The rumors were flying for years. But as is Apple’s wont, nothing was ever confirmed. In one of the few peeks behind the curtain, Steve Jobs confided to his biographer Walter Isaacson about his vision for the future of TV: “I finally cracked it” he said, shortly before his passing.
Fast forward to the fall of 2014, when Apple announced the next iteration of their successful Apple TV set top box. The core of this new platform was its operating system, tvOS, which allows any developer to create fully customized apps just as they would for iPhone or Android.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announcing the 4th Generation Apple TV
The day after this announcement, the marketing team at Sotheby’s International Realty sat in a conference room to discuss the possibilities this new platform could have. It was a torrent of ideas: use the new Siri remote to search by your voice, reflect the look and feel of sothebysrealty.com, focus on video throughout the app, store favorites and recent searches, etc.
The most unique and exiting being a game mode – the team had long observed people passing the eGallery display in the office lobby, and in the three seconds between an image of a new property loading and the location popping on screen, they would attempt to guess the location. This became an opportunity to connect our audience to our global presence in a fun and unique way.
The evolution of our eGallery ‘Guess the Location’ Game – Concept to final
Partnering with a developer who could make this vision a reality, Clearbridge Mobile translated these loose concepts into the refined and successful app you see today. Pushing the boundaries of the brand new tvOS platform, the smallest of details did not go unnoticed.
For example, one frustration with Apple’s on-screen text input is that clearing the text requires the user to scroll all the way to the delete icon and press down for several seconds. This felt very cumbersome. Instead, the team was able to map the clear text function to the Siri remote’s play/pause button, allowing users to easily create a new search with one click.
Users are instructed to click the Play/Pause button to clear their search
Another unique feature was the utilizing of the ‘Top Shelf’ on the Apple TV home screen, which is displayed when you highlight one of the five apps in the top row. This allows for developers to highlight additional features and content, essentially creating in-app functionality before the user opens the app itself. When the Sotheby’s International Realty app is moved to the top row, it shows recent searches and favorites, allowing users at home to quickly jump back into their experience.
The Top Shelf displays the Sotheby’s International Realty logo upon first load (top left) and then transforms to an interactive experience once the app has been utilized (bottom right).
This is just the beginning for Sotheby’s International Realty on Apple TV – as part of our app launch, we sent a new Apple TV to all of our affiliates across the globe, enabling customers to experience it in offices throughout our network. With the Gallery view being one of the most popular features for Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate offices, enhancements are being added to allow them to further localize the content displayed there. And as Apple adds new features in the future, the Sotheby’s International Realty app on Apple TV will be updated to take complete advantage.
Search for “Sotheby’s Realty” on the Apple TV App Store to download it today.