Platform Flexibility – It’s Alive!

The last post, written largely back in November and published just before Christmas suggested that camera manufacturers should focus on opening up their products as development platforms, much as has happened with mobile phones. While I can’t yet report on this happening for cameras, I now have direct experience of exactly this approach in another consumer electronics area.

I decided to replace a large picture frame in my office with a electronic display, on which I could see a rolling presentation of my own images. This is not a new idea, but decreasing prices and improving specs brought into my budget the option of a 40"+ 4K TV, which on the experience of our main TV should be an excellent solution.

New Year’s Eve brought a trip to Richer Sounds in Guildford. As usual the staff were very helpful and we quickly narrowed down the options to equivalent models from Panasonic or Sony. The Panasonic option was essentially just a smaller version of our main TV, but the colours were slightly "off" and we preferred the picture quality of the Sony. The Panasonic’s slideshow application is OK, but limited, but the Sony’s built-app looked downright crude. It looked like a difficult choice, but then I realised that the Sony operating system is something called "AndroidTV" with Google Play support, and promised the option of a more open platform, maybe even development myself. Sold!

In practice, it’s exactly as I expected. The basic hardware is good, but the Sony’s default applications beyond the core TV are a bit crude. However a bit of browsing on Google Play revealed a couple of options, and I eventually settled on Kodi, a good open-source media player, which does about 90% of what I want for the slideshow. Getting it running was a bit fiddly, not least because a key picture-handling setting has to be set by uploading a small XML file rather than via the app’s UI, but after only a bit of juggling it’s now running well and doing most of what I want.

Beyond that, I can either develop an add-on for Kodi, or a native application for AndroidTV. However as the existing developer community has provided a 90% solution, I’m not in a great hurry.

I call that a result for platform vs product…

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