Tag Archives: canvas

Google tv redefining TV? Not quite…

I totally missed Google TV and Google IO while I was in Hospital. It was one of the first things I asked for when I woke up, sad but true.

So my manager gave me a cut out about the Google IO event, which seemed to focus on Google TV and the next Android (still exploring). So generally if I was boxee I would be alarmed but not too concerned. They could really take advantage of the standards google’s using to power the remote for example. But lets not forget Google have a massive influence and moving into there area has to be worrysome. Now lets get this all in perspective.

This isn’t about Apple vs Google, its about the open internet vs the closed world of the TV. TV has been tightly controlled for years by the TV producers, etc. Now that wall is falling down.

Other people have written about the hardware and software so I won’t do that, instead I’ll look at the concept.

For a while now the BBC and its content producer partners have been working on spec for the next generation of Television viewing aka Project Canvas. When I first saw this I was surprised because it really lacked the internet and openness. I walked away thinking this is what a broadcast company would put out thinking about the notion of convergence of the web and tv. However this really did my head in because all the clever internet ideas of what Canvas could have been have been picked up Google and the google TV. Which is a shame for the BBC.

However, the weird thing is that although Canvas is what a broadcast company would do. GoogleTV is what a internet company would do if they wanted to converge the TV with the internet. However just thinking about the UK market for now, freeview has a major following and I can’t really see Google TV make much of a dent in that right now. I might be wrong but Google TV is very much a American thing and google haven’t really thought about the other markets as of yet.

So back to Google TV, there partners include Intel, logitech, Sony, bestbuy, dish network, Adobe, plus others. Note none of these are actually Content creaters/producers except of course Sony. The Sony side there talking to seem to be the engineering side rather than the content producing side. There was no deals or even talk about the content side of Sony. There will be a massive push in the states from Best Buy but details about the rest of the world is almost non exist.

Generally GoogleTV is once again interesting (and comes up open trumps here) because it can browse any website instead of the Canvas/XBMC/AppleTV model which is apps or scripts which allow you to access certain sites. There is a real opportunity to make TV aware sites like Youtube TV which was also announced at Google IO 2010. I’m actually very surprised no one has yet wrote a XBMC or Boxee script to take advantage of the new Youtube TV format. Generally this means your site can be viewed by millions and millions of people on there TV while they watch something else. But I wonder with no content producers on board will the likes of Hulu block GoogleTV or provide a crippled experience? In a ideal world I guess Google would suggest that everyone should use YouTube to deliver there content to the world, like channel 4 now do. And thats the killer thing, for everyone who uses youtube and other video sharing sites to distribute there media. Google are tackling the TV problem from both directions. Hardware, software and altering the code of the web.

Its opens the door to all the user generated media out there. TV producers must be somewhat rocking in there seats with a little bit of fear. Google have opened the door to the open web and have the might to keep it open. The problem is the price.

No one knows the price yet but the hardware is going to cost at least £50 or $50 which means its not going to get the penetration it requires. Its mainly going to be a glorified Tivo unless they can get the price down. Those who can afford the box have already got something like a Apple TV, XBMC or Boxee running. It won’t take much for them to adopt the open standards and emulate exactly what a google tv box does.

Theres also a problem when it comes to the social aspect of (or identity of the people watching) TV. Google TV already picks up the bluetooth of the phones of the people watching the TV (in the same room) but is that what you really want? Interestingly in the Google TV primer theres some hints of the problem.

Here are a few tips for those who haven’t designed for TV before. In a television environment, you must:

  • Understand that content is king.
  • Get users to the content as quickly and easily as possible.
  • Don’t interrupt when users are watching TV. Instead, make the viewing experience better.
  • Respect the living room context.
  • Think about what users will and won’t want to do when viewing TV with their family and friends.
  • Remember that TV is social.
  • Consider how groups might use your website or application.

Offer ways for individuals to use your site or apps in social settings.

  • Learn the pros and cons of TV screens and audio.
  • TV screens are wider and colors look different.
  • Text must be readable from a distance.
  • Sound is now a viable interface element.
  • Make it easy.
  • Offer simple choices and make actions obvious and easy to select.
  • Provide navigation that is simple enough for a remote control.

Thats only the start of the problem. Its great what Google has done but I can’t imagine what developed applications made for a phone will be like on a TV. Its goes back a little bit to what I said about the Apple TV.

The Living room is a funny place filled with different people and different exceptions. Google really needs to reach out to the content creation community and listen to what they say. Right now Google TV looks like something a Internet company who don’t fully get the dynamics of the TV/living room would build. Fantastic they have taken the standards route and pushed openness as far as it can go into the living room but now its time to consider the content and the experience. Or at least get some partners who do understand the content and experience. If they don’t I can see the Hulu problem growing and it may cause even more paywalls like the current newspaper situation.

Apple’s threat on screen based home entertainment

Everyone is talking about the ipad but isn’t it time the Apple TV was due an upgrade? Rather than leave the apple tv out to dry, I’m certain Apple will want to tie it into there already closed ecosystem (I mean rainforrest). That will mean developer written applications for your Television, something which other platforms like Boxee have been use to for some time.

I personally can’t see the attraction of writing applications for your TV but I’m sure with decent content some will be on to a winner. Rather than the widget like systems being thrown around now, content producers could build content and systems which work hand in hand. So a real simple example would be a Diggnation or Diggreel would give you the real time digg amounts with the option to further digg a story or add a comment.

Another reason why I think Apple will go down this route is because this will be Apple’s entry into the home console market. They have already announced there going to be creating there own gaming network (like Xbox Live or XLink Kai) so why not extend that out to your TV too? So not only will have your music, videos and books all within the Apple Universe but also your game playing too. Is there going to be anything which Apple won’t hold in their Rainforrest?

To be fair if Apple do launch a new AppleTV by the 3rd quarter, they may catch Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo napping. But the real forward thinking is being done by the likes of Boxee who have adopted the open wide model with a revenue model. If Boxee can get on to other platforms and spread quickly, who knows what might happen. I got to hope the most open will finally attract the talented developers, everything else is in place.

So where does this leave things like GoogleTV, Android and Canvas? Who knows…

Microsoft Joins W3C’s Scalable Vector Graphics Effort

Brendan sent me this one last week, shocking news that Microsoft are joining the SVG working group. To be honest I never thought it would ever happen but hell has somewhat frozen over.

“Microsoft is joining the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Scalable Vector Graphics Working Group. The company announced its aim of improving future versions of the W3C’s scalable vector graphics (SVG) recommendation, currently at version 1.1. The nonprofit W3C’s SVG recommendation is a document that describes two-dimensional graphics processing using XML. The technology can be used for Web graphics, animation and user interfaces…

Lately, Microsoft has been leaning more toward standards compliance with its browser, especially with IE 8, which still lacks native SVG support. In particular, Microsoft contributed test cases to the W3C’s working group on cascading style sheets as it developed IE 8. In a statement, Microsoft suggested it plans to do more such work with the W3C: ‘Making the Web easier for developers continues to be important and we will continue to contribute to development of HTML5, along with other popular Web standards; and we bring a unique value—the rigor of modern software engineering to the process.

I am getting a little worried about SVG, as a lot of people are pushing not just Flash but VML and Canvas in front of SVG. Its incredible how little people know about SVG and vector graphics full stop.