Google’s “Website Optimization for HDTV”

At long last it seems that the much promised and/or anticipated and/or hyped wave of internet television, in its many varieties, is finally set to crash upon our shores in some organized fashion, thanks to the practically simultaneous release by Apple and Google of their version of it. Unlike previous incarnations, which seemed largely to be focused on either getting television into your web browser or getting the web onto your television, Apple and Google’s versions are built upon their handheld device platforms: iOS for Apple and Android for Google. Both platforms depend upon a well populated universe of apps and web apps.

I’m not invested in either platform — though obviously I am invested in the larger Apple platform of Mac/iPhone, iPad/MobileMe for the time being — but I am following it a bit. I don’t have the time to follow it too closely, but because the iOS and Android devices have become so popular and would seem to indicate where a lot of consumer computing is headed — though please note that I am not arguing that these platforms are only for consumption — it seems to me that they may represent an inevitable transformation of the web as it becomes consumed more through these devices and less through the kind of general purpose computers that most of us use today.

While most computer monitors, especially those built into laptops, have transitioned to HD aspect ratios, it remains the case that most monitor usage is not dedicated to HD viewing of content.[^1] That is, when I observe colleagues and friends working on their computers with HD monitors, they typically have multiple windows open and use the width of these screens as a way to layer content across the screen so it can be easily brought forward and into focus. That means most applications and most websites worry less about optimizing content for the HD aspect ratio and allow the user to determine their preferences. In iOS and Android devices, all apps, by design, must fill the screen. (I am less clear on what this means for web apps, but I have to assume that they will move that way in order to achieve parity with native apps at least in terms of look.)

This means that app interface design will change. In order to guide developers, Google has started a website with guidelines and a FAQ. Check it out and then let me know what you think it means for design and development of content.

[^1]: I remain unconvinced myself of the necessity of HD and think it is largely a product of a fad to drive sales and will be replaced by another aspect ration fad in five to ten years that is the next “true” thing.

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