litl news

June 03, 2010

Next Product

Last time I blogged about litl was back in November last year, when we released our first ever product: the litl webbook. I thought it would be a good time to post some news, now that we’ve announced our next product: a Web-connected TV box with an awesome remote — see the news on Engadget, Gizmodo, Fast Company, and others for more information and photos.

Since the launch of the webbook, we’ve done a few releases of the litl OS — the software running in our products — with major improvements in existing features, new features, and important bug fixes. Those updates were automatically downloaded and installed on all webbooks through all neat update system. Let me highlight some of those.

Mediawall major improvements. Mediawall is litl’s signature channel that aggregates photos and videos from several online services and show them in a nice timeline. We spent a couple months improving Mediawall by refining the user experience, redesigning and simplifying the timeline view, improving video playback stability, making some important performance improvements, and fixing a lot of bugs. Getting the Mediawall user experience right is quite challenging as its implementation involves a tight integration between the litl OS and our server side bits.

Photo & Video upload. One common comment from users and reviewers of the litl webbook was that even though the product allowed you to view photos and videos from several online services, it didn’t support media upload. A few months after the release, we added super-simple upload support to the litl OS. Users can upload photos and videos to Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, and Shutterfly from the webbook by just following the very simple process of plugging your camera in, selecting the online service to upload your media to, and starting the upload. The new content appears in Mediawall after just a few minutes.

More services in Mediawall. By the time we launched the webbook, Mediawall supported photos and videos from Flickr and Shutterfly. On a later release, we added support for Picasa and SmugMug. More services will be gradually added in the future.

Chromium-based web browser. The latest litl OS release features a re-implementation of our web browser’s guts based on Chromium — instead of Mozilla’s Gecko. That doesn’t mean that gjs is now based on V8 engine or anything. The main UI shell is still running on Spidermonkey engine. The new Chromium-based browser allowed us to have more control over the life cycle and resource usage of the browser cards and we now have a much smoother and integrated web browsing experience.

New channels. Several channels have been added to our Card Catalog. FacebookBakeSpace, and NPR are some of the cool channels we’ve released since launch. The first ever litl SDK has been announced a couple weeks ago. We hope this will boost the development of new channels for the litl products from now on.

Misc improvements. Besides the big features above, a lot has been done on several parts of the OS: Card Catalog now has a much nicer UI, news channels are much cleaner and stable, remote BIOS update proceduce, overall UI performance has been improved, faster full-screen video performance, initial browser page has been simplified and enhanced, battery status is now visible in the Settings card, and much more.

I worked on three of those areas: Mediawall, Photo & Video upload, and some of the Misc improvements. We have already started working of some major new features for the litl OS which will be released with our next product. Expect some exciting news from us! For those interested in the webbook, we have recently reduced its price from $699 to $399. Enjoy!

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