Japanese electronics company Nintendo has unveiled a new TV-focused application for the soon-to-launch Wii U gaming console, which will let owners control, record and engage with TV programmes and films using the Wii U’s tablet controller.
The new app draws together available video content from a variety of sources into the one interface on the GamePad touchscreen controller, including linear TV, cable and satellite channels, TiVo DVR and video-on-demand (VOD) services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube.
“Wii U will arrive with the strongest line-up of launch software in Nintendo history,” said Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. “With the integrated second screen of the included GamePad and features that instantly enhance the way people play games, watch video and interact with each other, consumers will see how Wii U delivers a completely unique experience.”
The app will also offer personalised programme guides for each member of the household and Social TV features such as the ability to capture individual images from the on-screen action, which can then be commented on and shared via Twitter and other networks.
The new TVii app will be included with every new Wii U console sold in the US and Canada for no additional cost or monthly fee, although it is not certain whether it will be available from the console’s launch date of November 18th.
Nintendo’s new app looks impressive on paper, especially its ability to pull together content from multiple sources in one place, but the company’s TV efforts lag miles behind those of Microsoft and its Xbox LIVE platform, which already counts some of the world’s biggest TV operators, content providers and OTT services as partners, and which offers advanced features such as voice recognition, gesture control, and integration with companion devices such as smartphones and tablets via dedicated apps.
It is this last feature which may be Microsoft’s killer punch: consumers are now showing a strong preference for using their own personal mobile devices to interact with content and social networks on the TV screen, rather than clunky and unfamiliar remote controls. Nintendo may yet introduce iOS and Android versions of its TVii app, but if it tethers it to the GamePad controller then its scope looks limited at best.