recommendations

Google adds a universal watchlist for movies and TV to Google Search

Posted by | Google, Media, Mobile, movies, recommendations, Search, streaming, television, tv | No Comments

Google is adding a new feature to Search that will help you keep track of all the TV shows and movies you want to watch during these long weeks at home. The company had already been offering personalized TV and movie recommendations in Search, as of an update released last fall. Building out a watchlist with your top picks is the obvious next step.

To get started, mobile users can first search “what to watch” to get Google’s suggestions. They are organized at the top of the search results, and can be filtered by type (show or movie), by whether the content is free, by category (comedy, action, documentary, sitcom, kid-friendly, etc.) and by provider. Google also offers a rating experience where you train its algorithms on what sort of content you like and dislike.

For any movie or show you want to then add to your list, you just tap “Watchlist” in the preview window. You can also tap “Watched” if it’s something you’ve already seen.

The new Watchlist is available as a second tab at the top of this What to watch section, and can be accessed any time you’re searching for something to buy, rent or stream. You can also search for “my watchlist” on Google or tap on “Collections” from within the Google app to access your list more quickly.

At launch, Google had said the TV and movies feature was designed to further the company’s larger goal of helping connect people with the information they need — it was not offering the data to advertisers. But by placing a regularly used feature like this within Google, users will spend more time on Google’s platform, which helps Google’s business.

While Google’s version of the watchlist concept is handy for more casual users, a number of dedicated mobile apps offer an expanded experience and, at times, more accurate and more granular recommendations. For example, TV Time not just makes recommendations, but also lets you check off which episodes you’ve watched from a series and participate in a mobile forum of sorts with other fans. Reelgood, Watchworthy, Taste, Bingeworthy, Likewise, itcher, Hai and many other apps also offer show and movie suggestions to varying degrees of success.

Reelgood even recently launched a feature called Reelgood Remote, which will instantly play the content you choose on your Roku device.

Google’s new Watchlist feature was one of several additions rolling out today focused on entertainment.

On Android TV devices, it also added three new home screen rows from YouTube, including COVID-19 News, Stay Home #WithMe and free movies from YouTube. Android TV also gained more collections from Google Play, while streaming apps are now organized under a row titled “Stream the shows and movies you love.”

Plus, on Google Play, the company has recently introduced a collection of special deals, including offers on apps for movies, TV and comics, among other things. There are offers for game streaming service Google Stadia and subscription service Google Play Pass, as well.

The Google Watchlist feature is live now on mobile devices.

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Watchworthy’s personalized TV recommendation app will help you find your next binge

Posted by | Apps, Binging, cord cutting, Media, Mobile, Ranker, recommendations, streaming TV, television, tv | No Comments

Ranker, an online publisher that turns crowdsourced lists and fan rankings into a data business, is now turning its attention to the world of streaming services. The company this week launched a new app, Watchworthy, that helps you find something new to watch across TV networks and more than 200 streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Apple TV+ and many more.

Ranker, as you may already know, is the website that always pops up in search results when you’re looking for some sort of “best of” round-up — whether that’s in entertainment, music, sports, culture, history or across other topics. On the site, online visitors can vote on their favorites in categories as broad as the “best hip-hop artists” or as niche as the “best coconut oil brands.”

Ranker’s TV lists are among its more popular categories and one that makes the most sense for turning into an app. And right now, everyone is looking for something new to watch as we’re stuck indoors due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

While there are already a number of apps promising to offer TV recommendations — like Reelgood, TV Time, Yidio and JustWatch, for example — Watchworthy’s advantage is Ranker’s data powering its recommendations. Its machine learning platform applies first-party correlation data it has amassed over a decade from one billion votes on Ranker.com. As the company explains, this makes its data more “statistically relevant.”

For example, its data indicates that “Better Call Saul” fans tend to like other gritty, dark dramas like “House of Cards,” “Ray Donovan” and “True Detective,” but also more cerebral comedies like “Nathan for You” and “High Maintenance.”

To figure out what sort of TV programs interest you, Watchworthy at first launch jumps you into a rating experience to provide it with your data. In 60 seconds, you fly through a ratings feature that uses a Tinder-like interface, where a right swipe is a “like” and a left swipe is a “dislike” (and up is “not sure”). After you thumbs up and down a selection of shows, you can begin to browse your recommendations.

In my test, this initial set of recommendations was already above average compared with some of the other apps I’ve tried. Your mileage may vary, of course, as it’s a highly personalized experience. Watchworthy may not have offered dozens of precise matches to my tastes at first, but it did remind me of several shows I had seen in passing and thought at some point I might like to try, as well as a few new discoveries.

Its suggestions are ranked by a “worthy” score that indicates the likelihood that the show is worthy of your time. You can also filter the list of recommendations by service, genre, run time and MPAA ratings.

The app got better after spending a little more time to like and dislike more shows and to personalize it as to which streaming services I was using. This allowed me to integrate recommendations from more sources — like HBO, Apple TV+, Disney+, Showtime and others.

However, I did get to the point where liking and disliking didn’t refine my recommendations further, so there is a limit to what Watchworthy can do. I also found the app to be a little lacking on the reality and nonfiction side of things. It tended to push recommendations of scripted shows, despite my having “liked” shows such as “The Great British Bake Off,” “Windy City Rehab” and “Queer Eye,” among others.

As you find shows you like in the app’s recommendations, you can add them to the universal watchlist in the app for easy access.

You can also create an account to save your data. Watchworthy at launch supports Apple’s private sign-in option, as well as Google, Facebook and email.

The homepage of the app also integrates Ranker’s existing TV lists. The website has more than 50,000 of these, but the app isn’t an endless scroll. Instead, it updates the home page with relevant, timely content. For example, today’s lists include “Shows For Self Quarantine,” “Shows To Distract You,” “Funniest Shows On Netflix,” “Best Family Shows On Amazon Prime” and other round-ups.

The new app serves not only as a discovery tool for TV viewers, cord-cutters and binge-watchers, but also as fuel for Ranker’s data collection business. Ranker licenses its data and insights to third-parties, like marketers, advertisers, researchers, developers and service providers. However, its data isn’t focused on demographics so much as it is on “psychographics” — meaning, your tastes. Ranker isn’t asking you for private information, only what you like.

In a way, Watchworthy serves as a demo app of what can be done with Ranker’s psychographic insights, in this case, for TV viewers. But the same sort of system could be built for other categories, like music, cooking, film, travel and more.

The company says this year it will also make its Watchworthy app available to connected devices, like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. It also plans to add movie recommendations and shared watchlists.

Watchworthy is a free download on iOS with Android to come. On any mobile device, it works from watchworthy.app.

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Google’s new feature will help you find something to watch

Posted by | Apps, Google, Mobile, movies, recommendations, Search, tv | No Comments

Google Search can now help you find your next binge. The company this morning announced a new feature that will make personalized recommendations of what to watch, including both TV shows and movies, and point you to services where the content is available.

The feature is an expansion of Google’s existing efforts in pointing web searchers to informative content about TV shows and films.

Already, a Google search for a TV show or movie title will include a “Knowledge Panel” box at the the top of the search results where you can read the overview, see the ratings and reviews, check out the cast and, as of spring 2017, find services where the show or movie can be streamed or purchased.

The new recommendations feature will instead appear to searchers who don’t have a particular title in mind, but are rather typing in queries like “what to watch” or “good shows to watch,” for example. From here, you can tap a Start button in the “Top picks for you” carousel to rate your favorite TV shows and movies in order to help Google better understand your tastes.

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You also can select which subscriptions you have access to, in order to customize your recommendations further. This includes subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO and HBO NOW, Prime Video, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, CBS All Access and Starz.

You also can indicate if you have a cable TV or satellite subscription. And it will list shows and movies available for rent, purchase or free streaming from online marketplaces like iTunes, Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV and Vudu, plus network apps like ABC, Freeform, Lifetime, CBS, Comedy Central, A&E and History.

To get started, you’ll use a Tinder-like swiping mechanism to rate titles. Right swipes indicate a “like” and left swipes indicate a “dislike.” You can “skip” titles you don’t know or have an opinion on.

After giving Google some starter data about your interests, future searches for things to watch will offer recommendations tailored to you.

The company tells TechCrunch this information is only being used for the purpose of recommendations — it’s not being offered to advertisers. Instead, it’s about Google’s larger goal in helping people find the information they need.

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The company notes that you can even get specific with your requests, by asking for things like “horror movies from the 80s” or “adventure documentaries about climbing.” (This will help, too, when you can’t remember a movie’s title but do know what it’s about.)

Google’s search results will return a list of suggestions, and when you pick one you want to watch, the service will — as before — let you know where it’s available.

The company already has a good understanding of consumer interest in movies and TV thanks to its data on popular searches. Now it aims to have a good understanding of what individual users may want to watch, as well.

The new recommendations feature is live today on mobile for users in the U.S.

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YouTube expands test of its Instagram-like Explore tab to more devices

Posted by | algorithms, Apps, Media, Mobile, recommendations, Social, suggestions, YouTube | No Comments

YouTube is expanding the test of its “Explore” feature, a new discovery tool it first introduced as an experiment within its iPhone app last year. Similar to Instagram’s Explore page, the new YouTube feature aims to introduce users to a diverse set of personalized recommendations so they can more easily find something new to watch. The test is now available across devices, and has been updated to also suggest smaller, up-and-coming YouTube creators, the company says.

The changes to Explore were announced in a recent Creator Insiders video, where the company shares ideas it’s thinking about or testing ahead of a public debut — like a change to the “dislike” button, for example.

Last year, the company published a video to Creator Insiders where it talked about a plan to develop a new place within the YouTube app that would help people broaden their horizons when looking for something different to watch.

Today, YouTube’s recommendation technology relies heavily on past viewing activity and other in-app behavior to make its content suggestions, the company explained. With the Explore tab, however, YouTube aims to widen recommendations to include various topics, videos and channels you may not have otherwise encountered.

For instance, the Explore section might recommend videos about high-end cameras after you watched videos about telescopes. Or it might recommend videos about kittens or puppies because you watched other animal videos.

When YouTube launched Explore last year, the test was only rolled out to 1 percent of YouTube’s iPhone app users.

On testers’ devices, Explore replaces the Trending tab in the app’s navigation at the bottom of the screen. The section of Trending videos then became just another sub-category within Explore, alongside other top-level sections like Gaming, Movies, Music, Originals and more.

While Explore was initially available only to iPhone users, the test has now gone live across devices, including iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets and on the desktop, YouTube confirmed to TechCrunch. But it’s still only available to a “small amount” of testers, the company says.

In addition, Explore has been updated to include a new section called “On the Rise,” which will feature up-and-coming YouTube creators.

Here, a shelf is shown showcasing creators with fewer than 10,000 subscribers. These suggestions are personalized to you, too, based on which channels you currently like and regularly watch.

Beneath the “Under 10K” section are other creators YouTube thinks you’ll like, based on your YouTube watch history as well as those whose channels are watched by other fans of your favorite creators.

These recommendations may include those channels with more than 10,000 subscribers, but there will be a cap on how many subscribers a creator can have to be categorized within this “On the Rise” section. (That cap is still TBD, though.)

We understand that while YouTube has expanded the experiment’s reach, it doesn’t yet have a definitive plan for rolling out to the public the Explore tab.

For now, Explore is still considered an experiment and the company is looking to gather more feedback before making a formal decision about the feature’s wider availability.

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The new Google Maps with personalized recommendations is now live

Posted by | Android, Apps, Google, Google-Maps, iOS, mapping, Mobile, recommendations, TC | No Comments

At its I/O developer conference last month, Google previewed a major update to Google Maps that promised to bring personalized restaurant recommendations and more to the company’s mapping tool. Today, many of these new features started rolling out to Google Maps users.

The core Google Maps experience for getting directions hasn’t changed, of course, but the app now features a new “Explore” tab that lets you learn more about what’s happening around you, as well as a “For you” tab that provides you with recommendations for restaurants, lists of up and coming venues and the ability to “follow” neighborhoods and get updates when there are new restaurants and cafes that you would probably like. The main difference between the Explore and For you tabs is that the former is all about giving you recommendations for right now, while the latter is more about planning ahead and keeping tabs on an area in the long run.

While most of the other features are rolling out to all users worldwide, the new For you tab and the content in it is only available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and Japan for now. Content in this tab is still a bit limited, too, but Google promises that it’ll ramp up content over the course of this week.

Both of the new tabs feature plenty of new features. There is the “foodie list,” for example, which shows you the hottest new restaurants in an area. And if you feel completist, Google will keep track of which one of these places you’ve been to and which ones you still have to visit. Like before, the Explore tab also features automatically curated lists of good places to go for lunch, with kids or for a romantic dinner. It’s not just about food and coffee (or tea), though; those lists also include other activities, and Google Maps can now also highlight local events.

With this launch, Google is also releasing its new “Your Match” scores, which assigns a numeric rating to each restaurant or bar, depending on your previous choices and ratings. The idea here is that while aggregate ratings are often useful, your individual taste often differs from the masses. With this new score, Google tries to account for this. To improve these recommendations, you can now explicitly tell Maps which cuisines and restaurants you like.

It’s worth noting that there are still some features that Google promised at I/O that are not part of this release. Group planning, for example, which allows you to create a list of potential meet-up spots and lets your friends vote on them, is not part of this release.

The updated Google Maps for iOS and Android is now available in the Play Store and App Store.

If you’d like to read more about Google’s rationale for many of these changes, take a look at our in-depth interview with Sophia Lin, Google’s senior product manager on the Google Maps team, from I/O.

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Instagram will now add ‘Recommended’ posts to your feed

Posted by | Apps, Facebook, instagram, Mobile, recommendations, Social, TC | No Comments

 Instagram’s feed will now show users recommended posts – a change that earlier this month was spotted while in testing, and has since quietly gone live. The feature, described here in the company’s Help documentation, will suggest posts for you based on those that have been liked by other accounts you follow. The new section, “Recommended for You,” is clearly… Read More

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Google Play Music gets more personalized with New Release Radio, customized to your tastes

Posted by | google play music, machine learning, Media, Mobile, Music, personalization, recommendations, streaming music, streaming services, TC | No Comments

 It’s no longer enough to simply offer on-demand music as part of the value proposition for music streaming services – you have to enable discovery of new tunes and make recommendations, too. While it’s fair to say that Spotify is leading the market in terms of its influential playlist selections, rivals are quickly following suit – including Apple Music and Google… Read More

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Legit Debuts A Social Watchlist App For Finding The Best Movies And Shows On Any Service

Posted by | Apps, cord cutting, Legit, Mobile, movies, recommendations, Social, Startups, streaming video, TC, television, tv, Video | No Comments

legit-app With the number of cord cutters on the rise, and even pay TV subscribers spending more of their time streaming video from services like Netflix and Amazon, there’s a growing need for tools that make the experience of finding new and quality content to watch better and easier. That’s especially true since there’s no universal “TV guide” that spans across… Read More

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