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Retired Staff Member
SaraM79
Posts: 218
Registered: ‎17-10-2012

Sky Go Statement - Alun Webber (Managing Director PDD)

[ Edited ]

All,

 

Please see below an official statement from Alun Webber (Managing Director of Product Design & Development) on Sky Go

 

Hi, my name is Alun Webber, I am the Managing Director for Product Design & Development at Sky.

 

In response to the high level of interest shown by a number of forums customers regarding our Sky Go development on Android to date and our future plans, I wanted to update you all personally.

 

Firstly, I acknowledge that Sky Go on Android has fallen short of the expectations of some of our customers. 

 

The Sky Go product team spend a lot of time looking at the forums and speaking with customers directly, and I hope you would concur that the primary product frustrations have been as follows:

 

  • Releasing functionality on iOS in advance of Android
  • Delays in supporting Sky Go on the Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean releases
  • Partial Android device support, but most specifically not making Sky Go available on Android tablets, even in light of the accelerated take-up of those devices

Addressing the above issues has been a priority for us over the past 12 months and we have made some significant improvements;

 

  • Starting with the release of ‘download’ functionality in January this year, the release of new functionality on Android is now synchronised with the release of the same functionality on iOS.  
  • Of the top 5 devices requested in a survey of forum customers in December, all but one (Samsung Galaxy Note 10) was supported by the end of January this year.
  • At Christmas 2012 we added support for 14 new devices, and since then we have added support for a further seven new devices, with a further 2 currently in test.  The new devices have included Samsung Galaxy S4, LG Nexus 4, HTC One & One X+, Sony Experia Z, Motorola RAZRi & RAZR HD.

This leaves the support of large screen Android tablets as the highest priority remaining issue to address. To help you understand why we do not yet support these devices, it’s helpful to understand the development history of Sky Go.

 

Sky Go was launched on Android in February 2012, but was developed on older versions of Android (2.2 & 2.3) that did not support tablets. Our priorities immediately after launch were to amend the service such that it worked with the ICS release (achieved April 2012), and to launch VOD (June 2012), bringing it in line with the iOS application.

 

In late summer 2012, we faced the choice of rewriting the application to either take advantage of the capabilities of ICS (and Jelly Bean) to enable applications to scale for different screen sizes, or focus on delivering “downloads” to Android at the same time as for iOS.

 

Taking into account customer feedback we had previously received regarding delays between iOS and Android releases of Sky Go, we took the decision to prioritise “downloads” over support for Android Tablets, and as a result were able to launch this functionality at the same time on both iOS and Android.

 

In respect of supporting Android tablets, there are two technical issues arising from the initial application development on Android 2.2/2.3, both of which are currently being worked on;

 

  • As referenced above, one issue relates to the way the Android application code was written, which meant it was not able to easily adapt it for different screen sizes in the way enabled by the ICS & Jelly Bean releases. We believe we have an interim solution for this issue and we are seeking to make this available to the testing teams within the next 4-5 weeks.
  • The other issue relates to the provision of a stream of sufficiently high bandwidth to support viewing on a tablet device – this was a criticism of our launch on the Nexus 7, particularly for the viewing of Sports content. This below par viewing experience would only be exacerbated on a 10” device.

Unfortunately it is not as straightforward as simply adding a higher bit rate stream, as older Android operating systems (2.2 & 2.3) do not support the change in frame resolution that would occur as the higher bit rate stream was accessed. iOS and later versions of Android do support this.  

 

We know we have further room for improvement, and my team is committed to the following:

 

  • Confirming within 2 weeks our timetable for enabling access to Sky Go on the highest volume Android tablets (both the above issues being resolved).  As part of this work, we are also identifying how can we make our device support strategy more transparent to customers, so that we set a clear and realistic expectation about when future devices will be supported
  • Ensuring we are well prepared for the next major Android OS release later this year and thereby ensuring customers do not suffer from the same delays as previous releases in terms of having Sky Go supported on the new OS.  

With regard to our communications through both the Help Forum and our customer service teams, I apologise for any frustration you have experienced as a result of not having clear guidance and information available.

 

As mentioned, we are working on how we can make our device support strategy more transparent to customers, and our support teams.  As the same time, our teams will be fully briefed on future plans and will have the appropriate line of escalation to the technical teams for any issues they are not immediately able to address.

 

I hope this goes some way to addressing the concerns expressed by the community and thank all of you for your continued patience and support.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Alun Webber

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Retired Staff Member
SaraM79
Posts: 218
Registered: ‎17-10-2012

Re: Sky Go Statement - Alun Webber (Managing Director PDD)

[ Edited ]

Evening all

 

Please find the update as promised from Alun Webber.

 

Update on Android Tablets

Following on from my previous post on this issue, I am pleased to share our plan for supporting Sky Go on Android Tablets.

Given the amount and complexity of the work involved, we are delivering this in a phased approach. This approach will prioritise providing a good quality content viewing experience ahead of UI changes such as making better use of the screen and enabling landscape mode.

Phase 1 - Interim Solution for Tablets

  • Creating a tablet specific application that runs on Android 4.0 and above
  • Integrating this application with a different streaming technology that supports higher resolution streams, suitable for large-screen devices
  • Modifying the application code such that it will display correctly on a large screen device [but this will still be restricted to portrait format only at this time]
  • Enabling access to a specific set of Tablet devices that we have been able to test against.

Phase 2 - Integrated Solution

  • Integrating the above changes into a single application shared with other Android devices.
  • Removing the ‘Tablet only’ application.

Phase 3 - Complete Solution

  • Rewriting the application code to enable it to automatically scale to the screen sizes
  • Developing a landscape implementation of the UI
  • Improved UI

 

Our current estimated timing for these phases is as follows:

Phase 1:  Customer Beta by end September. Launch early November

Phase 2:  Customer Beta January 2014

Phase 3: Early Summer 2014

 

In the Beta trial for Phase 1 our goal is to support devices from Samsung, Asus, Google Nexus, and Sony.  The customer beta will be accessible via Sky Go’s Google+ group, and a link will be made available via the Sky Help Forum before the trial begins.

 

As new tablets are launched between now and Xmas, we will do our best to enable access to Sky Go on as many of these as we can, as soon as we can.

Thank you for your patience while we worked through the phases outlined above.

 

Addendum July 31st 

 

Apologies for the ambiguity in the my post yesterday. Video playback will be in landscape, it is only UI that will (in phase 1 & 2) be in portrait. Some people have also questioned what it is we have said we will release in November. It will be a fully tested, QC, and trialled release. The customer beta in September will also have been tested prior to release, but there may still be some issues that we have not yet found. Exposing it to a larger group of people will hopefully assure us (or not) that this isn't the case.

 

I have not forgotten about the other actions I committed to. We are still working on how we provide clearer communications to you, and our colleagues who support these forums, but I didn't want to delay the update on Tablet support to wait for this. If you have any specific ideas about what you would most appreciate, I would be interested to hear them. Now that we have a clear plan on Tablet support, the teams will start to firm up our plan about how we do better around new OS and new device releases..

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 17.13.35.png

 

 

 

 

 

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Community Manager
Erinn-R
Posts: 1,230
Registered: ‎05-11-2012

Re: Sky Go Statement - Alun Webber (Managing Director PDD)

Good Evening Everyone,

 

Please find below an update from Alun Webber around the progression of the tablet BETA trials :

 

In July we committed to enabling access to Sky Go on Android Tablets, and during the last 6 weeks we have had over 100 staff using the application across a selection of popular devices. Based on the results of these trials, I am pleased to announce that we are shortly going to be ready to invite customers to join our Beta Trial.

 

In the next few days we're going to be publishing details on the forum of how to join the customer Beta and on device support

 

Thank you again for your patience.

Erinn
Community Manager
Forum Help http://helpforum.sky.com/t5/help/faqpage
Sky Help Centre http://www.sky.com/help

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