Over the weekend I received a Google TV from Google (thank you). The model I got is the Logitech Revue. First and foremost, the thing is awesome as hell. It’s basically like a computer, using your monitor as the display. Past efforts like web TV have failed because using a TV as a monitor doesn’t really work well. The pixels aren’t as tiny and the overall experience is well…different…and not as good.
In this time around, I think Google is taking the right approach when it comes with trying to get the web on the TV. When we first had our cellphones, we were given this text-only “web” that no one really liked or used. Ever since Apple released the iPhone, the mobile experience has turned from bad to in some cases, better than the actual website itself. Google is aiming to do the same thing like Apple in this case, but instead of a mobile experience, it’s trying to create a new TV experience.
They call it Leanback.
If you’re already curious about what leanback is, you can go ahead and view one of the leanback/tv-ified websites, like youtube. If you go to www.youtube.com/leanback, you will get the “Made for TV” version of youtube.
By visiting the youtube leanback URL, you can already begin to see what they are going for. Users don’t want to have to use a mouse, click tiny text links, etc… They want big buttons, easy to use nagivation (essentially up down left and right only), large and visible and text, and most importantly, Video.
Have you ever connected your computer to your TV and felt like you were doing something wrong? I don’t know or can’t describe what it is, but seeing a static website just chilling on the screen irks me. It’s as if theres some type of subconscious feeling that gets mad inside me because a TV is made for video, yet I’m putting on my OS X desktop on the screen. As pretty as my desktop backgrounds usually are, something about it just isn’t right.
Each device I feel has it’s own domain when it comes to the web. When Apple first introduced the “first real browser” on the original iPhone, that was great on paper. I was stoked I could finally view a real website until I actually used it. Don’t get me wrong, it was rad seeing the NY Times as it was on my computer but having to pinch and zoom and all that jazz quickly became a pain. I found myself scrolling left to right, then back left to right when trying to read paragraphs because the font size I had it would make the paragraph width exceed the width of the iPhone display, even in landscape mode. Everything was more of a novelty until full websites geared towards the mobile experience started popping up. They were websites for the mobile domain.
What is the mobile domain?
- Large, easy to use text.
- Up and down scrolling (sorry left and right).
- Large Buttons
- Clear Labeling (big play button for videos)
- Minimal Loading
- Display only the most important information
Once you start thinking about mobile websites and why you like them, you begin to realize that works and why they work. The same will go for TV. There will be a TV-domain when it comes to websites.
What will the TV Domain consist of? Only time will tell. But the current future looks promising.
The hardest part about being a developer and liking cool technology like this is the fact that we are the ones who will drive this movement. Google TV uses regular web technologies that we devs always use, just presented in a different fashion. It is basically like a bigger, more towned down version of the website. Even more toned down than the mobile experience. If there’s any way web on the tele will ever survive will be if developers like us start building for TV. I know I know, it seems now that we gotta make 3 websites for every 1 website (regular, mobile, now TV), but for me at least it’s fun. We have to always remember we do what we do cause we like it. I for one would like to see a full-featured web experience on the TV, it’s basically like the future as I saw it in the 90s. It’s up to us to make this future happen.
I know I would love to see all websites TV-ified. That’s the only way Google’s idea of web on the TV will work, and I agree with that idea. I’m pledging that I will work on a TV ready website to get in the mix (perhaps convert this blog to mobile). Stay tuned.