back to article House of Cards UI central to Mozilla's plans for Firefox on tellies

Mozilla has revealed how it reckons Firefox should look when it's on the tellie. Firefox OS user experience designer Hunter Luo reckons that the four basic functions of a smart television are watching shows, accessing apps, controlling devices and looking at list of your content. The user interface for Firefox-for-tellies …

  1. Tac Eht Xilef

    Let me get this straight

    Firefox reckons the way forward for their OS on TVs is to let their UI designers decide how it should be structured?!

    It's like they haven't listened at all to any of the complaints about their browser. Which is probably the case...

  2. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Missing the problems of TV GUIs

    TV GUIs are different, you have no pointer device, or if you want to have a pointer device that's very inconvenient to use.

    With a TV you essentially have a keyboard interface. You have your 4 directions, an OK button and a few others. The challenge is to provide an interface which makes it easy to see what functionality you can expect behind every button. That's why well designed user interfaces have, for example, text written in the 4 colours of your coloured buttons on the remote. Or they have numbers or colours next to the menu entries.

    And BTW, more buttons on a remote are usually a good thing as they make using a particular device much easier since you won't have to switch between looking at the menu and the remote, but can just press the button on the remote. Here's an example for an old (1980s) remote from Germany:

    http://azshop.eshop.t-online.de/WebRoot/Store4/Shops/Shop37961/4A5C/3703/8BC3/3845/9CC1/AC14/500B/9531/001.JPG

    Certain assumptions were different back then. That's why that remote has a combined Teletext/Bildschirmtext field in the middle. People back then believed you'd want to connect your TV to data networks. Also it was designed for the case where you were unlikely to have more than 10 channels... that's why it has a _/__ button to select 1 or 2 digit entry of channel numbers and no Ch+/- buttons.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Missing the problems of TV GUIs

      @Christian

      Sony's Xross Media Bar is an example of a TV UI that is based on what you mention - four direction buttons, [Enter] and [Back] etc. making it suitable for traditional IR remote controllers, as well as Sony's games console controllers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XrossMediaBar

      However, why base a modern TV UI around the limits of these traditional Human Input Devices when touch-screen devices are so cheap? Or indeed 'free' if one assumes the user already has a modern mobile phone (if they don't, what's a £40 Android device to a £500+ TV?). One can then browser the Electronic Programme Guide without obscuring the currently playing programme, or bring up a virtual qwerty keyboard to search for content.

      The nicest way to watch Youtube or iPlayer videos on a TV is to find them on a tablet or phone, and them then 'send' them to the TV. If the TV doesn't have this functionality built in, a games console or inexpensive dongle will add it.

      Don't get me wrong, a traditional IR remote is good for adjusting the volume or flicking between a few favourite channels, but a touch-screen is better for more involved functions.

      Sony will soon be using Android on their TVs, just as LG and Samsung use a former mobile phone OSs on their TVs - Web OS (from Palm) and Tizen respectively. (so I'm not sure who Firefox think they're courting).

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Missing the problems of TV GUIs

        Well there are at least 3 problems with using an Android (or whatever) touchscreen device as a remote.

        1) The batteries just last for a few hours vs the months or years you get on normal infrared remotes.

        2) They are automatically harder to use, i.e. you have to master Android (or whatever) before you can even begin learning to use the TV, that's much harder than just pressing a button and the TV goes on.

        3) Android devices are more expensive, even those $40 are _much_ more expensive than an infrared remote.

        And I'm not even talking about problems like pairing. Maybe a sensible solution would be to have a very simple interface, perhaps based on HTTP. That way you could have a primitive HTML interface and integrate it into home automation systems easily. (without the complexity overhead of binary Java blobs or whatever) It also would be a future proof solution since nobody know how the mobile market will develop during the lifetime of your TV-set. (10-20 years)

    3. Greg J Preece

      Re: Missing the problems of TV GUIs

      TV GUIs are different, you have no pointer device, or if you want to have a pointer device that's very inconvenient to use.

      I have one of the LG TVs with WebOS, and it comes with a pointer remote. Those aren't difficult to make these days, and I assume this would only realistically be going onto new products, so that's a small hurdle to overcome.

  3. Ole Juul Silver badge

    "quick global navigation"

    Once you learn to read their language.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Do. Not. Want.

    Unlike Hydras of myth/legend, modern-day Hydras die when one head is removed. First major commercial example? The printer/scanner/fax machine. Awful, nasty bits of kit.

    I can't wait to hear the howls of the masses when crashing the browser kills DearOldTelly. House of cards indeed.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Not again

    They always come out with something after Android and they can't compete with free (plus a small price for the Google apps). If they did something before Android at least they could have chance to build up a relationship with manufacturers.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Not again

      Sony will be using Android, LG using what was once Palm OS, and Samsung will use Tizen.

      Maybe Firefox will end up on Tesco's home-brand TVs?

  6. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Look a bit much like Googles Leanback Launcher to me... Just without the YouTube Vids.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Dashboard confusion

    The use of this metaphor in UI always confuses me as it does here. I take the first picture to be the dashboard: it shows me everything I can control. And yet, it itself has an item called "dashboard". WTF?

    I'm not convinced about the growth of apps on tellies beyond content on demand / catchup.

    Impossible to critique a UI from a couple of screens so I'll reserve judgement until I can give it a try out. Good integration with the remote has to be a priority. The Kodi/XBMC people seem to have done this pretty well, at least on the devices I've used it with.

  8. P. Lee Silver badge

    Stack of Cards?

    A bit like our dear departed WebOS?

    I really liked it as a touch-based system.

    I'm all for manufacturers putting any old system in but having a standard interface so an AV box/PC can take control.

  9. Tannin
    Coat

    Looks sensible

    On first glance, it looks perfectly sensible. This leads to the following supplementary questions:

    (1) Am I too old? For a moment there I thought I'd read that the Firefox UI team did it. Time for my milk and arrowroot. Where did I put my slippers?

    (2) Is it actually not nearly as sensible as it seems to be after all?

    (3) Did all the smart Firefox UI people (yes, both of them) stop working on the browser years ago and switch overr to TV development?

    (4) Does anyone actually watch TV these days anyway? Yes? Quite a few, you say. OK, I'll take your word for it. But how many of them are under 50?

    (5) But what do I know anyway? My last TV blew up one cold, rainy Tuesday and I haven't got around to replacing it yet. Life seemed nicer without it for a little while, and seeing as it blew up near-on 20 years ago, possibly I'm slightly out of date on the TV tech scene. On the other hand, I've made my living tinkering with electronic machines I don't really understand for the last three decades, so who let that stop me now?

    (6) What was the question?

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Alternatively...

    I might just want to turn on the TV, have a quick flick through the guide, and pick what want to watch in a quick and efficient manner as possible.

    Not have to navigate through a cumbersome menu structure just to do the basics.

  11. phil dude
    Linux

    roku....

    this is not entirely different than how Roku does it , and they have sold shed loads of that (PenguinInside) platform.

    P.

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