Hulu is pulling back the curtain on some of its product roadmap, letting users test out products in a new section it is calling Hulu Labs.
Among the features Hulu fans can check out are Hulu Desktop, which simplifies the viewing experience, and syncs with Windows Media Center remotes and Apple Remotes, a customizable widget maker and a time based browsing feature, which lets you organize TV shows on the site from the one that most recently aired.
Hulu has historically been tight lipped about its product roadmap, usually deflecting questions about possible products such as an iPhone application or an application that would bring Hulu to web enabled TV's. While the features in Hulu Labs are not going to generate the buzz that a mobile app would, they shed some light on the inner workings of the normally secretive video site.
The labs features also add useful functionality, which in turn will improve user experiences, and hopefully advertiser ones as well. The Hulu Desktop application, for example, encourages users to browse shows and movies using remote controls, without the need to be at the keyboard. Such a feature would also discourage users from skipping through ads or opening a new website while waiting for an advertisement to end.
While it is new for Hulu, labs features are old hat among many websites. Google's popular Gmail service features a labs option; while YouTube's "TestTube" lets users try out new features.