Apple TV app – or how to continuously innovate

  • Germain Hugon

Continuous Innovation at Liip

Doing Agile at Liip does not always mean we live in a continuous flow of sprints, endlessly. Sometimes the comfortable stream of sprints breaks for a while, usually between two projects. This is often a good opportunity to hack on new technologies or try something new. We recently had one of these break and it was the perfect time to try once again our innovation process.

In fact, this process starts before we have one of those breaks. First of all, the whole team lists any innovation idea – could be anything – and anyone is invited to contribute (at the moment we have a dozen projects listed). We try to groom this list as often as possible to keep it relevant. Then, when time comes we can just go to this list and grab a project we want to work on.

Doing innovation keeps us close to new technologies.

The project: an Apple TV app

As part of the Liip “Native apps” guild (officially named “Mobile” guild internally, but we might refactor it looking at the TV screen sizes!), the choice was almost obvious: we decided to hack on the new Apple TV, now opened to developers. The exciting aspect of this device is closely related to the unusual screen size connected to it. The remote also gives us a new TV experience (still from a developer perspective, I am not trying to sell anything).

The idea was simple. I wanted to adapt the mobile application of one of our client, UEFA, for Apple TV. They have lots of photos and videos, so basically the perfect content to play with.

Xcode 7 has already everything for tvOS (Apple TV dedicated Operating System) with its own SDK and simulator. Only a few clicks are required to get started and have a “Hello world” app up and running.

Then we had to go through the basics and learn the visual guidelines. These two links are worth reading to get to know the environment, even if you have been using the previous version of Apple TV. Lots of new visuals have been added, though I really fancy the  Focus and parallax.

Then, coding for the TV is basically the same as coding for other iOS platforms. It took us roughly six man days to create an app from scratch with 3 pages containing different media content (photos, videos) coming from an API. The result on a big screen is very rewarding!

Now what?

We are going to discuss with several of our clients where such a big device would bring added value to their end users – e.g. e-commerce domain and sport' industries.

Also we plan to use this knowledge internally for some potential dashboard apps.

We will keep you posted with our next findings/experiments.

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