Monday, May 24, 2010

Why GoogleTV Should Send Android Developers to Their Happy Place

In another life, a touch over 4 years ago, a job opening on the Google jobs site caused me to speculate on the imminent arrival of GoogleTV - a cooperation between Google and hardware manufacturers that would bring the power of Google search to your TV viewing experience.

I was a little ahead of myself, but it turns out I had the right idea!

A regular TV that I can write code for? That sends me to my happy place.

Let me start of by saying that I'm not a part of the GoogleTV team. I don't have any insights into their plans beyond what they talked about during the day 2 I/O keynote.

The focus of that keynote was GoogleTV as a platform for the web - letting you consume web video, use apps, and surf websites on your TV. Obviously that will be cool, but web on TV isn't what excites me.

What is? Android. Being able to write apps is what got me interested in computers to begin with. I didn't own a smartphone until Android provided a free / open opportunity to write apps for mobiles. Now GoogleTV promises to deliver a platform me to to code for my TV.

GoogleTV is an opportunity to develop apps on one of the most widely used content consumption platforms on the planet.

Over the last few years we've seen apps transform mobile phones into platforms for innovation - dramatically changing the way people use their phones. GoogleTV could do the same thing for the television.

During the keynote we saw an app that added real-time translated subtitles. Seriously. How cool is that?

Imagine the opportunities that gives you as a developer, particularly when combined with Cloud to Device Messaging? Shazam listening to your movie (in the background) to compile a soundtrack. A click of the remote can add the ingredients from a cooking show straight to your Ocado basket. Pandora (or Spotify) can let your TV play a collaborative playlist.

That's not to mention the immersive experience for apps that already exist for Android. News, shopping, music, picture galleries, restaurant guides - and perhaps most importantly - games.

I particularly like the idea of using my GoogleTV in combination with my Android handset. 

In my experience, watching TV is communal. Rest assured, the first time someone interrupts my movie by loading Shazam or switches the playoffs into picture-in-picture to check the box score on the browser they will experience my displeasure by way of a shoe to the side of the head.

That's where C2DM and background services come in. Apps can run silently in the background, waiting for me to "pull" (or push) information from / to the TV to / from my Android device.

It's up to us to create innovative experiences that make people change the way they experience TV.

Just as great apps and mobile websites have driven a transition towards internet connected smartphones – a different brand of apps and TV websites can drive users towards internet connected smart TVs.

So I have two questions:

  1. What's more exciting for you: Web on TV or Android apps for TV?
  2. What apps (web or Android) are you going to create?


  1. just wow! im in the Philippines so that is again not going to be quick for us to have that!

  2. Android apps on TV are are very exciting, for game and entertainment, it will be VERY fun to use. I imagine games on your tv you can play with your android device !

  3. Games on the TV where the phone works as controller. Wii style!

    And where a phone currently could miss that "power leap for videogames", the TV would be really powerful.

  4. Whui-Mei5:52 pm BST

    Web on TV: that's 'old'. I already do that today by connecting a laptop that is WiFi-enabled and output to the TV. Only grip is it's painful to navigate the Windows desktop, even with a wireless keyboard and mouse combi.

    Android apps for TV: it will be cool as the layouts and user experience will (hopefully) be scaled for TV screen. This will also kill some of the DLNA use cases (Sony backed standard)! :) Not that it will be missed as it's too complicated to set up.

  5. Joost Widgets 2.0.

    Hopefully you guys will do better than we did!

  6. Web on TV is cool, but apps on TV are even cooler :) and in combination with a smartphone that can be used as sort of a will allow for some pretty interesting things to be developed. Looking forward to this new experience.