Verizon is previewing a new interactive media guide for its FiOS fibre-optic digital television service. The company took over the development of the interface from Microsoft and has revealed a shiny new look and feel that is far ahead of its first offering. Verizon has also licensed interactive programme guide patents from Gemstar-TV Guide, with whom it is jointly developing further enhancements.

Verizon recently revealed that it has over a third of a million customers taking its interactive television services delivered over fibre to the home. The FiOS services are being introduced in 16 states across America. The new interactive media guide will be rolled out to FiOS TV customers over the summer.

Verizon FiOS Interactive Media Guide.

The electronic programme guide features full colour graphics with transparency, and a tabbed menu system with animated layers.

Verizon FiOS Interactive Media Guide search interface.

Verizon claims rapid response to user input, with network powered search across channels, video-on-demand titles and digital video recordings, based on either multi-tap, virtual keyboard, or scroll-wheel predictive text entry.

Verizon FiOS Interactive Media Guide search results.

Video-on-demand titles can be viewed as a list or with poster art, with trailers available for selected titles.

Verizon FiOS Interactive Media Guide video-on-demand titles.

Interactive TV widgets provide the latest weather, traffic and local information, with more applications promised for the future.

Verizon FiOS Interactive Media Guide application widgets.

Verizon clearly appreciates that the interface is not only functional but has an emotional appeal for users. From a first look, it appears very slick and intuitive. Most functions can be controlled using the directional arrow keys and central OK button on the remote control.

The navigational metaphors remain rather computer based, with tabbed hierarchical menus navigated from a ‘main menu’ and folders indicating grouped items in search results. It reflects a trend in other devices that presume a level of computer literacy in order to use anything from a telephone to a television.

Verizon is not alone in moving away from a Microsoft supplied user interface. As recently reported by informitv, Comcast has dropped the Microsoft TV software it has been testing in the Seattle area to be replaced by a system jointly developed with Gemstar-TV Guide.