This is quite a contrast to its previous reputation for taking years to offer any new features. No doubt increased competition has forced Sky to innovate a bit more, which can only be a good thing.
Following the roll-out in the summer of a new look EPG (which didn’t do much more than change the screen layout; favouring a new font, colour scheme and nicer icons), the next roll-out will make some more radical changes – although many of the new features rely on your box(es) being connected to a network.
Sky’s Anytime+ service will be renamed to On Demand, and there will be the addition of a 7-day Catch Up section, offering access to individual services that will include ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5, from October, and BBC iPlayer later on in the year.
You will also be able to watch previously broadcast programming from various Sky channels.
Other new features to come will include ‘Planner sharing’, allowing users with more than one Sky+ HD box on the same network to access content on other boxes around the home, a new Store tab to find movies to rent, more on-screen help guides, plus a long overdue feature: undelete.
The undelete feature will hold deleted programmes in quarantine until you force delete them, or just allow the box to clear them automatically to create space for new recordings. Given the fact it is easy to accidentally delete the wrong show due to a bug that can cause the programme in the planner to change from what you were just watching, we’re particularly looking forward to this feature – perhaps more than everything else put together!
And, the good news is that some Amstrad box owners will quite likely have received the new software with the undelete feature already, even if some of the features are yet to be activated.
The software roll-out will begin with Amstrad boxes, before moving on to other boxes manufactured by Samsung and Pace. Thomson box owners will not get any of these new upgrades, but can contact Sky to request a replacement box that will support the new network-connected features.
iPad app update coming too
Following the release in August of the iPad app that allows you to control your Sky box, further updates are due that will add Zeebox functionality, as well as letting you manage your planner more effectively – including the management of potential recording clashes.
There is still, however, no indication of when a similar app may appear for Android tablet users.