing the need for a separate cable box receiver), TiVo Bolt integrates seamlessly with most popular video streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. It also works with the latest 4K Ultra High-Definition (HD) television sets.
Figure 1 The TiVo Bolt is the company's latest DVR model. It works seamlessly with the TiVo mobile app for the iPhone and iPad.
The TiVo Bolt comes with a 500GB ($299) or 1000GB ($399.99) internal hard drive, which determines how many hours of HD programming it can record and store. One year of the TiVo service is included with the purchase price. After that, the TiVo service costs $149 per year.
Based on your cable service provider's setup, the TiVo Bolt is able to record multiple shows simultaneously. Some cable service providers offer cable box receivers with built-in TiVo DVR functionality. In other cases, a TiVo device such as the TiVo Bolt replaces your cable receiver box and connects directly to your television set via an HDMI cable, recording from the cable TV service that comes into your home, and the Internet.
Expanding Your TiVo's Features with the TiVo Mobile App
When used in conjunction with an iPhone or iPad, the TiVo Bolt becomes even more powerful. In addition to serving as a remote control for the DVR and TV when you're in the same room (replacing the need to use the remote control that comes with the TiVo Bolt), the TiVo mobile app can connect to your DVR remotely, via a Wi-Fi or cellular Internet connection, from virtually anywhere.
Via this Internet connection, the TiVo mobile app allows you to program your DVR remotely. For example, you can find and select specific programs to record, set up or edit OnePasses, view and manage your To Do List of shows to be recorded, access detailed information about specific programming, browse the programming schedule for all networks and channels you receive, plus access recommendations for programs to watch.
As Figure 2 shows, once you select a show/series to record as a TiVo OnePass, the TiVo mobile app gives you a handful of customizable recording options. However, you can preset default settings for these options, which cuts down the time it takes to program a OnePass to just a few seconds. You can do this from an iPhone (shown) or an iPad.
Figure 2 Use the TiVo mobile app on your iPhone or iPad to create a OnePass, which allows you to record all or specific episodes of a particular series.
When used with a TiVo Bolt, the TiVo mobile app for the iPhone or iPad also offers streaming capabilities. Any show recorded on the DVR can be streamed from the TiVo box, via the Internet, so you can watch it on your mobile device's screen. To use this feature, launch the TiVo app, tap on the My Shows icon that's displayed at the bottom of the screen, and tap on the listing for the recorded program you want to watch. If multiple episodes of a series have been recorded and are stored within the TiVo, tap on the folder for the show you want, and then tap on the listing for the specific episode to watch.
From a selected program's Info screen (shown in Figure 3), tap on the Watch Now button, and then the select the Watch on iPhone or Watch on iPad option. As long as a continuous Internet connection is present, the selected program will stream from your TiVo DVR to your mobile device.
Figure 3 Once a show has been recorded and saved by the TiVo Bolt, you can stream or download it to your mobile device in order to watch it.
Another feature of the TiVo mobile app allows you to copy (download) a recorded program from your DVR to your mobile device and save it there. When using the TiVo mobile app, tap on the Download button from a show's Info screen (refer to Figure 3). Once the selected program has been downloaded, the digital file for the saved content will utilize some of your mobile device's internal storage space, but once the initial download is complete, you can watch that program later, with no Internet connection required. (Your TiVo device still stores the saved program as well.)
Depending on whether an Internet connection will be available when you want to watch a TiVo-recorded show on your iPhone or iPad, you'll need to select between the streaming (Watch On) or Download option. Keep in mind that you can use the Videos app to view any TV shows or movies you acquire from the iTunes Store (via the iTunes app, for example). Programming that's downloaded from your TiVo using the TiVo mobile app can be viewed later using the TiVo app, as previously explained.
Getting Acquainted with the TiVo Mobile App
The TiVo mobile app is available free via the App Store. To use it, the app must be able to link with an activated TiVo DVR. To utilize the streaming option or download option, you'll need a TiVo DVR with streaming capabilities, such as the TiVo Bolt.
Once an initial connection between the TiVo DVR and the mobile app has been set up, you can access all of the app's features and functions by using the command icons displayed along the bottom of the app's screen.
Tap on the Watch Now icon to access recommendations for programs to watch that are airing currently, within the next 30–60 minutes, or later tonight. This choice includes both TV shows/series and movies. The "What To Watch" app screens can be customized to recommend programming from a variety of sources; just tap on the gear-shaped Settings icon that's displayed near the top of the screen.
Once any show/series or movie is selected, tap on the Info icon to display information about that programming. This Info screen also offers options for recording, watching, gathering more information, and sharing information about the program.
Tap on the Guide icon to view an interactive guide for all channels and networks you receive from your cable service provider (see Figure 4). You can scroll through the displayed channel lineup or select a day and time to determine what will be airing. Tap on a specific program listing to access its Info screen, in order to watch, record, or learn more about a selected program.
Figure 4 The TiVo mobile app allows you to access an interactive programming guide to view when shows are airing, up to two weeks in advance.
As programming is recorded on your TiVo DVR, tap on the My Shows icon to manage those recorded shows or watch them on your TV (or stream/download them to your mobile device). Next, tap on the On DVR tab to manage recordings stored within the TiVo DVR, or tap on the On iPhone/iPad tab to manage programming that was previously downloaded from the TiVo to your mobile device (and now accessible from the TiVo mobile app).
If you want to delete a recording from your DVR or mobile device, simply swipe your finger from right to left across its listing (see Figure 5).
Figure 5 Use the TiVo mobile app to manage and delete recorded shows remotely.
Tap on the More menu icon to browse programming to watch, record, or stream (see Figure 6). From the Browse menu screen, select a specific category such as New & Notable, Box Sets, Collections, Movies, TV, Sports, or Kids & Family, and then view related programming listings.
Figure 6 A variety of options for remotely controlling a TiVo are accessible from the mobile app's More menu.
The TiVo DVR's To Do List represents the shows it's scheduled to record in the future (including preprogrammed OnePasses). To access it, select the To Do List option from the More menu. To manage the list of OnePasses your TiVo DVR is set to record, select the OnePass Manager option.
To find any show or movie that you want to record or watch, tap on the More menu icon, followed by the Search option. In the search field, type what you're looking for, and then tap on a search result to access that program's Info screen. Alternatively, you can access this Search feature by tapping on the Search icon (it looks like a magnifying glass), displayed near the top-right corner of the screen.
While you're watching the TV set to which your TiVo is connected, tap on the Remote Control option to transform your iPhone or iPad into a virtual TiVo remote control device (as shown in Figure 7) that mimics all of the features and functions available to you from the remote control that comes with the TiVo DVR. Alternatively, to access the virtual TiVo remote control screen, tap on the Remote icon that's displayed in the top-right corner of the app's screen.
Figure 7 The TiVo mobile app can serve as a virtual remote control for your TiVo Bolt and television set.
If you have multiple TiVo DVRs connected to television sets throughout your home, you can manage each of them separately, using the same TiVo mobile app. To switch between active TiVo DVRs, tap on the More menu icon, followed by the Selected TiVo Box option, and then select the TiVo box you want the app to control.
Finally, to customize some of the app's features and functions, tap on the Settings menu option that's offered at the bottom of the More menu.
While many cable service providers now offer on-demand access to popular shows, movies, and programming, many people still want the ability to record their favorite shows/movies. They also like being able to pause and rewind programming as it's airing, as well as fast-forward through recorded shows (and skip commercials, when applicable). The TiVo Bolt offers all this functionality, as well as an easy-to-use interactive programming guide.
By adding a TiVo Bolt to your home theater system or TV set, you can enhance your TV-watching experience, making it easier to find, record, and access your favorite shows from the popular networks and channels offered by your cable service provider, as well as streaming video service(s) to which you've subscribed.
Being able to program and control your TiVo Bolt (or most TiVo models) remotely from your iPhone or iPad, plus stream or download recorded programming from the DVR to watch anywhere on your mobile device's screen, is another extremely useful feature.
Adding a TiVo to your television means incurring the cost of the equipment and the ongoing TiVo subscription fee. However, you'll quickly discover that the TiVo Bolt DVR, when combined with the TiVo mobile app on your iPhone or iPad, will transform how you watch your favorite shows and movies. The TiVo Bolt device walks you through its configuration process. Once it's set up and activated, the TiVo Bolt and the TiVo mobile app are easy to use and highly intuitive.
The TiVo Bolt is sold directly from the TiVo website, as well as from consumer electronics retail stores, including Best Buy. Periodically, both the TiVo Bolt DVR and the TiVo mobile app are updated to introduce new features and functions.
Jason R. Rich (http://www.jasonrich.com) is the author of Que's iPad and iPhone Tips and Tricks, Fifth Edition, which covers how to use iOS 9 on all of the various iPhone and iPad models, including the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro. He is also the author of many other Que books, including My Digital Photography for Seniors, My GoPro Hero Camera, My Digital Entertainment for Seniors, and Apple Watch and iPhone Fitness Tips and Tricks. Follow Jason R. Rich on Twitter or Instagram at @JasonRich7.