By Natasha Baker
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Channel surfers know that finding a great show to watch on television can be a daunting task, especially among the hundreds of channels available.
Peel, an app for iOS and Android, aims to solve the problem by providing personalized recommendations based on the television shows that users already like. The app is similar to how Pandora recommends music, or how Netflix suggests films.
"It stemmed from recognizing the complexity that the average user is faced with when selecting the right TV program," said Scott Ellis, the vice president of marketing for Peel.
"We wanted to move away from the channel grid that has become so pervasive and think about content at the core of the experience."
Released last year as a personalized TV guide, the app was relaunched last month to incorporate a social platform for sharing and discovering television shows with friends.
According to Ellis, the impetus for incorporating a social platform was to replicate the "water cooler" type of conversations that tend to be the way most people discover new content.
"It's about how to use an intelligent app to find the right show to watch based on the shows I like today and based on shows my friends are watching," he said.
Through the app users can share their favorite shows with friends, as well as their "guilty pleasures", which Ellis said usually consist of reality shows. Friends' favorite shows are also accounted for in the algorithm that makes content recommendations.
The app also pairs up with the Peel Smart Remote for consumers who want to control their television sets without using their remote controls. The pear-shaped piece of hardware takes commands from the app and then uses infrared to control the television, settop box, or virtually any other device in a user's living room.
"You can go from discovering, to selecting and then watching," Ellis said, adding that the device solves another modern day problem -- having too many remotes.
Ellis said that once more devices incorporate infrared, it will be possible to control the television without requiring another piece of hardware.
The company has partnered with Samsung, which has pre-installed Peel on select devices that have infrared. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus, launched in October, was the first device to incorporate what they call the Peel Smart Remote app.
"Within a single element experience, users can discover shows and control the television set without purchasing a separate piece of hardware," he said.
Ellis said that the next steps for the app are to integrate a more interactive second-screen experience for television shows. The company plans to focus on the social aspect of the app going forward, and to announce a partnership with a major television show in the coming weeks.
Peel is a free app available in the United States.
(Reporting by Natasha Baker; editing by Patricia Reaney)