At a jam packed event today, Apple has introduced the long awaited new Apple TV. The new device comes with an all new remote featuring a touchpad, built-in microphone for Siri voice control, and motion support for gaming. This new Apple TV is much more powerful than it’s predecessor with a 64-bit A8 processor, as well as 802.12ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The new device will launch in late October and run $149 for 32GB and $199 for 64GB of internal storage.
Not announced with the new Apple TV was Apple’s rumored TV subscription service. Instead the focus was on apps, with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stating at the start of the Apple TV presentation that “the future of TV is apps.” With this new Apple TV comes, for the first time, a true app store for both Apple and third-party developers to expand the Apple TV’s software ecosystem. Already onboard are the big names you’d expect like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now, but it’s the treasure trove of apps in the iOS appstore that give the new Apple TV the potential for redefining the TV experience. As with any new Apple device, there will be a land grab by developers to stake their place on top of the popular app list. We can expect to see popular smartphone and tablet apps create TV interfaces for the first time due to this new Apple TV, which is good for the Fire TV as well.
While it has received a lot of polish, the main Apple TV interface hasn’t deviated much from being a grid of apps and content. This is likely due to Siri voice support being the other main focus of the new device, which, in a way, is the true interface for the device. You can launch apps using Siri and use the voice assistant to find the content you’re looking to watch. Not only can you call up movies and shows by name, but you can also see more specific content like bringing up a particular episode by simply asking for the episode of a show with a particular guest star, for example. Much like with the Fire TV’s voice search, the new Apple TV Siri search only works with a small selection of cooperating video services, which include iTunes, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime. In addition to search, Siri on the Apple TV brings along many of its iPhone features like the ability to display sports scores and weather.
The all new Apple TV remote features a touchpad where you would expect to find a traditional up/down/left/right directional set of buttons. This allows you to swipe through large lists quickly instead of tapping a directional button repeatedly. Swiping to navigate lists is superior to holding down a directional button because you can control how fast you go through the list by varying the speed at which you swipe. Unlike holding down a button, this allows you to move quickly or slowly through a list.
The remote connects to the Apple TV via Bluetooth, just like the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick remotes. However, unlike Amazon’s remotes, the Apple TV remote includes IR capabilities and volume buttons in order to control your TVs volume. A very nice touch I hope we see on the next generation Fire TV. The remote cannot change your TV’s power state or input, but the Apple TV can control those aspects through HDMI-CEC, much like the Fire TV, if your TV supports the feature.
Gaming was a big focus of the announcement event, however Apple will not be producing a first-party game controller like the one offered by Amazon. Instead the Apple TV supports MFi-based controllers and will rely on 3rd party controllers for serious gamers. The Apple TV remote does include motion control, akin to the Wii remote, and along with the included touchpad, will serve as good starting point for casual gaming.
As mentioned already, you’ll be able to pick up the new device starting at $149 in October for the 32GB model, or $199 for the 64GB model. The increased storage will be mostly useful for those planning to install many apps, and in particular higher end games. Apple will continue to offer the existing Apple TV for $69.