Last week Apple launched the newest model of its set-top box, the Apple TV. This latest version comes with more powerful hardware and software, making your TV watching experience feel more interactive and immersive.
The new Apple TV lets you not only watch shows, view photos and listen to music, it also lets you play games, use apps and speak commands to Siri. If you’re looking to become (even more of) a couch potato, you may have found the perfect excuse.
What’s in the Box
The Apple TV comes complete with:
- Apple TV
- Power Cord
- Lightning Cable
- Remote Control
- Getting Started Guide
What’s Not in the Box
- HDMI Cable
You’ll need one of these cables (sold separately) to connect the Apple TV to your TV.
The Apple TV has apps. Some apps are like the channels on the older models of Apple TV, others are similar to the apps you use on your iPhone or iPad. Some apps are free, some you can buy, with some you get a subscription through Apple TV or separately, and with some you need a paid subscription through your cable or satellite company.
You can get apps for watching TV shows and movies, such as Netflix, HBOGo, Showtime Anytime, Hulu, YouTube, History, PBS and more. You can also get apps for gaming, cooking, fitness, shopping, travel and more.
You can use apps such as Zillow to find new homes in your area, and Airbnb to find places to stay when you travel. Check out Zova for workouts and Kitchen Stories for recipes.
The Apple TV App Store can only be accessed from the Apple TV so you can’t browse through it unless you’re using an Apple TV.
The App Store doesn’t have many apps yet. Think dozens instead of thousands of apps. But you can fully expect that the population of the Apple TV App Store will continue to expand quickly.
The Killer Feature of Apple TV may be Siri, the voice assistant first introduced on the iPhone. The Apple TV gives Siri new powers.
According to Apple Insider, Siri will only work on the Apple TV in 8 of the 80 countries where Apple TV is sold: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.
What Did They Say?
Siri can help you understand what has been said on screen with the What Did They Say feature. Ask Siri, “What did they say?” and the show will rewind 15 seconds. If available, closed caption text will appear on the screen so you can read what is being said.
This feature will be helpful when:
- the audio isn’t clear
- the actor mumbles
- you’re sitting next to a chatty friend
- you’re learning a new language
Siri can also save you time in searching for shows, perhaps helping you discover what to watch. You can ask for shows that star a certain actor, are a specific genre, are from a year, or are “good”. You can command Siri to jump to different parts of the show.
For example, you can ask for Siri to show you James Bond movies starring Daniel Craig. Or to fast-forward 15 minutes. Or to find kids’ animated shows. Or the best romantic comedies from 2012.
Ask Siri to find a movie or TV show and you’ll see a list of where that show is available on the apps you’ve loaded onto your Apple TV.
Unfortunately, Siri doesn’t work with all apps yet. You can search through iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime, but not others yet. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has said that more apps will be coming in the future. That future can’t come soon enough. Siri has spoiled us!
Unlike Apple Music, which suggests songs and playlists you might like, Siri doesn’t seem to want to learn your tastes in what you want to watch. You won’t see suggestions from Siri, you’ll have to rely on channels like Netflix for that.
Siri can open apps but can’t answer questions such as what is the square root of Pi, and tell me a joke. She can’t yet search the App Store. But she can show you what are some recent popular releases, what the weather is and help you navigate your shows.
The remote has a minimalist design with few buttons. You won’t find fast-forward or rewind buttons. Instead, you use the touch panel part of the remote to navigate.
Swipe left to right to fast-forward. Swipe right to left to rewind. Swipe down to get more information about what you’re watching, turn subtitles on/off, and adjust the audio settings. Click to choose an option on screen.
The remote also acts as a game controller. It can sense your motion so you can use it to control play in game apps.
You can also use Apple or third-party game controllers with the Apple TV.
The remote control doesn’t have removable batteries. You charge the remote with a lightning cable, just like the one you use for your iPhone or iPad.
Music and Photos
You can play your music on your Apple TV, either from Apple Music or from your collection on iTunes. You can also display your photos, turning your TV into a very large digital photo frame.
You can display your iPhone, iPad or Mac screen onto your Apple TV using AirPlay.
Ideas for the Future
You have to log into each app separately after you download it from the App Store. Instead of Apple TV remembering your login information for your cable or satellite provider and logging you in automatically, you have to log into each app individually.
This may not be the fault of Apple, but it sure would be a nice feature to log in once and have your information stored on the device.
Where Is 4K?
One omission from Apple TV is the ability to display video in 4K resolution. The display of the Apple TV is extremely sharp and detailed. The picture quality is excellent so you may not miss 4K at all.
Not much 4K video is available these days but the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus shoot video in 4K. Seeing the full-color glory of those videos on your Apple TV would seem like a natural fit.
You may not have a 4K TV so you may not care that Apple TV doesn’t have 4K capabilities. But someday in the not-too-distant future 4K may become the standard, much as HD has in the past. Apple TV is not yet ready for that future.
On the plus side, adding 4K to your Apple TV would also add to the cost. If you don’t care about 4K then you’re probably glad that Apple TV doesn’t charge a premium for 4K.
As many people use a second screen to watch TV, it would be handy to have the ability to open an app while you’re watching a show on your Apple TV. Someday it would be fun to open the Twitter app on your Apple TV at the bottom of the screen to see what people are saying about the show.
Maybe in the future you could vote live for reality TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars and see results in real-time. It would be handy to use Siri to search the Internet for more information about an actor or movie or open Wikipedia to learn more about a topic.
Because we’re so familiar with what Siri does on our phones, we naturally will expect more from her in the future on the Apple TV.
The Remote app for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch doesn’t control this model Apple TV. I hope that a future update lets the Remote app control the Apple TV.
The Apple TV is available in 80 countries around the world.
You can get the Apple TV in two storage sizes, 32 GB for $149 and 64 GB for $199. If you think you’ll be using a lot of apps and playing a lot of games, then you may want to choose the larger size. There is no SD card slot for expanding the storage.
If you don’t think you’ll be using a lot of space then the 32 GB might be a fine choice for you.
Which features of the Apple TV do you like the most? What features would you like to see added? Which apps would you use on the Apple TV?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.