Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Table stakes for streaming apps

John Siracusa has Opinions on video streaming apps:

I subscribe to a lot of streaming video services, and that means I use a lot of streaming video apps. Most of them fall short of my expectations. Here, then, is a simple specification for a streaming video app. Follow it, and your app will be well on its way to not sucking.

This spec includes only the basics. It leaves plenty of room for apps to differentiate themselves by surprising and delighting their users with clever features not listed here. But to all the streaming app developers out there, please consider covering these fundamentals before working on your Unique Selling Proposition.

John’s list is really solid. I quibble about a couple of the things he’s looking for, but can’t argue with most of them: there’s nothing more frustrating than an app that gets in your way, especially when you’re trying to do something as simple as watch an episode of TV.

My personal addition to this list is better recognition of when you’ve finished an episode (I’m sorry, I’m not always going to watch all five minutes of credits—you should be able to figure that out).

Apple’s newer video player UI, rolled out in tvOS 15, has become adopted by more and more apps, and it’s really pretty good. Frankly, I wish all players used this framework because then I wouldn’t have to figure out where the features are in every different player.1 This would be like if every television channel had its own slightly different interface.


  1. There are a lot of bad UI experiences in video streaming apps, but Peacock might be the worst on the Apple TV. Getting to the controls is a pain and I’ve never figured out how to make the “jump back 10 seconds” command work correctly. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

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