It started with smart devices, called by some the “Internet of Things,” where your thermostat and smoke alarm were controlled by an app. It spread to refrigerators and home alarm systems and countless of other small and large appliances that have their own app.
And now it’s time for the TV. With streaming devices like the Chromecast connected to your TV, your phone becomes the way control the stream with apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and others providing content. This means that those apps are no longer just ways to view content on your phone (since when is it fun to watch videos on a 5” screen?) but also as a conduit to your TV.
It means they have to be smarter.
When I say smarter, I mean:
1. Improve the search. On the web, Youtube gives users five ways to filter and sort results. The app gives users two with limited options. Filtering and sorting are more critical on a smaller screen because scrolling through multiple results is more tedious than on a larger laptop screen.
2. Improve the search result view. Today’s results are very graphic and on my phone two results (videos) on YouTube fill an entire screen. Scrolling takes a long time. How about letting users choose to view a shorter, compressed text list?
3. Improve casual viewing. Again, using YouTube as an example, it’s very easy to find something to watch with their drawer of what’s popular, channels and subscriptions. Netflix does a good job by allowing users to dig into categories and subcategories, hopefully finding something they want to see. Other services don’t do a great job with this by only presenting content users have subscribed to or saved via the web site.
4. Stop with the “this content is not available for viewing on your device.” If I can stream something from my computer (and my computer can connect to my TV) then I should be able to stream it from my app. Both the computer and the app are conduits, their viewing rights should be identical.
5. Support all streaming hardware. Got an app and a service based on streaming music and video? Support as many devices as you can.
Now, if I had an app that would let me power my TV on and off I’d be set.