Hands-on with Facebook’s new video app for TVs: photos and first impressions

Hands-on with Facebook’s new video app for TVs: photos and first impressions

A little more than two weeks after Facebook first revealed plans to launch a dedicated video app for TV screens, the company has finally started rolling it out, kicking off this week with Samsung TVs and Apple TV. Facebook video on the big screen First, you’ll need to head to the relevant Apps section of your TV device and install the app. That said, in the case of Samsung, you can normally use your phone’s keypad to enter information and control things through the Samsung Smart View app — that doesn’t appear to be an option with the Facebook video app. To go full screen on a video, just hit the “Enter” button on the remote. Using the “Up” and “Down” arrows on your remote, you can then navigate between the various categories that Facebook has divided the videos into. There is “Following,” which includes videos from Pages and people you follow on Facebook. Then Facebook flexes its algorithmic muscles with videos it thinks you’ll like based on your various activities across the Facebook-connected ecosystem. But if you don’t remember to save videos, the “Recently Watched” section is a good way to revisit everything you’ve viewed recently on Facebook. Given that people interact with their TV screens differently from the way they interact with a mobile phone or tablet, Facebook has had to redesign the experience to accommodate what is typically the primary input device — the TV remote control. The TV app itself is intuitive enough and well-designed, and for those who don’t have a clue what to watch while slumped in front of the TV, the way it autoplays through each category is useful — it mirrors how YouTube works, in terms of how playing the next video without the user having to do anything.

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Facebook for Samsung TVs
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A little more than two weeks after Facebook first revealed plans to launch a dedicated video app for TV screens, the company has finally started rolling it out, kicking off this week with Samsung TVs and Apple TV.

Though the company had given a hint as to what to expect from the app, we can now see what it looks like and how users are expected to engage with videos on the big screen.

Here’s a quick look at how Facebook’s shiny new app has shaped up, using the Samsung incarnation for the test.

Facebook video on the big screen

First, you’ll need to head to the relevant Apps section of your TV device and install the app. When you open it, Facebook asks you to visit “Facebook.com/device” from a PC or mobile device, through which you enter the code that’s given on your TV screen. This, essentially, is to save you having to manually type in your username / password through the TV remote — which could be pretty fiddly.

That said, in the case of Samsung, you can normally use your phone’s keypad to enter information and control things through the Samsung Smart View app — that doesn’t appear to be an option with the Facebook video app.

Facebook for Samsung TVs: Install
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Above: Facebook for Samsung TVs: Install

Once you’re logged in, you’re presented with a horizontal carousel of videos that automatically play in sequence, though you can navigate to the next one using the arrow keys on the remote control.

The first category of videos you’ll see are those that have been shared to Facebook by your friends.

Facebook: Shared by Friends
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Above: Shared by Friends

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