The navigation bar for browsing channels while watching another has been updated, so you get a picture-in-picture live video of the channel you are considering switching.
One major thing that is nice about the interface is that it is neutral with regards to how a show is delivered: For example, your recommendations in Sky Q are made up of a mix of live TV, recordings, catch-up TV and shows that will be broadcast soon. Instead of having to navigate a live TV menu or a catch-up TV menu, it simply shows you the available shows.
Olson said that in the development of the system, his team had been reading a lot of books about neuroscience, and it’s clear that a lot of work has been put into it. Navigation is intuitive, as you’d expect, although the big test will be whether the recommendations are actually what you want to watch.
In terms of the tablet, the interface is exactly the same, although for full functionality it has to be on the same network. You can download recordings for viewing offline, though.
Sky has reached a deal with several online video providers, the biggest by far being YouTube, and Sky Q comes with an online video section that aims to show you the best of the web’s clips.
There’s a full YouTube app, which lets you browse the whole of the massive online video service, but Sky has also packaged short-form online videos into separate genres that are staples of internet video – funny, extreme sports, nature and so on.
Other online video providers include GQ, GoPro, WIRED and so on, and Sky added three more only 10 days ago, so this is still evolving.
YouTube functionality is obviously a great addition, but apart from that the rest of the online video section – Sky’s efforts to push you content – seemed mainly like a way to waste time. But then again there are people who like to spend all day watching this stuff.
Sky Q Apps
Sky has added a few apps accessed via a sidebar menu that you can browse them while continuing watching TV. These included Sky News and Sky Sports for checking the latest headlines while watching TV, and a Facebook photos app for viewing pictures.
These take up maybe a sixth of the right-hand side of the screen, and seem to work perfectly well, but reading the news on your TV is a bit ceefax – most people will just pull out their smartphone to do it. Facebook photos might be a nice way to show off great holiday or wedding photos on a big screen, but at the moment apps don’t seem like a particularly useful feature. They will probably evolve in the future, and it’s a nice option to have.
A simple, but useful feature is music streaming from your smartphone. Many people’s best sound system is connected to their TV, so if you’re listening to music, playing it through the set might be the best way to do so.
Sky Q works with both Bluetooth and Apple’s Airplay, so can be used from all compatible smartphone apps like Spotify or Apple Music.