On January 9th, 2007, Apple released its first generation Apple TV. Eight years have passed since then and the Apple TV still appears to be a pet project for the guys and girls at Cupertino. Unlike the Macs, iPhones, iPads or even the Apple Watch – the Apple TV doesn’t seem to entice the same excitement at Apple to garner a real push into the mainstream. But as the competition gets serious, with Hulu, Roku, Amazon and even Google (and a number of smaller vendors – like Minix), all fighting for that special spot in our living rooms, is Apple fighting back with it’s 4th generation Apple TV?
Let’s jump into the top 5 things you need to know about the New Apple TV:
What Is The New Apple TV?
The Apple TV is a small network appliance and entertainment device that can receive digital data from a number of sources and stream it to a capable TV for playing on a TV screen. In other words, it’s kind of like bringing your iPhone to a bigger screen. You can download apps, stream movies, surf the web. It’s pretty much everything we expect Smart TVs to do (but so few actually come anywhere close). One thing I would like to point out: unlike many of it’s serious competitors, Apple’s device does not support 4K streaming. So those of you looking for a set top box for their brand new Ultra HD TV, may be better off looking elsewhere.
The rectangular console also comes with a Siri remote which acts as a microphone, TV remote and game controller. And if you’re not into using the lightning port equipped Siri remote, you could always just download the iTunes Remote app from the App store for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Apple Watch.
Siri Comes To The Big Screen
The Siri remote’s name probably gave this one away. The New Apple TV comes with Siri! On the TV, the voice-powered personal assistant won’t talk back to you but it will add an extra layer of functionality to your TV and Apps. Siri won’t only understand search terms but can also understand number of terms you’re likely to use whilst watching an episode of your favourite series. For example, by asking “What did she say?” you can rewind back 15 seconds. Oh Siri!
Apps And tvOS
Forget about channels, apps are the way to go! Apple’s making a big fuss about this. “We gather together around our big screens to watch big shows and big events. Yet somehow, the overall experience of TV has continued to stagnate. Until now. It all starts by recognising that apps are the future of television. Apps are quickly becoming how we watch today,” the company states on its launch page. And with the push to apps comes Apple’s brand new OS.
The new operating system is creatively named, wait for it: tvOS. I’m surprised no one trademarked that name before them. The new tvOS is a smart, rethinking of what operating systems should be and makes many of the new features not only possible but more useful.
Taking storage as an example, the New Apple TV can erase and re download data from the device as it deems best for performance and storage purposes, without any user input. The idea behind this is simple – the local storage is just an extension of the cloud. Anything and everything must work within the cloud and thus your data isn’t really being erased in the traditional sense – rather it is transferred as necessary. It will be interesting to observe when or if this one-storage approach is integrated into iOS and if it is, to what extent.
For the first time since the debut of the Apple TV, the device will be able to run native games. Keeping in line with it’s user-experience focus, Apple is pushing forward App slicing – the process of breaking an app into device-optimised versions. Why? To save space. You’ve got limited space on your device, so make the best out of it. Instead of downloading one large game, your device will download bundles for you. Of course, you won’t notice any of this, it all happens in the background.
How Do You Get It?
The devices went on sale in the US, UK and Australia on October 26th and we can hopefully wait for more countries to follow soon. The New Apple TV comes in two variants – the 32GB version costs $149, £129, AU$269 and $199, £169, AU$269 for the 64GB device. For those of you who may find the New Apple TV to be a tad bit too costly, the 3rd generation (2012) model comes at a very affordable price of $69, £59 and AU$109.
So what do you think of Apple’s latest incarnation of their TV console? Is launching a dedicated App store, designing a new remote and bringing Siri to the larger screens proof that Apple is finally taking TV serious? Or is the lack of 4K indicative that Apple just doesn’t care enough about TV?