Mobile App Development

Planning Smart TV App Development: Top 3 Tips

11th March 2013

The way we consume content is changing for ever and maturing rapidly. The demand for smart tv app development services is increasing at a similar rate. This week we’re exploring the smart tv app development process through planning, design, development, testing and eventual deployment to your chosen marketplace. There are currently massive opportunities for innovative brands and businesses to join the smart tv app development revolution. Be it gaming, streaming music, movies or tv on demand, smart tv is helping to redefine the modern living room. Today we dissect the planning phase of the smart tv app development process and explore the key factors to consider.

Waracle began developing apps for smart tv in 2012 for customers in London and Glasgow. Moving into the world of smart tv app development has been a logical move for the company, having successfully built a business around web technology and mobile app development services. Consumer tastes have shifted from desktop towards mobile and now analysts predict smart tv will be the one platform to bind them all. So when planning your smart tv app development project, what are the key factors you should consider?

One of the key considerations you’ll make when developing an app for smart tv is the availability of platforms. The world of smart tv right now is very similar to the world of mobile apps pre-iPhone. The platforms are highly fragmented and this is a key factor when planning your smart tv app development project. What the smart tv app development market needs right now is standardisation. One platform to rule them all. However, at the dawn of any new frontier, despite the technical complexities, there are an abundance of smart tv app development opportunities for forward thinking brands and businesses.

So today we’ve spoken with our two of our resident technical gurus Mike Wharton and Chris Wyllie. The guys have been kind enough to spare a few minutes from their busy schedule to share some of their top tips for planning successful smart tv app development projects:

1. Design Your UI – Then Redesign It

Mike summarises this brilliantly. “Smart TV is the first platform of it’s kind, where the ‘U’ (user) is actually at least 6 feet away from the ‘I’ (interface). This makes simple things like navigation and text input very challenging”. There are modern approaches to alleviating these challenges, for instance LG has a wand it uses instead of the traditional remote control to deliver a more fluid user experience. When compared with the size of the average living room, Mike describes this process as like “trying to use a giant iPhone attached to the end of an 8 foot pole”. When developing apps for smart tv, focus heavily on the user interface and user experience. Don’t be afraid to iterate intensively based on your users needs until you design an approach that addresses these challenges.

2. Understand Your Technology

It’s interesting to note that traditional TV manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung and LG have been relatively aggressive in the mobile handset space. All trying to compete for Apple’s share of the market. Smart tv’s still use older browsers that make developing apps more challenging. Combined with clunky CPU capabilities, this stacks up to create a challenging experience for the aspiring smart tv app developer. However, there is a good news in store for smart tv app developers. In 2013 we expect to see up-to-date HTML5, Javascript and CSS specs and more powerful hardware to run these technologies. It’s worth noting that Flash is not really a consideration for smart tv app developers anymore. If you’re a business looking to port existing tech onto the smart tv platform, you’re going to require a company with exemplary web programming skills and the ability to do the difficult low-level technical stuff.

3. Manage Commercial & Technical Risk

Risk management and pre-production are imperative components of the smart tv app development process. If you’re looking to develop an app for smart tv, you need to work with a company who can help to mitigate technical and commercial risk during the pre-production phase of the project. If ‘64 bit floats’ are essential when developing your smart tv app, then make sure you choose the right platform before you start designing and developing like a crazy person. Think ahead always, identify risks early on in the project and work through each challenge before writing any code.

Waracle work with customers from all over the UK to develop apps for smart tv. We’re currently working in development partnerships with clients in London and Glasgow to develop a range of high performance apps for smart tv. If you’re a business or brand looking to unleash the potential of smart tv app development, contact us today for a free technical consultation and proposal.

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