Ubuntu TV: The Community Wish List Is Taking Shape

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 25, 2012

In early January of this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Canonical took the wraps off of Ubuntu TV, which has drawn a mix of praise and criticism since then. If you haven't taken a peek at how Ubuntu TV works, there is a video available here. It's a new interface that integrates television and movie content on an open source platform that Canonical hopes will win developers over. The interface is based on Unity, the controversial interface that many Ubuntu users have wrestled with. Now, on the Ubuntu wiki, developers are seeking input on what to build for Ubuntu TV, and you can make your voice heard.

Since developers called for Ubuntu TV use cases over a week ago, quite a lot of ideas have been floated on the Ubuntu wiki.  The VAR Guy collected several of them, including calls for full DVR functionality, built in technology for cutting out commercials from recorded TV, and support for integrating TV with mobile devices.

Here are some of the more recent suggested use cases from the wiki:

  • - Support DVD ISO files with working menus.
  • - Support DVD playback from a USB DVD drive (and make it available on network). No more clunky DVD player box under the TV!
  • - The default photo application (currently Shotwell) should have the abilty to share the photos over the network to Ubuntu TV. Maybe another way to think of this is to have a Shotwell front end on Ubuntu TV. If you only implement a media server like Rygel, it will be difficult to browse by tag and only view the modified photos, so you will get a less integrated experience.
  • - Support for Blu-Ray discs
  • - An ability to aggregate listings or search for videos across multiple sites so the user doesn't have to search through multiple sites manually.
  • - Dynamic picture quality based on Internet bandwidth for streaming video to avoid buffering and viewing interruptions. E.g. Only play video in HD when the bandwidth is high enough, when it is not; change to a lower quality.
  • - Ability to subscribe to RSS feeds. Maybe also have a feed search like Miro.

If you take the time to go through all of the suggested use cases that have come in so far, it's clear that Ubuntu TV could really become something interesting. Let's not forget  that other attempts to bring a friendly computing-centric interface to televisions, including Boxee, have been well received already. At the same time, Google and Apple have struggled with making Google TV and Apple TV exciting offerings.

Many tasks in Ubuntu TV are automated and friendly. It finds and organizes existing media that you own, and it uses good tools such as Gstreamer for video playback, but it's definitely version 1.0 technology. Hopefully, with input from the community, it can grow into a compelling platform. If you have some good ideas for where the platform should go, contribute them on the wiki.