19 February 2018

Pixel Envy: “Reports of Google’s Newfound Design Prowess have been Greatly Exaggerated”

It isn’t unheard-of for an Apple TV app from a major third party to fail to adhere to platform conventions. The Amazon Prime app doesn’t look or behave anything like a native app because it’s basically a web app. Hulu and Netflix also have some pretty crappy apps that don’t really function like a tvOS app ought to.

But this also isn’t unlike Google, which has completely disregarded platform standards with their major iOS apps for years. There’s nothing wrong with making apps of a particular style — my favourite developers all have their unique quirks and styles that help identify their apps as theirs — but Google’s apps frequently feel less like they’re trying to create branded iOS apps and more like they want their Android apps to run on iOS.

Nick Heer

If one tvOS app would be bad, I would blame the developer – in this case Google. If multiple apps are bad, maybe the problem lies with the platform itself. Most likely, Apple TV has relatively few users for big companies to bother investing in an app that follows “platform conventions” to the letter. A problem only made worse by Apple’s choice of fragmenting its platform with a different OS for each device. If developers could easily upscale their apps to work on bigger screens like the iPad and the Apple TV, there would be many more quality apps to choose from – see also, how Instagram still doesn’t have an official iPad app.

Also, I would say this rant has more to do with the entrenched disregard of Apple fans towards anything cross-platform (including the web), than with Google’s design skills.

Overall, YouTube TV’s interface is uncluttered while still being both functional and attractive. The Home screen shows live video previews of what’s on. The Web version of the Live screen offers nice, big pictures of each channel, and on the iPad, the Live screen displays a grid with live video previews.

Some have complained that the YouTube TV interface isn’t optimized for each device, which baffles me. Check out the screenshot of the Library screen on the Apple TV below and note that, while it’s showing the same information as the iPad screenshot from above, it’s optimized for the Apple TV interface. I’ve tried YouTube TV on an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and even an Android TV, and while it’s a little different on each platform, never so much so that it’s confusing.

Josh Centers

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