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Brightcove: “Apple has the most complete vision for dual-screen TV apps today”

Following the company’s revelation of an innovative new dual-screen solution for Apple TV earlier today, Brightcove’s CMO Jeff Whatcott spoke to IP&TV News to tell us more about it.

Why did you specifically choose the Apple TV platform?

There have been phenomenal levels of speculation over Apple’s TV products and strategy – an area of ‘intense interest’ for Apple according to CEO Tim Cook. The company’s dominance in the consumer electronics space ensures that whatever they do, it will undoubtedly be transformative for consumers and the TV industry.

At Brightcove, we see the entire debate over whether Apple ships an actual TV set as detracting from a much bigger transformation Apple is already rolling out – a drastic change in the way we use TV.

Apple is demonstrating that it views TV monitors as precisely that – audio/video rendering devices that displays content – with the real power lying in application platforms and user interaction devices – existing devices which can be brought into the TV equation.

We’re seeing a huge trend for consumers to use mobile devices while watching TV as well as huge demand for contextual info to accompany HD viewing. As such, we think dual-screen apps which blends rich contextual information with HD TV will be hugely important and Apple is rolling out the enabling technology to make it a reality.

Dual-screen apps for the iPhone and iPad can simultaneously control data presented on the TV set, while displaying synchronised content on the companion device setting up a TV equation where these devices are at the heart of the living room, both driving and augmenting the TV experience.

Apple has set new standard for ease of use and innovation in user experience with the likes of the iPad, and it follows that these devices, which are already being used alongside TV content, will be part of a greater role in TV entertainment.

Not only do we feel Apple has the most complete vision for dual-screen TV apps today, but they are also significantly further ahead in terms of shipping the enabling technologies for dual-screen apps.

Can you tell us more about its use of AirPlay technology?

Our unique dual-screen solution leverages Apple’s AirPlay technology, meaning viewers are able to use applications that simultaneously present content, interactive options and data, on both the touch device and an Apple TV.

AirPlay was released as a significant upgrade to iOS 5 last year and allows a user to easily stream any content or application to an Apple TV device., as well as browsing/discovering media on your Apple iOS device which can be experienced on the TV.

There are already apps taking advantage of AirPlay – apps from Netflix and CNN, for example – but it’s not just for video. Last year’s update to AirPlay saw Apple introduce two new concepts – AirPlay Mirroring and Dual Screen Apps. Mirroring allows you to mirror your iPad/iPhone screen on your TV monitor but dual screen apps are needed to fully take advantage of the second device opportunity.

What steps have you taken to future-proof the solution?

We’re using standard Apple SDKs and published APIs, which Apple has typically been very good about maintaining in a forward-compatible way.

In addition to this, we’ve architected App Cloud in a way that means if you’re writing to the dual-screen APIs which we provide in JavaScript, what’s happening at the operating system-level is irrelevant, so App Cloud makes it compatible.

While developers are using the JavaScript APIs, App Cloud is making it all work behind the scenes, shielding the user from changes in the underlying operating systems – something which is one of App Cloud’s value propositions.

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