Although a fully operational version of Apple TV won’t be available until this fall at the earliest, app developers are still creating primetime titles worthy of the larger screen space.
We have previously told you about our favorite iOS apps that can also be viewed on Apple TV via AirPlay Mirroring, which include Showyou, TouchTV and Qello. While these apps are great showcases for consumers and illustrate how apps that run on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and new iPad can also be seen on Apple TV, they do not take advantage of the dual-screen opportunities that Apple subtly makes available. Specifically, once a video clip from these apps is transmitted from the mobile device to the Apple TV, a grey screen emerges on the mobile device making it impossible to do anything while the video is running.
A select few apps including Netflix, Real Racing 2 HD and Uzu enable users to interact with their iOS devices while watching video originated from those devices on Apple TV. Every other app that is AirPlay enabled is leaving precious screen space on the table (or, specifically, tablet or smartphone).
“It’s cool that you have a visual indicator that you are in AirPlay mode,” says Jeff Whatcott, chief marketing officer of Brightcove. “What is not so cool is that you can’t take advantage of all of that screen real estate.”
Brightcove, you will be shocked to learn, is now marketing a new technology that lets app developers create dual-screen experiences for their applications. The company’s App Cloud Dual-Screen Solution for Apple TV is part of a new software developer kit the company is rolling out today. The SDK is available in three editions: Core (free), Pro ($99/month), and Enterprise (larger annual fee).
Preparing for the inevitable
One week before Apple began its 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, Brightcove founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire wrote a widely circulated guest post for All Things D in which he made that current iOS devices are already contributing to a TV apps platform.
“Apple sees that TV monitors are just that — high-quality audio/video rendering devices — and that the real power lies in application platforms and user interaction devices that can be easily brought to bear on those monitors,” Allaire wrote.
He added that the more than 500,000 iOS apps available today are all potentially Apple TV apps. While this is technically true, a very small percentage of existing apps justify a presence on the larger screen, much less the capability of being used differently on multiple screens. It has as much to do with how apps might be created moving forward given the emerging technology and the ways consumers respond to it.
“All apps around audio or video content can benefit from this experience,” said Whatcott, who added that it is all about the distinction between “core content” like video or music and ancillary services that help you navigate to, and interact with, that content. “It makes a lot of sense to put commentary, social interaction and the ability to find what you want to look at now, and what you want to look at next, in the user’s hands,” he said.
While Brightcove is not announcing any significant customers or partnerships upon the launch of the dual-screen product, Whatcott said the company is having “productive conversations with broadcast companies and others who are interested in this mode.”
Brightcove was founded by Allaire in 2004 and over the years has secured partnerships with the likes of Reuters, The New York Times Company and Discovery Communications to help those companies optimize their content and delivery capabilities for an interactive television experience. The company, which has more than 300 U.S.-based employees, went public earlier this year.
While Brightcove’s new SDK also applies to Android developers, Whatcott said the company is not as focused at this point on Google’s interactive TV offering. The industry will only come into form after Apple enters the picture.
“Apple has the capability to move markets when they want to,” he said. “We want to be there with our platform when Apple makes its move for the living room.”