Channels 4.0 Beta

Happy weekend! We just pushed out Channels 4.0 to TestFlight!

The theme of this new version is the expansion of library based browsing. When we first added content to Channels, it was designed for light DVR usage. Because of that, we kept the browsing minimal. As time has passed, it's clear that you guys are amassing a HUGE library of content via recording with Channels.

This has made browsing kind of a slog. We've added some views to help with larger libraries.

Expectation setting

Here's where I set some expectations!

  • This is not a final version before submission to the App Store
  • There will be bugs
  • There will be crashers
  • There will be some wonky design stuff you see that is not complete
  • Things will change
  • It's not done yet

That being said, we've been working on this a ton and are tired of not having you guys using it, so we're pushing it out there.

What's new

A lot! With the availability of new browsing sections, we've ditched the limited old tab bar at the top (good riddance!) and added a new sidebar that's completely customizable. Via settings, you can choose what you have in your sidebar. Yes, this includes all of the original rooted sections like On Now and Guide.

We've added new dedicated sections for Movies, TV Shows, and Kids. We even added a Recordings section that shows you all of your recordings in a list by when they were recorded.

All of the new sections are available via your Library section (the old Recordings section). You can now jump off to Movies or TV Shows right from your Library. But what's great is, if you have a library that can use it, you can promote these new sections directly to the sidebar.

Not everyone will have a library big enough to warrant these sections, so they're defaulted to off for the sidebar. But we know a lot of you do, so you have the option. You can adjust your sidebar items in the General section of Settings.

Ok enough chatter, I'm going to just list off a lot of the new stuff.

  • Customizable sidebar navigation
  • Movies section
  • TV Shows section
  • Kids Section
  • Recordings section
  • Up Next available as a standalone section
  • New Search design shows suggestions
  • Reorganized Settings helps you find things faster
  • Redesigned Favorites sorter to organize your favorites faster
  • Channels will now prompt you to resume or start from beginning
  • Trash section lets you manage your Trash
  • Auto Play will play back the next episode automatically
  • Swipe gestures all over iOS (including mark as (un)watched)
  • Haptic touch context menus for iOS
  • Built for tvOS/iOS 13 - minimum requirement now
  • Tons of other little improvements

Show me!

Ok, here's some shots of some of the new stuff.

New Sidebar Navigation

Movies Section

TV Section

Recordings Section

Re-organized Settings


Please put this through its paces and report back on any crashers or super weird things you see, and let us know how you like it and the direction Channels is going in!


WOW. This was a very unexpected surprise just before the weekend. Looks fantastic!


I'm not sure I fully understand how the additional sections work or how shows can be sorted or filtered, but it sounds like a great improvement.

Now the most important question (to me at least), when is something similar going to be available for the Shield or Fire TV?

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looks good so far! I definitely like the nav bar on the left better.

Great question! tvOS and iOS are our flagship platforms. As we progress through this beta and finalize design decisions, these will be moved over to Android and Fire TV.

Thanks Maddox, I will try and wait patiently. It just looks so much better, it will be hard :slight_smile:

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Looks great! Major WAF multiplier for sure. Looking forward to the Fire TV port.

definitely like the nav bar on the left better, nice improvement, :smile:

Very nice update. How do we customize the sidebar navigation (can not find it). In particular the Movies, TV Shows, Kids etc.

I guess it should be in the General Section of Settings?

You can adjust your sidebar items in the General section of Settings.

Movies Section and TV Shows Section.

I can import my Movies but not TV Shows yet. Is that coming soon in the DVR Settings?

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I really like the left navigation bar. Very nice!! I'll run it through the paces and see what issues I find. I will admit the new "Recording Section" confused me. I think it would be better suited to be called history but I get it. I am liking the changes to the settings page. Things are much better organized! Great job guys!! Your program and ease of use is while I have moved away from TiVo all but one unit. I had three TiVo's I am down to one and 99% of all my TV viewing and recording is now done with Channels.

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Oh no! I shipped it out with the staff only flag around these features. I'm so sorry! Total bonehead move. A new build is going up to TestFlight right now. It will make the navigation settings available as well as the new cards that take you to these views from the Library section.

I blew it!! I'll report back in a few minutes when it's available.

I love the resume playback or start from beginning!

This will take some time to get used to but I think I like the new layout. I definitely like the ability to customize the side bar.

I am noticing some inconsistencies with Library, Recordings and DVR. There’s no option to turn off DVR. Toggling Library turns on and off Recordings but doesn’t affect Library.

OK, the new version is up on TestFlight.....It actually enables the new features :joy:

BTW, I really like being able to turn off Up Next and On Now. We’re a bit old school and never really latched on to either option.

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DVR isn’t able to be turned off as there are important things in it that you need to get to. There’s other plans for that tab.

I’ll check out the wacky settings right away. Thanks!

Awesome to see all the work you’ve put into this!

I really like the date-sorted list view in the Recordings tab.

I wish there were other options to have a primarily-list view, both on iOS and tvOS — one where the program title and metadata get predominance versus thumbnails. Compare how episodes are presented on streaming services, or the various list views in the DVR tab which are more information-dense.

In TV Shows, “Active Shows”, “Recently Aired Episodes”, etc. suffer from the same issues as “Up Next” in Library has — it’s a bit too “magical” as it’s not obvious what constitutes “active” or “recent” and doesn’t scale well with even moderate numbers of shows. I was expecting something more like a flat list (not thumbnails) of TV shows that would let me browse episodes in each show - perhaps even a “column view” where you could see TV shows on the left side and episodes on the right.

One last bit of feedback: it may make sense to change some of the wording around deletion; perhaps just use “trash” as a verb instead. Even using the contextual menu to “delete” you get a dire warning about deleting the episode permanently. I had thought part of the trash plan was that confirmation would be removed.

One thing I’d like to see is the ability to group favorites at the top of the grid view. I’d like to be able to explicitly order the favorite channels and then choose how to sort the remainder of the channels (ie; by name, number) as we have now.