Tuesday, November 10, 2015

APPLE TV REVIEW "Your TV futures is here"



It is not the world’s most understated something for a new product, especially one from Apple product. If you want to set sky-high expectations around a new TV channel product after years of rumors. well, that’s exactly how to do it. You say that you’ve invented the future of TV, and that it is here.
You say it while knowing full well that Steve Jobs set the stage for a radical new TV from Apple in 2011 by directly telling his biographer and boom, he’d "finally cracked it," and that he wanted to create "an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," with "the simplest user interface you could imagine."
You can say “ Apple TV is a your futures of technology” even though every attempt to place a computer at the center of the living room experience has bombed catastrophically for nearly two decades, and that rivals like Microsoft and Google have each been floored by the challenges of television.

You take the weight of those expectations, you bring the power of the Apple brand to bear, and you lift the entire entertainment industry out of the chaotic technological mess it’s built for itself and right into the shiny new future of voice control and touchpad remotes, just like we were always promised.



Here’s a modern media streaming device: a smallish black box that runs a milli apps from various TV networks and service providers like Netflix, all indexed into some sort of universal search and controlled by voice.
Take setup, which usually requires some painful entering of Wi-Fi passwords and iCloud credentials and so on — with the new Apple TV, you just get your iPhone with iOS 9.1 and Bluetooth on near the unit, and it grabs everything it needs to get online and get started. That’s pretty cool.

That’s the $129 Roku 4, the $99 Amazon Fire TV 2, and the $99 Google Nexus Player, each to varying degrees of success. And it’s also the new Apple TV, which is more expensive than all of those with a base price of $149, although of course Apple’s added some of its typical flourish to the mix.




Take the adventure with a visual flair of the interface, popping with subtle 3D effects and interesting ideas about how the multilayered glass aesthetic of iOS should translate to a TV. It’s not radically different than the previous Apple TV interface or any of its competitors, but it’s far sleeker. The combination of the remote and interface feels tight and polished and futuristic in a way that makes Roku and Fire TV feel plastic and utilitarian. I will say that the touchpad can be more flashy than useful — there isn’t a single part of the main interface that actually requires it, and you can get around just fine using a universal remote with a D-Pad.
Take the adventure with a visual flair of the interface, popping with subtle 3D effects and interesting screen about how the multilayered glass aesthetic of iOS should translate to a TV. It’s not radically different than the previous Apple TV interface or any of its competitors, but it’s far sleeker. The combination of the remote and interface feels tight and polished and futuristic in a way that makes Roku and Fire TV feel plastic and utilitarian. I will say that the touchpad can be more flashy than useful — there isn’t a single part of the main interface that actually requires it, and you can get around just fine using a universal remote with a D-Pad.

It’s really what’s underneath that’s the news here: tvOS, a new Apple OS that is basically iOS reworked for television. Previous Apple TVs ran their own weirdo riffs on iOS, but tvOS is a proper part of the Apple platform family alongside OS X, iOS, and watchOS. Most importantly, tvOS brings support for Siri and the App Store to the Apple TV, which means any app developer can create apps for the system. The potential here is massive: this thing is basically a computer under your TV.
But while iOS on the iPhone and iPad is a mature, capable operating system with tons of flexibility and a huge variety of apps, tvOS is very much a first-generation product. In day-to-day use, it’s basically the same as the previous Apple TV with the addition of a drastically stripped-down Siri and ported iPhone games.
Seriously: you won’t notice many changes from the previous Apple TV, save those fun 3D effects and the switch from a black background to a whitish-gray version, until you hold down the Siri button. Then you can ask any number of interesting questions about shows and movies in pretty granular detail — I asked for "‘80s movies with Tom Cruise on Netflix" and Siri found me Top Gun and Risky Business, for example. Delightful. Once you select a movie or show, Siri will open a universal landing page that deep links you right into the various services that offer the content. So if you search for Game of Thrones, you’ll see that you can buy it on iTunes and stream it on HBO Go or HBO Now, and you’re off to the races. In terms of iterative improvements to the Apple TV, this is the most important thing Apple could have done, and the execution here is among the best in the game.
But limitations are everywhere. Only a small handful of apps work with Siri search right now — iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime — so finding something in, say, the ESPN or CBS apps isn’t possible. Siri can’t find you a funny YouTube video, which seems like a shame. Tim Cook says a Siri search API is coming, but I get the feeling Apple wants Siri search to be a differentiator for the more premium services, so we’ll see how wide open that API is when it gets here. And once Siri drops you into a streaming app from that universal search, it’s a free-for-all — they all have different interfaces and recommendation engines, and none of them talk to each other. Shouldn’t Siri pay attention to what you’re watching and suggest content across services? Or at least give you a Most Recently Watched list across all your services, like the Fire TV and Roku? One of the best things about traditional TV is the serendipity of flipping it on and seeing something you like, or finding something new. There’s a big discovery piece that really ties all these services together that’s missing here. TV isn’t all about demanding things from a robot.
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