Panasonic announces new Viera Connect apps

Panasonic was keen to push its Smart TV vision at its 2012 Convention in Hamburg. Key to the Smart TV portfolio is Panasonic's Viera Connect service, which provides online functionality through a variety of installable apps.

Obviously the concept of enhancing a device's functionality through user-installable apps is nothing new. Ever since Apple gave the idea real traction with the introduction of the first iPhone, pretty much every consumer electronics device has boasted app functionality of one sort or another.

However, just because an app is popular on smartphone, or even a tablet, doesn't mean that it's right for a TV. Panasonic is well aware of that, and has been busy securing a new array of apps that will enhance the TV experience for its customers.

Panasonic also pointed out that its new line of TVs can have an unlimited number of apps installed, because those apps are stored and executed in the cloud, rather than needing to reside within persistent memory on the TV itself. Of course that does mean that you'll need an active Internet connection to run the apps, but since the vast majority of the apps themselves require Internet access, that's not really much of an issue.

Top of the list of new apps is an exclusive partnership between Panasonic and MySpace. Now, you may well have thought that MySpace was old news, having been well and truly beaten into submission by Facebook, but over the past few years MySpace has been reinventing itself as a social portal focusing on music.

The Viera Connect MySpace TV app gives users access to a massive music video library, currently holding around 100,000 videos. There's also a music library of around 42 million tracks, ensuring that you should find something to suit your taste, no matter how eclectic.

But MySpace TV isn't just another music channel, there's obviously a social interaction element. So, if you select a music channel, you can vote on what song should play next - the song that gets the most votes will be cued up and played. The idea being that you can find yourself exposed to music that you otherwise wouldn't have heard, and can choose to comment on that content too.

Although initially a music app, MySpace TV will expand into other areas, such as movies and sports, where again the community can have a say over the programme schedule.

Panasonic is also working with Disney and also showed off its new Disney Digital Books app. This app is designed to help encourage children to read within a social, family environment. The app grants access to a huge library of Disney books, which children can browse, choose and read.

Many of the books are presented as comic strips, which lend themselves well to the TV environment. Some of the books can even be set to read themselves aloud, giving children the opportunity to have stories read to them, even if there isn't an adult around to do so.

Ideally though, this could be a great way to read with your children, in an interactive and fun environment, while also proving that your kids can do more with their TV than just watch their favourite shows.

Panasonic also announced its new Eurosport Player app, which will allow users to stream live sports coverage in 14 European countries. The streaming will be interactive too, so you'll be able to switch from tennis, to football, to cycling, or anything else that might take your fancy.

There was no firm date given for the introduction of the new app services, other than "later this year", but it does show that Panasonic is taking the IP side of its TV business seriously, just as it should.