AT&T launches voice and gesture controls with U-verse Easy Remote app for iPhone, iPad

AT&T (NYSE: T) launched an app for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone and iPad Wednesday that allows its U-verse TV subscribers to use voice and gesture controls to channel surf.

AT&T Easy Remote app

Image source: AT&T. Click here for a video of the Easy Remote app.

While Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and other providers are looking at adding voice controls to mobile apps they have developed for navigation, AT&T boasted that it's the first pay TV distributor to launch a product that enables voice and gesture controls.

Subscribers who download the app can speak commands into the microphone on the iPad or iPhone to perform several functions, including channel up, channel down, fast forward, rewind, pause and record. AT&T said U-verse customers can also say the name of an individual program or channel number to change the program they are watching. The app is designed in part to help viewers with vision and hearing loss control their set-tops. 

AT&T said subscribers can activate gesture controls by tapping or sliding their fingers across the screen on an iPhone or iPad. Swiping two fingers to the left or right would allow a subscriber to control the rewind and fast-forward function in video-on-demand programming or shows stored on a DVR. Viewers can play or pause a program by with a double tap on the iPhone or iPad screen.

AT&T may be the first pay TV provider to launch an app that lets subscribers use mobile devices to navigate pay TV programming with voice and gesture controls. But Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) already offers Comcast, AT&T and Verizon FiOS TV subscribers apps for the Xbox 360 that allow subscribers to use voice and motion controls to navigate a limited number of cable channels.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) says it will supply subscribers in the Kansas City area that take its Google Fiber TV product with a Nexus 7 tablet designed to be used as a remote control that accepts voice commands. Comcast has said that it plans to add the ability to use voice commands to its Xfinity X1 cloud-based interactive program guide.

AT&T Easy Remote app controls

Image source: AT&T

AT&T said the U-verse Easy Remote technology was developed by researchers at AT&T Labs, noting that the voice control functions are powered by AT&T Watson speech recognition technology.

 "We're always looking for ways to improve the U-verse TV experience, and we knew this was an area where we could take a big step forward and use our IPTV platform to deliver a better and more accessible TV watching experience for seniors and customers with hearing and vision impairments," AT&T Home Solutions VP of U-verse and video products Maria Dillard said in a statement.

For more:
- see the release

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