It took years, but Apple’s new Apple TV is finally a set-top box worthy of most everyone’s attention. While the previous generations were great for Apple enthusiasts, the new Apple TV is such a leap forward that your level of Apple love isn’t the most important factor when you consider buying a new streaming video puck or stick.
Did I just say streaming video? I did, but that’s a misnomer . . . the new Apple TV has a lot more going for it than just streaming video — it’s the start of a whole new world of living room apps. And yet, that’s just a piece, too. In fact, there are a lot of cool new things about the new Apple TV.
New Siri Remote
The new remote control is called a Siri Remote, and it lets you press a button to verbally ask Apple’s Siri helper to find new content. In addition to voice search — which Amazon already has, by the way, with its Amazon Fire TV — also offers playback control and navigation. For example, if, during a TV show, you miss what a character says, you can ask Siri something like, “What did he just say?”
In which case Siri will rewind 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions.
The new remote also features a glass Touch control, which lets you navigate simply by dragging or tapping your thumb (or finger) on its surface. Better yet, the new Siri Remote uses Bluetooth so you don’t have to point the thing directly at your Apple TV to get it to work (which was a sore spot for the old and tiny previous generation remote).
And what about batteries? You can charge the Siri Remote with any Lightning cable (one is included in the box, too).
Apps, Apps, Apps
Apple’s new Apple TV operating system is called tvOS, and it is the foundation that will let third-party developers easily build apps for the Apple TV. So that’s what we’ll start seeing — new kinds of apps developed for consumption from the living room. These apps will definitely be games, will definitely be video-focused, will tend to offer extra information about TV, movies, and the people who make them. They will let you shop and buy, workout, learn and teach.
Better yet, these apps will be able to tap into the Siri Remote, which has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, which makes it usable as a game controller but also as an app controller, which might result in some sweet app interactions while you’re sitting on your backside in a deep recliner . . . or while exercising.
If you like Apple Music on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, getting Apple’s streaming music and radio service on your living room TV — assuming you have decent speakers — is another nice benefit. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to add a sound bar or a simple sound system, this might be the excuse you need.
1080p at 60 FPS
This isn’t super astounding, but it’s pretty damn good for most consumers, who will appreciate the smoother motion during TV show and movie playback. It’s delivered by Apple’s 64-bit A8 processor, which also promises to deliver surprisingly good game graphics through new game apps. (No telling when Apple will support 4K video, but since the vast majority of consumers don’t have 4K HDTVs, only a few people will cry over this.)
Games, Casual and Beyond
The App Store will bring games to the Apple TV and Apple’s graphics processing capabilities will take the new Apple TV well beyond the limitations of casual gaming and bump up against the edges of console games. Sure, the consoles will have the edge for a while yet, but you can look forward to some pretty sweet Apple TV games in your future. Unfortunately, it might also result in some parents playing casual games on the big screen instead of kids, but it might also result in family game play, too.
And what about real game controllers? The new Apple TV supports MFi-based third-party controllers, giving anyone older than 23 a chance at playing a first-person shooter iOS — ahem, tvOS — game in an enjoyable way.
The New Apple TV
All-in-all, the new Apple TV is nothing like the old Apple TV, which means you should forget about the old Apple TV altogether. It’s unclear how long you’ll be able to find an older Apple TV, which go for about $69 now. Steer clear. Hard to recommend. Really not worth it. The new Apple TV has the new Siri Remote, Siri integration, a much faster processor, 32 or 64GB of storage, and will support the newest apps.
It will go on sale at the end of October starting at $149 for the 32GB version and $199 for the 64GB version.