More on Apple TV and the Web

Manton Reece:

Apple TV’s success doesn’t change my argument. My Apple TV dev kit arrives on Friday, I’m going to build an app for it, and I can’t wait to watch Apple’s latest platform take off. When I wrote that the Apple TV “needs” the web I didn’t mean that it would be crippled and unsuccessful without it. I simply meant that the web should be there in some form, even if limited.

(It doesn’t even have to be Safari. There just needs to be enough web technologies to make some part of the open web possible. Again, that means web services, HTML, and links.)

In theory, sure, I agree. But in practice I don’t see how a good user experience could be crafted from that. I’ve never once seen a TV set-top box web browser experience that was anything other than terrible. I don’t think there are any politics at all in Apple’s decision not to expose WebKit to Apple TV apps in this SDK. I think it’s entirely about what makes for a good user experience. A good web browsing experience on Apple TV would be great. But better none at all than a crappy one. I know that’s not entirely Manton’s argument — his parenthetical quoted above makes that clear. But I don’t know what “some part of the open web” is without a browser.

Further, I’d argue that AirPlay is about as good as “the open web on your TV” is going to get. If it’s about sharing the experience on a big screen, that works. And it leaves the UI controls on the iOS or Mac device — far better than trying to navigate a web page using the remote control.

(There is a problem with my analogy yesterday, in which I compared the lack of a web browser on Apple TV and Apple Watch to the lack of a command-line on the original Mac. The difference is that the command-line-less Mac was intended to replace command-line-based computers. The GUI relegated the command-line interface to a permanent tiny niche. Apple TV and Apple Watch aren’t like that at all — they’re not meant to replace any device you already use to access the open web.)

Thursday, 17 September 2015