Peel app updates to make TV social

A popular TV show and movie discovery app just got a major update during CES that adds social components to its already feature-packed TV-listing arsenal.

A popular TV show and movie discovery app just got a major update during CES that adds social components to its already full-featured cable listing arsenal.

If you want a general overview of what's on, check the listings under 'Just for You.' (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Peel Personal TV Show Guide (free) is an app that changes the way you watch TV by gathering your personal preferences and giving you recommendations on your iPhone based on the data.

The polished interface of Peel asks you a few questions upon launch so it can deliver the type of shows you'll want to watch and tell you when they will show in your area. On first setup, the app has you choose your cable service, and then lists out several categories like Drama, Comedy, and Kids, and asks you to reorder the list by your personal preference with your favorites at the top. You'll then reorder a list of sports in the same fashion. When you're finished, you'll see the main interface of the app, with recommended shows that are currently playing in your area based on your preferences.

What we really like about Peel is how it lays out movies and shows by category so you can browse based on your mood at the moment. A swipeable wheel at the top lets you select by categories like comedy and sci-fi, then lists the shows--with big pictures--that are currently playing. You can also use arrows at the top to advance the time to see what what the recommendations are later in the day. Across the bottom of the interface, you have options to view Top Picks (movies, TV shows, and sports), or you can browse each category separately. This makes it easy browse through just the shows and events that fit your mood.

Narrow your search for specific genres in any section by adjusting the wheel at the top of the interface. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

In this latest version, Peel now offers a social component that lets you add friends through Facebook, your iPhone contacts, or by searching through Peel's database (if you know a friend who's already signed up). Once connected you can see what your friends are watching and how they rate shows and movies. Peel has its own social platform within the app as well, so you can rate, review, post comments, and share your opinions with friends even if you don't sign up through Facebook.

One added feature lets you control your television directly from your iPhone, but you'll need to purchase additional hardware. The Peel Smart Remote lets you use your iPhone to control your television with a $79 Peel universal control device (bought from Peel from within the app or via your Web browser). Once you receive and set up the device, you'll be able to do everything from viewing a show discovered on the app to setting your DVR (when available), and you can even use swipe controls to adjust volume and change channels. The app works great without the device as a companion, but if you really enjoy the service, the universal control device might be the right fit for you.

Peel's polished interface and easy browsing make it a natural choice for those who watch TV regularly. Even if you don't go all in on the extra hardware, Peel is an excellent companion for finding shows you like that are on right now and is great for planning your television watching around your personal preferences.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.