Smart TVs Are Still Dumb

JLG bemoans the lack of intelligence in even so-called Smart TVs, and wonders how we're ever going to get to the an "Internet Of Things" for normal people.

If an appliance would yield its control and reporting data, an app developer could build a “control center” that would summarize and manage your networked devices. But in the Consumer IoT world, we’re still very far from this desirable state of affairs. A TV can’t even tell a smartphone app if it’s on, what channel it’s tuned to, or which devices is feeding it content. For programmable remotes, it’s easy to get lost as too many TVs don’t even know a command such as Input 2, they only know Next Input. If a human changes the input by walking to the device and pushing a button, the remote is lost. (To say nothing of TVs that don’t have separate On and Off commands, only an On/Off toggle, with the danger of getting out of sync – and no way for the TV to talk back and describe its state…)

This is why, to all intents and purposes, I've given up on the programmable Bluetooth-IR blaster I bought a year or so ago (though terrible battery life was also a factor). It's also a reason why so many people still hope Apple will ship a complete TV system, with all the vertical integration that it can bring to the markets it enters. For the record, I don't think we'll get an Apple display that functions as a TV anytime soon, and I'd much sooner have something like the existing Apple TV box that I can upgrade every three years or so (and via software in the interim). I wonder whether one route might be a higher end option that functions as an AV Receiver/HDMI switch/Airplay bridge, and routes other inputs to the TV screen (kind of like the Xbox One does), though that doesn't seem a very Apple-like move to me. Right now I'd be happy with an App platform for the existing Apple TV: I'm watching less and less stuff that doesn't come via that little £99 black box as time goes by.