Silicon Valley startup Ryz Media has relaunched its universal remote control and social-oriented TV guide app for Apple iOS devices, renaming it BlinQ, which uses an infrared adapter plug-in to control set-tops, TVs and other devices.
The BlinQ app can be downloaded for free from Apple's iTunes App Store, while the orb-shaped IR transmitter (the "Q") costs $9.99, including shipping and handling.
Unlike Ryz's previous app, My TV Remote, BlinQ lets viewers see live information about the most popular shows on TV by location and provides updates on the programs their friends are currently watching.
"Linear TV has really exploded with so many channels," Ryz Media CEO Zeev Braude said. "Our strategy is to help viewers find content they want."
The new BlinQ app fixes some issues the previous iteration had with some set-tops, Braude said. It also provides social-networking features, letting viewers post messages to and view messages from Facebook and Twitter. Users can invite friends to join virtual viewing parties to watch TV shows together.
In a test of BlinQ with Verizon FiOS TV, Multichannel News found that the app didn't always properly send commands to the Motorola set-top. When HDNet was selected (channel 569) from the BlinQ guide, the app instead tuned to WWOR (channel 9). Ryz said it is fixing issues in the app.
Ryz's ultimate business model is to sell advertising and sponsorships to TV networks, to give users a way to directly tune to their programming. "We are not a hardware company," Braude said.
Braude said the show rankings are based on current users of the Ryz apps, which number in the "thousands." The app is available in the U.S. and Israel.
The guide data for BlinQ is supplied by Tribune Media Services, while Ryz developed the IR codes to control dozens of TVs, set-tops and DVD players.
The IR adapter plugs into the headset jack of iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads, and Ryz says the BlinQ app and Q adapter support all generations of Apple devices.
The company is based in Palo Alto, Calif., with an R&D arm based outside Tel Aviv, Israel. Braude said Ryz, founded in 2009, has fewer than 10 employees. The company is backed by a private equity firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, which Braude declined to identify.