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Sky UK Adds “Smart New Features” to Sky Q TV Box Platform

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020 (8:58 am) - Score 7,868
sky_q

Sky (Sky Broadband) has today unveiled a “raft of new features” for their Sky Q TV boxes and service, such as a new expanded view User Interface (UI), simple new show and sports centres, intuitive smart buttons, Disney+ in HDR (for the first time) and improved voice discovery. But still no Sky Q over broadband.

We’ve mentioned some of these improvements before in prior leaks, such as the enhanced voice search, but at the time we didn’t know everything that would be changing. Sky are describing this as the “biggest change to the award-winning box since launch,” although it’s much more of an evolution than a revolution.

The following changes are expected to roll-out to Sky Q TV customers over the “next few weeks.” Over the coming months Sky will also be adding more Sky Nature shows, Sky originals and Sky Cinema movies in time for Christmas. HDR for live sport will be available in 2021.

Key Sky Q Changes

– Expanded View UI

The new UI removes the static menu bar, which is instead replaced by a dynamic collapsible menu, letting you see a third more of the stuff you love (i.e. less searching required).

– Show Centres

Each TV show will now have a go-to destination for every available episode. All seasons, episodes, recordings, broadcast schedules and on-demand links are together in one place. Plus, there’s a new smart button coming that gets you to the episode you want quickly. So, if you’re halfway through an episode of Gangs of London, it’ll say “continue ep. 3”, or if you’ve just finished, it’ll suggest you start the next episode (a fair few of Sky’s rivals can do this already). The smart button will switch between Continue, Delete, Watch from the Start, or Play the next episode – all based on what you watched last.

– Sports Centres

Similar to the above, except including all the latest games, news, documentaries, fixtures, podcasts and tables. For example, saying “football” into the voice remote will take you to a page that brings together live and on demand football content from all channels and apps including; Sky Sports, Sky Sports App, BT Sport, terrestrial channels, YouTube and Spotify. 

– Improved Voice Discovery

Sky Q will now enabled users to ask for themes and genres, alongside actors. For example, saying “thrillers with Nicole Kidman” will bring up relevant suggestions of what to watch. You’ll soon be able to ask for entertainment themes too, such as “new shows“, “Halloween” or “Christmas” etc.

– HDR on Disney+ (provided your box can support it)

Fraser Stirling, Sky’s Group Chief Product Officer, said: “We’ve redesigned Sky Q to make it even smarter, simpler and better at aggregating all of the TV and app content you love into one place. A new-look UI, improved voice search and more intuitive navigation make everything easier to find without having to search around … And we’re not stopping there, the tech team behind Sky Q and Sky Go are working hard on loads of new updates that we’ll be rolling out every few months, so you can expect your Sky TV experience to keep getting better.”

However, we’re still awaiting Sky’s long-in-gestation plans for a Sky Q TV over broadband (rather than Satellite) service. Sky’s Chief Product Officer, Fraser Stirling, has said that the company is still “working on it” for the UK, but other aspects of the Sky Q platform’s development have simply taken priority. In the meantime, it looks like Sky will focus on a hybrid approach of satellite and IP network based content delivery.

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21 Responses
  1. Avatar Kom

    They don’t want to pay bandwidth costs for Sky over internet? They could offer Sky over internet for Sky broadband users only and then use multicast.

    • Avatar Matthew

      I doubt they will do that as that could still potentially cut off a lot of the people who are in apartment blocks and say stuck on Hyperoptic or another small ISP or KCOM Apartment owners for example seems pointless to cut off that revenue for the cost of bandwith.

  2. Avatar James™

    They have the IPTV channels on Now TV and Sky Go so must be other limitations they are trying to figure out.

    • Sky Go and NOW TV are somewhat limited platforms, while taking masses of channels (via Satellite) and making them, as well as the rest of the content experience / features, available via Sky Q over broadband is a much bigger project. Still they’ve already done it in two other countries..

    • Avatar Scott

      NowTV and SkyGo are a small subset of the channels available – scaling that up really needs a full E2E managed service. BT TV’s implementation of NowTV is a great example of implementing their service as a true IPTV solution (including channel recording).

      I assume BT TV is still using an evolution of the BT Wholesale TV Connect platform (and Talk Talk also?) so I’d guess Sky will be looking to their own IPTV CDN rather than outsource.

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      It’s more a matter of focussing on their hybrid platform, and Sky is looking to move more content over to IP including linear and VOD. Sky X won’t be available in the short term.

  3. Avatar Sandra

    HDR a channel you know you are losing soon?

    ok.

    • Avatar MattyJ

      Disney+ is their streaming service. You are thinking of the Disney channel. Different thing. Disney channel is being removed from live tv but added into Disney+ instead.

  4. Avatar Better Call Jim

    The promo pic’s funny because they’ve shrunk the left menu sidebar down but there’s a gaping wide chasm of nothing on the far right. Maybe they should’ve chosen a show with more than two series.

  5. Avatar Bob-de-builder

    No HDR for customers on the original v1 box unless they stump up £50 for a self install upgraded box.

  6. Avatar Wally1

    I’m sure some of these changes will be welcome
    but Sky’s ongoing saga with FTTP and HDR is
    much more important in my view. This is a bit
    like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

  7. Avatar Glyn

    As usual not a word to their customers, they just dump it on you like it or not. I’ve only just got used to the original crap interface and now they’ve changed it without warning or explanation what the hell is going on and now I’m back to square one again as I’ve no idea what I’m doing with the damn thing. Shit customer service.

    • Avatar Spurple

      You must be the only one who thinks it’s crap. Has some flaws, such as the lack of a true, simple “back” button, but it is the best live+catchup TV implementation in the UK.

    • Avatar Jean

      Agree total crap keeps freezing and recordings all over the place. Their testing team have got to be rubbish.

  8. Avatar Terry

    I only have Sky Q HD because I like the features of the box. Most of their exclusive channels are rubbish and I tend to watch what would be free if only Freeview came up with a decent box.

  9. Avatar Walkerx

    HDR is only available if you have the latest Sky Q box and if you don’t you have to pay £50 for the privilege, on top of that you then need to ensure your HDR TV is capable of HLG before you can watch HDR content through Sky and most TVs before 2017 won’t support it.
    If you already have HDR TV without HLG and have Apple TV or Shield TV 2019 then use these to watch Disney+ or Netflix in HDR.

  10. Avatar Ron.A

    Totally agree with Jean and Glyn,no prior notice or explanation of supposed better system.Just spent 1/2 hour flicking through endless pages of everything except what I was trying to find..Sorry not impressed Sky.

  11. Avatar Matt.attwood@me.com

    The new menus are dreadful!
    They’ve removed being able to see the Tv whilst navigating recorded programs.
    It defaults to the first program in a series if you choose Watch Now.
    It seems to require so many more button presses to access what you want.
    I’m so not against change, but I fail to understand why on earth they have changed a system which, in my opinion, was good, clear and easy to use to this!
    I had been considering moving to another service to get a decent internet speed and I think this may have now forced my hand.
    If Sky could provide settings to allow you to choose the features you like, rather than just put changes out there, it would be so much better.

  12. Avatar STEVE SUTTON

    The new menu is rubbish you cant see what channel your on and I think you are pressing more buttons than before just to find out if one of the sky channels download a program in UHD is hard work
    I think it’s a step backwards
    Disappointed

  13. Avatar Mr Colin McDougall

    The new interface is dreadful!When watching a series it says continue and doesn’t take you to the next episode in line recorded but takes you to an episode way in advance and every programme and episode is now harder to find!

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