App to the Future

designing the future of tv apps

We’re just starting to see the potential for TV apps. Now that half of US internet homes own a connected TV device (an overall trend you can see worldwide), the potential is enormous.
Just a look at some of the coolest apps (beyond games and videos) gives a glimpse of where we’re headed:

  • TV on Apple TV. One of the best apps out there, it offers about 100 channels. Most of these are simulated live channels that are created by Pluto.TV by stitching many standalone videos. Although exists on iPad and iPhone it really shines on Apple.TV.
  • Sky News. A pioneer in live TV app channels, they show the potential for free niche TV services with great channels focused on news, tech, pop culture, life style and more.
  • Periscope on AppleTV. Another good example of an app that existed before but now can really redefine the way it’s being used. There is still much room for improvements in terms of the UI, but the ability to watch the top streams and see the “best of” based on location makes it a pretty cool viewing experience.
  • The Airbnb app for AppleTV. An example of the evolution in app design, this one makes a good use of every inch of the TV screen. It offers a better way to imagine your next vacation. Looking for a vacation spot is often a joint experience (couples, families) so browsing together on the big screen makes sense.

TV Apps today are much like mobile apps 8 years ago. It shows promise, but the best is yet to come. At their core, TV apps are about a better user experience. The big screen offers a better way to browse through massive video libraries and to watch HD video.
As for how we’ll interact with our TVs in the future, the new AppleTV tried (and failed) to offer the ultimate TV remote control. However, using Siri makes a big difference over traditional TVs. Voice and search is going to be critical in the near future as looking for a specific piece of content in a sea of apps becomes challenging (like in the mobile Appstore today). The ability to use siri to search across all of the apps will be key to allow people to make the most of their TV Apps library and maintain retention.
Most importantly, TV Apps also open the door for more content makers to reach the big screen. The latest versions of AppleTV, and Amazon Fire before that, are very developer-friendly. This means that smaller players can launch a TV app that would cost them less than a smartphone app. The result is an abundance of content. The ability to run ads on top of it and/or to offer some of it as part of a subscription, could get media companies extra revenue. In that sense, TV apps have potential to grow and redefine the TV market.

Watch the webinar “5 Considerations for Developing a TV App” to learn more about TV App design.

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