First Look: DIRECTV NOW Just Released an Updated Beta and We Take it for a Spin

Some key screens have been updated and added including scheduled recordings, grid guide updates and more. Full Details Inside…


AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW service has just released a new update for beta testers containing the latest updates, enhancements and fixes for the highly anticipated Cloud DVR functionality.

The release is identified as “DTVN Release (3) 1.0 (420) (422) (444 as of 1/9/2018)” and has been made available to beta testers using both iOS and tvOS devices (Apple TV, iPhones and iPads).

I’ve included visuals below to illustrate the key screens that have been updated or enhanced with new functionality. There appear to be some significant updates with this release.  Most notably:

  1. Missing local broadcast networks are now present
  2. The grid guide adds a screen that displays a single channel’s upcoming programming as well as a “Jump to Day” option that allows viewing a custom grid guide for “Today”, “Tomorrow” and a specific day up to 12 days into the future
  3. Long press is enabled for the Siri remote swipe pad as a shortcut for deleting recordings and scheduled recordings in one click
  4. Playback of recorded episodes can now be activated by simply clicking the Siri trackpad
  5. You can now view and manage scheduled recordings with a dedicated screen

Many users are reporting that previously missing local broadcast networks are now showing in the guide. For example, prior releases did not include NBC locals (and possibly others). Additionally, you can now activate playback of a recorded episode by simply clicking the Siri remote. Previous builds required you to hit the play/pause button to activate playback.

The guide now has a channel details screen that is displayed when clicking on a specific channel logo from the guide listing. This screen highlights a selected channel to isolate the view in a vertical listing of upcoming programming. Its a neat  and handy feature as the grid guide can get a bit busy. However, we found that some thumbnail episode art is missing currently:

Channel Detail Listing Shows Upcoming Shows
Channel Detail Listing Shows Upcoming Shows

Sadly, the guide still does not remember to display favorites by default if you last selected to view the guide filtered by favorites. Additionally, I found that attempting to fast forward through recorded content is still hit and miss. You can fast forward in small increments using the 15 second FF shortcut (for a bit), but after trying to use the FF advance button to move forward more than a minute or so in a recording, the playback exits out to the beginning.

Finally, it appears that the UI engineers are starting to implement some Siri remote shortcuts. For example, you can now delete entire series of recordings while viewing the “My Library” thumbnail screen by simply using long press on the Siri remote. After long press, the dialog screen appears with delete options:

Cancel a Scheduled Recording

The release indicates a 90 day expiration. Here are some key updated screens from the release:

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Do you have comments on the DIRECTV NOW Beta? Have questions about it? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

  • Loren Kruse

    The app is getting better though! Fixed a lot of my issues that I was having. Starting to look pretty solid… methodically knocking out the bugs…

    • Comparing notes, what are your specific issues that were fixed?

      • Loren Kruse

        On the Apple TV: 4th and 5th Gen…

        Could not play recorded shows by simply pressing select on the remote. Previously had to press PLAY/PAUSE. (Now Fixed)
        After watching a recorded show, could not play another recorded show without forcing the app to quit and relaunching. (Now Fixed)

      • Loren Kruse

        Looks like I will have to delete some early on recorded shows as only recent recorded shows seem to play correctly. Currently they won’t play. Wonder if AT&T updated their recording format?

        Most likely will loose our recorded shows anyways once the App is released to the general public.

  • James Webb

    Starting to look good. I went ahead & got an Apple TV 4K for best performance. Question: When scrolling down the guide, can you do it in a way that does not bring up the thumbnails? For example, if you hover over the channel icon, rather than the show?

    • Loren Kruse

      My solution is to navigate to the left onto the channel name and then scroll up and down. Much better performance when needing to scroll down several screens of channels.

      • JD Campbell

        Thanks. I wonder if they will implement a channel #’s option on Apple TV like I’ve heard about on the Android build?

        • Loren Kruse

          That I don’t know… it would be helpful…as I remember channel numbers and would be easier to navigate faster up and down the channel guide to a specific number

          I do know the channel numbers are built into the app. If you look at your recordings when there is more than one recording. Navigate to a particular episode and you will see in the description a 3 digit number. I have found this number correlates with the same channel on DirecTV Satelite.

          • JD Campbell

            Interesting…thanks for the info.

          • I noticed that too. I had sent a screenshot to my contact at AT&T to find out if it was intentional but I have not yet heard back.

            I know that the AT&T CEO John Stephens has indicated that this Beta is being written in what they are referring to as their “Next Gen” OS which is supposed to be a central set of UI assets SHARED between Satellite, Uverse and DIRECTV NOW subscribers. So, the channel numbers make sense in that regard.

            I’ll update when I know more.

        • Loren Kruse

          I would love to see a screen shot of the channel numbers in the Android build…. anybody?

    • Hi James, I’ve heard many express this same question. Currently there is no way to customize the grid guide beyond the ability to filter by favorites.

  • NCAviator

    I upgraded to 420 also. Still do not see my NBC Local (WYFF). Does not show in the chrome beta either. Is present in the regular app. Agree they fixed the record TV play by using the remote touchpad press rather than just the pause/play button. Have the same issue with fast forward. Using the 15 second jump only works for what is buffered down to the device. Do like the per channel listing page.

    Thanks for finding what has changed and posting. Wish AT&T would send out better change log. Their email about the update had nothing. This is a good update, but they really need to get the local channel listings working.

    I hope they get the option to RECORD NEW EPISODES button added. I hate having old shows recorded for a series. Shark Tank is a good example. New shows are on ABC. Old shows are on CNBC. Shows on HGTV are another example.

    • Good point about the recording options. Seems like that should have been included before now.

      I agree with you 100% on the need for a change log. That, along with the fact that the feedback infrastructure appears to be an amateur effort at best, leads me to believe that this whole thing may simply be a stress test. I’m not at all certain that there is anything more to it. The feedback form is little more than a survey. Its not personalized or secured. I don’t even have to include my email address. It does not remember my profile information. I have to reenter the same info every time I use it and it doesn’t even list the current tvOS version 11.2.1 as an option!

    • NCAviator

      Got an email for a new build to 422. Have upgraded. Don’t know if it has any new features. It does seem to do the 15 sec skip better. See more buffering space so you can do more 15 sec skips at one time. Seems to still stutter if you do more than 5 at a time.

      • Same. I have not noticed any cosmetic or functional differences.

      • NCAviator

        I see they have added my NBC local to the beta test now. Have not tried to record a show on that channel yet.

        For some reason my hours remaining count has gotten messed up. When I delete all shows in my library it only shows I have 17 hours remaining and the usage gauge show the 3 hours used. Submitted bug report. Of course no response.

        I have been a beta tester for Microsoft, Apple, and many other companies. AT&T is the worst feedback organization of any. You would think they would have someone on their staff to feedback and to periodically send out email to all beta testers with updates on progress and priorities.

        • Totally agree on the feedback infrastructure. I believe this “Beta” is more of a stress test than anything else.

      • This build (422) is still crashing (exits out of the video) when attempting to fast forward a recording for more than a few seconds. Click the FF arrows and hold down the button and it will exit the video after a few seconds – reported to feedback.

  • Loren Kruse

    I wish they would add a minute or two to the ending of their recordings. Some shows specially sitcoms run long and currently the recording is getting cut of early. The app does start recording early so there is no problem there…. just the end of the shows.

  • Loren Kruse

    One thing they should add to several screens within the DTVN app is a clock. Be nice to see the time without pulling up the channel guide…

    • Good suggestion. Every time there is an overlay screen (graphics on top of video), a current time indicator would be helpful.

      • Loren Kruse

        And would like to see a quicker way of turning Closed Caption on/off… some apps are a simple toggle icon…. currently there is at least 4 click to turn on/off CC.

        Additionally, there are too many steps to the guide…it is almost like they don’t want us to use the guide…but instead access shows through other means…

  • Byron Culpepper

    I’m curious about the new guide. I have a Roku on one TV and an Apple TV on the other. The Roku guide is convenient because it circles through. If I am on TNT and I want to see wants on AMC I scroll down and once it reaches the bottom it will restart in the As. Or if I am on NBC I can scroll though all the channels by pressing down over and over because it will roll over and end up back at NBC eventually. Apple TV has a hard stop on the last channel making it difficult to scroll though them all.

    Is this the same in the new guide? I find the Apple TV guide behavior annoying.

    • Hy Byron, the Apple TV version of the Beta does not do what you are asking. Once you reach the end of the guide, you cannot scroll further. I do like the feature though, hopefully they will implement it before golive.