Apple’s Going to Fix Television for us All

Apple's Going to Fix Television for us All

What better way to make a big debut than to claim you’re revolutionizing the way we watch TV.  Has Apple really done it this time?

This past Monday, Apple released the fourth generation of their Apple TV.  Reviews are already pouring in, and they are mixed.  Expectations were high, and the new inclusion of Siri added to the excitement of the release date, which was officially just last week on October 26.

Here is what people have discovered, one week in.

Universal search is still great

Apple TV is a streaming device- so, like all the others out there, it is only as good as the streaming apps it utilizes.  But the problem with most devices is that although you can sign into any app you like (Netflix, etc), you have to search each one independently to find something.

Have you ever wasted 45 minutes scrolling through what Netflix has to offer, only to end up with nothing?  Universal search helps solve that issue with genre searches.

So, if it’s gritty urban mayhem you are after, simply type it into the genre search.  Your Apple TV searches across all your apps at once.  You will then be able to choose from a pleasing array of John Carpenter Movies (“The Thing”), Spike Lee classics, and every crime-lord film ever made.

Better yet, just tell Siri. This is the new feature that received a lot of pre-launch hype.  Just speak to your TV to arrive at entertainment bliss.

We welcome Siri aboard, but wish she could do more

Siri now works with Apple TV, but it does have limitations.  For one, you cannot use Siri dictation to type in fields.  This is incredibly annoying since the iPhone Remote doesn’t work with the new TV.

That means you are stuck punching in one letter at a time with the remote that comes with the Apple TV.  It’s no better than your Dad’s old Sony TV remote…each letter you type requires some serious navigation before you can hit it.

At least now it’s a trackpad instead of left, right, up and down-arrow buttons.

Imagine a Wikipedia-like explosion of information on each film/TV show page

Now, when you call up a TV show or film, you will get a whole lot more information.  There will be reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, links to similar movies, and info about cast & crew.

Genre-based listings in the App Store

Imagine writing a book, then hoping to sell copies in your local bookstore, which arranged its inventory alphabetically.  Nobody would find your book unless they specifically knew to look for your last name on the shelves.

That is what it was like for app developers on all previous versions of Apple TV.  There were only three places to go in the store: “Featured”, “Purchased”, and “Search”.  You had to be happy with simply browsing “Featured” an experience similar to perhaps walking into a video store and shopping by methodically examining the contents of every single aisle.

Thank goodness Apple added categories to the App store.  It’s much easier to find new apps, and it’s going to get even better once Apple adds more categories beyond the present two (“Entertainment” and “Games”).

The content discovery process still seems archaic, but at least it’s a step in the right direction from a user experience perspective.

No 4K Streaming- but Roku and Amazon have it.

Early adopters of the 4K Ultra High Definition TVs will not be able to experience pixel nirvana if they use Apple TV.  That’s because unlike Roku and Amazon, Apple did not see fit to include this capability with their latest device.  Not very cutting edge of Apple!

The New York Times loves it, but that doesn’t mean everyone will

The Apple TV is available in two versions: the 32 GB model (£129) and the 64 GB model (£169).  Fans of the 32 GB version include no less than The New York Times.

…the best TV streaming device you can get for your moneyThe New York Times, on the new Apple TV

The tech writers at NYTimes.com are not easy to excite, but they did get their hair bristles up because they think this new TV will “make a difference”.

How?  They loved the user interface, improved and expanded access to third-party apps and games, the addition of Siri, and the ability to stream Apple Music, check this out: The New Apple TV Invigorates the Set-Top Box.

That works well for people who are already Apple customers, but for anyone who has no connection to Apple Music and Siri, those notes don’t exactly strike a happy chord.

And expanded apps are great, but forget about it if the app you want is unapproved by Apple (which is the case for many). Here are 10 already approved from MacWorld article.

Finally, for the many who have become part of Amazon’s digital catalog of streaming content, perhaps through Amazon Prime, you can forget about Apple TV, too.  As a competitor, of course they are totally blocked. Amazon is a major player in this area, and if you are blocking them, that is pretty constraining.

So much for the “final fix” for TV.  There are some nice new things, but this is no revolution.