Devices like the iPad have become spectacular as repositories for streaming TV apps and video services, but they're not so great at discovery of said streaming shows, which tend to be scattered around like Easter eggs across different apps. The latest version of Fanhattan takes a small step forward in the great Mission To Help iPad Users Find Their Videos, but it's not the perfect app yet.
What next-gen streaming video devices need is a better centralized search-and-discovery dashboard. The Xbox 360 has an excellent solution via Bing, where shows can be found via any of the Xbox 360's available video apps (and there are many). Fanhattan on iOS has been offering a similar functionality for a while now with an IMDb-like database of movie and TV show information and a launchpad for videos on various services like Netflix, iTunes, and Hulu Plus, but the selection of video apps that Fanhattan can access isn't quite as extensive.
The latest version of Fanhattan that's available on the App Store today adds HBO, Cinemax, NBC, and CW, showing show availability in searches and launching those apps from within Fanhattan. It's another small but important step forward for the service, and helps make the app a better catch-all video search tool. Also added is a personal Watch List feature that tracks show and movie availability.
This brings the number of video services that Fanhattan can discover up to an impressive tally: Netflix, iTunes, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, PBS, YouTube, ABC/ABC Family, Cinemax, NBC, Lifetime, Crackle, and The CW. And yet, it still lacks plenty of other services: EPIX, Adult Swim, Vudu, and Amazon Instant Video (which doesn't have an iOS app, but works on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) to name a few.
I appreciate Fanhattan, but its somewhat odd pane-based navigation still doesn't feel intuitive, and the app artificially splits TV shows and movies into two separate sections. Comparatively, the Xbox 360 with Bing feels like a true centralized launchpad, and offers up many more ways of serving pay video streams (as opposed to subscription services like Netflix and HBO Go), whereas, in the iOS ecosystem, it's iTunes or nothing for rentals (Vudu used to be listed in Fanhattan, but no longer). Fanhattan also lacks any live TV listings for said shows or movies.
If you're curious to see how Fanhattan works, watch the video below. It's available for free on the App Store; it's definitely worth your time to download and check out.