“Second-screen” apps have become the all the rage in the tech industry—whether they deserve the buzz or not. Second-screen apps, for those who don’t follow the minutiae of the consumer tech world, are programs, often mobile, that supply users with supplemental information such as song lyrics or artist bios (when listening to music), cast and crew information (when viewing TV shows and movies), and social media integration to connect with other entertainment seekers.
Zeebox enters this ever-expanding space with an Android app that bolsters your television-watching experience with show times, chat rooms, live information, and social media activity. Zeebox isn’t without issue; it crashed a few times and suffered occasionally slow performance in my testing.
You begin by keying in your zip code, which causes Zeebox to retrieve a list of cable television providers in your area. After choosing Verizon FiOS New York Plus, and HD preferences (optional features that list HD channels and highlight Spanish language channels), I inputted my Facebook and Twitter credentials to find friends who also use the service. I could chat with my friends via the in-app messaging system.
Zeebox then prompted me to join TV Rooms, themed areas where you can chat with others. There’s a lot of variety, but also a lot of duplicates; I counted five TV Rooms dedicated to the Miss USA pageant. That theoretically gives you the option to find more a room with a vibe you like, but I personally saw it as clutter. Each room has a member count to let you know how many (ideally) active participants there are in each room. After I selected a few TV Rooms, Zeebox took me to its default home screen: TV Picks. It’s one of Zeebox’s four tabbed screens which also include Guide, TV Rooms, and Activity.
The Zeebox Experience
TV Picks showcases what’s hot on TV at the moment. At 11:37AM on a Monday morning, it accurately displayed the listings for The Price Is Right, The View, and other early, pre-noon programming. Zeebox also highlights the most popular shows, those with the biggest social media buzz (Disney’s Shake It Up led the time slot with 59 related tweets per minute), featured programming (Doctor Oz), and shows that celebrities are tweeting about. Speaking of Twitter, the TV Picks feed even displays quirky, funny, or informative tweets about a particular show. Overall, TV Picks does a good job of creating an entertainment hub based around shows.
Tapping a show listing takes you to another screen where you can view the station name and channel number, cast and crew information (pulled from Wikipedia), plot synopsis, related news, social media numbers, and sharing options. Touching the “I’m Watching” icon lets other Zeebox users see the name of the show you’ve watched—think of it has a Foursquare-like check-in, but without the location information.
Guide is exactly what it sounds like—a TV guide. You scroll down to view shows by channel and time; scrolling from right to left reveals upcoming shows. You can also filter shows by category using a drop-down box. Bringing a finger to the TV Rooms tab let me check out the most popular rooms, or create one from scratch. The Activity feed lets you see actions others have taken such as viewing a show or booking a show. Booking a show, done by tapping the Book to Watch icon, is essentially setting up an alert. Booking a show enables Zeebox to alert you 10 minutes before a show is set to air so you don’t miss it.
If you fire up Zeebox while watching live TV, the apps sends show-specific data to your device such as actor profiles, links to music featured in a show, and product information. It’s a very cool way to dive deeper into your favorite programs. Unfortunately, Zeebox suffered performance issues when I fired it up on my Samsung Galaxy Note II phone. Sometimes the app would move between screens at a snail’s pace, or outright crash.
Zeebox, besides the performance issues, works as billed. Shazam is a more stable offering, but Zeebox is still a capable second-screen app for those who want to enhance their television viewing; check it out if you want a television guide with plenty of social features.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc