Mobile App Development

Developing Apps For Smart TV: Top 3 Tips

13th March 2013

Yesterday we covered the fundamental principles and best practices for designing smart tv apps. We’ve now covered planning, design and today’s blog focuses on the development phase of the smart tv app development process. We’ve broken the process of smart tv app creation into 5 distinct phases, much like a mobile app development project. Those phases are planning, design, development, testing and deployment. Over the next two days we’ll focus on the latter stages of the smart tv app development process. We want to explore the subtleties of smart tv app development and the considerations you must make as a brand or business owner when seeking to enter the market.

We’ve covered the importance of planning in smart tv app development. We highlighted the importance of understanding the UI and the fact that with smart tv apps, the ‘user’ is at sofa distance from the ‘interface’. We’ve also highlighted some of the challenges presented by the constraints of the smart tv browser and CPU. Ensuring you have a robust pre-production plan is essential during the planning phase of smart tv app development. You can check out the planning blog for more details. We’ve looked at the smart tv app design process and elements such as understanding your SDK and the fragmentation of devices, considering factors such as ‘overscan’ and the importance of having excellent web technology skills combined with low-level technical ability. You can also check out the blog on smart tv app design. If you’re a business or brand looking to develop an app for smart tv, you need to understand the overall process is vastly different from developing apps for mobile platforms like iOS and Android. You also need to think about the constraints of using a remote control and the importance of testing on a real device early on in the smart tv app development process.

What skills are required to develop smart tv apps?

Having an understanding of HTML5 when developing apps for smart tv is crucial. However, in order to really execute smart tv app development projects correctly, the developer must have a wider understanding of software architecture. In order to make compelling and immersive apps and games for smart tv, it’s important to have a combined understanding of HTML5 and wider knowledge relating to software architecture development and design. If you’re looking to develop anything for smart tv with interactive functionality, you need to find a developer with considerable experience in the development of complex Java applications. Basic JQuery manipulation will not suffice when developing apps for smart tv. Traditional tv provides a ‘monologue relationship’ between the broadcaster and the viewer. This is not really a relationship, as it’s effectively a one -way conversation between the broadcaster and the audience. Using the web and smart tv functionality, brands and businesses can create a dialogue, i.e. a two way conversation, between the broadcaster and the audience using web enabled, connected and smart tv’s. As smart tv app developers we work with customers from all over the UK including London, Glasgow and Edinburgh to help create a high performance smart tv experience that represents a dialogue as opposed to a one-way conversation with the viewer.

Developing apps for smart tv, how does it differ to mobile app development?

When developing apps for mobile, you’re often dealing with a native, standardised environment. The world of smart tv is very different to the world of mobile app development. Smart tv seems like a logical extension of web technology and the increasingly mobile web, however the development environment differs greatly. There is no standardised framework to operate within. It’s like developing everything for smart tv apps starts from the bottom up, hence the requirement for low-level programming ability in addition to strong web technology skills. There’s much less IDE support and the toolkits aren’t nearly as mature when dealing with smart tv app development compared to mobile app development for say iPhone or Android. You’ll struggle to find thorough and comprehensive documentation on the system API’s. In fact, you’ll struggle to find any documentation at all! As many of the smart tv’s are being manufactured and marketed in the far east, often the documentation is not in English or represented as a rough translation. These are real world challenges associated with smart tv app development that make matters harder than developing apps for mobile platforms.

What is it like developing apps for smart tv?

Developing apps for smart tv is not easy. It’s a difficult environment to work in, but the opportunities immediately for businesses, tv production companies and brands are enormous. The overall development and testing process can be described as clunky. These processes are often heavily convoluted and the operating systems are slow. However, despite the negativity and complexities, 2013 is shaping up to be a great year for businesses looking to jump on the smart tv app development bandwagon. There’s fantastic support for multiple operating systems so if you’re on Linux, Mac or Windows you can develop for smart tv. We use *nix systems for developing smart tv apps as they tend to have more complete toolkits.

Here at Warcacle we develop high performance smart tv’s apps for businesses, brands and tv production companies seeking to enter this exciting and rapidly growing marketplace. We’ve worked with some of the biggest brands in the world like Virgin Atlantic, O2 and the NHS. We’re not just developers of high performance apps. Using our backend as a service (BaaS) platform, we actually develop the technology that powers other app development studios (see In fact, we support 2000 app developers, development studios and enterprise level customers throughout the world. From New York to Queensland and Manchester to Mumbai, we’re helping other developers all over the world to create rich and immersive, high performance apps for iPhone, Android, iPad, Facebook, web and smart tv. Contact us today for a friendly technical consultation. Tomorrow we’re delving further into the smart tv app development process with specific focus on the testing phase of the development process.

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