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TV boxes being installed with antennas is a thing of the past. Now, it’s the era of Smart TVs. Back in 2019, smart TVs accounted for more than 200 million unit sales around the world. By 2025, report by Statista reveals that this yearly total could rise as high as 266 million units, as “smart” capabilities become a demanding feature of newer television products.
With features like voice commands, access to the internet, and availability of streaming applications, it has created a buzz and become as equipped as any other smart gadget including smartphones, laptops, and tablets. And the most crucial thing is that now users are in charge of the content they want to watch. One of the added advantages of Smart TV is that it is an engaging platform with grand screens, high-quality sound, and the comfort of watching every show/movie at a high screen resolution.
Considering this, one of the broad areas for software providers to focus on is building smart TV applications. Since the app development process takes a lot of considerations, it is important to be well aware of all the major aspects of smart TV app development. We have assembled a guide on smart TV app development that will help you to get a clear understanding of the topic. Let’s get started-
About Smart TV App Development
As the name suggests, smart TV app development is basically developing applications for smart TVs. These apps are mostly streaming applications that can be used on televisions, and connected over WiFi networks. Users can browse a marketplace of choice from their smart TV, then install the application. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, etc., are some of the most famous OTT apps featured in smart TVs. These applications offer a million pieces of content that are available either free or subscription-based. The users can also download any other application from a vast pool of options available in the marketplace. It can be designed for categories such as a video streaming app, an audio streaming app, or a game streaming app.
With the rapidly-growing advancement of internet, smart TV, mobile, and 5G infrastructure are set to fuel the streaming marketplace fueled with original content production. If you are a content distributor, this might be an interesting option for you to reach a maximum audience through your content. But not all smart TVs are equal. Same as the world of desktop operating systems, the multiple smart TV operating systems available having their strengths and weaknesses. While some offers extensive choice of apps, some have a great user interface, some are more compatible with third-party devices, and more.
Now, let’s move ahead to know which SmartTV OS might be a suitable option for you!
Overview of Popular Smart TV App Operating Systems
Multiple renowned names pop up when you search for smart TV types and their operating systems to develop the applications. They include:
- Google: Android TV
- Samsung: Tizen
- Amazon: Fire OS
- Roku TV
- LG Smart TV: webOS
- Apple TV: tvOS
Google, Android TV
Android TV is one of the most common smart TV OS, developed by Google. It supports a wide variety of TV features, like 4K UltraHD, HDR, and Dolby Atmos. Android TV comes with a user-friendly interface that is designed to be easily navigable with a remote control or game controller. Various amazing features that are inbuilt with the Android TV include Google assistance, Google play music, Google play store, Google Chromecast technology, Google maps, etc., and all are accessible along with other streaming applications such as Netflix, Spotify, Amazon prime, Hulu, etc.
Samsung TV, Tizen
Tizen is an open-sourced TV operating system based on Linux used for Samsung smart TV apps. It has easy-to-use UIs, which makes it one of the widely used OS among the customer base. Personalization is another key feature that you can embed while developing TV apps with Tizen OS. For developers, Tizen OS provides app development tools based on jQuery and jQuery Mobile libraries.
Amazon, Fire OS
The Fire OS operating system operates Amazon Fire TV and is referred to as the prototype of Android. This means every app compatible with Android is also compatible with Amazon Fire products too. Thus, as a developer, you don’t have to worry about changing the Android code to publish the app on the platform of Amazon. Fire TV also gives you access to Amazon Alexa and it can control your smart home, update you on the news and weather, and engage with other apps. This operating system also has Fire Tablet SDK with an extensive array of development tools to choose from and play around with.
Roku TV OS
Roku TV is a variation of Roku OS which is installed on smart TVs. Roku TV has emerged to be one of the preferable smart TV platforms, with the automatic updates of software and a simplified home screen. With a wide variety of streaming devices, you can stream numerous OTT media content through the roku app development. You can use HDMI cables to connect your smart TV to Roku devices.
LG Smart TV, WebOS
LG Smart TV is run by a Linux-based operating software known as webOS and supports C++, C, and HTML5. They provide high-resolution visuals with touchscreen features on the TV. The advanced feature like ‘Smart Switching’ allow users to switch between apps without any hassle. Moreover, WebOS integrates LG’s ThinQ voice assistant for direct control of the TV and any compatible LG ThinQ appliances.
Apple TV, tvOS
The tvOS operating system offers high 4k resolution screenings, Dolby Vision, and a fantastic sound experience through Dolby Atmos technology. Like the App store found in iOS gadgets, Apple TV has its in-built Apple store, offering thousands of applications for tvOS to choose from. The app developers can also build interactive gaming experiences on a large TV screen using a game controller, multi-user, and Picture in Picture functionality.
Major Factors to Consider Before Starting with a Smart TV App
Understanding the Market
First of all, you need to analyze the TV platform options available in the market. Learn about their target audience, popularity rates, current trends within platforms, etc. Do proper research on the market to get the app idea you want to develop. Further, see your competition and the reception rates of similar applications through each platform.
Size of Screen
The size of the screen is a critical factor while developing a TV app. It affects text readability, colors, resizing, horizontal alignment, and other factors that reflect how well you can predict and adapt to different screen sizes. It is recommended to ensure that the app can be resized if used on a small screen as well. One should always use proper padding between the core visual elements;
Remote Control & Navigation
A big difference between navigating a regular app and a smart TV app is the variety of tools that users can navigate their smart TVs with. These tools include common remote controls, digital assistance, smartphones, and gamepads. The selection of navigation tools usually depends on the smart TV platform and so you should consider it when designing the app for offering a seamless experience.
Smart Recommendation Features
The smart recommendations in the smart TV apps will assist in tracking browsing activities, search histories, and user preferences that aid in suggesting the appropriate content for viewers. The TV apps’ intelligent recommendations contribute to a better user experience and more time spent on the platform. Users will then receive content for OTT platforms that focus on entertainment, for example, based on their browsing patterns and preferences.
Testing on Real Devices
It is always beneficial to test smart TV apps on real smart TVs. This will help you to ensure the app functions as intended. Otherwise, users may encounter unexpected bugs that will further have an impact on the user experience. Also, if you don’t have an opportunity to test all features on a real device, it is always preferred to test features that are on the highest priority, such as video streaming, and custom navigation.
Streaming content on Smart TVs is a new form of entertainment that strives for a user-friendly and convenient experience. It is now even considered a robust platform for developing a wide range of digital products, from Smart TV streaming apps to learning programs.
If you are considering entering the market and developing apps for Smart TVs, let us know. Book a free consultation with our specialist to discuss your idea of a smart TV app. You can also write to us at email@example.com