Kontrol.tv Launches To Help Developers Build Multiplatform, Multiscreen Mobile And TV Apps

Comment

Over the past several years, we’ve seen several device manufacturers and software makers jump into the smart TV market. Everyone from Samsung to Sony to LG to Google and Yahoo have built out some sort of smart TV device or operating system. But to date, so-called smart TVs haven’t actually been very smart: Control and navigation for thousands of apps and hundreds of pieces of content continues to be a challenge. And the market is totally fragmented, so apps only ever work for one operating system or manufacturer.

But what if there were a way for users to view, navigate, and control apps from their mobile phones or tablets, obviating the need for clunky remote controls? What if there were a way for them to play games with their friends and family on connected TVs, even if they bought them from different manufacturers? What if users could connect to friends on different second-screen applications, even if they were using different operating systems? Even better, what if developers could create a multiscreen, multiplatform app once, and have it work across multiple TV manufacturers and mobile and tablet operating systems?

That’s what Kontrol.tv seeks to do.

Kontrol.tv is the next product from MOVL, a startup that has been working on dual-screen mobile and TV applications over the last few years. MOVL’s first app was called WeDraw, and was built to connect mobile devices to Samsung TVs — essentially enabling users to draw on their phones and have the images instantly pop up onscreen. But it’s been building an ecosystem of device partnerships over the last several years that could make it easy for developers to quickly and easily build multiscreen apps that work across tens of millions of devices.

Kontrol.tv has built a number of APIs that simplify the process of reaching users regardless of TV manufacturer and mobile device. There are APIs for connecting various TVs to each other in the cloud, a direct-connect API for streaming media from a mobile device to the TV, and several others for managing users in various apps and rooms. The idea is that you build apps for Kontol.tv, and it’ll handle all of the connections across devices.

From a user standpoint, you just need a TV or connected device that supports Kontrol.tv — and there are a growing number of them out there. Kontrol.tv is featured on Google TV and Samsung connected TV devices, and will soon be supported by LG, Toshiba, Sony, Phillips, Sharp, and other manufacturers. (If you don’t have any of those devices, you can test it out on your computer here.)

Users download the mobile app, now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play stores, and they’ll have access to interactive, dual-screen devices. The mobile and TV apps will automatically sync if they’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network. If not, users can enter a code on the mobile device to get them synced up.

Once that’s done, users will have access to multiple dual-screen apps. That includes stuff like WeDraw and SwipeIt — which lets you swipe pictures on your mobile phone to be viewed on your TV. But there are others as well: Like being able to play a game of poker where the common cards are displayed on the TV, but users control their own cards and chips from the mobile device. Or an app for queueing up karaoke videos on the TV.

The whole thing sounds amazing — if it works. But, as usual, there’s are some roadblocks to sort through. The most obvious one is Apple’s resistance to the idea of app stores within apps that are available on its devices. And since the Kontrol.tv app basically lets you choose between apps that have been developed for the platform, which then launch on connected devices, that could become an issue.

More importantly, though, there’s the user acquisition and user education problem. Once someone finds out about Kontol.tv, they’re likely to want to use it, whether it be to interact with other people around the world, or play games in their own homes. But there’s that part about getting them to use it first, before they start coming back. For now, MOVL is just focused on getting Kontrol.tv on as many devices as possible, and we expect to see a lot more in the coming months.

The startup has raised a small amount of seed funding, including some from investor Mark Cuban. But it’s working to get other investors, both institutional and strategic, on board for a Series A round.

More TechCrunch

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient, and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google launches a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

OpenAI is removing one of the voices used by ChatGPT after users found that it sounded similar to Scarlett Johansson, the company announced on Monday. The voice, called Sky, is…

OpenAI to remove ChatGPT’s Scarlett Johansson-like voice

Consumer demand for the latest AI technology is heating up. The launch of OpenAI’s latest flagship model, GPT-4o, has now driven the company’s biggest-ever spike in revenue on mobile, despite…

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck