Verizon Unveils Various New FiOS TV Features, Set to Launch Shortly

--New Features Include Ability to Use Mobile as a Remote; Interactive TV App for Premium Channels

In a posting on a company blog, Friday, Verizon's SVP of media relations, Eric Rabe, announced various new features that the company plans to roll out shortly for its FiOS TV service. The features are enabled by FiOS TV 1.7 which is scheduled to be released next month. They include an enhanced version of the FiOS TV Interactive Media Guide that will 1) provide viewers with recommendations based on programs they have viewed in the past; 2) offer a "Featured on FiOS" movie poster display that will showcase "the latest and most popular in video content"; 3) a movie rating system that stars viewers' favorites and also lets them see which movies other viewers liked; 4) "easy one-click sign-up" for subscription-based channels; and 5) more information about individual programs listed in the guide.

The new FiOS TV features mentioned by Rabe also include "bidirectional sideloading"--which, among other things, will allow viewers to use their TV to access digital files from mobile phones attached to their PC's. Bidirectional sideloading "means our Media Manager first searches for any devices on your home network connected by either USB or WiFi that store multimedia, including video, photos and slideshows," Rabe wrote. "Then the system can display that material on your TV. The devices can be anything from your cell phone to your PC. You can easily show vacation pix, videos and slideshows on the best screen in the house."

Other new FiOS TV features, which were also showcased at a press event in New York City last week, include, according to a report in Syfy's Dvice blog, an interactive TV application that appears on the screen when a non-subscriber surfs to a premium channel such as HBO or Showtime. The app presents the viewer with the option of pressing a button on the remote to watch a free sample episode from one of the channel's flagship shows (thus, in the case of Showtime, the viewer might be able to access an episode of "The Tudors") or of pressing a different button to access ordering information. A graphic from the featured show appears behind the app's calls-to-action.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the New York City event also saw Verizon revealing that, within the next three months, it plans to release software that will allow viewers to use their WiFi-enabled smartphones as a remote control, and also to enter text for interacting with applications. At launch, the Journal reported, the feature will be available only to Verizon Wireless customers, but the company is contemplating extending support to other carriers. The Journal also reported that Verizon used the event to demo new ad targeting capabilities, as well as various new widgets, including a football widget that displays statistics alongside a game.

In other Verizon news: The company announced Friday that its V Cast mobile VOD service is now available for BlackBerry Storm smartphones. Verizon Wireless customers with BlackBerry Storms and unlimited data plans can add the service for $10 per month.

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