Brands foraying into Smart TV space need to provide a superior user experience for better recall and engagement as there has been a great increase in Smart TV content consumption.
So, why are Smart TVs becoming popular?
Content consumption patterns are changing with the arrival of Smart TVs. This is definetely because of the features and benefits that Smart TV bring on the table. Some of these features include:
- Streaming videos Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube
- Access to the computers
- Web Browsing on TV
- Social media & skype calls
- Motion Sensors
- Connectivity with Keyboards
- Voice control motion
- Music & Online radio apps
User experience is mission critical while developing Smart TV applications. Unlike testing mobile apps, Smart TV apps require a lot of efforts as testing is platform specific and most testing teams are new to the platforms.
Outlined below are the top tips while testing Smart TV applications:
1. Avoid Emulator
Emulators are designed software to provide simulation for important features of Smart TVs. As Smart TVs are expensive and it is difficult to arrange all the versions of the actual TVs, developers use emulators instead.
However, some of the Smart TV platforms such as ROKU do not provide emulator and some others that provide emulators aren’t fully capable. This leads to improper testing.
Emulators may create other issues such as:
- Video player steam can only work on a real device.
- Keyboard handling is not supported
- Network checking is not possible so testing no network scenarios isnt possible
2. Platform Store Guidelines
Platforms have prepared guidelines for developers and testers so to help them verify the application before submitting them to a store. These platforms verify applications submitted to store basis these guidelines.
3. Network Scenarios
Mostly the app works fine under normal network conditions. However, at times they behave unexpectedly especially when the network is low or not available. During such times, the app may freeze, abruptly exit, distort images and links, create functional issues or corrupt the database.
Below scenarios should be included for smart Tv networking testing:
- In the case of no network, a proper error message should be displayed to the user.
- Error message should have Retry option
- Video streaming is a basic feature of smart TV. Testing internet scenarios i.e. resuming of video streaming after the network is regained is an important tip in testing.
- In the case of no network proper message on Splash screen is a must.
- The app should work fine on 2G networks.
4. Different Resolution
With different resolutions such as 8K, 4K, Ultra HD, Full HD, 720p, an app might work well on one resolution while freeze on the other. The culprit is CSS as it is written with pixel or EM. Most TVs don’t support pixel CSS and therefore much care must be taken by the dev team.
5. Comparing with Competitor Apps
Smart TV is new domain and testers as well as developers, are not much aware about Smart TV all the features, functionality, UI and capabilities. Thereupon, the features and functionalities should be checked on competitor apps or platform native apps. Comparing apps helps to determine a scenario (for an example radio button is supported or not). As each platform has customized behavior, testers need to verify the limits of the platform by either dev documentation or previously built apps.
6. Core focus on App UI
Testers have to think like designers in Smart TV testing because:
- There may be some variations from design because of platform behavior and hence testing team should ultimately decide and move ahead with an acceptable solution.
- Smart TV app is not similar to a mobile app i.e. you cannot add many functionalities. Smart TV is restricted to minimum features achievable with minimum user steps.
- Every aspect should be considered. ( For example text on App should be readable from a specified distance)
7. Video / Audio Streaming
The popularity of Smart TV comes from their capability of streaming videos. Hence, every scenario related to streaming should be properly tested. This includes:
- Video Streaming after the internet re-connects
- Audio and video should be in sync
- Live video should sync on multiple platforms
- Buffering of video with forward and rewind features
- Audio play with earphone
- Screensaver functioning while the video is playing
Companies are building really cool products. User experience is at the core of product development. While Smart TV application development remains to be a relatively new domain, a lot of players are already exploring it to provide seamless digital experience to customers. In such times, testing becomes extremely important and a key to success in Smart TV space.