Innovation in the home – Apple TV

15 March 2017

Apple’s hope of creating a more interactive and engaging home is becoming a more obtainable reality with Apple TV. With Apple TV including all the functions of Apple’s best selling smartphone (The iPhone) you can watch TV, stream video, play games as well as buy gifts, book holidays and even bank all via your television. This makes for a unique and engaging home entertainment system that meets all the requirements you would ever need from any smart device.

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Apple TV is a small 3.9 x 1.3 inch box that plugs directly into your TV via HDMI and connects to the internet. Apple TV has all the standard media streaming features you would expect from a set top box including Film, TV shows, Music and Games. However Apple TV has begun to take TV engagement within the home to a whole new level with the inclusion of an app store that enables to user to download their favourite iOS apps directly to their TV.

TV has always been a one-way street when it comes to interaction, with the viewer receiving shows, films and music from their TV without an ability to ‘interact’. Current TVs give a small amount of control to the viewer in the form of ‘live pause’ and ‘catch-up’ however this doesn’t compare to the level of interaction that Apple TV proposes. Apple are attempting, and thus far succeeding, at producing an even distribution of interaction between the now ‘user’ and the TV itself.

Apple TV’s new Siri remote can be controlled via both voice and touch with the remote incorporating both a microphone and glass touchscreen. Apple have said that the remote can be used to turn and and change the volume of your TV too.

The remote itself communicates with the Apple TV box via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) meaning that you don’t need to point the remote towards the box for it to work, allowing for the box to be hidden if preferred. The glass touchscreen on the remote can be used whilst watching TV to display information about the current show/film by swiping up as well as swiping left and right to scroll through channels and stop easily on the one you want.

As for the Siri aspect of the remote: by simply asking Siri a question such as “show me funny TV shows” Siri will browse apps that are installed on the TV, such as Netflix, and show you all the shows that relate to the given topic. Siri also understands more precise questions such as “what did she say?” and will rewind 15 seconds of TV footage while enabling captions – meaning you’ll never miss whats going on. Siri can also be used to search for specific films and can be asked questions such as “show me James Bond films with Sean Connery”: resulting in a list showing exactly what you asked for.

Apple TV is also showcasing Apple’s new OS called tvOS. Apple have said that they have adapted iOS for the TV so that developers can produce apps for iOS, OS X and watchOS and with little effort to adapt the app to run on Apple TV. This is in keeping with Apple’s hopes for the future of TV stating that “Our vision for TV is simple… We believe the future of TV is apps, the transition has already begun – we are spending more time watching TV via apps on iPhones and iPads.

All of the big US players will feature on the Apple TV app store including Netflix, Hulu, HBO and iTunes to name a few. However its not just streaming apps that will be available, games, shopping and travel apps will also be downloadable so you can do everything you can do on an iPhone and iPad straight from your TV in your living room. In addition to this, developers will be able to create their apps to be universal meaning that a single download or purchase will allow access to the app on iPhone, iPad and TV.

The 32GB Apple TV model will be $149 (£120 inc VAT) and the 64GB model will go on sale at $199 (£160 inc VAT). These prices, although not pocket change, are low considering Apple’s usual “premium” price range however be aware that the UK prices have not been confirmed yet and that they could be higher. The Siri Remote will cost $79 (£51 inc VAT) although a remote is included when you buy the Apple TV box. As an additional extra you can buy a safety strap reminiscent of Nintendo’s Wii remote strap, for $13.

Conclusion:

As developers and designers ourselves we feel that Apple TV is a huge improvement when it comes to living room interaction with users. The new OS allows for us to code for all devices simultaneously reducing the cost for clients looking to produce an iOS, OS X and tvOS app. With a majority of users in the living room using more than one screen at a time, Apple TV pools all the resources together increasing engagement as well as usage of the device. Apple TV poses a huge opportunity for businesses and developers alike creating an all-in-one hub from which to advertise products and services from.