Apple TV / iPanel [Concept Video] - (Work In Progress)
I have produced a concept video to demonstrate how a future Apple TV device might operate. I used the existing Apple TV home screen layout as a very basic template for designing the UI but I soon realised the project required designing an entirely new UI for the TV - quite an expansive task.
The overall idea of the concept demonstrates how an iPad or iPad Mini could be paired, (via bluetooth) to an Apple TV set-top box or TV screen panel. User input would either be by multitouch (on the tablet), or with Siri voice commands.
Eventually, I would like to demonstrate how the App Store, FaceTime and the Recordings app (with inbuilt DVR and iCloud storage) would work.
There were a few hurdles I had to overcome. The transparent hand may not be the best visual representation of a hand but I needed the video to show the buttons and menus clearly!
All the design work was wire framed in InDesign and then through a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop the UI was drawn up. The design elements compliment those we have grown accustomed to seeing in iOS on mobile devices. All design work including the icons and UI have been drawn from scratch. Animation work was made in After Effects and editing was completed in FCPX.
It's not my voice in the video, a friend generously offered to do that for me!
Below is a link to the concept video.
Below is a link to the concept video montage.
The Existing 'Apple TV' Device
Apple has made great progress with their 'hobby' project - Apple TV. It is a compelling device with great access to online content. Despite limited capabilities as an actual television, the device is selling well and retails for a respectable £99 in the UK. The problem facing Apple TV is that it is essentially iTunes on your TV. If your Music, Movies and TV Shows are not purchased from the Apple ecosystem you will be left with a device that can't stream much content. Of course the Apple TV does have some other great apps too, like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and Netflix but these apps are becoming increasingly available on other integrated 'Smart TVs'. The need for an extra set-top box may be rendered non-existent and so in order to make Apple TV worthwhile, it will need to offer greater capabilities at an equally competitive price point.
Apple currently has 4 main product categories: iPod, iPhone, iPad and Mac. For Apple TV to be classed as 5th category would involve making the device more relevant to the everyday user. I would like to see iTunes on Apple TV relegated to the second most important function on the device and watching live, broadcast television the primary reason for switching on Apple TV.
My hypothetical solution would see Apple partner with a cable operator, similar to how they partnered with phone carriers for iPhone. The idea is quite simple, Apple provide the hardware and integrated software and the cable company provide the content and the subscription packages to the end user.
Steve Jobs was once asked about partnering with cable companies and he dismissed the idea claiming that in the USA, there are "a bunch of cable operators" so Apple would need to partner with many companies. Another problem is that unlike mobile phones where there are only a handful of global standards, the cable industry has a multitude of configurations. These are potential problems and could lead to quite a convoluted process.
If Apple could persuade a cable company to deliver content to an Apple TV the benefits to the end user could be enormous. An integrated device that amalgamates television functions would be cheaper, reduce clutter and more aesthetically pleasing in the living room environment.
The TV Remote Control has been in use for well over 40 years. It is universally understood and for the purpose of changing channels or adjusting volume it is sufficient. The Television of the future will be more capable however and will require an input method which is more flexible and intelligent.
Apple could have a great head start here. There are two fundamental input methods that could be adopted by Apple: Multitouch and Voice. We've already seen the success of iPhone and iPad, the multitouch experience is seamless and natural and Siri (although primitive) is proving to be an interesting concept for user interaction.
A small mobile device, like the iPad Mini could be heavily subsidised with the purchase of an Apple TV. The form factor of the iPad Mini is ideal for operating a television user interface. The iPad Mini (Remote) would be paired with the Apple TV with Bluetooth. Any input the user makes on the Remote would be simultaneously reflected on the 'big screen' Television.
The video talks through how interacting with the television would work. Looking forward to getting some feedback on this project. As there is a lot to consider in a device like the Apple TV there may be obstacles in the actual practicality of a device that I have overlooked or failed to mention. The video is a concept however and a lot of the ideas are only hypothetical.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Here are some UI mock-ups taken from the video.
TV Schedule Overlay & Notifications