Pink Visual Pens An Open Letter to Google

Nov 17, 2010

When we first heard that Google had an Internet TV product in the pipeline, the crew here at Pink Visual was so excited, we had to chain our developers to their desks to keep them focused. (Which reminds me... I should probably go downstairs and feed those guys. Whoops.)

As soon as we got a glimpse of the Google TV specs, we immediately got to work on, our Google TV-optimized site. Much to our dismay, however, some aspects of Google TV seemed about as well thought-out as an infant's temper tantrum.... and about as enjoyable as being that spazzed-out infant's parent.

To express our feelings about the experience of developing for Google TV, our CTO sat down and penned an open letter to Google. You can read the text of it below, or follow this link to a scan of the letter itself.

Enjoy the letter... we certainly did. ;-)

To Whom It May Concern (Or At Least Vaguely Annoy):

Before I get started on my little rant here, just let me assure you of one thing: we here at Pink Visual loves us some Google. We are enamored of virtually everything that Google has created - and although we envy it more than love it, we do find it amazing that your brand name has become synonymous with the act of finding information online. Kudos on that achievement!

Unfortunately, this letter isn't about love; it is about aggravation - Google TV-related aggravation, specifically.

When we set out to build our Google TV-optimized site, we anticipated a smooth development process, one that was reflective of the sort of detail-oriented, precision thinking that we have come to expect from Google. As it turns out, what we experienced was anything but 'smooth.'

While we like surprises as much as the next porn-slinging company, the surprise awaiting developers optimizing websites for Google TV is more akin to a "your test came back positive for chlamydia" manner of surprise than it is a "you've won the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes" surprise.

OK, so that's a little harsh.... but so is the fact that your development guidelines state that all web pages have to be navigable using only the d-pad, but you don't include any support for that functionality! This makes it necessary for us developers to write our own Javascript, since there appears to be no good 'generic' solution available. Thanks for that!

Speaking of surprises, how shocked were we to learn that the GoogleTV software requires the device to reboot in order to change resolutions from 720p to 1080p, and vice versa? As a result, we had the not-at-all-aggravating experience of rebooting every time we wanted to test something we had developed for the site to ensure that it looked good at both resolutions. Oh well, I suppose you can legitimately claim this feature is "unprecedented," because so far as I'm aware, Google TV has the distinction of being the only web-capable device that requires a complete reboot just to change the display resolution.

In another first, Google TV is the first product to manage to make tabbed browsing a confusing mess. True, there's a clearly labeled button that opens the 'tabs' menu, and it does allow one to create a tab, close a tab and view tab history.... but it doesn't allow you to switch between tabs. The only way to do that is by hitting ctrl+Tab, and there is no indication of that fact provided when one creates a new tab. Of course, all this is only relevant if one or more of the tabs you've opened has not magically disappeared altogether - something that occurs with disquieting regularity when using Google TV's tabbed browsing.

These nagging technical issues aside, from our perspective as porn purveyors the biggest problem with Google TV is that you appear to have overestimated a great number of your prospective consumers of the product. How so? For starters, you have placed the means for accessing the Internet in a sub-folder marked "Applications." This suggests that you are relying on the customer already knowing that Chrome is a web browser, and counting on them to realize that they should look for that browser in an applications sub-menu....? I'm not so sure that's a safe pair of assumptions there, mon frre.

Presumably, Google TV is aimed at least in part at people who love TV, and who watch quite a bit of it, right? Well, the average heavy consumer of televised content is liable to think that an "Application" is either (a) something that you submit prior to a job interview (which only happens once your unemployment benefits have run out), or (b) something that their kids have on "them dang fancy phones of theirs." Accordingly, perhaps a more appropriate place for the function would be the home screen, and a more appropriate rendering of the link it would be a bright red button that says "Click For Internets."

Look, I realize that it probably seems ridiculous (and possibly beyond egotistical) on my part to think that Google needs pointers of any kind from a porn company ..... but that only makes it worse that in this case you might actually NEED some advice from a porn company. We have years of experience dealing with consumers that are largely thinking with their other head and not so observant on technical function of the device they are using, if you take my drift. And just in general, you might want to consider dumbing this shit down a bit.

Please take this critique in the spirit it is offered: a gentle kick to your developmental posterior from an ardent admirer of all things Google. I look forward to seeing Google roll up its collective sleeves and plunge back into the lab, where I am confident you will turn Google TV into the kickass, Apple-beating, world-changing product we all know it can be.

Jack Dowland
Chief Technical Officer, Pink Visual

PS: Please, for the love of God, if you take nothing else from this letter..... move that frickin Chrome link out onto the main menu!!!

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