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Broadband, Phone & TV

Sky Q unveils new features in time for Christmas

Sky Q unveils new features in time for Christmas
Rob Flynn

Rob Flynn

Staff Writer

One of the best ways to watch TV just got even better with Sky's new and upgraded features to its Sky Q set-top box.

When it comes to content, we as consumers have never been more spoiled for choice. From on-demand video streaming services such as Netflix, to live streaming available with NOW TV, there is hardly a series or movie unavailable to watch at the click of a button.

And when it comes to advancements in TV technology, the good folks at Sky are really pushing the envelope, as well as the button when it comes to putting the consumer first.

The telecommunications company recently unveiled a number of brand new features it’s rolling out for its set-top box, Sky Q, including HDR content, as well as new personalised collections built into its user interface.

In this article we’ll walk you through what’s new with the latest Sky Q box to see what changes you can expect in the coming days and weeks.

But first, a little refresher...

What is Sky Q?

Sky Q is the set-top box on offer for customers who sign up to receive their TV with Sky. The box was launched in 2016 and fuses live TV channels with video-on-demand (VOD) and new and improved catch-up services, not to mention services from third parties such as Disney.

The box itself can record a total of six shows, while you can watch a seventh live. It also holds 1TB of storage which translates to approximately 500 hours of downloaded content for later viewing.

What’s new for Sky Q

There are plenty of new features coming to the Sky Q box so I guess we’ll just dive straight in.

Here are some of the best...

HDR

The Sky Q box is HDR compatible and this Christmas Sky is making sure there are over 40 movies available to watch in luxurious High Dynamic Range. Of course, you’ll need to have a compatible TV to begin with to get the full splendour, but, you get the picture!

Sky will make available a whole host of classics in resplendent HDR, such as the Back to the Future Trilogy, as well as all eight Harry Potter films.

Also available in HDR will be the Sky Original The Secret Garden, perfect for Christmas viewing with the family, not to mention the films Emma, Little Women and Bad Boys for Life, available in HDR through Sky Cinema.

Fans of Sky Originals will be glad to know that several series will also be getting the HDR treatment, with Chernobyl, Tin Star, and Gangs of London all available to stream in even better resolution.

Sky has even added a HDR icon to content you’re about to watch so you’ll know what quality is available before you play.

Voice search functionality

Thanks to increased investment and research in its machine learning and AI capability, Sky is making vast improvements to its user interface and overall experience for consumers, and one of the big ones is centred around its voice search feature.

Voice search works by speaking a number of commands into your Sky remote in order to make accessing quality TV and content much simpler.

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With the latest updates, Sky has incorporated a number of new voice commands into its voice search function, allowing for a far greater personalised TV experience.

We've helped to simplify things further with the sample table below.

What you say

What you’ll see

‘What should I watch’

TV and movies personalised for you

‘Show me great TV’

The best of Sky and Netflix

‘Made for laughter lovers’

The best comedy content

While ‘what should I watch’ is perhaps a more realistic sentence someone might speak into their remote (the future is now), the latter probably isn’t. However, I’d imagine most people would still prefer to simply browse and scroll for themselves while watching television, as opposed to having to remember set-phrases for to have a conversation with their remote.

That being said, the new voice control features add so much more dynamism to what was already a fully-featured and thoroughly advanced set-top box, and will help no end when it comes to making your TV experience far more personalised, which is Sky's ultimate goal.

Whatever the weather

One of the stand-out physical features of having Sky is the fixture of the well-known satellite dish to the side of your abode, necessary of course for receiving all the live TV you love.

For customers living in areas where adverse weather conditions can interfere with their TV satellite signal, this can be a source of annoyance and great frustration.

However, Sky has thankfully endeavoured to fix this issue with Sky Q, now allowing customers to use their box even when the weather is problematic.

Thanks to the update, customers will still be able to watch all recorded content, video-on-demand, as well as being able to access all applications and the Sky Store even if their dish is down.

Sky has outlined plans to further update and expand its IP distribution service for customers who can’t avail of satellite TV, but this is a while away yet for Irish customers.

About the launch of the new features, Group Chief Product Officer at Sky, Fraser Stirling said: 

We’re continuing to add new features to Sky Q and Sky Go, with updates almost every week, so your Sky TV experiences keep getting even better. 

You can watch more TV and movies in stunning HDR picture quality, get personal with voice search, enjoy more sporting action anywhere with Sky Go, and find more of what you love with our simple homepage, easy.

Favoured, personalised TV

With Sky's new and improved algorithms, Sky Q customers will have an even more personalised viewing experience, openly apparent in the incredibly easy-to-use user interface.

Customers can now find the best TV and VOD to watch in the new ‘What’s on Now and Next’ rail on their homepage, eliminating the need to visit the TV guide.

This is all part of Sky’s intention to make viewing entertainment and news much simpler and user friendly, without having to go proactively trawling through the TV guide searching for content. In fact, the TV guide will most likely become an outdated search function with the incorporation of VOD and content from third party partnerships.

Keeping things oldschool, it’s also possible to manually add your favourite TV channels from the settings menu so they’re included on the ‘What’s on Now’ page. This isn’t a requirement for customers but can add so much more to your overall viewing experience, and at the touch of a button.

Again, getting to such a page has been made much easier with use of the voice control feature as mentioned earlier. By simply requesting ‘What should I watch?’, Sky will respond and show you to this page. This is pretty intuitive, responsive, as well as impressive, it must be said.

Sky has also further integrated applications into its user interface. As well as the expected third-party apps such as Netflix and Disney+, it now also incorporates fitness ones such as Fiit for home workouts, not to mention the likes of Youtube and Spotify, and all voice-search enabled.

Parental controls

With more and more content now available through Sky Q, the TV provider has also decided to widen its parental controls, giving parents and guardians more power over what their kids can and can’t watch.

The new controls include a ‘parent’s guide’ on each show page which gives a detailed listing of age suitability, and under a number of headings such as educational value, sexual content, drinking, drugs, and smoking, and even exposure to role models, and consumerism.

Sky is also rolling out pin protection for apps, where previously it had only been available to implement for channels of a parent's choosing.

App pin protection does what it says on the tin, giving parents and guardians far more control over the types of content their children have access to. And paired with Sky’s already available broadband buddy app, parents can rest assured in the knowledge that their kids are safe.

What’s new for Sky Go

If you’re a Sky customer you’ll most likely be familiar with the Sky Go app, invaluable when you want to watch your favourite show or match when someone is hogging the TV.

Sky’s latest changes mean far greater capability for viewers streaming on their phone or tablet, with the ability to watch new video shorts that show trending sports news and unmissable action across football, F1, golf, cricket, and boxing.

Customer’s will also have access to Sky’s red button channels where it’s possible to watch even more great sports content such as EFL and Nations League matches.

Important for all the gamers out there, Sky Go is also available on PS5 and XBOX Series S & X so you can catch up on the latest there, too!

Additionally, it will be possible to use Sky’s recap feature on Sky Go, but this won’t be coming until the beginning of next year.

Sign up for Sky today

Sky has plenty of great deals on offer right now across broadband, TV, and home phone, not to mention a number of upcoming Black Friday promotions.

You can browse the best Sky deals for you over on bonkers.ie right now and sign up in time for Christmas.

If you’re looking to run a full comparison across all providers you can do that too on bonkers.ie. Use our trusted comparison tool today to find a deal that best suits your needs.

Let’s hear from you

We’d love to hear what you think about the latest Sky Q features. Do you have the box? Could it do with an update in another area? Tell us your feedback in the comments below.

You can always get in touch with us over on social media. We’re on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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