Peel reinvents channel-surfing

Peel attempts to revolutionize the channel-surfing experience by serving up television recommendations based on the shows you already watch and don't watch.

Peel attempts to revolutionize the channel-surfing experience by serving up television recommendations based on the shows you already watch and don't watch. To get it started, just input a few tidbits of basic information--such as genres you prefer, sports you like--and watch as it delivers its first batch of recommendations. As you vote on these recommendations, much as you would on Pandora, Peel gets a better understanding of your particular tastes, and thus can deliver more targeted suggestions. At least, that's what it's supposed to do.

Peel is one of the more visually stunning apps available to Android users. It opens up immediately to a grid of beautiful thumbnail recommendations, each representing a show that's currently on the air. You can tap the arrows at the top to move between time slots, or hit the time button to jump to a specific time. Clicking on a thumbnail pulls up the show's vital info: network and channel, episode name, and a short episode description. This is nice because you can quickly check whether it's an episode you've already seen. From there, you can vote the show up or down by giving it a Star or adding it to your Cut list. There's also a share button, so you can let your Facebook friends and Twitter followers know exactly what you're watching.

As beautiful as Peel is, the app does have some flaws that we could not overlook. First, it's noticeably slow. Even on a 4G connection, we found ourselves waiting an extra long time for some thumbnails to load. Also, swiping was not as smooth as we would've liked. Second, the recommendation engine needs some tweaking. While we did agree with many of Peel's choices, there were some that were annoyingly bad. For instance, the app inexplicably kept recommending Disney's "The Suite Life on Deck" and "Sex in the City" no matter how many times we added them to our Cut list. Finally, the search function was unreliable. On many occasions we searched for popular shows and the app returned no results. We concluded that there had to be something wrong if the app couldn't find Fox's cult sci-fi hit "Fringe," or the Travel Channel's darling, "Dhani Tackles the Globe."

Overall, we love the idea of Peel, and definitely see its potential as a game-changer. Plus its user interface is the kind of visual treat that the Android Market needs more of. However, we couldn't overlook the flaws in its recommendations and its sluggish performance. That said, we remain very hopeful for Peel's next iteration. Let's hope its developers can get everything sorted out before the fall TV season rolls around.

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