While consumers are enjoying the latest technologies available right now, developers are busy creating what’s next. Throughout Microsoft’s history, development partners have been essential to our success and we want to more regularly recognize some of the cool projects they’re working on. The post below is the first of many partner profiles to come highlighting developers, their teams, and their interesting work.
We’ll kick off our series with a look at Zattoo TV, Europe’s largest provider of live web-based TV. Zattoo is also one of our first partners to build a universal Windows application, initially announced in April at Build.
The Internet has changed TV dramatically, especially in terms of where and how we consume TV content. An experience once confined to the living room and to those sitting next to you on the couch has been extended to allow viewing programs on the go and en masse, via phone, tablet, laptop or PC. Companies like Zattoo have helped accelerate this cultural and technological shift by distributing linear live TV across a broad range of devices. After launching an app in the Windows Store in 2012, Zattoo placed a special focus on the Microsoft platform to expand its reach by targeting Windows Phone and Xbox.
Established in 2006, Swiss-based Zattoo now has more than 15 million registered users and 1.2 million active users per month, with its core market in Switzerland and Germany. Additionally customers in Spain, France, Denmark, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein and the UK are accessing Zattoo TV apps on the web, mobile, smart TV and gaming devices. The new Windows Phone 8.1 app, launching today, is one of the first universal Windows apps to hit the market. With universal Windows applications, developers can use common APIs to build apps that can target each form factor in the family of Windows devices. That way you create just one app, with the business logic surfacing up through a user experience relevant to a specific device.
Zattoo created their newest app in just one month—more than 65 percent faster than in previous development scenarios—by taking advantage of the universal Windows app capability and reusing about 80 percent of the code from the company’s existing Windows Store app.
Jose Villagra, a Zattoo app developer specializing in Microsoft technologies, credits universal Windows apps and the Model-View-ViewModel pattern for being able to easily share code between apps, including models, session and user management, navigation, advertising, networking libraries, testing—and even some UserControls and resources. He also noted improved efficiencies not only sped up the app production cycle, but also allowed Zattoo developers to put more focus on enhanced features to appeal to customers. The only special code needed was for the UI layer, where Zattoo was able to make simple changes using data templates in order to optimize the device experience.
Zattoo has apps for iOS and Android devices, but their new universal Windows app, which will be the core of their experience on Windows, Windows Phone, and a future Xbox One app, delivers more consumer features, including:
- The ability to pin favorite channels to the desktop for fast, direct user access.
- Snap View for consumers who want to multi-task while watching a show.
- The PiP feature, which delivers great performance even on lower-end tablets.
- The Play To feature, for streaming content to multiple devices.
- Channel loading and switching, which is faster and smoother than on other platforms thanks to Smooth Streaming.
- Live pause, single show recording, catch up (these are great features, but only available in Switzerland due to content rights restrictions).
Zattoo’s existing Windows Store app is growing faster than apps on any other platform. Advances like universal Windows apps will boost the company’s efforts to reach more customers on as many platforms as possible without requiring a major time or resource investment. By associating their app in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store, Zattoo has greater flexibility with application data like settings and user credentials, contributing to a better consumer experience across devices.
Zattoo demonstrates that it is a fantastic time for engaging in Windows application development. They’re delivering a great product, one that is already enhancing Zattoo’s position as one of the best European TV services on the Windows platform. Take a look at Zattoo’s site for more developments.
If you’re ready to get started building your own, make sure to check out our Microsoft Developer Network to find tools and resources to help you get started.
By the way, since Zattoo is ahead of the curve, folks with Windows Phone 8.1 preview can try the new app today. Everyone else will get a chance when Windows Phone 8.1 ships broadly in the next few weeks – just in time to watch this year’s futbol world cup for free since all matches are broadcasted on TV channels available over Zattoo.