Sky Q, Sky TV’s premium satellite-and-TV-on-demand package, is getting the biggest update it’s ever received since first launching back in 2016. From improved voice control to UI changes, interactive sports features and more, it’s a meaty addition to an already comprehensive service.
There’s a lot to get through, so we’ll start with one of the most-wanted features first. Following on from the recent introduction of HDR to Sky Q’s 4K box, this new update will mean that the Disney Plus streaming service also gets HDR visuals with this release. HDR will also be added to Netflix a few months later.
Next, up, sports. Sky Sports Recap is a new feature that will let you catch up on key moments while a live match is happening – be that a controversial decision, or a missed goal perhaps. You can manually pick a clip, or see a highlights reel playlist in a pane on the side of the screen, using picture in picture so that you don’t need to miss the live action. It’ll start with Premier League matches but will roll out to cricket, Formula 1 and NFL soon.
Sky Sports Fanzone is another new feature being added to Sky Q packages. Available on mobile, laptop or tablet, it lets you invite up to five other friends to watch a match with them. It’s an interactive feature that lets you conduct polls that include match prediction votes, man of the match debates and more, with onscreen views of friends and families.
What’s particularly cool is that it essentially lets you engage with Sky Sports’ TV production, turning watching a match into an interactive experience. For instance, Sky Sports Fanzone will also let fans pick a chant to fill the currently-empty stadium atmosphere – fed to Sky’s engineers based on what’s being picked by the Fanzone crowds. It’s kicking off as a football feature and will be brought to cricket and Formula 1 in time, too. General entertainment like movies could come further down the line as well.
‘Sport Centre’, a content hub for all sorts of sports coverage, will do better to surface YouTube, BT Sport and Red Bull content, as well as Sky Sports in the future. There will be more contextual and machine-learning recommendations in the Sports Centre, including documentaries, trending news clips and highlights, not just upcoming and live events.
Onto the user interface. ‘Expanded View’ changes the initial home screen, hiding the left-side content options once you start browsing show information. It brings 60% more visibility to content on the main screen.
‘Show Centre’ is also new – essentially a landing page for an individual show that offers smart information on a series. A ‘Smart Button’ will let you resume a show in progress or kick it off, while below you’ll see all content available for that show, whether that’s on-demand content, live scheduled programming or ‘More Like This’ offerings from the catalogue.
Voice is also being improved, and is being paired with a new remote control that puts the voice activating button literally at it’s centre. It will let you get to content breakdowns you won’t get elsewhere. ‘Action movies starring Bruce Willis’ as a voice command, for example, will show Sky Q content as a collection that you can’t find through any text search option. Whether it's On Demand, Recordings or Sky Store content, it’ll pull it all together.
Sky Go will be developed to take more advantage of incoming Android and iOS features too. A new Sky Go release will come every month to app stores, bringing more consistent update and improvement schedules to the Sky Go experience. Additionally, building on the PlayWorks game introduction, more games are coming to Sky Q.
Sky Q by broadband in the UK remains a work in progress, however, despite being available in select European territories.
This new update is part of a larger plan to offer more frequent, smaller updates via the internet to Sky Q customers, rather than a few large updates via satellite. Smaller, more regular feature changes and UI tweaks will come to Sky going forward, at a rate as fast as one every two months or so.
Rolling out to customers from July 8, through August, all versions of the Sky Q and multiroom boxes will get the update. You don’t have to do anything to trigger the update, so keep an eye on your box for the changes in the coming weeks.