Samsung’s new smart TVs are going to offer functionality that’s similar to Google’s Chromecast streaming adapter, if a prematurely published app is any indication. The new features are likely going to be announced at CES in Las Vegas next week.
Samsung has for some time offered owners of its smart TVs the ability to beam photos, videos, and music stored on their mobile phones to their TV sets via its Smart View app. On Thursday, Samsung published the next iOS version of that app on Apple’s App Store. The description of the app hasn’t been updated yet, but screenshots suggest a major update with significant new features.
A Samsung spokesperson declined to comment.
Notably, the app now features tabs for content from a variety of streaming providers, including YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. There’s also a tab for live TV content that features recently watched shows, featured content, and more.
In addition, there are also tabs for local media as well as TV Plus, Samsung’s new streaming channels that are powered by Fandango. The implication is that users will be able to beam content from any of these sources directly to their TVs, using their phones as remote controls. There’s also a search icon, suggesting that Samsung may have added some sort of universal search feature as well.
This wouldn’t be the first time Samsung tried to replace the TV remote with mobile devices. In 2013, the company acquired smart TV startup Boxee to completely reinvent its smart TV technology. Dubbed “Perfect Experience,” the goal of the initiative was to move away from apps on the TV screen, and instead give consumers a dedicated tablet as a remote control. This tablet remote was to feature a program guide that mixed live TV and content from streaming providers in a single interface.
Samsung killed the project two years later without ever shipping any PX devices, and laid off most of Boxee’s staff. It now looks like some of the ideas may have survived at Samsung, after all.
However, in late 2016, these features aren’t actually that novel anymore. Competing TV manufacturer Vizio integrated Google’s Chromecast technology into its TV sets earlier this year, and actually has been shipping some higher-end TVs with a dedicated tablet in lieu of a traditional remote control. Those tablets also features Vizio’s SmartCast app, which combines content from multiple providers in a single interface.
Apple has yet to fully embrace this kind of advanced second screen technology, but the Cupertino company has also been looking to make it easier for users of its Apple TV device to find content in a world of ever-growing app store catalogs. To that end, Apple recently introduced its own TV guide app, simply dubbed “TV.”
Apple has struggled to get service providers and content partners to embrace these efforts. For example, Netflix content is currently absent from the app — the video service prefers for consumers to use its own apps, as opposed to finding its content through third-party interfaces.
Samsung is likely facing similar issues with its attempts to unify content in one single app: Screenshots of the company’s new Smart View app list a number of participating content providers, but Netflix is notably absent.