What are Widget apps for TV screens?

11 September 2016   Jovica Kesić

What are Widget apps for TV screens? How social networks fit into that concept?

Nowadays, all consumer electronic devices are in fact computer devices, and main difference between them is their size or the technology used to develop software that should make them “SMART”. That’s why smart phones, smart cars or smart TVs are just computers whose main purpose is making calls, driving or watching video. Since today’s Smart TV solutions are still very expensive, and TV content and service providers want to customize their solutions in their own ways, we wanted to offer a solution that is between smart TV platforms like Android TV or Apple TV on one, and basic cable services available to customers on the other side. So, based on existing technologies and together with our partners, we develop, deliver and customize interactive TV platforms for Set Top Box devices in IPTV industry, which are often much cheaper and more customizable that Smart TV interfaces. Linux based kernel and ability to build interface like simple HTML5 web page using JavaScript enabled us to make widgets: small TV apps that offer variety of TV services like Program Guide, Video on Demand, Picture in picture, Radio channels reproduction, Parental control, Weather forecast etc. These are all existing apps and services offered by 90% of companies in the video business, so we really wanted to “think outside the box”. That’s why we developed apps for social networks that can run on these devices and bring Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to possibly every home with a connection, no matter whether families have expensive TV sets in their living rooms or not.

How did you manage to achieve that? Which obstacles you had to overcome?

First of all, Facebook, Twitter and Google offer public JavaScript API’s that can be used for integration of other web sites with their services. Though basically all three of them are JavaScript, they differ in many aspects like permissions, login models, security, async scripting or JSONP etc. So one of our biggest challenges was to overcome these differences and deliver a well-balanced experience to customers, where usability between them would not differ, and user experience would be as if they are using any other TV app (Video on Demand for example). Also, some very difficult processing jobs needed to be optimized such as HD video playback, because STB hardware is very limited in its performance. Last but not least, problems of respecting customers privacy, uniform login method that doesn’t require using remote control for entering usernames and passwords were challenges for themselves. Finally, when everything was done, we needed to get our apps approved, and that was especially difficult in Facebook’s case, because they don’t even have a model for approving these types of apps, and we are all familiar with their support for variety of platforms and technologies.

We can see that social widgets are now finished. So what other interesting things are coming to life in your workshop at the moment?

We are working hard to integrate our widgets in the best way possible in order to provide our customers with the same experience that they are having when they use their phones, for example. Since widgets are mostly independent, we are making them communicate between each other. Our concepts of smart menus, global content search, interactive help and one button sharing on Facebook and Twitter from anywhere on TV interface are already in late development phase and their purpose is to integrate complete platform and experience. We really hope that these new concepts, together with ones we already have in our portfolio, will give users true Smart TV experience on any screen - an affordable option for everyone that has an active domestic IPTV or cable subscription.

TeleGroup

Company Profile

TeleGroup Company was established in 1992 in London (UK) and today is one of the leading ICT Solution Providers on the West Balkans market with HQ in Belgrade (Serbia). Positioning itself as a reliable technology partner of many important companies, government institutions and organizations in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bulgaria, TeleGroup continues expansion on the markets of the Middle East and Africa.

The main company activity is software development as well as design and implementation of various ICT solutions focusing on video, multiscreen and digital media systems. Besides software development, our technology pillars are Cloud services, Business and Data Analytics and IT Security. Oriented towards business customers, TeleGroup offers a wide range of professional services.

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