I never really thought too much about TV apps before, mostly because the experiences always seemed unnecessary. Why would I want to see that I got a new friend request while I’m watching a show? Why would I care to see my normal Twitter stream while watching Always Sunny? In my experience, TV apps only port the same user experience you have on other devices, and do not make them more relevant to watching TV.
But, inspired by Dennis Crowley’s post on Yahoo’s Internet Widgets for TV, I started thinking about how TV apps can be more about enhancing the TV experience, as opposed to just porting your web experiences on your TV.
Seeing that you have a new friend request or that your sister just posted new pictures on Facebook doesn’t have much relevance to the show that you’re watching. In fact, it really has nothing to do with the show you are watching. This isn’t using Facebook’s data in the right way.
Have you ever scrolled through the 500 channels you have to only find nothing to watch? I’ve been there too; it’s not entertaining. It’s really difficult to organize all the data of shows currently on TV, but Facebook’s data could help with this.
I would like to see my TV shows and channels sorted by those that are “Liked” by my friends. Currently shows are sorted by channel number, alphabetically, and type of channel, none of which makes much personal sense for users. Users have to learn where channels are. Sorting shows and channels by what your friends have Liked would help find content that is more relevant. Not only might it help us find that cool show we never watched, but it would also give feedback on the interests of your friends and family in a new context. “I didn’t know Grandma likes Jersey Shore.”
Adding on to this, users should also have the option to Like a show or channel from their Facebook TV app. Not only would this be added to your Facebook profile, but this information would also help inform your TV to make recommendations to you and your friends with TV apps on other shows you might like or which shows/series you would like to have recorded.
Seeing your Twitter stream on your TV is nice, but doesn’t necessarily add to your TV show either. If the people you follow happen to be tweeting about that show, then yes, that’s pretty cool, but it’s unlikely to be the majority of the tweets. Sometimes this does happen with really big events, but for everyday TV-watching, the tweets would not match your show. A relevant Twitter app should be able to pull together an ad-hoc conversation with people that are watching that show. This would require the Twitter app to find the #hashtags and keywords relevant to that show and only serve up those tweets.
I really liked @den’s idea on showing a notification of when a friend checks in somewhere close by and I think we could further Foursquare’s usefulness for watching TV. Foursquare can tell where you have been, and probably with good accuracy, what town/city you live in. I’d like to see our TVs take this data and interpret it to recommend shows we would want to watch. I use to live in NYC and loved watching all shows that came up about NYC or even movies that took place there. I also have traveled to Vegas a few times and like seeing movies set in the city of sin. I’d love to see recommendations of shows based on where I have been. Home Alone 2 is coming on … record it! From Justin to Kelly is coming on … maybe don’t record, but you get the idea.
I would also like Foursquare check-ins to be able to recommend other programming we may like. If Foursquare sees that out of all restaurants I check in to, 70% of them are Italian, there’s a good chance Italian is my favorite type of food. This information should inform our TVs to recommend the new Mario Batali cooking show that is coming on, etc. Take this idea with sports, too. If I check into a hockey rink a lot, my TV should recommend the next NHL game coming on.
I know liking Italian food does not equal wanting to watch how it’s made, or that liking to play hockey means you like watching hockey, but the pieces of data we submit to the void should come back to enhance our everyday lives in any and all possible ways.