Friday, May 21, 2010

Building on Google TV: TV meets Webpad. Webpad meets TV.

As the Google blog says, "these features are just a fraction of what Google TV can do."

One hint, reported in the Wall Street Journal, is that "Linkages between Android phones and Google TV bring some unusual benefits. A Google engineer, for example, demonstrated how a person could use voice recognition in his cellphone to search for a TV program by speaking its name.

I see this as an opening for the kind of rich "Coactive TV" (CoTV) applications that coordinate TV viewing with enhancements and controls on a second screen device, such as an Android phone or tablet or notepad. While putting the Web onto the TV is desirable for some use cases, the real opportunity for convergence is to coordinate a Web device with a TV device. This can provide content and Social Web services on a Web device that knows what you are watching (such as to tweet about a program), and let the Web device control what you are watching) such as to swing a video from your tablet or phone to your TV.

Hopefully Google is well aware of this potential. I spoke to some senior people about these ideas some time ago (and as noted in a prior post, there is some interesting Google research, including a paper by some guy named "Brin, S"). But in any case, independent developers should be able to provide this (as long as the app police don't prevent them).

As noted in my previous post, iPad is beginning to show what a Webpad can do as a second screen. Google TV seems another big step in the right direction.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Comcast, Time Warner on iPad -- an ideal device for Coactive TV

The 5/12 announcement of Comcast's Xfinity iPad app, and comments by Time Warner that all cable operators are going to have similar offerings, looks like a big step toward a platform for Coactive TV on a mainstream basis. Two videos show the current steps.

First, this looks like a major step to position iPad (and presumably future tablets from other sources) as a well-integrated second screen for use with TV viewing. It will offer a rich remote control usable on the sofa for enhanced control of the big-screen TV, with full program guide and DVR control functions having an excellent UI, including its handy soft keyboard.

Second, it looks like a first step toward a simple coactive Social Web app. The Comcast demo shows how it lets you send an invitation to a friend, so he can tune in to the program you are watching with just a single click (if he has equivalent service).

iPad looks like a poster child for the kind of Webpad that would be an ideal second screen for Web services related to what you are watching on TV. With this device, and the level of TV context awareness in Comcast's demo, it would be very easy for the cable operators to add a full suite of coactive services. This could enable the iPad to show arbitrary Web content related to what you are watching on your TV.

Some related news that is also encouraging in using such mainstream devices as TV adjuncts is from Crestron. This leading high-end whole house entertainment control company is embracing iPad as an alternative to its very expensive custom tablet remote controls.