I cut the cord last year. It’s a story for another time, but the bottom line is that I ended up ditching my traditional pay TV service and switching to a streaming service. Live TV is often on in my household, but really only for background noise. When we want to actually watch something on TV, we either stream it or watch something that had been recorded on our DVR. It’s the DVR feature that I ended up missing most, however. Sure there are streaming services that offer a virtual DVR feature, but I ended up cancelling the pricey live TV portion of my service because, once again, no one in my house really watches live TV. Why should I pay $40+ a month just for a virtual DVR when I can stream episodes of all the shows I watch on demand anyway? The key, of course, is keeping track of all the shows I watch so that I know when new episodes are available to stream.
I spent a lot of time looking for an app that could be my one-stop-shop for this. Just a single repository where I could add all my favorite shows and keep track of them when new episodes air. Following WWDC 2019 last summer, I thought Apple’s redesigned TV app might be exactly what I was looking for. Sadly, it wasn’t. I did finally land on a great free app that does almost exactly what I want, but now it looks like there’s an even better option in the works.
If you’re in the same boat as I am and you’re looking for a great app to track all your shows, I landed on Hobi. It’s simple, it’s sleek, it’s fast, and best of all, it’s free. For me, however, it’s not perfect. “Perfect” would be a similar service that lives among apps I already use, rather than relying on yet another service that could vanish at any time. And as long-time readers know, I’m a huge fan of Google’s services.
I use Chrome as a web browser. I use Gmail for my work email as well as my personal email. I use Google so much on my iPhone that I never even open Apple’s Safari browser. Instead, I use the Google app to perform all searches and for the rest of my mobile web browsing as well. Google’s services are simple, well-designed, and they’re free since Google is an advertising company first and foremost. People have strong opinions on Google’s business model, but here’s mine: If Google wants to collect my data so it can serve me targeted ads while offering fantastic personalized experiences that would be impossible otherwise, I’m all for it.
With that in mind, you can imagine how pleased I was recently to learn that Google is building its own TV show tracking service. Not only that, but it’s building the service right into something that I already use dozens of times each day… Google Search!
The screenshots above were posted recently by 9to5Google, and they show a new feature that is rolling out to all users. It’s called Watchlist, and it’s a wonderfully simple way to keep track of all the shows you watch. Once you add a show to your Watchlist, here’s what you’ll see:
As you can also see, movies can be added to your Google Watchlist as well, not just TV shows. This is a feature I’ve wanted in Hobi ever since I started using it — there are so many movies on my list that aren’t worth seeing in theaters, but I often forget about them by the time they finally make it to streaming services.
Google’s new Watchlist feature is still in its infancy. For the time being, it’s only available on mobile devices and there’s no dedicated app. If you want to see what’s on your Watchlist, you can access it by searching “my watchlist” on your device or on the Collections tab in the Google app. If it picks up steam — and I hope that it will — I can definitely see Google adding features like Google Assistant integration with optional new episode notifications and more. Even in its current state though, it’s already a useful tool for anyone who has cut the cord or who wants to keep track of all the movies, TV shows, and streaming shows he or she watches in a single spot.