Apple has been selling its small “hobby” box for several years but the company is now ready to unveil its grand plans for the TV screen. "The future of TV is apps," said Apple Tim Cook when he announced the new Apple TV with App Store, Siri, tvOS, games and much more.
Apple is ready to get serious in its effort to compete in the TV market. They have unveiled a new Apple TV box that can be connected to any flat panel TV with an HDMI port. Apple has not only created a new box but an entirely new operating system called tvOS.
"The future of TV is apps"
tvOS has a familiar user interface. It is not that different compared to the old interface but behind the façade there are a lot of new things. The facelift makes it more user-friendly and inviting but tvOS now runs a full “core”, meaning that the box can run advanced apps and games. The tools for developers have also been released.
tvOS offers access to an App Store, where you can download and buy new apps. You will find streaming services, music services, games, fitness and much more. You can rent and buy movies and TV series from iTunes.
All existing apps have been redesigned, including iTunes and Netflix. There is now Apple Music, HBO, Airbnb, Hulu, HBO Now, WatchESPN, Showtime and many more. The catalogue of apps will obviously grow over time but Apple highlighted apps such as iTunes, Netflix and games.
The box looks fairly similar to the old box, too. It is a small rectangular box that is slightly higher. Power consumption is low and the brain of the system is a 64-bit A8 chip, which was introduced in last year’s iPhone models. This is a big improvement over the A5 chip in the old Apple TV and should therefore offer a significant boost in performance and obviously entirely new types of apps.
There is built-in WiFi (ac Mimo standard), Bluetooth 4.0, ethernet, IR receiver and of course a HDM port. There is also HDMI CEC in the box, which means that you TV can automatically switch to the right port when you start using your Apple TV. It can also power up the TV from stand-by.
A new touch remote & Siri
Apple has made the user interface easy to use and inviting. They already had one of the better user interfaces for the TV screen and one of the simplest remotes, but the company is now taking it to the next step with a touchpad remote and Siri.
“Find me some funny TV shows”
"New movies for kids"
Siri, Apple's virtual assistant and voice recognition system, plays a major role. The remote control is fitted with a small microphone that you can use to search. By searching for "James Bond", "action movies", "movies for kids" or for a specific actor / director you will get cross-service results from iTunes, Netflix and other services. Search once across apps, a powerful concept.
Siri can also be used for many other things such as requesting sports scores, weather and information. The search system is based on the new "Proactive" feature, which is also available in iOS9 for iPhone and iPad.
The new remote control has a touchpad at the top, which can be used to fast forward or rewind shows, and much more. It has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope and can last three months on one single charge. There is a Lightning connector at the bottom for charging.
Apple did not focus on Airplay during the presentation but the popular wireless system is still integrated in the new Apple TV. With Airplay you can push videos, photos, music and other content from a iPhone, iPad or Mac onto the TV wirelessly via Apple TV.
Apple TV as a game console
Most people think "PlayStation" or "Xbox" when talking about game consoles, but Apple argues that there is a much bigger potential in living room gaming. Just like the iPhone, Apple TV supports games. It can run small family games or more ambitious games. Apple mentioned Rayman, Disney Infinity, Guitar Hero, Shadow Matic, Beat Sports, and Crossy Road.
You can use your existing iPhone as a game controller, and by adding up to four iPhones you can even play multi-player games. You can also use the bundled remote control to play games. The accelerometer enables motion control. You can even connect real game controllers via bluetooth.
Since Apple is positioning Apple TV as part game console the fact that it does not use the new A9 chip, which is available in the new iPhones, is a bit surprising. However, it is worth nothing that Apple TV has no battery to account for. It is connected directly to the power socket, so it does not come with the same limitations as mobile devices.
The new Apple TV will be available in late October to $149 and $199 in 32GB and 64GB, respectively.
Picture formats: H.264 video up to 1080p, 60 frames per second, High or Main Profile level 4.2 or lower H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
Audio formats: HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1