Verizon’s just added something to FiOS that’s either a blessing or a curse for Twitter addicts–a live feed of your Twitter account that’ll appear on your TV over the show you’re watching, part of a new Widget Bazaar that also includes a Facebook app.
The system’s pretty simple: You associate the Verizon Widget with your Twitter feed at the start, and then every time you activate the system you simply have to enter a numerical passcode which replaces your password and acts as a parental control gateway. The incoming Tweets to your account are then displayed as they arrive, in a window to the right of the live TV picture, either distracting you from the action or making you feel like you’re a little more connected to the digital community. There’s also the option of watching the trending topics unfold, which would be marginally interesting if you happened to be watching some breaking news that was happening in real time, or of watching a Twitter stream relating to the particular show you’re a fan of.
The Facebook widget (pictured) on Verizon’s Widget Bazaar system has been given a live life-casting role. Though you can’t update your Twitter account from that widget, the Facebook one now lets you update your status to reflect what TV show you’re watching (better be careful if you’re ogling an adult channel!). There are also links to your profile page, friends, and photo albums.
And that all sounds very neat, if you’re a FiOS user. But we’ve seen all this before. Web-connected TVs are beginning to take off, with the most prominent tech being Yahoo’s Widgets for Web-enabled TVs from Sony, Samsung, LG, and Vizio. This alternative system is allied to the desktop Yahoo widgets software, and has had a Twitter-compatible app for months. Which all makes Verizon’s move a little confusing. Sure, the FiOS widget system obviates the need for a specific Web-connected TV, which will benefit some users, and it clearly is a step to make FiOS seem one step above cable, thus wooing customers to Verizon. But does Verizon really expect many developers to take time to pop out specific code for its proprietary service, while developing for Yahoo Widgets will likely give them access to many millions more customers? Nope. It’s another example of Verizon trying to take something innovative in-house to maintain control over it, when a better open-source model already exists.