tvOS is the Future of TV: Can You Hack It?

tvOS is the future of television, and our member AppLovin is invested in building it. Helping to usher in the era of smart TV, AppLovin will host the Apple TV App Challenge. This event includes a hackathon on April 16-17 in San Francisco and a contest with two categories: original apps and ports. Winners will receive cash prizes up to $25,000 and will have the opportunity to present their apps to influential developers, VCs, and journalists!

The Application Developers Alliance spoke with Basil Shikin, AppLovin’s Vice President of Software Engineering, about the Apple TV App Challenge and the future of tvOS.


Apps Alliance: AppLovin specializes in marketing automation and analytics for mobile apps. How does AppLovin envision the future of the smart TV market and your company’s place in it?

Basil Shikin: It’s early days for the connected TV. There have been many false starts in the past few years, but we feel strongly that Apple has made the first step toward the next generation of the living room.

We know that tvOS isn’t the end game. For example, Google just rebranded Chromecast as Google Cast, and it’s a very promising product. But whatever the future holds, whatever platform people consume content on, we want to be there. Mobile is unique, and I doubt there will ever be another platform like it, but that doesn’t mean other platforms won’t play a part in our lives and how we experience our devices.

Alliance: Why is AppLovin invested in the tvOS platform for developers?

Shikin: We are interested in this platform because it feels a lot like the early days of iOS — tons of promise, but still in its infancy. Developers have yet to invent the future. That’s why we were first movers on the tvOS platform — and also why we are holding the Apple TV App Challenge. We want to stoke innovation in the tvOS dev community.

Alliance: What kinds of apps are you hoping will emerge from the Apple TV App Challenge?

Shikin: We’ve started early testing on some of the submissions. Already we’ve come across some game entries where we’ve said, “OK, just one more level, then I’ll get back to work,” and we end up playing for another 20 minutes because it’s so addictive.

Beyond these games, we’ve also seen some great utility apps like smart calendars, wallpapers, and sound apps. Games are naturally a great experience on the Apple TV, but we are also interested to see what utility apps developers can create. I’m sure we’ll be pleasantly surprised, as the collective imaginations of the tvOS dev community will far exceed what we imagine.  

Alliance: From the developers’ perspective, what are the advantages of participating in the tvOS Hackathon?

Shikin: The tvOS dev community is young but thriving. Afterall, the similarities between tvOS and iOS development are greater than the differences between the two, so you’ve got a built-in footprint of tvOS-ready dabblers.  

Hackathons are great because of how many connections you can make with other developers and how willing they are to support one another. I fully expect this to be true — even especially so — with the tvOS Hackathon. A couple of AppLovin employees belong to a Slack channel for tvOS devs, and it’s incredible how close-knit that community already is. Even though ostensibly they are competitors, they are always willing to help each other out. I personally can’t wait to see the same dynamic play out in an interpersonal setting.


Thanks for speaking with us, Basil! If you’re as excited about tvOS as we are, be sure to register for the Apple TV App Challenge contest, hackathon, or both!

Guest Contributor Basil Shikin

Vice President of Software Engineering at AppLovin