Opera brings HTML5 apps to TVs

In a press release, Opera has announced the Opera TV Store, which it calls "a complete HTML5-based store solution for connected TVs". The store offers optimised apps for TVs, providing a lean-back web experience, which developers can create using cross-platform technology, says the company. The dev.opera website provides insight into how you can get started, and links to tools including an Opera TV emulator.

We spoke to Patrick Lauke, an Opera web evangelist who is working on TVs and devices, about the thinking behind the Opera TV Store and his thoughts on its utilisation of web standards. Lauke said that while Opera has been on TVs and other connected devices for years, the new store is a different proposition: "It's based on the same Opera Devices SDK, but it's not so much a web browser to access the 'wild' web as a separate environment purely tailored to the delivery of TV-optimised, web-based applications." This, said Lauke, is down to TV browsing presenting a different interaction model, due to the user's distance from the screen; the store offers no traditional browser UI, instead giving you a dashboard enabling access to curated apps.

The advantage of the system is clear from a development standpoint, according to Lauke: "End users may not care that the Opera TV Store is a web browser, but it's a boon for developers. Instead of creating native applications for a variety of different OEMs and devices, developers can leverage existing knowledge of building HTML5 web-based applications."

Lauke told us he thinks browser engines have really evolved into viable application 'meta-platforms'" in recent years, especially given the developments in HTML5: "We're seeing ever more powerful functionalities and capabilities being added directly into the browser itself, from very flashy features such as native audio, video and canvas to the more subtle, under-the-hood capabilities like the history API or web sockets." With Opera's products elsewhere including a "very competitive, standards-compliant engine", he said it was only natural the company's latest venture would take a standards-based approach.

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