Sky Glass, the streaming TV from Sky, is getting several significant updates in the coming months, including a picture quality upgrade, Bluetooth connectivity, personalised playlists for different family members and more.
All of these updates are software-based (yes, even the picture quality upgrade), and will be free to all new and existing Sky Glass customers.
Some of the new additions (see the full list below) will be coming to Sky Glass before Christmas, and the rest will be coming before the end of the year. All updates will be rolled out automatically to all users, so you don’t have to do anything other than wait for them.
It’s also worth noting that with the release of Sky Stream, the standalone streaming box from Sky, identical updates will now come to both Glass and Stream, as the two share an operating system – Sky’s new “Entertainment OS”.
Of course, updates that deal with picture quality and audio, will only be relevant to Sky Glass.
Sky Glass, which was launched last year, is a 4K TV set that features a QLED HDR display and a built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar with six speakers.
Unlike other Sky services in the UK, Sky Glass doesn’t use a satellite dish – instead, it relies on broadband, and streams all the content to the TV, much like other streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV and Roku – or streaming services like Sky’s own NOW (see our Sky Glass VS Now comparison) and the new Sky Stream.
At the moment, and until October 27, customers who buy Sky Glass directly from Sky can get three free months of Sky Ultimate, which also includes Netflix’s Basic plan.
- Also See: Sky Glass’ prices are going up
Sky Glass Picture Quality Upgrade
The biggest change coming to Sky Glass in the coming weeks (before Christmas) is a software update that will improve the TV’s picture quality.
The update will improve local dimming, to provide higher contrast and brightness.
I was able to witness these changes at Sky headquarters, and indeed, there’s a visible picture quality upgrade – I often face backlight issues with Sky Glass (where the picture is either too dark or too bright, with difficulty finding the right balance in the settings), and it looks like this will be a welcome improvement.
In addition, Sky has already added Vivid Mode in the ‘Options’ menu of Sky Glass, introducing a visually ‘punchier’ picture with higher levels of contrast and colour saturation – giving more ‘pop’ to the colours.
Sky’s Global Chief Product Officer, Fraser Stirling, told us that these improvements were made possible as the team was learning how to better use the TV’s panel, with picture quality experts coming in to help tweak the software.
These picture quality updates will benefit the complete viewing experience on Sky Glass across live, on-demand and all apps, as well as devices connected via HDMI.
Ever since Sky Glass launched, Profiles were sorely missing. Almost every streaming service (and some streaming devices, such as Amazon’s Fire TV) supports user profiles these days – and Sky Glass was left behind.
In the coming weeks (before Christmas), Glass (and Sky Stream) will finally get a unique version of the Profiles feature, called Personalised Playlists.
Instead of making you choose a profile when you turn on the TV – there will be a “Shared” interface for the entire family, but specific programmes can then be added to personal playlists – so there’s a separate playlist for Dad, a playlist for the 5-year-old, etc., and also a shared Playlist for things the family watches together.
Even though Sky Glass has had Bluetooth from the start – with the remote paired to the TV via Bluetooth – there was no way to connect other BT devices.
With an update that’s coming before the end of the year, you will finally be able to connect Bluetooth headphones to Sky Glass, and watch everything without disturbing others.
A little something we’ve all been waiting for – If you can’t find your Sky Glass (or Sky Stream) remote control, just say “Hello Sky, where’s my remote” – and the remote will start to beep.
Sky Glass User Interface Changes
With a full year of user feedback behind them, Sky is now able to refine certain aspects of the user interface, with a few tweaks that will be coming in the next few months.
‘Play Now’ Becoming ‘Continue Watching’
The “Play Now” rail was always somewhat confusing – it currently shows a combination of series and films you started to watch, along with content you’ve added to the Playlist for future watching.
Turns out I’m not alone in this, and Sky discovered that users were getting confused by the Play Now section.
Therefore, Continue Watching will be introduced as a new rail on the homepage, so it’s easier to jump to what you were last watching – it will only show content you’ve actually started watching.
Furthermore, Sky Glass is getting a blue progress bar on episodes/films you’ve started to watch on 3rd party streaming apps (and not just Sky’s own content), directly on the Sky Glass UI.
The first to get this will be content from Amazon’s Prime Video, with more coming in the future.
Playlist Moving Up
The Playlist rail, which is the main watchlist and content-bookmarking section of Glass, will move further up on the homepage so it’s really quick to get to it – and it will be the first choice on the category rail.
Most Recent Shows Moving Closer
At the moment, TV series rails on Sky Glass (and Stream) show every episode of that series – from first to last. Which makes sense if you’re starting a new series – but is annoying when you’re already on your way through a series.
With the change that’s coming before Christmas, you will be able to quickly get to the latest episode of TV shows and sporting events, and forget scrolling through every episode and series on a showpage – as you’ll now see the most recent episode first.
Furthermore, all your Playlist rails will now be ordered by the most recent episode.
Plus, Sky is introducing a ‘Most Recent’ rail at the top, that will display all your most recent shows, so you can get to new content and episodes quickly.
Got a favourite star that you simply have to watch in every film or show they’ve been in? Soon you’ll see an ‘Actors rail’ in showpages, so you can have more choice of picking what to watch by a film or TV show’s stars.
One Shot Commands
At the moment, when you ask Sky Glass to open a TV show, you’re directed to the show’s page – which presents all the episodes.
With this update, simply say ‘Play’ plus the title of your favourite show, and it will automatically play either the first episode, or will continue where you left off.
Automatic 4K Sports Switching
Tune to Sky Sports Main Event channel for the biggest sporting events, and Sky Glass will automatically swap you to the new dedicated Ultra HD HDR channels, so you can watch in the best quality as long as you have the UHD HDR pack.
Sky Glass Accessibility Updates
Sign language is now flagged on Sky Glass’ interface, making signed content easier to find.
And, coming to Sky Glass next year, Voice Guidance will make it easier for customers with a sight impairment to find the content they love.
Sadly, subtitles on 4K content (across all of Sky’s devices) are still nowhere to be found.