Sky Q won’t be out until ‘early 2016’ but we’re able to give you an idea of how it’ll work before you set your Q Silver and Q Mini boxes up.
As you may already know, a key part of the Sky Q experience is the ability to watch and pick up where you left off on multiple devices, enabled thanks to the smart ‘My Q’ function.
But how will you go about actually finding the stuff you want to watch in the first place?
Building on the rethinking of the Sky+HD interface that’s been rolling out to customers since January last year, catch-up services and box sets will be pushed to the fore. Instead of a traditional EPG (electronic programme guide), when you power up your Sky Q hardware you will be greeted with this acrostic-style interface which will always land on ‘Top Picks’ first.
From here you can either head north to things like the traditional TV guide and catch-up services or scroll down to jump to top Sky content like live box sets, movies and, of course, live sports.
We’re hoping to be able to bring you more eyes-on content very soon, but here’s what we can share so far.
Sky Q: General user interface
Rumours were floating around prior to the big Sky Q reveal that it would feature a ‘Netflix-style’ UI, but in reality it looks like Sky’s taken a few style tips from both the Now TV and Amazon Fire TV fashion guides.
There’s a clear and obvious left-right journey here. Scrollable, expanding and collapsing lists draw you in and guide you towards the colourful content on the right. This design ethos is continued throughout all of the other Sky Q menus we’ve seen.
We like this logical layout. From the home page, you tend to get a good idea of where everything is at a glance. Failing that, the previously mentioned ‘Top Picks’ section serves up a bunch of recommendations for your consideration.
Sky Q: TV Guide
Traditionalist channel hoppers who fear change will be pleased to know that the basic EPG isn’t too far away. From here you’ll be able to set and manage recordings and reminders and do all of the usual things. We weren’t able to get any hands-on time with this at the event, so can’t say whether or not things like the yellow, green and blue buttons work like they do on Sky+ or how search features work.
Sky Q: Catch-Up
Related: Sky Sports 4K confirmed along with Movies and entertainment TVThe Catch-Up section initially serves up links to recommended programmes but also breaks down with links to things like BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Player, Demand 5 along with links to content presumably tailored to whichever Sky TV bundle you’ve signed up for. We say ‘presumably’ because Sky hasn’t yet shared price info for Sky Q.
It might differ significantly from how you buy Sky TV packages right now (pick a bundle, add sports and movies) and be closer to the Now TV way of doing things (pay for what you want, pay on a daily, weekly or monthly basis). We don’t know.
At launch, the ITV catch-up section didn’t look too dissimilar to the old ITV Player menu you can see on Sky+HD. We asked if the soon-to-be-launched ITV Hub will arrive on Sky Q, but no spokespeople were able to comment.
Sky Q: My Q
We’ve taken a closer look at My Q here, but to recap, this is where you’ll head if you want to stop what you’re watching in one room and carry on in another (or watch on your tablet). This one of the aces up Sky Q’s sleeve. We’ve seen it in action (albeit in hands-off product demonstration form) and it’s pretty cool.
You’ll also be able to pick up where you left off with a series – if the next episode of something is available, you’ll be able to hit play in My Q and carry on.
Sky Q: Sky Box Sets
If your Sky package gives you access to box set content, it’s here where you’ll head if you want to binge your way through Game of Thrones, Grey’s Anatomy, Sons of Anarchy or whatever you’re plugged into yet.
Sky Q: Sky Movies
While you’ll be able to jump to Sky Movies channels in the old fashioned way, if you want to sift through this discrete category, you’ll be able to do that too.
Sky Q: Sky Store
Folks who like to buy and rent digital copies and get physical back ups posted out to them with Buy & Keep will be able to pony up for the latest releases here.
Sky Q: Sports
We weren’t able to get a good look at this during the demo unfortunately, so we can’t comment on what other channels and catch-up services might be accessible through this section.
What we can reveal is that as well as quick links to live sporting events, on demand content and box office fixtures, you’ll also be able to search by sport as well, making it easy to find live criket, Premier League football, rugby union, golf, motor sport, boxing across multiple channels.
Sky Q: Music
The Music section is populated with quick links to things like music documentaries and live performances that are typically broadcast on Sky Arts.
While Sky Q gear will let you stream music wirelessly using Bluetooth or Apple AirPlay, it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to do this from here or if this is accessed separately.
Sky Q: Online Video
YouTube and Vevo apps will be available on Sky Q from launch. There’s also plans to add GoPro, Red Bull and Whistle Sports apps and content in the future.
Partnerships with Jukin Media, Kin Community and Condé Nast have been announced, with a view to bringing content from GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired to the table.
No word on whether there’s any deals with Netflix and Amazon in the pipeline though…