BDConf: Jason Grigsby presents The Immobile Web

In The Immobile Web, Jason Grigsby (@grigs) discusses the next frontier: web-enabled televisions.

  • Nobody ever said they wanted a smart TV. They all say they want Netflix on their TV.
  • 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smartphones use their devices while watching TV.
  • Apple’s TV solution has the industry scared, and rightfully so. It wasn’t that long ago that device manufacturers were trash-talking a potential Apple mobile phone.
  • A big opportunity is an app store on TVs. “If we have the App Store on TVs, I think there will be browsers on the Apple TV.”
  • When Google bought Motorola, they bought the set top box division as well. This could mean a bright future for the web on TV.
  • Current TV browsers have surprisingly good HTML5 support and support many features. 2012 TV browsers are much faster than their 2011 counterparts.
  • The biggest problem with TV web browsing is input. Typing is clumsy and remotes are huge. Even Apple’s streamlined remote and Remote apps doesn’t solve the problem. D-pads, while clunky, can be more efficient than pointers for maneuvering. Speech input, gesture controls are on the horizon, but none currently work very well.
  • Web “pages” really fall apart when it comes to TV browsing
  • Great resources for creating web content for TV: Creating Web Content for TV and Design for TV
  • Many sites on TV browsers automatically play video, which differs from mobile’s handling of video.
  • Spacial CSS properties can help design better TV experiences, but currently aren’t supported well. Performance and caching are major challenges
  • Vertical scrolling doesn’t make as much sense on TVs. Left to right navigation feels more intuitive
  • Beware of differing screen resolutions. Standard aspect ratios are going away, but resolution differences can cause a lot of headaches. Read First, Understand Your Screen by James Pearce
  • TVs are yet another painful reminder that screen size != context. iMacs and HDTVs share the same screen dimensions but are vastly different.
  • @media types are mutually exclusive, so @media type="tv" would break any screen-specific styles.
  • 2012 LG TV does not support CSS media type, no way to detect via JS, and UA string contains no clues it is a TV. AAHH!
  • Testing is going to be a nightmare as it requires testing on real TVs. Bring your phone for tethering to TVs.
  • TV emulators: Opera TV Emulator and Google TV emulator
  • Many sites on TV browsers automatically play video, which differs from mobile’s handling of video.
  • We as web designers need to think about multiple screens and how they can potentially interact together.
  • It’s interesting to think about context in terms of posture: lean forward or lean back? One hand or two hand? etc
  • Smart TV experiences suck right now, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss them. “We cannot predict future behavior from experiences that (currently) suck”

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