Remote control Gamestring performs the computations needed for sophisticated 3D graphics on its own servers.
Users can also add Web apps to the main menu of the Google TV interface, Kenghe notes. He cites a Web app from the publisher Meegenius, a company that makes interactive books for children, as proof that TV Web apps can be powerful and attractive. Meegenius has built Google-TV-ready apps that are nearly identical to its iPad and iPhone apps, Kenghe says.
Google TV’s reliance on Web apps - at least until Android apps arrive next year - may, in fact, be a hint of the future for gadgets of all kinds, says Peter Yared of Webtrends, a company that helps firms build apps for various platforms.
“I think Web apps will win out over local apps for all devices,” says Yared, who has previously created TV apps for Yahoo’s Connected TV platform for CBS and other large companies. “Instead of having to maintain different native apps on separate platforms, you can build an HTML5 page that can be more easily tweaked to look and work great on the browsers of different devices.”
Most TV apps need to do little more than stream video, Yared points out, something easily achieved in a browser. By comparison, a phone app often needs more direct access to a device’s hardware more easily provided by an installed app, such as its GPS and accelerometer.
Christopher Boothroyd, CEO of startup Gamestring, says it’s possible to provide a slick gaming experience on Google TV via the Web browser. His firm has created a Web app to let Google TV users play advanced games, including World of Warcraft. The firm’s technology—dubbed Adrenaline—runs most of the game on distant Web servers and uses a webpage with the Flash plug-in to let users see and control the action (this video shows Gamestring running World of Warcraft and other games on Google TV).
Gamestring hopes to license its technology to other game developers, and is working with toy manufacturer Nukotoys to bring games built around its toys to Google TV. “We don’t quite make Google TV into a console, but the folks at Sony may be wondering why they released a device with the potential to compete with the PlayStation,” Boothroyd says, referring to the firm’s TV sets with Google TV built in.
Google TV also offers a way to bring genres of game that are hugely popular on smart phones and Facebook into the living room, he adds. “I think we’ll see that kind of social game become a little more gamelike, with true 3-D environments that you can drive your farm’s tractor around, for example,” Boothroyd says.
However, Yared of Webtrends says that, in the end, there is little evidence that apps of any kind are a good match with TV.
“I think that what people really want from their TV is streaming video content and maybe sports scores,” Yared says. “My experience in making TV apps makes me think there isn’t much of a market.”