In the first of what might well turn into a burgeoning series, or perhaps a one-off spectacular that’ll be picked apart by scholars long after I’m gone (ahem), it’s Technology is good, baby!
Today I’m going on a semi-impromptu (in the sense that I have some vague notes somewhere in my brain) rant about convergence and a little something called YouTube Pair.
Convergence is great. Everyone loves a spot of convergence. That’s why SKY and Virgin aren’t happy simply providing your satellite or cable TV service; they want to pump broadband and landline goodness into your home also. Heck, Virgin will even hook you up with a mobile phone.
In the world of devices, however, convergence is a tricky old beast. Smartphones are great for portability, but the displays are relatively tiny. At the other end of the scale, tablets offer lovely big displays for consuming media, but generally don’t fit in your pocket.
Phablets are somewhat of a compromise, offering large screens – but not as large as tablets, and portability – though they’ll often push your pocket to its very limits and inevitably weigh more than a plain old phone. That particular dilemma will remain in play till foldable technology comes along.
Similarly, one might apply the logic “The bigger the display, the better” to tablets, and furthermore throw in a keyboard for efficient text entry, but now you’ve only gone and built yourself a freakin’ laptop of sorts. It’s all very confusing.
In the world of TVs, I recently saved a few hundred quid by opting to forgo 3D, but chances are a new set will come with Smart TV features, especially if – as I was – you’re looking at displays of 40in or above.
For me, a Smart TV is a strange example of convergence. The TV has long been the focus of living room furniture, but all of a sudden it’s trying to muscle in on this newfangled “internet” craze, with apps and browsers and what have you. Sometimes my Smart TV turns into a PC and demands a software update. What the…?
See, Smart TVs have one major advantage when it comes to consuming content, and that’s the display size. I was right when I said earlier: “The bigger the display, the better”, the ultimate viewing experience arguably being the cinema. The next step down is your big old TV.
But they’re simultaneously handicapped by arguably the worst input method conceived by man or beast: the TV remote.
While smartphones and tablets have touch displays, and laptops and desktops have keyboards, Smart TVs are reliant upon text entry akin to that of the very worst feature phones. Similarly, navigating around the screen with up/down/left/right arrows is just a horrible, horrible thing.
As such, I thoroughly neglected the “Smart” element of my Smart TV for something like six months, but last Sunday I found myself watching a YouTube video that weighed in at over three hours.
I decided the awful text entry was a small price to pay for watching on the big screen, and fired up my Smart TV’s YouTube app.
Brilliantly, my TV randomly displayed a message suggesting I set up something called YouTube Pair. Being an inquisitive sort, I decided to see what it was all about.
Essentially, I put a code generated by my Smart TV into youtube.come/pair, and ultimately I can now use my iPhone – or iPad – to control the YouTube app on my telly. Glorious.
The best thing about it is that I don’t have to touch the TV remote whatsoever, beyond initially firing up the YouTube app. With YouTube Pair, I can browse YouTube content on my phone, and send it to the big screen with a single tap.
The smartphone-based YouTube app will generally remember where I’m at (within reason) if I happen to stop watching on the TV for whatever reason, and it’s easy to skip back and forward using the slider on the phone.
So, yeah, long story short: YouTube Pair addresses many of my concerns about watching YouTube on the TV. Technology? It’s good.