Yahoo! hasn’t been considered on the cutting edge of online services for some time, but that hasn’t stopped the company from trying. In April 2011, Yahoo! beat out Facebook and Twitter to acquire IntoNow for over $20 Million when the startup was only 3 months old. Why the intense interest from all these companies; and more importantly, why should you be interested?
IntoNow’s core feature is real-time TV show recognition.
A tap of the green button will put the app into “listening” mode, taking about 15 seconds to identify what’s playing on your TV. If successful, you’ll get sent right to the IntoNow page for the show, giving you many options for personal research, social sharing, and purchasing media. Think of it like Shazam, but instead of simply identifying the songs playing on your TV show, it identifies the TV episode itself.
IMDB integration and official website links are a no-brainer, but IntoNow has its own content — cross-indexed series, episode, actor, and director pages, as well as news and trivia. Whenever possible, IntoNow offers exclusive second-screen content like actor tweets, live scores, recipes, polls, and contests. The “Shop” and “Music sync” options let you purchase media from Netflix, iTunes, and official store pages. It also links to related user-generated content on YouTube.
It wouldn’t be social TV without connecting you to fellow viewers. IntoNow integrates Facebook and Twitter, as well as its own forums, for all the posting and sharing fun. You can keep track of what people have watched and are watching right this minute, and get immediate notification when your friends go online.
A newer addition to IntoNow for iOS is “Capit,” a meme-generator that will grab real-time stills of a show and let you add your own captions to the images. You can then post and share capits to amuse some friends, irritate others, and perhaps even go viral.
Using IntoNow is 85% amazing and 15% disappointing. The developers claim a 90% success rate for live first-run shows and episodes from the past five years, and indeed it had no trouble recognizing exact episodes of American Horror Story: Asylum, Mad Men, new Doctor Who, Aqua Teen, and Spartacus. More impressively, the app correctly identified specific episodes of The Simpsons, The Cosby Show, The Brady Bunch and Cheers; all well over the five year mark, especially that 1967 episode of The Prisoner.
However, IntoNow failed at recognizing The Brak Show, Twin Peaks, The Love Boat, Square Pegs, Quark, and classic Doctor Who. An unfair test, maybe, but TV nerds like me aren’t the only ones who love to connect over obscure niche favorites.
I was surprised to find no search function, but a more critical omission is the lack of integration with TV and video apps. If you watch your TV on your phone or tablet, there’s simply no way of “listening” to them with IntoNow. Granted, it’s is a second screen app, and multitasking is beyond the capabilities of most mobile devices. But more people are getting their TV this way, and IntoNow developers must know this.
The Facebook and Twitter integration is nice, although I didn’t find many of my friends represented. Like many apps, IntoNow relies on adoption, so you may have to evangelize and coordinate a little to get the full social experience. Unfortunately, my Droid refused to access the “Notifications” feature, triggering a force-close every time. Still, you can meet plenty of new fellow fans at almost any time, if you’re not shy.
Count on IntoNow to provide you with plenty of immediate fun as you throw all sorts of shows at it to see what sticks. All of these will go into your “recently viewed” history, so be careful if you don’t want the world to know that you’re a fan of Jersey Shore or The Kardashians. Once the novelty wears off, IntoNow will at least save you precious minutes typing and navigating through IMDB and Wikipedia, as well as giving you direct links to official websites and purchase options. But as far as the social aspects go, your mileage may vary depending on app adoption, and of course how social you are already.