I never really thought too much about TV apps before mostly because the experiences always seemed unneeded. Why would I want to see that I got a new friend request while I’m watching a show? Why would I care to see my normal Twitter timeline while watching Always Sunny? The trend here is that the TV apps I have been familiar with only port the same UX you have on other devices and do not make them more relevant to watching TV. In hindsight, since this experience was so broken should be why one should think about it, but I digress.
Inspired by @dens’ post on Yahoo’s Internet Widgets for TV, my brain started ticking on how TV apps can be more about enhancing the TV experience rather than just porting your web experiences on your TV.
As mentioned before, seeing that you have a new friend request or that your sister just posted new pictures on Facebook doesn’t have much relevance to the show that you’re watching. In fact it really has nothing to do with the show you are watching. I think this thinking is not using Facebook’s data in the right way.
Have you ever scrolled through the 500 channels you have to only find nothing to watch? I’ve been there too, not fun. It’s really difficult to organize all that data of shows currently on TV. Facebook’s data could help with this.
I would like to see my TV shows and channels sorted by Liked by my friends. Currently shows are sorted by channel number, alphabetically, and type of channel, none of which makes intuitive sense for users. Users have to learn where channels are. Sorting shows and channels by what your friends have Liked would help us find content that is more relevant to us. Not only would it help us find that cool show we never watched but it would also give feedback on the interests of your friends and family in a new context. “I didn’t know Grandma likes Jersey Shore.”
Adding on to this, users should also have the option to Like a show or channel from their Facebook TV app. Not only would this accrue to your Facebook profile but this information should also help inform your TV to make recommendations on other shows you would like or which shows/series you would like to have recorded. Even further, our DVR or TV cloud folder should speak with our Likes and if we have a lot of space available to record a show, our TV should automatically record shows we Like and then ask us to keep/delete.
Seeing your Twitter stream on your TV is nice but doesn’t necessarily add to your TV show. If the people you follow happen to be tweeting about that show, then yes that’s really cool but unlikely to be most of those tweets. Sometimes this does happen with really big events but for everyday TV watching the tweets would not match your show. A relevant Twitter app should be able to pull together an ad-hoc conversation with people that are watching that show. This would require the Twitter app to find the #hashtags and keywords relevant to that show and only serve up those tweets. Adding to this the app could create a Twitter stream that only shows tweets from people who are tuned into that channel or have have checked into that show with applications like Miso. Definitely some hurdles to overcome to get here for this one, but not impossible.
I really liked @den’s idea on showing a notification of when a friend checks in somewhere close by and I think we could further foursquare’s usefulness for watching TV. foursquare can tell where you have been and probably with a good accuracy what town/city you live in. I’d like to see our TVs take this data and interpret it to recommend shows we would want to watch. I use to live in NYC and loved watching all shows that came up about NYC or even movies that took place there. I also have traveled to Vegas a few times and like seeing movies that took place there. Finding movies, shows, etc on NYC/Vegas is by the chance that I happen to be watching at that time or surfing the channel guide to find something good to record. I’d love to see recommendations of shows based on where I have been. Home Alone 2 is coming on … record it!! Oceans 11 is coming on … maybe don’t record but you get the idea
I would also like our foursquare checkins to be able to recommend other programming we may like. If foursquare sees that out of all restaurants I check in to, 70% of them are Italian, there’s a good chance that’s my favorite type of food. This information should inform our TVs to recommend the new Mario Batali cooking show that is coming on. Take this idea with sports. If I check into a hockey rink a lot, my TV should recommend the next NHL game coming on.
I know liking Italian food does not equal wanting to watch how its made or that liking to play hockey means you like watching hockey but those pieces of data that we are submitting should come back to enhance our everyday lives in all possible ways.