Comcast subscribers who relied on their mobile Xfinity TV Remote app to set a DVR recording while away from home are going to want to stay a little closer to the television. The company removed that capability from the app on Wednesday following a patent ruling by the International Trade Commission.
Comcast customer Josh Belzman of Seattle spotted the issue on Wednesday morning after he got a prompt on his phone while using the app to try to set a recording at home for an upcoming Gonzaga University basketball game.
“This feature is no longer available,” said the alert on his iPhone.
Belzman tweeted at @XFINITY, asking if the DVR scheduling feature had been removed. The official Xfinity support account @ComcastCares tweeted back at Belzman, saying that the functionality had indeed been taken off apps.
Wow, that's really disappointing. Why would it be removed? It's the most useful feature of the app – essential if you're away from home and want to record something for later. At any rate you should update the app description. pic.twitter.com/4ljKaZ4weW
— Josh Belzman (@JoshEdits) November 29, 2017
“If you’re away from your DVR box and cannot schedule a recording and miss a show, check to see if it’s available on XFINITY On Demand!” @ComcastCares wrote. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
The move results from Comcast being on the losing end of a patent fight last week with Rovi Corp. — or TiVo, as the DVR pioneer is known. According to Reuters, the ITC ruling prohibits Comcast from importing and selling certain types of Rovi’s Xfinity X1 set-top boxes.
“We respectfully disagree with the ITC’s decision in this matter,” Comcast said in a statement to GeekWire. “In fact, Rovi has never disputed that Comcast or its predecessors independently developed our X1 platform and our cloud- and app-based technology. While we believe the ITC reached the wrong decision, we will remove this feature from those offered to our subscribers while we pursue an appeal.”
The Comcast app description and the Xfinity support website had not been updated as of Wednesday afternoon and still guided users on how to set up a recording through the TV Remote app.
Even though Comcast didn’t deliberately set out to make their app less useful, it’s still a bummer for Belzman, especially as college hoops season gets going and he forgets to set a recording or is running late and might miss the start of a game.
“Being able to schedule a recording from anywhere was a neat trick and was pretty much the only thing I used the app for,” Belzman told GeekWire. “Sometimes I used it if I read a good review of a show or a friend mentioned something they’d watched — I could just get out my phone, search for the show and schedule a recording right then and there.”