OperaTV

Opera Software has been working with Sony and TCL to enable them to incorporate the industry’s first Blink-based TV rendering engine in their latest Smart TVs and entertainment devices.

By using the Opera Devices SDK (Software Development Kit) these SmartTV makers have been able to add the Blink-based TV rendering engine to their Android L based TVs.

If you are not familiar with Blink, it is the fork of WebKit that Google started back in April 2013. Blink and WebKit are responsible for formatting the HTML5 buried in web pages and displaying it in a readable form on our web browsers, and in this case on TVs.

But the real power behind Opera’s announcement is that it is offering SmartTV makers a Blink-based alternative to Android TV, Google’s vision for Android based entertainment devices as seen on the Nexus Player.

Manufacturers seek a certain degree of freedom on the OS layer, to differentiate the user experience.

SmartTV makers don’t necessarily want to become manufacturers of commodity TVs that run vanilla Android TV. If they do then they lose out (as there is no differentiation between one TV and another) and Google wins.

Aneesh Rajaram, Opera’s Senior Vice-President for TV & Devices, put it like this, “manufacturers seek a certain degree of freedom on the OS layer, to differentiate the user experience. But, as we’ve experienced, content owners are keen to re-use their investments in HTML5 apps for TV, and this is precisely where we can add value to manufacturers launching Android TV.”

The problem with all this talk of Android on televisions is that sometimes people will refer to Android TVs as meaning the latest Smart TVs and entertainment devices based on Android L. While sometimes Android TV means the specific version of Android as released by Google called “Android TV.” It can all get a bit confusing!

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However it is clear (I think) that Opera is talking about SmartTVs based on Android, but not necessarily running Google’s Android TV, although that seems to also be an option. In Opera’s view of the world, TV manufacturers add support for HTML5-based TV apps that are available through the Opera TV Store. At the same time the TV makers also add the Opera TV Blink-based browser so that viewers browse the full web via a standard remote control and use familiar features, such as tabbed browsing and bookmarks.

Opera Software will be at CES 2015 to showcase the latest version of the Opera Devices SDK, which includes new features that manufacturers need to meet YouTube’s 2015 certification requirements.