Sky has announced a raft of new features for its Sky Q service, leveraging voice control and artificial intelligence to improve recommendations.
Sky Q is the company’s premium service, which offers 4K channels and the ability to stream recorded and on-demand content to any device in your home, which it calls Fluid Viewing. Sky Q also features Apple AirPlay and the ability to operate as a Wi-Fi mesh in your home, for faster wireless and, ultimately, smoother streaming.
And now the service has got a pretty big update.
In addition to doubling the amount on UHD content available to viewers, Sky has announced that it will update voice control to include content recommendation. That means users will be able to request “show movies for me” and access information from Sky Q apps, such as “what is the weather today?”
Essential reading: Get started with the smart home
Sky has always focused on content recommendation and that’s part and parcel of the new update. The company says it’s using machine learning algorithms to recommend programmes based on your watching habits, taking into account time of day and other factors – finally acknowledging that what we watch in the morning is different to late at night.
And those with 4K TVs will appreciate the addition of HDR (high dynamic range), which should make a vast different to picture quality – and should silence those on AV forums, who have been calling for it since Sky Q’s debut back in 2016.
Finally, Sky’s play as a smart home provider gets even more compelling, as it adds a Spotify app to the service. Sky has already offered its budget Soundbox (£299 down from £799) to customers, and coupled with AirPlay support, its service a great way for people to listen to tunes from Spotify and Apple Music in their living room. What’s more, with the aforementioned voice control, it should mean that an Alexa-type scenario of on-demand music shouldn’t be too far from reality.
Sky isn’t exactly moving at electric pace in the smart home, but it’s certainly building towards being a key component. Powerful Wi-Fi mesh capabilities, a central and valued position in the home and the ability to work across all your screens mean it’s in an enviable position.
While building Alexa / Google Assistant could make that really effective, Sky might just try to go it alone. And with Comcast interested in buying Sky as part of a jump into Europe, it could be a dark horse in the smart home race.