App Maintenance for new SmartTV models

Every year the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony and others release a set of new televisions to the market. Televisions with a slightly different operating system, newer versions of native integrations, and possibly new mandatory features to implement. That moment usually comes around the period we find ourselves in now, March and April. But how do you handle all of these things, what does it take to maintain SmartTV apps for new TV-models?

Appstore checks

One of the first things that happens, and actually does already usually months before the televisions reach the market, is a process started by the likes of Samsung and LG (and in lesser way by Sony, Philips and other AndroidTV brands). They perform tests on the new televisions for your app. And not just for your app, for every app they have in their stores on the previous model. So if an app is running on 2021 devices and the 2022 televisions come out soon, Samsung or LG will test that app to see if it works on the newer 2022 devices.

The outcome of this is a test report that needs to be acted upon by the maintaining party. In the results you can for example find issues with video playback, certain behaviour not working as expected, or mandatory features not being implemented yet. These issues need to be handled before the app will become available on the new televisions.

This can be a lengthy process, which is why the testing by the likes of Samsung and LG (and subsequent resolving by maintaining parties), generally begins at the end of the year already. Roughly around October or November you can already expect test results being shared. This to ensure that every party has enough time to resolve the issues in time for when the new televisions reach the consumer market.

New test devices

Importantly though, what if an issue is found that cannot be resolved in a remote manner? For example with new behaviour on a new television, some nasty video playback problems? That’s the moment when we look to secure testing devices that enable us to debug the problem with the physical devices. It can be that TV-manufacturers send us a testing device for this purpose, which we can then use for debugging and resolving purposes.

Next to that, ensuring you have the latest devices on hand when they do reach the market is equally important. Getting a sample from every type of new TV-model can be crucial to ensuring we can deliver quality applications. For example, Samsung releases entry and premium models to the market each year. So making sure you have an entry and a premium model is very important here. You can perform QA directly on the new devices, and resolve any model-specific issues as they pop up, before the app-update reaches end-users.

Updating device identification

As a result of all the testing, both by internal teams as well as TV-manufacturers, we’ll need to apply updates to the apps. You want to know that the analytics about your televisions signals the right device years and models for example, right?

Ensuring that devices are recognised properly will help you immensely when issues popup. Imagine you get an error report and that report says the television is from 2017, while in reality it is a TV from 2022. You’re then already wasting some precious time from the support, QA and development teams when issues are not recognised properly.

Importantly so, you want to know your end-users. You want to know what kind of models they have, which TVs are more error-prone, where do you find the most end-users. This helps you target your app-updates to specific television models, as you’ll want to have the most impact from your updates and, of course, want happy customers!

Summing up

There are quite some things to handle each year when new televisions reach the market. From handling appstore test results, to getting new TV-models, all the way to making sure your app is updated with the latest device recognition; to ensure your teams can function properly. In writing that may sound fairly easy, but you’ll always come across issues with new devices that you don’t expect.

And it’s not just one television! There are several different models for LG, Samsung, Sony, Philips, Panasonic and many other brands, too. Having to handle all of these every year can be a difficult and time consuming job. Nevertheless, you’ll need to do all these steps if you want to ensure your apps will continue to run as expected as new TV-models reach the market. It’s for a good reason that a dedicated team to handle the newly released devices, isn’t such a bad thing to have.

Closing words

I hope this has helped you gain some (albeit very high level) insights into what it takes to maintain SmartTV apps when new televisions reach the market. It may be a lot more than you expect, so if you ever feel that you’re in over your head with your application, by all means reach out!

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Developer from the Netherlands. Working as a JavaScript Developer at 24i. www.linkedin.com/in/matthijs-langendijk/

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Matthijs Langendijk

Matthijs Langendijk

Developer from the Netherlands. Working as a JavaScript Developer at 24i. www.linkedin.com/in/matthijs-langendijk/

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