Remote Record is one of those excellent features which Sky offers but doesn’t flaunt anywhere near enough not helped by the fact that Sky are loving the iPhone and ignoring Windows Mobile, Symbian, Android and BlackBerry in the process.
In the past I spent a long time looking for a Windows Mobile application for Remote Record, and I managed to find one which was a Java hacked version of the application which was previously available for the Orange SPV however as this was a non-touch screen device the UI was clunky on my touch screen device to say the least.
Needless to say, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered an article on wmpoweruser.com at http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=10795&cpage=1&mobile=1 about Remote Record for Windows Mobile which was posted in November 2009.
The application looks like something genuine that Sky would have produced, however it appears via the website of a software design company called Wecomm who seem to specialise in mobile application development. Even more surprising is that all this development seems to have been done without Sky ever officially releasing the product to the market.
Hitting the link to http://p.wecomm.com/prov/prov.action?releaseId=10 will give you a list of mobile manufacturers (including RIM for BlackBerry owners) which then takes you to a list of models. Once you have selected your model the site will provide the appropriate download link.
I downloaded the version for HTC HD2 which has the same resolution as my HTC Touch HD and installed the .cab file.
Once I got the application installed it appears nicely on my Start menu:
After launching the application you must configure it with your My Sky username and password. This is done via the Sky+ portion of the UI. Clicking the links for Sky News will give you the latest information from Sky News and a new ticker. Sky Sports gives you much the same information that the Sky Sports News channel will give you, however there is no streaming video here Ã¢â‚¬â€œ It’s textual only.
Once you have configured your username and password in the UI you can head over to the Sky+ view which looks very similar to the EPG Sky Guide you are used to (on a Sky+ box, and not the new UI refresh on the Sky+HD boxes).
Navigating the EPG is done either using left, right, up and down finger gestures or using the D-Pad if your phone has one. The coloured buttons for Up, Down, +24hrs and Ã¢â‚¬â€œ24hrs are all touch buttons.
Once you have a programme selected like shown in the third image above, hitting the record button will send the programme record instruction down to your box. You will get a confirmation on the device that it can take up to 30 minutes to deliver the command to the box.
I tested it a few times before writing this blog and it works great. I had one instance where it wouldn’t load the EPG and kept reporting that a timeout occurred, however I closed and re-opened the application and it worked ok after that.
I do have a few complaints about the UI. On the screen where you configure the username and password, it doesn’t use the keyboard configured in the Windows Mobile Input Settings but uses it’s own integrated keyboard feature which doesn’t render very well. Some of the buttons aren’t particularly large either Ã¢â‚¬â€œ They would be fine on an older device with a 320×240 resolution but the Touch HD and the HD2 both have 800×480 resolutions, however all of this is of minor consequence compared to the ability to kick off recordings remotely.
I’m using Windows Mobile 6.5.3 which has the updated layout for the Start Menu and soft keys. This application obviously isn’t designed for 6.5.3 but it works fine none-the-less.
I don’t know for sure why Sky haven’t officially released this application, but I would love to see them do it because the functionality is really powerful. I’d also be interested in hearing from anyone with a BlackBerry who is able to try out the BlackBerry version of the application to see if it works just as well as the Windows Mobile version.
In an improved version of the technology it would also be nice to have the ability to view your current Sky+ Planner so that I can modify and re-schedule existing recording on the move. The last thing you would want is to schedule a new recording via the phone to then discover you caused a recording conflict.