All of the devices we use should work harmoniously together - and in some cases they do. Take for example when you receive an email, you have the ability to read it on your mobile phone, tablet, or PC. Similarly, when you begin a Netflix movie on your desktop, you can finish watching it on your tablet and many other devices. Consumers are beginning to expect this connected experience between some of their devices - but few expect it from the biggest screen in their house. Being able start something on one device and continue it on the big screen is not as widely supported as it should be - and we want to play a part in changing that.
While many app developers acknowledge the opportunity a big, high definition display can bring (other than a few Chromecast-enabled apps) very few have implemented any app-to-TV functionality, and we don't blame them. The reality is, there are too many second screen protocols to choose from and the level of effort to integrate can be very high. Not to mention, the market share of each protocol individually makes it difficulty to prioritize it over other opportunities.
We saw these roadblocks for app developers as a huge opportunity and so we designed and built Connect SDK. Our goal was simple, we wanted to expand the reach of second screen development by tackling the ever growing array of second screen protocols. Our result being, a single SDK with integrated support for multiple protocols, in which the effort of dealing with each one is abstracted away and the size of the opportunity is an aggregation of multiple platforms.
It wasn't too long ago in April 2014 that we launched Connect SDK with support for five TV platforms. Today we are excited to announce that Connect SDK supports Apple TV with the release of version 1.3.
What does this mean?
For the Android app developer, you can now beam photos, videos, and audio files to Apple TVs. By using an undocumented protocol, Connect SDK lets Android developers discover, connect to, and control Apple TVs, much like webOS and Roku devices (for a full list of supported features, see Features). And, because Connect SDK abstracts all protocols, beaming a photo to an Apple TV is just as easy as beaming it to a Chromecast or LG Smart TV '13.
For the iOS developer, you can choose between two modes, "Mirrored" and "Media".
- In Mirrored mode, web app beaming is accomplished by using AirPlay to mirror a secondary display that is actually being rendered on the iOS device. This allows developers to build full screen TV-optimzed web applications that work across webOS, Chromecast, and now Apple TV. In order to use this mode, the user will need to enable AirPlay mirroring in the Control Center. Also, as with any Airplay mirroring app - TV experience will end if the user switches away from your app.
- In Media mode, photos, videos, and audio is beamed directly to an Apple TV. Using this mode provides the most seamless user experience, but before using it, please review Apple's developer guidelines as it is enabled by an undocumented protocol. While all protocols are subject to change with software updates, undocumented protocols may be particularly so.
As with any release, we look forward to your feedback. We have already started working on Connect SDK v1.4 and look forward to sharing it with you soon!