New Apple TV Goes All-In for Apps
Apple on Wednesday held a mammoth two-hour event to introduce a long-awaited new Apple TV set-top box, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the expected iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Further, Apple announced new Apple Watch colors and bands, and a special collaboration with Hermes. While the iPhone is clearly Apple’s most important product, it’s arguable that the Apple TV is its most important new addition.
Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that TV “plays a huge role in our lives” but noted that the experience hasn’t changed much in decades.
“Today we are going to do something about that,” he promised, adding that Apple’s vision for TV is “simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps.”
Cook then pointed out that 60 percent of pay streaming TV already is consumed on Apple devices — consumed through apps.
To deliver on its TV-app vision, Apple needed to deliver a new foundation for TV through powerful hardware, a modern OS, a new user experience, developer tools, and an App Store. “We’ve been working really hard — and really long,” he joked, “to bring all of these things together.”
The result is a new Apple TV set-top box with a shape that’s similar to the previous-generation Apple TV, but about 10 millimeters taller. It will be available in late October at US$149 for a 32-GB model or $199 for a 64-GB model. Interestingly, it does not have the latest A9 Apple processor — it uses a 64-bit A8 processor that can stream 60 frames per second at 1080p.
The key innovation is a layered Apple tvOS that you can navigate via a new Bluetooth remote — aka Siri Remote — that includes a touch-sensitive section along with tactile buttons. There’s a mike for using Siri to help you find videos, apps, and content from apps. You can even direct Siri to help out during playback.
For example, one feature lets you ask Siri what a character in a TV show said by asking something like, “What did she just say?” Siri will respond by rewinding the video 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions.
Apple also added a new Apple Music app, which closely aligns with the new Apple Music experience with iTunes and iTunes Radio.
As for other kinds of content, namely live sports and games, the new Apple TV is enabling those living room experiences, too. With a new MLB.com At Bat app for Apple TV, customers can stream live games, view live data synced to the game broadcast, watch two games at the same time in split-screen mode, and easily navigate all of it through a combination of the new Apple TV remote and the app. NHL GameCenter Live will come next year.