Navigating the maze-like menus of smart TVs has never been much fun, but My Home Screen 2.0, a feature of Firefox OS, aims to change that.
Instead of hiding all the good stuff away, Firefox OS gives you just three main options – live TV, apps (Netflix, YouTube, etc) and Devices (set top boxes, games consoles, external drives).
As well as this, you’re also given the freedom to pin shortcuts to your favourites on a separate screen that’s accessed by the push of a button; this is the eponymous My Home Screen.
You can even pin shortcuts to specific TV channels, so you can almost create your own EPG with this. Firefox OS lets you have Netflix, BBC Three, ITV2 and your Xbox One on speed dial.
Firefox OS lets you have Netflix, BBC Three and your Xbox One on speed dial.Shortcuts appear in a Mac OS X-style carousel, with new shortcuts being added to the right of the others. There’s no limit to the number of shortcuts you can create and you can re-order the carousel as you see fit.
According to Panasonic spokespeople we talked to, the software on display wasn’t quite the same version as you’ll see when these TVs hit the shops. Even though it wasn’t finished, Firefox OS looked very polished. While we were only able to play with it for a few minutes, we didn’t encounter any glaring problems.
It’s very colourful and engaging. Colourful icons blossom into life at the touch of a button and pinning shortcuts to the customisable homescreen was effortless. It’s a welcome change to the dull greyness and rigidity of older smart TV UIs.
The higher end of Panasonic’s 4K Ultra HD 2015 range of smart TVs will run Firefox OS and will feature My Home Screen 2.0. In the demo at the 2015 Panasonic Convention, we saw Netflix, Deezer, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube working like a charm, but it’s not clear what UK-specific apps will be available from launch.
As Firefox OS is HTML5-based it shouldn’t be much trouble for developers to bring their wares to the service, but Panasonic couldn’t comment on what might or might not be available from launch.
As these TVs will feature Freeview Play as well, you’ll have access to BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5 from day one – albeit through a different interface.