Yahoo!’s New TV Service Aims to Add Interactive Apps
LAS VEGAS - Connecting your television to the Internet has long been a pipe dream of the tech industry, but it's proven to be a notoriously tough nut to crack. The latest attempt by search giant Google, called Google TV, has been panned by critics as too complicated and not yet ready for prime time.
That's why Google's rival, Yahoo!, is taking a different approach. Instead of trying to merge the Internet and TV-viewing experience, Yahoo!'s Connected TV service aims to augment television through the use of small standalone apps, or widgets, that run on your television set.
Yahoo! Connected TV debuted two years ago, but the company announced two upgrades to the service this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Yahoo! calls the first new feature broadcast interactivity, and it will allow advertisers and content to ask viewers if they want to bring up a widget containing information related to the show they're watching. Think of it as pop-up ads for your TV.
"We want to create a very immersive experience for the viewer," said Jim Cortez, Connected TV developer at Yahoo!.
For people who find the idea of pop-up messages during shows unappealing, Cortez said viewers will have the option to turn off the messages completely or select which shows have this feature enabled.
Yahoo! calls the second new feature device interactivity, and it will allow two-way communication between your television and your other devices over Wi-Fi .
For example, you can use your smartphone as a TV remote or use it to trigger widgets related to a show on your television set so long as both devices are on the same network.
Alternatively, users can select a link to the show they're watching on TV and have it pushed to their smartphones or computers, where the page will open up automatically in a Web browser.
In this way, Yahoo! wants to keep your TV and your computer separate, and to allow each device to do what it does best. The company believes that attempts to merge the two devices results in awkward hybrids that are not very usable.
"We don't want to get in the way of your TV experience," Cortez told TechNewsDaily.
"We have Internet-enhanced television, which means we're not trying to put the Internet on TV. People have been trying to do that for years and years, and still are trying to do that. We're trying to give you a different experience that allows you to have a very simple interface for browsing content that people have designed for your television specifically."
Both Yahoo! Connected TV features are expected to be available later this year as a free upgrade.