The US based Zumper has released an tvOS app for the Apple TV. In doing so, the development team had to rethink how they approached design and implementation for this totally new user experience. The first challenge they had to overcome was that the user input is very different from iPhones and iPads as there are no taps or gestures. Instead there is the concept of "focus" before action is taken. I.e., you move around the screen to the right place with the remote control and then undertake an action.
Here are some other areas that the team at Zumper took into account when designed their tvOS app.
Avoid focus traps
The tvOS interaction model creates a scenario where navigation out of the current context is no longer as simple as a tap elsewhere on a display screen. The user is only able to select one thing on screen: what they are currently focused on. Long vertically scrollable lists of content that force a user to traverse downwards ends up making it hard for the user to return to content above or even the top nav bar.
The Zumper solution was to keep navigational focus actions vertical (top down to get to different parts of the app) and presenting content in a horizontal scrolling manner. Switching focus to different parts of the app or going to the nav bar is always a couple focus movements away at most.
Reduce movement of on-screen content
Around a TV, it’s likely that a user may be interacting with the app with multiple people, each watching different parts of the screen. With only one person controlling focus and moving the interface, the other views can quickly be thrown out of sync – analogous to when multiple people are reading an article on a single computer screen and the computer user scrolls down before others are ready to move on.
The Zumper team mitigates this issue by reducing the movement on-screen as much as possible. Content on-screen would page as you moved forward, so that a set of 8 items on screen, would page to a new set of 8 items. This improves upon the default behavior of moving all the items on the screen only to reveal 2 new items. The reduction of movement made it easier for multiple people to look at more new content with one action while also minimizing the chance of disrupting other viewers with constant movement of items.
Engage the user with visual content
tvOS presents an opportunity to be extremely visual on a large display format. People are used to colorful captivating content on a TV screen so the potential exists to provide similar content for the user as long as you’re not sacrificing usability and legibility. Because of the large dimensions of the TV, houses that usually render well on hi-res mobile devices may not scale well fullscreen on a 1080p tv screen anymore. This may be a chance to push or encourage higher res pictures from the agents.