21 September 2015

Daring Fireball: “More on Apple TV and the Web”

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.

John Gruber
Apple TV logo

I certainly agree that the browsing experience on a Smart TV is very poor. It all comes down to the input device: it’s next to impossible to type URLs on a remote control, and very slow to even follow links on a page. Most of my ‘smart’ activity on my TV consists of streaming videos on YouTube, controlled from the iPhone app. The current situation looks remarkably similar to how phones worked before Apple introduced the iPhone. That means there’s an opportunity here for innovation, for a company to come up with a better experience on large screens. But that company is not Apple, who is content to milk the oversized iPhone profits year after year.

A very basic idea would be to use Handoff to send webpages from the iPhone or iPad to the larger Apple TV screen. But I think Apple doesn’t want to allow that. People will still want to access web content on the TV, but without a browser, that content will be served inside apps: news articles in Apple News or Facebook Instant Articles, videos in dedicated apps like Netflix or YouTube. Each app will display ads or offer subscriptions, but either way Apple will get its 30% share of the revenues collected through the App Store. There’s no need to invoke ‘politics’ to explain this decision when you can follow the money.

Post a Comment