In my last post I discussed the benefits of second screen devices. I also touched on how this technology can supplement the overall experience for the viewer. But, when it comes to navigating content on a Smart TV, a second screen device is not practical. Instead a new and intuitive UI is required, built into the TV itself.
Despite the ease of use offered by second screen devices, delivered through an intuitive and well-designed user interface, this does not translate when using a smartphone or tablet to interact with a Smart TV. Second screen devices require a ‘heads down’ approach to operate, as the navigational buttons are not physical. Motion control is also impractical as the device (particularly in the case of a 10” tablet) is often too large to achieve this comfortably.
Using a second screen device to navigate a Smart TV is also unnecessarily time consuming, as the user will need to open the app (and actually have the device to hand) before interaction can take place. Then there’s the issue of battery life. It goes without saying that a remote control is far more suited to navigating a Smart TV, but first the user interface needs to be addressed.
TV navigation is clearly not the primary purpose of a second screen device. They are far better placed to supplement the user’s interaction with Smart TV services, existing in tandem rather than in competition. As I explained in the first part of this blog series, second screen devices are ideal for certain multiplayer gaming and social TV – used alongside Smart TV.
Privacy is another reason for these two technologies to exist side-by-side. Users may not want their personal Facebook or Twitter feeds displayed on a large TV screen for all to see. Evidently a second screen device is far better suited to accessing personal information than a communal television. But, when it comes to alternative social media channels (e.g. YouTube) that users currently engage with through their PCs or other internet-enabled devices, Smart TV becomes a valid platform.
It does not matter if these competing technologies deliver a similar service to the end user. Second screen devices and Smart TVs will need to coexist, as they both offer very different benefits. Not only because second screen devices are not suited to TV navigation, but also due to the fact that they’re not designed to be shared. Whereas a second screen device is intended for individual use, Smart TV has the potential to provide a similar connected experience for more than one person. The television is a fundamental part of the living room, and the larger screen provides a central hub around which families can gather.
Smart TVs are already changing the way consumers interact with online content. Adoption rates are growing and more and more users are connecting their TVs to the internet. A recent study undertaken by Rovi supports this, suggesting that internet-enabled TVs are ready for primetime. The challenge to improving the Smart TV experience and intertwining this technology with second screen devices now lies with the UI.