Nine years since I took my first detailed look at Fetch TV the box, and service – now known just as Fetch – has come a long way and this month they’re rolling out an update to the entire operating system that offers a new level of personalisation and smarts to a box that offers more than any other in terms of entertainment.

Almost a year since Telstra purchased a majority stake in the Fetch business, you can’t help but see this new user interface as a way of setting the Fetch box up for the near future when hundreds of thousands of Telstra TV owners will be migrated to Fetch.

Fetch’s “Mighty” box got a hardware update last year too, but the updates to the user interface are for all Fetch owners with Generation 3 or Mini (4K) and Mighty Gen 4 boxes, many of whom will have already received the update over recent weeks.

It’s called version “3.30” and you’ll see the word name “Acacia” alongside that, but having stepped through a range of the new features, I’ve gotta say this doesn’t feel like a decimal point upgrade. To me this is a version 4 interface for Fetch.

Under the hood, Fetch software engineers have re-written the entire code here, switching from a HTML based menu system to Lightning (a Javascript platform) which offers a more responsive outcome for programmers and users together with faster movement and new-look carousels of content.

Key Differences with Fetch 3.30

In simple terms, your Fetch box is now presenting content to you based on how you use the services you’re subscribed to and the channels and content on offer.

This means in many areas of the menus you’ll be presented with options unique to your household, based on what your family has been watching.

Why is change necessary?

I’ve been using Fetch for a very long time, and none of the changes have bothered me in any way. However, some people are just rusted onto their habits and the way they use things, so when buttons move and menus change it might be frustrating.

The frustrations expressed by some users every time something changes reminds me of when Facebook used to change the news feed and everyone would be up in arms, then not long later would just move on having gotten used to it. This is the same, some things have moved, menus renamed, and that might also be focussed on making Fetch an all-round winner for new and existing users – unfortunately some existing users will express their frustrations. Trust me, it’s all still there, nothing’s been removed. It’s actually far more logical now.

They moved the Fetch Menu!

I never pressed the Paw button, I only ever pressed Menu, but when you get to the Menu now you’ll find it at the bottom third of the screen, as opposed to across the middle as it used to be.

This means you can see more of what you were watching while making the decision to go to another area of the Fetch box’s features.

Pressing the paw button at any time, does not bring up the menu any more – that button is now far more useful, bringing up a “Last Watched” menu, which could be TV channels or apps you’ve recently used. Be it a recording, Live TV channel, video on demand or streaming apps, they’ll all appear here.

The biggest change is that there’s no sub-menu any more either. Instead, each main menu item has a set of related tiles, either promoted content or content related to your own viewing habits.

And each menu option now has it’s own “page” where the real action sits.

I can’t find what I’m looking for in the new Fetch 3.30 update

Don’t worry, it’s still there. The big change is that the “TV” option is now gone, replaced by simpler menus like Guide, or Shows – depending on how you like to find your content options.

Here’s a full list of the features you might be struggling to find because you hate change:)

My Stuff remains in my view the most powerful part of the Fetch Experience. In this one area you can find content you’ve been watching or have shown an interest in. Be that a recorded TV show, a show you’ve been watching on Catch Up, Shows and Movies you’ve watched or rented and purchased and so much more.

I think it’s possible that for most people navigating your Fetch will start at My Stuff from now on, given how powerful it is.

The main “My Stuff” page is your first glimpse at a very different approach to content display in Fetch 3.30.

Gone are the horizontal only scrolling of content tiles, introduced is the vertical scrolling between in this case content sources and horizontally the shows within them.

In really simple terms, I think this user interface draws on the apps we all know and love so much like Netflix or Stan and Disney+ with vertical lists of themes or categories and horizontal lists of shows.

On the My Stuff page you’ll see feeds from within your favourite apps (Netflix, Stan, Paramount and Prime provide this), as well any Movies or TV shows you’ve been enjoying.

The rows are actually ordered based on the app that was last used on Fetch in the house.

Fetch Guide knows what you love to watch

When you navigate over the Guide option you’ll see a bunch of tiles for shows or channels. Fetch is using your previous viewing history to suggest these channels .

The viewing history concept uses three hour blocks of time to determine what to show you here. For me this was faultless in suggesting Channel 9 in the Morning and evening, while in the afternoon after school there were kids channels being shown.

This really makes switching to what you want a whole lot easier.

The actually Fetch Guide though has not changed with this update.

A reminder that Fetch guide also goes backward, so you can scroll to the left to go back in time and jump into catch-up for TV shows in the guide. A feature that deserves far more respect – especially if you missed Lego Masters last night!

Finding great new shows to watch

When you jump into the Shows menu, you’ll see a “what to watch” option, which is all about the hottest content on fetch – be they streaming apps, channels or new stuff in the store.

There are then a bunch of groupings like “Free to Air Favourites” or “Rewatchables” as well as some editors choice options.

You’ll also notice here the “Iceberg” concept in Fetch menus. This will show a category title, like “Reality TV” or “Best of Kids” which will open up a range of suggestions on a new page.

Click to Watch option favours your hip pocket

In the shows page and of course movies and any program searches there’s a really important change to the concept of where to watch.

Previously, you’d get a range of “watch” options, or the option to instantly rent or buy a title.

But with Fetch 3.30, Fetch will prioritise it’s “Watch” option base don the services you have installed and are signed into.

For example, if a show is free with no ads on a platform (like Stan) (and yes, I mean free as in no new additional cost over your subscription), then it will be the default way to watch, ahead of a Free-to-Watch service that offers ads, like SBS On Demand or 9Now.

All that will be presented before the Fetch Movie or TV store rent and buy options.

This isn’t a big deal to users, you’ll just click and watch. But consider that Fetch is forgoing the option to push harder their own sales services and instead offering you a lower cost alternative.

Oh, and if a show is on two streaming platforms, but one of them is a higher quality, that one will be the one it suggests.

You’ve still got the option to click “ways to watch” to choose any of the available options.

Apps Apps Apps take over

Within the Apps menu on the main menu bar you’ll see showcased hot shows and movies across the streaming and TV apps, but on the App “page” its far more personalised.

All the apps and content from them appear on the screen in a vertical design, arranged based on what you’ve been watching over the last four weeks.

Additionally you can jump across to a more specific list of Streaming or TV apps to get to the one you want.

Sport features on Fetch – kinda

Sport makes an appearance on the main menu bar now showcasing live sport from across the free-to-air, streaming TV and Subscription apps.

Within the sport page again anything LIVE is featured within “On Now” while the Sport showing within apps shows below, so things like Stan Sport, Paramount or Optus live games will show here.

Again there are categories of sport to show any live or catch up content, as well as whole row of content for each sporting app.

But don’t get too excited, still no Kayo Sports content here. If that comes, it will be game over for any other entertainment set-top-box.

3.30 is Fetch for the Future

The bottom line here is, there’s a lot to take in – a lot has moved, but in reality it’s all now in a spot that makes sense and helps you find more things to watch at any time.

While hundreds of thousands of Aussies will get a new experience from 3.30, later this year when Telstra TV boxes are disabled and new Fetch boxes sent out to those who subscribe through Telstra there will be hundreds of thousands more who get to discover content first and fast on Fetch.

I’ve always said that plugging something like Fetch into any TV makes it a smart TV, but in reality now, Fetch is Smarter than almost all other Smart TVs.

It’s easier to use than the major TV brand’s operating systems which today are pushing particular services and have different priorities.

If you’ve got a Fetch box – Fetch 3.30 is coming to you very soon!

Web: Fetch