Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 02-09-2011

The role of the Web in the living room continues to expand: in the latest move towards convergence, DirecTV has launched a social TV app for iPhone that synchronises with TV viewing.

To enable real-time social features that change based on what a viewer is watching, users must have the iPhone and DirecTV's HD set-top box connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Once that's in place, the app shows viewers what's on TV and, as they switch the channel, it automatically changes with it, whether it's live, on-demand or time-shifted. Users can then make use of a one-step "tap and share" as they watch.

Subscribers to DirecTV's satellite TV service can download the app for free at the App Store.

With tablets and smartphones on the rise, the mobile gadget increasingly becomes a device that people use even while in the home. Not surprisingly, many pay-TV companies are looking to integrate so-called "second screen" applications into the consumer's TV viewing purview, with hopes of these becoming big differentiators, and as natural as working a TV remote.

Several operators have issued their own apps that provide remote DVR functionality or programming guides, and some, like Cablevision and Time Warner Cable, offer live TV viewing as well. Ad hoc apps are certianly rolling out too, notably HBO Go and programme-specific apps from BET and Viacom.

"The...social TV app adds another dimension to the viewing experience and supports DirecTV's strategy to assist customers in discovering television shows, sports and movies through their friends and social connections," said DirecTV CTO Romulo Pontual, in a statement.

The app and social integration is being provided by social TV specialist Miso, which has a history of working with media rather than operators. Customers include Fox, Showtime, NBC, TNT, Starz, QVC and Comedy Central. However, it says the DirecTV deal is non-exclusive, and to expect this to be just the first of many new operator partnerships the company will announce in the coming months, it said.