Thanks to the popularity of Apple’s App Store and the now-ubiquitous nature of apps on smartphones and tablet PCs, apps are weaving their way into every aspect of modern life. From doing your grocery shopping to finding a parking spot, there are apps to help you out with almost everything.
Though many manufacturers have attempted to put apps into their HD and 3D TVs, most have been met with, at best, middling success. Between clunky interfaces and a dearth of content, they feel tacked on additions to otherwise strong hardware.
Samsung however have taken the whole area very seriously, refreshing their connected TV line in 2010 with the Smart TV platform. Mixing together social networks, video on demand content, games, news and even video calling through a Skype app, its use of an app store and familiar grid-like app icon layout made it far easier to navigate than most rival offerings.
“Due to the popularity of smartphones and tablets, we know people are comfortable with smart devices. Smart TV is the next step in the evolution of smart devices and Samsung Smart TVs do everything that other smart devices do and more,” said Guy Kinnell Samsung’s UK Marketing Director for TV.
“The Samsung Smart TV hub is one of the most user friendly interfaces on the market and viewers are quickly mastering how to make the most of their Smart TV. For instance, Apps such as LOVEFiLM, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are all common place in people’s lives and are also all available on Samsung Smart TVs”.
Where Samsung look most likely succeed where other rival’s connected TV platforms have failed however is in the attention to synergy between the hardware of Smart TVs, Samsung’s wider product catalogue and the app software. For instance, text entry in the past for TV apps has been a real chore using traditional remote controls, but the company’s Touch Remote with (you guessed it) touchscreen controls makes it far easier to send Tweets or Facebook updates from the sofa. The “AllShare” feature, allowing you to control elements of the Smart TV platform with a Samsung mobile again makes navigation far more intuitive.
Most notably however is the introduction of the new free-to-view 3D Video On Demand app, the first of its kind on any 3D TV from any manufacturer. One of the biggest points slowing the growth of 3D TV sales is the relative lack of 3D video content to go with them, especially for free. With Samsung’s 3D Smart TV range you now have access to 3D content straight out of the box, free of charge, with many of the offerings previously having been IMAX 3D cinema exclusives.
“The demand for 3D is growing rapidly, but only a handful of channels are providing content. Samsung has led the 3D LED TV market since it launched last year, and the roll-out of our 3D video-on-demand service demonstrates our commitment to accelerating its growth,” said Andy Griffiths Samsung’s UK Vice President for Consumer Electronics.
“We believe that in the near future every viewer will have access to 3D content in the comfort of their own living room through a Smart TV. We will therefore continue to develop our Smart TV offering in order to provide consumers with the best viewing experience possible.”
So will we ever see apps on TVs as commonly used as those now seen on mobile platforms?
“Connected TV apps I think will grow incredibly but will be a different experience entirely to mobile apps; the TV doesn’t move, it is a shared experience and you don’t want to be inputting too much text on your TV as the handset makes this difficult,” said Craig Chuter Head of Business Development at app developers Capablue, winners of the Samsung App Developer Challenge.
“I think the TV apps will become an integral part of our TV viewing experience especially for TV catch-up and film services. “
Samsung’s relationship with app developers, as highlighted by their partnership with Capablue, also bodes well for the future. Compared to other connected TV platforms, you get the sense that Samsung are in for the long haul with the Smart TV’s, with a constantly updated stream of apps from a variety of developers and content that looks set to be as well served and relevant in five years time as it is now.
“Samsung will be continually building on the current Samsung Apps store to ensure viewers have the widest range of content to enjoy on their TV” said Kinnell.
“Gaming, 3D videos and social networking; whether they still have a 2011 model in two years or five years time, these Apps will still provide as an important viewer experience as ever before.”