SMART TV APP Development: Best Practices and IDEAS for 2023
Smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular, and as a result, there is a growing demand for smart TV apps. As per the survey conducted by Statista, the sales of Smart TV sets is likely to rise to more than 266 million by the end of 2026. Thus, developing a smart TV app allows businesses and organizations to reach a wider audience and provide additional features and functionality to their customers. Additionally, by considering best practices in smart TV app development, such as user experience design and accessibility, businesses can ensure that their apps are high quality and user-friendly, which can help to increase customer satisfaction and engagement.
Before going into the prime focus of the blog, which is about the correct practices and ideas for developing Smart TV apps in 2023, I will like to highlight the main steps to building a Smart TV app.
Steps to building a Smart TV app
- Choose a platform: Smart TVs use different operating systems, such as Tizen, WebOS, Android TV, tvOS, and others. You need to make sure to select a platform that is compatible with your app idea.
- Design the user interface: Create a user interface that is easy to navigate and optimized for a TV screen.
- Develop the app: Use the tools and SDK provided by the chosen platform to develop the app.
- Test the app: Test the app on the target device and make sure it works as intended.
- Publish the app: Once the app is complete, submit it to the app store for the chosen platform for review and make it available for download.
Note that the steps mentioned for the Smart TV app development process may vary depending on the platform you choose. However, these are the fundamental steps that are applicable to every smart TV platform in general.
Highlighting the Best practices
Program architecture in a smart TV app is the overall structure and organization of the source code that builds up the TV app. This includes the design patterns and programming languages used, as well as the way the different components of the app interact with each other.
A well-designed program architecture can make the app more efficient, easier to maintain, and easier to adapt to changes. To achieve this criterion, you need to consider the following sections.
- Dividing the codebase into distinct modules, each with a specific purpose, to make it easier to comprehend and maintain.
- Using modular design to make it easy to add, remove, or update features without affecting the rest of the codebase.
- Optimizing the code for a smooth and responsive user experience.
- Designing the app in a manner to handle a large number of users' data.
Choice of Smart TV SDKs based on the platform
While developing a Smart TV app, you have to ensure that the app is updated with the latest SDK versions and security patches. This will ensure that the app stays compatible with the latest TV models and that it continues to function correctly.
Skillsets for the developers
Note that we are discussing TV app development and not mobile app development. So, this is the most important criterion that you have to keep in mind. Even though you implement the same programming and web technologies-based knowledge for a mobile app and TV app development, you have to consider that you are building apps for a completely different platform (with a different target audience, different screen size, distinct control unit, and other features).
So, the developer’s skillsets should aim towards attaining the following parameters.
- Developing apps for connected devices and IoT by using device-specific hardware and software capabilities.
- UI and UX design for television screens. Ability to design visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces that are optimized for a television viewing experience. Common features of a smart TV app UI include a main menu, a guide or channel list, and options for adjusting settings and preferences. The UI may also include a search function, recommendations, and the ability to access streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.
- Developing apps using the latest agile development methodologies.
- Incorporating knowledge of video streaming protocols and technologies. Ensuring high-quality video streaming over a network. Some of the popular video streaming protocols are HTTP Live Streaming, Real-Time Messaging Protocol, Real-Time Streaming Protocol, Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP, HTTP Dynamic Streaming, and Microsoft Smooth Streaming. On the other hand, well-known video streaming technologies include WebRTC, DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), Chromecast, Airplay, and others.
Consideration of the Smart TV screen
Note that the viewing experience is different on different devices. This goes without saying that you have to develop the app based on the screen you want to deliver your content. So, you need to keep the large screen of the smart TV sets in mind.
This means you have to design larger text and buttons, along with organizing the layout to be easily navigable with remote control. Additionally, smart TV apps often use features such as voice control and gesture recognition, adding complexity to the development process. It is also important to consider the aspect of these apps, for example, in video streaming apps the video quality, resolution, and buffer time should be optimized for the large screen.
You need to maintain the clarity and consistency of the texts, icons, and graphics throughout the app interface. On this note, you have to focus on the concept of Angular resolution, particularly for a smart TV app.
Angular Resolution is the extent of detail of the app’s UI and graphics. It is closely related to the screen resolution of the TV. A higher angular resolution in a smart TV app will result in a more visually appealing and easier-to-use interface, whereas a lower resolution results in a less-detailed display or low clarity. Smart TV apps can be developed to support different screen resolutions, the resolution should be chosen based on the target smart TVs to provide the best user experience.
Remote control compatibility and navigation
The app should be optimized with remote control. Also, the designing of the navigation control should be done to ensure that the user doesn't get confused while operating their TV apps using the remote control unit.
Let’s list out some criteria that you need to keep in mind while designing the remote control (touch input or voice input).
- Complicated navigation should be avoided.
- A user-friendly interface.
- Integrating with voice control systems, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, to allow users to control the app using voice commands.
- Compatibility with users’ smartphones so that they can use tier mobile devices to operate their TV app.
- The buttons and icons should match the options available in the navigation panel of the app.
- The app should be fast and responsive, with minimal delay between user input and the TV's response.
Build an Adaptive layout and prioritise the focus
While building an Adaptive layout for your Smart TV app, you have to ensure automatic resizing and repositioning of elements, dynamic font, and icon scaling, along with the ability to switch between different layouts for different screen orientations.
The focus of a smart TV app should be designed to be intuitive. Navigation should be simple and easy to understand, with clear labels and icons. The app content should also be visually appealing and easy to read, with a consistent design and layout. Functionality should be the main priority, with a focus on providing users with the features and content they are looking for. Additionally, the app should be optimized for the TV screen, with large buttons and text that is easy to read from a distance. Overall, the focus of a smart TV app should be on providing a seamless experience for the user.
Accessibility for a wider audience
Accessibility in smart TV apps is associated with the design of the app to ensure that it can be easily used by people with disabilities. It includes features like voice control, closed captioning, and high-contrast text for users with visual impairments. Also keyboard navigation and larger touch targets for viewers with motor impairments. It is important for app developers to consider accessibility from the start of the design process and also to test their apps with users with disabilities making sure that the app is truly accessible to all.
The app should be thoroughly tested on different smart TV models and platforms to ensure compatibility.
This is another important section. So, let’s discuss it in detail.
- Avoid testing the app on a Virtual Device or emulator. It is recommended to test the applications on the actual TV models for which you are unending to develop the app. However, if you are testing the app on an emulator, you may have issues checking the network, supporting the video player, and navigating the app through the keyboard.
- Note that the guidelines for testing smart TV apps for the different platforms are distinct. So, you, as a tester or developer should go thoroughly through the protocols.
- It may happen that users will try to run their app on internet connectivity. In that case, the TV apps do not run expectedly. In this case, developers should ensure that the apps run even on low connectivity. If not, they provide proper feedback or alert messages to the users.
- The developers should consider the display resolution of the Smart TV app. A lot of improvement has been made in terms of the TV model’s resolution. So, they should test their app on TV screens with resolution 720p, Ultra HD, 8K, and 4K.
- They should consider the quality of audio and video streaming services while testing the app. Ensure that video and audio are in sync and consistent in the quality of video after it reconnects.
User feedback and analytics
The app should include features for collecting user feedback and analytics to improve the app over time. This feedback can come in the form of reviews, ratings, comments, and surveys. However, analytics can be used to track metrics such as the number of users, usage patterns, and performance issues.
Since you are into developing Smart TV apps, you may want to stand out from the competition. Right? Let’s discuss it more.
To get a competitive edge on Smart TV app development
- The app should offer a wide range of high-quality content that is relevant and up-to-date. This could include movies, TV shows, live sports, and news.
- It should allow users to personalize their viewing experience by creating custom playlists, favorite channels, and alerts for new content.
- It should support multiple languages to cater to a diverse audience.
- It should easily integrate with other devices such as smart home devices and gaming consoles to provide a seamless viewing experience.
- It should be regularly updated to fix bugs and improve functionality.
Before wrapping up, let's get a brief on the possible ideas for Smart TV app development.
Popular IDEAS for Smart TV app development
- Streaming services: An app that allows users to stream their favorite movies and TV shows on their smart TV. This app includes features such as personalized recommendations, a search function, and the ability to create a watchlist.
- Live TV and PVR: Apps that let users watch live TV and record shows. This app can include features like a program guide, the ability to set reminders for upcoming shows, and the ability to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live TV.
- Social media: Apps that let viewers access their social media accounts on their smart TV. This app has functionalities such as the ability to post updates, and view updates, photos, and videos.
- Gaming: Develop an app that allows users to play games on their smart TV. This app can include features such as multiplayer gaming, in-app purchases, and the ability to connect to other players via social media.
- News and weather: Apps that provide users with news and weather updates on their smart TV. This app includes features like personalized news feeds, the ability to set alerts for breaking news, and the ability to view weather forecasts and radar maps.
To wrap up
While developing apps for different Smart TV platforms, the main focus should be on the UI, UX, Navigation Control, the large screen of Smart TV sets, and Testing applications on different real TV devices with different resolutions. As users are focused on getting a lean-back viewing experience on their couch, you need to keep your target audience in mind. This will enable you to bring out the best product for your consumers.
A science graduate who has a keen interest to lean about new technologies and research area. With an experience in the field of data analytics and content writing, she aims to share her knowledge among passionate tech readers.