Sling TV, the streaming television service with plans that start at $35 month for 30+ channels, has launched an entirely new app interface that has come first to Fire TV devices. While Sling TV’s old app interface could be commended for taking a unique approach to streaming TV, it certainly took some getting used to. The new interface has greatly simplified things and is more aligned with what most people tend to expect in a streaming app. Here is an overview of the new interface.
The new Sling TV app consists of 4 main sections which include the home screen, channel guide, DVR screen, and on-demand screen. The home screen provides various rows of recommendations as you scroll down the screen, such as your new content, most-watched channels, trending shows, recent DVR recordings, and watchlist items. There’s also a section for categories, like Sports, News, and Kids, where you can browse recommendations of those types.
The app’s Channel Guide section now more closely resembles a traditional grid-based guide. At the top is a menu that lets you sort and filter the guide by different methods such as alphabetically, recent, and favorites. You can also just show channels with sports, news, movies, or kids programming.
Highlighting an item on the channel guide gives you a peek at relevant info for what’s on, such as the release date, start/end time, how long is left, and content rating. While in the guide, you can press the menu button on the remote to record the content to your DVR library without needing to leave the guide. You can also mark channels as favorites by selecting the heart to the left of each row.
Instead of scrolling right to view more content from a particular channel, you can select the channel logo to go to a screen just for that channel. From there you’ll see a horizontally scrolling list of everything coming up next on that channel. This is far easier to flip through, in my opinion, than on the guide itself if, for example, you’re looking for something specific that you know is coming up soon on a certain channel. Scrolling down on this screen is a list of all the different shows and movies from the channel that are available to watch on-demand.
The new DVR screen is also a lot more simplified than the previous interface. On it, you’ll find your DVR storage usage at the top and a grid of all the different shows and movies that you have stored. Highlighting an item and pressing the select button will delete all recordings of that show in a single click. At the top of the DVR screen is a Scheduled tab that shows a chronological list of all the upcoming items that will be recorded and you can choose to edit or cancel individual items. The last tab is a Trash tab where deleted items will be placed for 48 hours, in case you change your mind and want to keep them.
Selecting a show on the DVR screen will list all the episodes of that show that you have stored. From there you can change recording options, such as whether you want to record all episodes or only new ones. You can also delete all recordings at once or scroll through the list and delete individual episodes. You can also lock episodes from this screen so that they don’t get automatically erased when your DVR is full to make room for new recordings.
The last section of the app’s vertical navigation menu is the on-demand section. Here are the various rows of movies and shows to browse through, such as Popular Shows, Hit Movies, Comedy shows, Award-Worthy Movies, and more. Oddly, this is also where you’ll find your watchlist.
The final thing worth mentioning is the Search section, which works as you’d expect. Whether you search through the on-screen keyboard or use Alexa to perform a voice search, the same search result screen is used. I would have liked to see ways to filter or sort search results, but all you can do is scroll through the flat list or results. Sling TV has also, unfortunately, removed the ability to use the Fire TV’s default keyboard which comes with the advantage of allowing voice-to-text input, if you prefer not to use direct voice searches.
I do want to note, in the interest of full disclosure, that Sling TV provided me a complimentary account, at my request, so that I could fully try out its new interface. However, they are providing no compensation for this post, nor are they able to review or edit it before being published.
Overall, this new app is a very nice improvement over the old one. Sling TV’s unorthodox older app was probably the worst part of the service, so it’s nice to see that they’ve gone with a more traditional approach and that they have brought it to Fire TV devices first. Of course, you can still avoid using most of the app, apart from the DVR section, and use the Fire TV’s built-in channel guide instead, since Sling TV is fully integrated into the Fire TV’s live TV interfaces.