After going years without any major updates, Apple TV is finally getting its moment.
The new set-top box was unveiled Wednesday during Apple’s fall press event – alongside two upgraded iPhone models and the all-new iPad Pro – where Apple executives promised to deliver an new and improved TV watching experience.
“Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of TV is apps,” said CEO Tim Cook.
The new Apple TV may look a lot like previous models – albeit a little taller – but it’s much different from its predecessors.
Users will be able to use Apple’s voice assistant Siri to search through content on apps like iTunes and Netflix, as well as searching within a video using specific commands like, “Skip ahead seven minutes.” It’s app driven, has its own operating system, a redesigned remote and even incorporates gaming.
But will the new Apple TV be a success story?
First impressions from those in attendance at Apple’s press event are mixed. Of course, they were only given a short demo from Apple representatives, but initial reviews show the device has promise.
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“Overall, it’s a welcome — and meaningful — upgrade to the Apple TV, but there’s nothing in this first look that makes it seem like it’s going to usher in a massive TV revolution,” said The Verge’s Nilay Patel.
“If it works as promised, the Apple TV looks like it has a good chance to become the best streaming box on the market,” wrote Slate reporter Will Oremus.
“At a price of $150 for the 32 GB model and $200 for 64 GB, it had better be. Either that, or Apple might want to get to work programming some clever responses to the command, ‘Siri, give me my money back’.”
The addition of Siri and voice search is one of the biggest changes to Apple TV – but the biggest question here is how accurate it will be.
“Search is smooth, and complete — something that we quite frankly need as we pile on video subscription services and never quite know what’s in any of them,” wrote Washington Post reporter Hayley Tsukayama.
“Siri’s good on the Apple TV, but users should know that it’s not totally the same program that you may have gotten used to on your mobile device. The searches here are limited to the Apple TV world.”
Many reports noted that the room Apple was holding demos in was noisy – which meant that Siri wasn’t preforming at her best – so you might have to wait until Apple TV is in the comfort of your own living room to see how she really works.
The new remote
“The touchpad is glass and it clicks — it’s very much like having a tiny MacBook touchpad under your thumb,” wrote Patel.
“Using the remote itself feels pretty frenetic, actually — the touchpad is pretty fast, and there’s no pointer on the screen so you’re just swiping between different active app icons.”
Introducing games to Apple TV was a big – and expected – move. And while the ability to play some iOS games on your TV is technically venturing into gaming, some feel that Apple missed an opportunity to do more with it.
“Apple’s new gaming console that’s meant to shake up the living room and challenge the Xbox One and PS4…isn’t. It’s an Apple TV with Siri, basically, with a Wiimote thrown in,” wrote Forbes tech contributor Dave Thier.
“It’s a real shame: if Apple had thought to seriously apply the lessons and relationships it had learned from years of iPhone gaming, it could have made a truly exciting living room device. Now, however, it’s got a machine that doesn’t feel close to adequately differentiated from its competition.”