The latest generation of Apple TV is here! Well, almost. The most significant upgrade since the set-top box was first released in 2011 went up for pre-order earlier in the week, with the device expected to reach customers by October 30.
In the meantime, the reviews have been coming in. Major publications across the web have been getting to grips with the devices that might well be the most significant step into the future for the medium of television.
First let’s have a quick reminder of what’s new:
tvOS – just like iOS on the iPhone and iPad, or OS X on the Mac, and even watchOS, Apple TV now has its own operating system. This means there will be more apps, and more functionality. Moving on from the small handful of chosen apps on the previous iterations of the TV, the operating system allows more third-parties access. It also means there’s a TV based App Store, and users will be able to use the familiar system to buy games, apps and more.
Universal Search – users no longer need to go through individual apps or services to find content. They can now search for anything and the TV will tell them where they might find it. Including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and iTunes.
Siri – Apple’s virtual assistant reaches the TV – though, somewhat strangely, it won’t be available to use with Apple Music on the TV until next year, users can use it while watching movies or TV. Users can ask Siri to find movies featuring certain actors, or even just to ask the weather while watching the TV.
Touch remote – The new TV includes a remote with a touchpad, allowing users to use familiar swipe gestures to operate the TV – additionally, it’ll be used to allow users to play games via the TV.
So how does that all fit together?
The Verge has written an extensive review in which the tech site gives the TV a score of 9.0. Noting that it’s fast, fun, and works well for TV and movies. However, Siri is limited and there’s no 4k video support.
The streaming boxes on the market right now all compete to do very few simple things: get everything you want to watch in a single place, make it all easy to search and discover, and get out of the way. And the Apple TV does that as well or better than anything else on the market.
But also added that:
All of that is very much the best version of television’s present. Apple has a lot more work to do before the future actually arrives.
Mashable says that channels are dead – the future of TV is apps. However, it notes that the solution isn’t cheap.
With a starting price of $149 for the 32GB version (the 64GB version is $199), the Apple TV isn’t cheap. Now, you do get a lot for $149. The power under the hood is quite strong and the universal search, Siri remote and interface are excellent. If you’re part of the Apple ecosystem already, I think it’s a worthy consideration.
However, they noted that:
Still, if you don’t have a household full of Apple gear, the appeal of the Apple TV isn’t quite as strong. That’s not because of the content available, but because $150 for a set-top box – even a great set-top box — is going to be a hard sell for a lot of people.
CNET adds that the TV’s remote and voice control makes it on of the best entertainment devices around, giving it an 8.4 out of 10.
The new Apple TV delivers the most polished video experience today, with speedy reactions and a familiar yet attractive interface. It has the best remote on the market.
Apple TV costs more than similar devices like the Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast for basically the same core functions. There’s no dedicated app for Amazon or any other a la carte video service beyond iTunes.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, called it “a giant iPhone for your living room.” However, its review was cooler than the rest, looking at real user habits, noting that those wishing to keep cable subscriptions of content not available on the Apple TV wouldn’t particularly benefit.
Just like every other streaming box and smart TV—is content. The owners of some popular shows, including big networks and sports leagues, still haven’t been convinced to sell it outside a cable subscription.
However, it also says that:
Ultimately, the Apple TV’s advantage is that it isn’t tied to the idea of channels, live TV or even streaming. It’s the place where developers are able to do the most cool interactive stuff for the widest audience. The TV of the future needs to be as powerful and easy to use as an iPhone, and this Apple TV is the first box—and the first Apple TV—to achieve that.
Overall it seems that the TV is one of the best solutions on the market yet, and the addition of the App Store has the potential to push the device into becoming far more essential – especially for those that are already familiar with Apple’s various OS’.
However, there’s a lack of 4k video (not too much of an issue considering there’s not a lot of 4k content out there) whereas other solutions do. Elsewhere, Siri could be much better, and there needs to be more content providers included.
Of course, if what the TV offers now is quite enough for users, the latter two issues will be easy fixes for Apple in due course – particularly when it comes to content. Who wants to be the content provider that doesn’t make their platform available on an Apple device?
The Apple TV is available to purchase now via the Apple Store in 32 GB ($149 / £129) and 64 GB ($199 / £169) editions.