MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEMS GRADUATE TO THE BIG SCREEN
Here’s wishing Firefox OS, Tizen, and WebOS every success in their TV futures.
The two things TV manufacturers traditionally competed on - picture quality and design - were largely driven by the hardware engineering department. Sure, software engineering still happened, but its work was rarely thrust to the fore by the marketing department. After all, “hard” features like new pixel matrices, curved screens, and voice controls all make for better tent-pole features in the brochures than say, a pretty onscreen menu or fast input switching.
But as TVs became more powerful and home entertainment more complex, TV makers also began the race to tick as many checkboxes as possible in the features list. Wireless streaming, web browsing, screen mirroring, voice interaction, social media support - you name it. The results, more often than not, were convoluted, clunky, and downright ugly user interfaces. TV makers will not admit it, but their smart TV creations have brutally exposed their ineptness in UI and UX designs.
After years of quick fixes that eventually led nowhere, TV manufacturers are now turning to mobile operating systems en masse. LG led the charge with WebOS in 2014, and at this year’s CES, the company wheeled out its latest WebOS 2.0-powered TVs. Not to be outdone, cross-town rival Samsung announced that Tizen OS will be the foundation of its smart TV platform moving forward. Across the Sea of Japan, Panasonic has embraced Mozilla’s Firefox OS; and Sharp and Sony have jumped onboard Google’s Android TV system. Yes, TV makers may still screw it all up in the name of differentiation, but I’ve high hopes that because of the mobile roots of these OSes, the smart TV experience (from boot times and menu navigation, to multi-tasking and device interoperability) will take a huge step forward from now on.
"AFTER YEARS OF QUICK FIXES THAT EVENTUALLY LED NOWHERE, TV MANUFACTURERS ARE NOW TURNING TO MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEMS EN MASSE.”