On Monday, an app debuted on iTunes called IntoNow. You turn on the app and within seconds it tells you what you are watching, including the episode. It does this with something called SoundPrint, which is similar to the technology used by Shazam to identify songs. IntoNow has a catalog of 140 million minutes of broadcast television – it would take you 266 years to watch it all. The app also scans 130 channels live, so you can identify a live newscast or program, such as the Fox Business show in the image above. IntoNow is the latest entry in the growing world of social media for TV watching. Up till now, I haven’t really cared about “checking in” Foursquare-style for a TV show. But I see how TV programs regularly become top-trending events on Twitter.

IntoNow is like the other social-TV apps, such as Miso, because you can share what you are watching. But what got my attention was the tech. I ran it through the paces to see how good it was. Shows like “American Pickers” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were not a problem. I tried it repeatedly on QVC, however, and it came up blank. It worked on the Home Shopping Network. Maybe HSN is included and QVC is not for the live scan? IntoNow does not recognize local TV. It does recognize major Spanish-language channels.

Basically, what this app does is save you some steps. You can click on the remote and see what you are watching. So it’s not as handy as Shazam because you often hear music and have no way to identify a song. But you don’t have to type the name of the show you’re watching on IntoNow. Hit the button and voila, and then you can post it on Twitter or Facebook. The app also allows you to easily get the show on iTunes or put it into your Netflix queue. You can also click into IMDb to get more show and actor information. You can see what friends and strangers are watching and they can do the same with you, which you can do with other TV check-in apps. So you have that interaction. There are no badges or other “gamification” doodads on IntoNow. It’s about the technology, which may spin off in different ways and outlive the app (like verifying what people are watching on TV for accurate ratings). I tried to think of the dark roads this could lead us down. We all surrender privacy as we willingly share more about our lives. But I guess we can figure it out later. In the meantime, give it a spin. It’s neat what computers can do!

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