“If you like to track Twitter when you’re watching the TV then zeebox is lots of fun, but there are failings when you want to interact.”Free
The developer claims that zeebox is the best thing to happen to TV since TV. It's no secret that one of the most popular pastimes of many Twitter users is snarking at and commenting about what's on television. zeebox aims to harness that popular hobby and make it easier, better and more fun. The app itself is a bit of a cross between a TV guide and Twitter client, with Facebook thrown in for good measure. Sounds strange, but it makes sense. It's like someone took the idea of a mute button for Twitter hashtags and turned it on its head. rnrnYou can use your Facebook and Twitter sign-ins, and if your Facebook friends are also using zeebox you’ll be able to group chat with them about what you think of what’s on the box. When you start the app, you choose your TV provider and region, with Freeview, Sky and Virgin all catered for. The TV guide relevant to your needs is then displayed. You can instantly see how many people are tweeting about a programme too, with the UK Audience indicator – the higher the level the more people are talking about it. All you have to do to get tweeting about a show is tap on it in the guide. You're instantly taken to the programme page, which shows tweets, tags relating to the programme, information about the show and – as a nice extra touch – any apps that relate to the show. The app is really well designed and genuinely intuitive. The integration with the main UK channels is a great way of catching up with what's hot on Twitter. It's can also be fantastic for finding like-minded tweeters to follow with the less popular shows, too. rnrnWe like bold claims at Tap!, and saying that you're the best thing to happen to TV since TV is an extremely bold claim. And we like zeebox, too; it's a fun way of adding to the Twitter and television experience and we were almost ready to jump on board with their claim, but there are some failings.rnrnWhen a popular programme is on, the interface can be a bit overwhelmed as tweets come in at an extraordinary rate. An England football match or X Factor, for instance, can move the tweet stream so fast that you start to miss out. You can stop the stream to catch your breath, but then you're always a bit behind. It's an impossible problem for the app, but nonetheless it does impact upon its usefulness. Also, when no one is tweeting about the show you're watching, it's a bit like a barren wasteland. No one else is commenting on that BBC4 documentary about the history of cheese slices, it would seem. rnrnWhen we tweeted from within the app and one of our followers replied, it wasn’t shown in the app as a conversation, meaning we had to jump out to the Twitter app to reply. It's a minor point, but definitely a shortcoming. It stifles the normal process of commenting on a show and interacting, which then forces you out of the app and back to your Twitter client of choice. If the show you’re watching has a name that might show up in any normal conversation it can also show up in the stream, so some tweets just look a bit out of place. rnrnAs a social experience zeebox works fairly well, and if you love to tweet and be tweeted at during your favourite shows, then it's going to be right up your street. The obvious caveats to that are the lack of a proper reply feature, the speed at which tweets come in when a popular show is on, and sometimes irrelevant tweets appearing in your stream.