Major Update to YouTube App for Apple TV

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

The world’s biggest video service has refreshed its app for Apple’s TV streaming box. The update means YouTube on Apple TV will look similar to YouTube on Xbox and other devices, both in terms of appearance and content.

The most consequential change is that YouTube videos on Apple TV will run with ads. Which also means that all of the videos that run on YouTube (most notably music videos) will now run on YouTube’s Apple TV app.

It also (probably) means that Google’s team doesn’t think Apple is planning a significant overhaul of Apple TV anytime soon, since it (probably) wouldn’t spend the time on an app refresh if it thought the device was going to change radically in the near future.

Kafka makes it sound like the apps for Apple TV are written by the third party companies, like with App Store apps for iOS. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, and that the YouTube “app” for today’s Apple TV is like the YouTube app for the original iPhone: written by Apple, but designed through some sort of partnership with Google. Surely, for example, it’s Google that wanted ads to play. But I really doubt they wrote the code for the app. Apple TV (as we know it) has tons of third-party content, but no third-party software.

Has anyone ever written about the dynamics between Apple and the partner “channels” they have for Apple TV, and how those apps get written and updated?

Update: I had forgotten about this year-old piece by Jordan Kahn for 9to5Mac, with behind-the-scenes information on the development of the then-new Bloomberg channel:

While Apple’s SDK allowed them to build the app and interface and does include general guidelines and suggestions for video, the backend powering the video experience is completely built and maintained by Bloomberg. Apple actually has very little input in the development process after handing over the SDK, which is a good indication the development process could be transitioned into a more open tool for all developers. You might have noticed that the recently released apps on Apple TV all seem to have a similar design, although slightly different when it comes to certain features and layouts. That’s because Apple provides several templates that XML developers can choose from and customize in a variety of ways. Apple has also been working on improving the templates for Apple TV apps in recent months. Its newer Apple TV apps use navigation with tabs along the top of the screen, rather than the older apps that use a list on the right of the screen when first launching the app. Using Apple’s XML templates and guidelines, Bloomberg built the app using its own server side (Java, Tomcat).

Do they actually get to write Objective-C code, though?

Update 2: From what I’m hearing, no, it’s not compiled Objective-C code, it’s JavaScript.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014