Channel Surfing by API

I'm not sure this is the right category but hopefully someone can answer a question I have.

I've been looking around at possible routes to go with a cord cutting project of mine. My obstacle is my older mom who isn't tech savvy - never has been, never will be. However in general she likes the idea because pretty much any of the solutions I've looked at offer more channels for less $ than our small town cable.

Her needs for a remote are basic. Even now she does not use any of the number pad buttons. She navigates the "dial" with up/down channel buttons and other than the power and volume, the rest of the buttons gather dust.

I had hoped for a less complex solution. I looked at Sling because I could get an AirTV 2 and have all their subscription channels plus locals from our antenna in one guide. Note, I haven't actually bought any network tuner yet. Still in the discovery phase! LOL I was able to use my harmony remote to set up an action that pulled up the mini guide in the sling App and navigated left or right and selected the channel. That did more or less mimic channel surfing. The action was able to happen fast enough that it was almost invisible. Then I discovered that every so often you hit a snag. Like a channel that isn't playing anything right now and pops up a question or the beginning or the end of the list where the guide stays open and it breaks the navigation action. Since I'm here and can fix things, it doesn't have to be utterly fool proof but the beginning or end of the list I feel like is an issue that's going to happen often for her...

I looked at Channels and see that it has some possibility of fitting. In fact, since I could choose Philo instead, it has more channels we're interested in (unfortunately though not all have TV Anywhere so some would not be in the app for her). And I saw a post that the API has a channel up/down feature so I could conceivably set up a Raspberry Pi or small PC that would do some of this in conjunction with the Harmony Hub remote. This is definitely the more complex route but may be the one that has the most chance of creating a familiar channel navigation for her.

My question for someone is what happens if someone is using the API to do "channel up" and they reach the end of the list? Does it return to the beginning? Or? And of course the reverse, reach the bottom and push "down" again?

Thanks for any information about how this works.

Maybe a dumb question, but have you considered putting up an antenna plugged straight into the TV and simply using the native TV remote+UI to surf channels? That sounds like the user experience you are going for.

We're in the process of supporting more buttons on some remotes. This includes channel up and down with the new ability to channel surf inside the app. You can read more here:

Part of this new feature, the channel_up and channel_down endpoints were added, so yes, you could use those via an HTTP call.

And yes, channel surfing will wrap around once it's reached the last channel.


On Android, this is not the case. Using the physical buttons on the remote with Android does not wrap; if I press CH - and I'm on the lowest numbered channel, the app does nothing. Are you saying that the Apple app wraps? Or is it just the HTTP endpoints that were added that wrap?

We'll fix that.

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There are no dumb questions - I welcome any other suggestions, thoughts. Honestly the DVR function of this app is secondary. Even when I lived elsewhere and had cable with DVR I didn't often use it. And I'm confident my Mom won't unless I set it up for her from recording to pressing play. Ha!

The main draw to this was a unified experience so that there's no watching OTA TV Channels and then having to switch to the "premium" channels from Philo or Sling or whoever from whatever pay service we decide to use. Our cable here is old school style. There's no guide or cable box. So what Mom has experienced is more or less just a collection of 70-ish channels laid out end to end in a loop. I had hoped that maybe Amazon's live channels would be capable of duplicating the experience but I find switching between channels clunky - they don't really have a mini guide and when you hit back you fall back to the full guide with a small window of your current show playing and so even when I set up an action to switch "channels" there's a long pause because I have to account for waiting for screens to become visible, etc.

Anyway if you have a suggestion where there's a "guide" that combines the sources in a way that can mimic up/down channel presses, I'm all ears.

For some reason that link is taking me to a page that says it doesn't exist or is private?

I'd definitely like to know more. I already have a Harmony Hub so it may be easier to use that. Part of the allure is that I can just edit what everything does and give her the buttons she needs and remove the ones that will take her out of her comfort zone (i.e. source, etc.) . Then use the stock remote myself when the need arises. LOL Her current TV is probably about five years old and not smart. I'm using an Android Firestick for myself right now but I'm not married to that. It works for me but if there's a smarter way to go, i.e. a particular smart TV that will offer her a better experience, android TV box connected to her TV, etc. or Apple TV for that matter. I'm definitely open to options. The more daunting aspect at the moment for me is setting up some sort of automation to "listen" for her channel surfing if using the API.

I did spend time earlier this week playing with Home Assistant. I managed to set it up in Docker on my computer and got it to do some rudimentary controls on my Firestick but nothing elaborate. If I go this route, I'll have to get a box to dedicate to that purpose. I don't leave mine on or connected all the time. And since Channels DVR server also needs somewhere to run, I was thinking a small form factor Nuc or something like that might be the better way to go since should be able to handle both Home Assistant and Channels DVR server?

Thanks again for the confirmation that channel surfing will wrap around. I'm honestly surprised that more apps are not set up where this is an option. There has to be others like my Mom sitting out there. Giving her the channel list for Philo she's impressed. Ask her to navigate apps bouncing from Antenna to Philo or Amazon Prime or whatever and she's done. Dad was the tech person in their relationship. Of course he probably also enabled her not learning any of it. Ha!


PS I also have to add it's awesome seeing how responsive y'all are to "bugs" with your app as seen in this thread. It gives me a good feeling. There's so many apps that I have had issues with that no one will ever respond to the problem and it just stays that way.

That page and this new feature are part of the beta (, so it only shows up for Plus subscribers.

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