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A new report has surfaced regarding the upcoming iOS 9 ‘Home’ app. Just as Apple used the HealthKit framework to create the Health app as a highlight in iOS 8, HomeKit will rely partly on this new Home app to securely manage a connected home full of accessories and data.
Sources claim that Apple is planning to officially unveil the new Home app alongside iOS 9 at WWDC early next month. The primary functionality includes:
- Utilizing the new Apple TV as a hub to connect all of the HomeKit devices
- Wirelessly discovering and setting up compatible HomeKit devices
- Creating a virtual map of rooms in the home to easily organize and connect devices supporting HomeKit.
- Offering a series of screens to help users find new HomeKit devices and apps.
As an increasing number of devices and home appliances become connected to form the Internet of Things, brands should be aware of the opportunities these emerging media platforms could provide. We are already seeing cable companies enter the smart home space, and as the smart home market starts to take off, we expect to see some more players getting in on the action.
Vevo, the leader in music videos, has inked a deal to bring their service to Apple TV and Samsung Smart TVs. The deal will deliver on-demand content to the two OTT platforms while expanding Vevo’s presence beyond YouTube. Over-The-Top video has plenty of functionality but lacks the breadth of content required to push it into the mainstream, so we’ll see if they can sign anymore major content partners down the road.
If you take a look at some of the details on Xbox One, you’ll notice that a lot of it revolves around content, not gaming. From instantly toggling between programs like IE to Skype to incorporating interactive elements overlayed on live TV, Xbox is still positioning themselves at the center of home entertainment. What’s more is that Microsoft will even be producing their own TV content, beginning with Speilberg’s Halo series in a trend of content providers–think Netflix, Hulu, YouTube–becoming content creators. And yet, despite this programming push, the estimated $400 price tag will be hard to justify for someone not so into gaming.
CW Network has announced that it will be delivering a dedicated app to the Apple TV ecosystem, allowing users to access their content directly through the set-top box. This marks a big shift in terms of traditional TV programming entering the connected TV space. The enhanced interactivity on these platforms creates plenty of opportunities to innovate, without the need for second screen programs. Content will be available a day after the TV broadcast and will be ad-supported.
The Advanced TV space can be difficult to navigate but a new report from Diffusion Group casts some new light on the ecosystem. According to the report, Smart TVs with embedded app platforms make up 25% of all US broadband households compared to just 14% with streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV. Marketers looking to engage these early adopters should consider Smart TV platforms like Samsung’s Smarthub for the largest reach.
One of the major downsides to advanced TV platforms has been the lack of live programming, specifically around sports games and other tentpole events like the Oscars. The real-time nature of these programs is paramount and is often not available from players like Roku or Xbox. Yet, recent news indicates that this may no longer be the case.
HBO Go has announced that they will offer live sports streaming by the year end. HBO Go has already been a colossal success and this new feature would likely make it an even more attractive offer. Currently, live streaming has been offered by cable networks for large events like NBC Olympic coverage, but HBO and others providers are expanding this online model to more regular programming as well.
YouTube continues to expand their distribution, now coming to Freesat satellite TV customers in the UK. The joint venture between BBC and ITV brings free-to-air TV for over 60 channels and now includes an interactive YouTube app built on HTML 5. While the Freesat’s 1.7 million homes will not extend YouTube’s reach significantly, it’s a great example of digital content travelling across screens. Keep an eye on YouTube and Netflix as they continue to disrupt the living room.
Digital music service, Deezer has inked a deal with Samsung, LG, and Toshiba to incorporate their streaming app into their Smart TVs. While these ecosystems are more or less walled gardens, it’s good to see some new entrants to the space. The majority of Smart TV owners are accessing Over the Top services but few are exploring non-video apps like Facebook so expect Deezer’s supposed 600 million reach to be drastically smaller. However, if the TV does becomes the hub for all media in the future, then that number may actually be attainable.
Netflix and YouTube are taking a crack at an open second screen protocol called DIAL. DIAL hopes to power second screen experiences for connected TVs, content services and app makers. Unlike Apple’s wildly successful Airplay, DIAL will not simply mirror your mobile display, but instead can detect and launch applications on your TV. From there, the specific use cases are up to the app makers and device manufactures. Expect a ton of new features coming to connected devices from big players like Sony and Samsung in the future.
Direct TV’s Hopper DVR is a disruptive force in the living room. For starters, it allows simultaneous recording of six channels, mobile remote integration and an app ecosystem. But most disruptive of all is its ability to skip primetime commercials, which has caused CNET to withdraw its Best In Show CES honor awarded to the device following litigation from parent company, CBS. If that’s not proof enough that the Hopper is a gamechanger, I don’t know what is.