Twitter has transformed the way many of us enjoy big TV shows. The ‘We’re all watching this together’ feeling of reading the tweets as they flow in from fellow viewers using a shared hashtag adds a social dimension to what used to be a ‘one way’ medium.
There’s one problem though: if you watch a show that you’ve recorded, you lose that sense of community as you can’t watch the tweets appear in sync with the show. Rewinder is a new mobile Web app that sets out to solve this by playing tweets back from the time the show went out, as you watch it.
Once you’re signed in with your Twitter account, you select what feed you’d like to play back – your own timeline or any hashtag (a range of popular TV show hashtags are offered as preset options but you can choose any that you like). You then set the date and time you want the tweets to be played back from (the original start time of the show) and then sit back as that witty commentary from the Twitter backchannel replays in time with the show.
You’re going to have to pay a small amount to unlock the real power in Rewinder, although it’s inexpensive at just £2.99 per year. A free account is available that can replay up to the last 800 tweets from the people you follow and one preset hashtag (currently for UK soap #eastenders). The paid-for option, however, can replay up to the last 30,000 tweets from people you follow, a large number of preset hashtags chosen by the developers, and one hashtag that you choose yourself.
Rewinder has been designed as a mobile Web app only, so at present you’ll have to access it from a phone or tablet to get going with it. Hopefully a desktop browser version will follow as I imagine there are plenty of people who watch TV with their laptop as a ‘second screen’ to follow Twitter. The limit to 800 or 30,000 tweets is a technical one based on the restrictions of the Twitter API, and it means that you’re limited to being only able to ‘rewind’ tweets to a few days ago.
That said, this is a service that I’ve been waiting for someone to offer for some time. Trying it with UK talent show The X Factor last night, timeshifted by 45 minutes, it was brilliant to get the benefit of snarky comments from Twitter users as the talented (and not so talented) performers did their thing.
Of course, you don’t have to use it for TV shows, it can be used to ‘replay’ tweets from any occasion you like, but it’s sure to find a natural home amongst avid television viewers.
Rewinder is offering free accounts to the first 100 people to sign up. Simply visit tweetrewinder.com and enter your email address and Twitter handle. The developers will then upgrade your account over the next few days if you’re one of the first 100. To keep the service stable as it scales, account activations for both paid and free accounts will be staggered, so don’t be surprised if access isn’t immediate.