Here's an interesting app idea: An utility that warns you when the live TV station you're watching comes back from an ad break.
The motivation for this is that commercial TV stations now broadcast about 20 minutes of ads per hour and, much to the station owners disgust, many (most?) of us don't have an overwhelming desire to actually sit through these seemingly endless pitches (this might be different if more ads were clever and entertaining but, alas, most are pure noise).
There's now an iOS app that attempts to warn you when channels come back from ad breaks: Commercial Break. The way it works is that the company's servers "watch" TV channels and analyze the audio and video for cues that an ad break is underway. You get up and do whatever you need or want to do and when the break ends they send a push message to warn you that the break . You can then rush back to watch what you really wanted to watch.
The app currently supports 10 channels in New York City residents: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TNT, TBS, and USA. National channels such as CNN, ESPN, and ESPN2 are also available nationwide and expansion to five more major markets is planned for late 2014.
It's an interesting idea but as the app is currently engineered it's flawed: When I tried it the ad break end warning came in a second or two after the ads on CNN ended. This is where real realtime push service becomes crucial and part of the problem may be that the app's push delivery network is suboptimal for the task (I discussed a solution to this technical problem late last year).
What do you think? Is this an app that would be useful to you?