A number of mobile app publishers are still trying to figure out their strategies related to Apple’s first wearable device, the Apple Watch. While many opt for background apps that push relevant information when needed, Hulu’s entry into the Apple Watch space instead sees the company turning the Apple Watch into a remote control that lets you control video playback across a number of streaming media players, including, of course, Apple TV.
In Hulu’s case, the new Watch app lets viewers play, pause and rewind shows (jumping back 10 seconds) by tapping on their wrist, plus toggle captions on and off. For now, the app works with Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, and the PS3 and PS4. On Apple TV, users will first have to launch a Hulu stream on their iPhone, and then will be able to use the Watch app as a remote. For the other platforms, the app will connect to any existing device that’s already streaming Hulu.
Using the Apple Watch as a remote control of sorts isn’t an entirely out-of-left-field idea – after all, one of Apple Watch’s built-in apps is a music app that lets users control their favorite songs and playlists right from the watch’s small screen.
Apple’s app makes sense as it allows you to make quick adjustments to your music or its volume while exercising. But Hulu is apparently betting on the fact that Watch owners want to use their Watch as a remote control – instead of say, the one that came with their device or even Hulu’s own iPhone app – when viewing content on the big screen.
Whether or not Hulu viewers actually do want a remote control on their wrist remains to be seen. That being said, the launch is indicative of the level of experimentation we’re seeing from today’s companies who are now attempting to figure out how to make an Apple Watch app a part of their more comprehensive mobile offerings for consumers.
Even Hulu admits that its app is more about testing the waters with regard to Apple Watch.
“The Hulu application on the Apple Watch is the perfect opportunity to explore the Apple Watch OS and experiment with ways to integrate the Hulu experience into the popularity of wearable platforms,” a company blog post noted.
Notably, Hulu also let an intern build the Apple Watch app – which is nice, of course, but also may speak to the level of importance it has assigned to its Apple Watch experimentations.
As for me, I’m waiting for a future when Apple Watch apps become smarter, more location- and context-aware, and more personalized to my needs. For example, it would be great if a Watch app like Hulu’s could be automatically triggered to launch the remote control interface when it detected I was streaming Hulu on my big screen TV via a supported media player. It could then push notifications about what to watch based on what content is about to expire, or what new episode has just arrived from a favorite show. And it would let me simply tap on my wrist to play back that recommendation. (A girl can dream, right?)
But hey, I guess a remote control app is a good first step.