Once upon a time, any night of the week, after the children are in bed, my husband and I sit on the couch for about one hour of television and our conversation goes like this:
“What do you want to watch?”
“I don’t know, what’s on?”
“Well, we have a few programs on the DVR, or we could watch Netflix.”
“We need to find a new show.”
And then we watch American Ninja Warrior or some other program that half holds our interest. We both know there is better TV out there, but it is just so dang hard to come by. It is difficult to search for a new show, especially a good one. Why is there not a good algorithm that knows what I watch and makes suggestions? Why do I have to run a search on each platform?
Enter the new Apple TV.
Search: This beefed-up product announced this week will search through iTunes, Hulu, Showtime, HBO, and Netflix; you search by asking.
“Siri, show me family-friendly movies.” Magically I'm shown movies from Netflix, iTunes, and more. Then we’re all set to host our daughter’s sleepover over the weekend.
“I’m in the mood for a good action TV show.” A feature like this would fill the void for our TV viewing in the evening.
Apple has been playing with the cross-platform search for years both on the iPhone and on their Macs. Now they are taking it to the next level. And that is not all.
Remote: So many times in our industry we are taking over the features of another device’s remote and programming a new universal remote. Then, trying to make the remote better, we either add every button imaginable on a screen or try to simplify with great designs. One thing for sure is that these remotes are not cheap.
Apple TV is changing the game. Their new remote with Bluetooth has Siri built-in along with a touch pad. This pad does what the remote app on the iPhone has done for years. It allows you to slide through many options, faster (and more, but we’ll get to that in a minute.)
By sliding up and down on the glass touch surface, you will be able to pull further information about what you are watching. You can also use the microphone (aka Siri) to ask this information.
According to Apple, this new remote will allow control of other devices using CEC. I’m not going to hang my hat on that information just yet. We are told it only needs to be charged every three months and that is done via a lightning connector.
Gaming: Apple takes that new remote to the next level through gaming. The remote has “Wii-like” functions that will allow you to hit a ball with the bat in the video game. The gyroscope and accelerometer tied to gaming turn the remote from channel changer to something entirely new. Multiple gaming functions allow for another player using an iPhone, iTouch, or iPad to play along. All you do is buy the app; there is no longer a need for an additional gaming console for basic gaming.
Apps: Built into the new tvOS will be the app store that will easily (too easily) allow you to purchase these games and services mentioned above. Beyond that, apps like GUILT will allow you to shop online and AirBnB will allow you to plan your next vacation. Apple believes the “future of TV is in apps.”
Interface: The new interface on the device focuses on the content. Searching in the Netflix app for something to watch is tiring, annoying, and will often not lead you to what you desire. Apple wants to change this by the look and the interaction of the app. Float on a movie and it will giggle, interacting with you as you decide.
The new units will sell at $149 for a 32g and $199 for the 64g and begin shipping in October. In a world of cheaper and cheaper streaming devices, can Apple introduce a better unit with a better interface that changes TV viewing forever? Yes, I believe they can.
RIP Channel Changer… Welcome personal TV viewing device.