New Apple TV First Impressions: Not a 'Revolution,' But Siri and tvOS Shine

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One of the big announcements coming out of Apple's "Hey Siri" event in San Francisco today was the new and improved Apple TV, which aims to provide users with a far more robust and unified experience than its predecessor. As it did with the iPad Pro and iPhone 6s, Apple has allowed some journalists hands-on time with the new Apple TV after today's event and subsequently the first impressions of the device have been shared online.

The Verge went hands-on with the new Apple TV, and while they found the new remote to be "frenetic" at first, they noted the sensitive controls are easy to get used to, even in a brief demo environment. The site also liked the slight visual overhaul thanks to tvOS, and called the device a "meaningful" upgrade to the Apple TV line, but was left unsure whether it met Apple's massive vision detailed during today's conference.


Variety's brief demo with the new set-top box found that the overall experience has been uniquely tuned around Siri and Siri's in-depth search parameters. Specifically, the site was a fan of the device's "fast and fluid" interface, along with the new remote control and the possibility of future Apple Watch integration.
Using voice to control Apple TV worked fairly well during my brief hands-on test, which says something: My German accent tends to throw off voice recognition systems, but Siri had no problems searching for foreign comedies when asked to do so.

Apple TV is based on pretty powerful hardware, and that shows when you navigate the device's home screen. Scrolling through apps with the remote control's touchpad is fast and fluid, app icons are 3D-animated, and the interface looks a lot lighter than that of the previous-generation Apple TV.
On the downside, Variety noted that much of the in-video alternate functionality shown off by Apple during the media event -- like searching for actors while a movie plays -- is limited to iTunes videos for the time being. The site also found some roadblocks when continuing to inquire into specific categories with Siri, with the voice assistant sometimes stumbling over whether they were beginning a new query or continuing insight into a previous one. In the end, while they liked the brief experience, Variety wasn't sure Apple completely "changed the TV experience," as the company hoped to do.
Siri also stumbled when asked to show TV shows from ABC, something an Apple employee attributed to the fact that the demo was optimized for movies. Also notable: Siri wasn't actually that smart about connecting the dots. Follow-up questions have to start with certain keywords, otherwise Siri thinks it's a new question. Launching an app or game requires users to use the word "open," and not "go to." And the MLB app wouldn't open, just because I said "Open MLB.tv," not "Open At Bat."

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday that no one had changed the TV experience - and the new Apple TV doesn't really change it either.
SlashGear said the physical Apple TV set-top box "isn't quite as aesthetically pleasing," as the existing version, but thought the brighter tvOS and slick menu controls were far ahead of the current Apple TV. The site also noted the accessibility of the remote's IR blaster -- which allows the small device to control a TV's volume -- and the ability to support MFI-certified controllers, like Bluetooth gamepads, is a plus for anyone looking into the new gaming App Store section of the Apple TV.

What you do engage with is the new remote control. It feels more like a mashup of a 1st-gen iPod nano and a MacBook trackpad, with the touch surface for navigation being very sensitive: at first, I skittered through the revamped interface, the icons tilting and bobbing as I went.

tvOS - built on top of iOS and with the primary changes being to how easily viewed the interface is from across the room - feels familiar, though the brighter color scheme is a little more engaging than the dour black of the current Apple TV. It also feels a little like Android TV at times.
The new Apple TV will be available in late October for $149 (32GB) and $199 (64GB). Besides TV and movie functionality, Apple introduced a few gaming-centric features today, including unique co-operative play for certain game titles and the announcement of the first gamepad for the new Apple TV.

Article Link: New Apple TV First Impressions: Not a 'Revolution,' But Siri and tvOS Shine
 
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cariacou

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Jul 21, 2010
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if they were to sell a version without the remote for $50 cheaper I'd be right in.
I just care about the apps.
remote will go in the closet anyway, I have a logitech harmony hub that controls all the devices in the house

siri can very likely be used through the iphone. I'm guessing the remote app will be updated for that, so yeah no need of the physical remote
 
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mchoffa

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Jul 12, 2008
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I think there is a lot we're not seeing yet that we'll see at launch, like Apple Watch integration, etc. REALLY hoping the subscription service launches then too, but not betting on it.
 
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Roller

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Jun 25, 2003
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Ultimately I want to be able to search across all content that's available to me - OTA TV, cable, rentals and no-additional-charge movies and programs from various providers, and stuff that I've purchased. For that matter, Apple TV should be able to do something similar for photos and music. Getting there will take more time, in part because of licensing requirements. Still, the new Apple TV is a step in the right direction and I will probably get one when it comes out.
 

LordBeelzebub

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Aug 22, 2013
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i might wait until they unveil the TV service to see what that is like before deciding to buy. Other than the ability to download apps, there isn't anything much fundamentally different to how the current Apple TV is and operates.
 
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Dorje Sylas

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Jun 8, 2011
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The memory amount is low, even as broadband rolls out in more places, that's still very minimal. Especially when you consider the file sizes for 4k content. I want to see it get the ability to access content off of an iTunes running PC or other NAS solution. Of course with the Apps framework that may be easier to do now. As in not running Apple's 1st party players.
 

hemanwomanhater

macrumors regular
Nov 22, 2010
135
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if they were to sell a version without the remote for $50 cheaper I'd be right in.
I just care about the apps.
remote will go in the closet anyway, I have a logitech harmony hub that controls all the devices in the house
The remote is one of the critical features!, especially since it's your interface with Siri.

Quite disappointed the in-show searching is iTunes only. Hope that changes.
 
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gugy

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Jan 31, 2005
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I am curios about the remote if I can create activities like my Harmony One.
I have a TV/DVR/ATV/Blu-Ray and if I can use the ATV remote operating all devices that would be fantastic, but my feeling it won't support third parties devices.
 

cchanlatte

macrumors member
Aug 16, 2010
31
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It's interesting to see that the new Apple TV also struggles with apps not opening unless you state the specific name of the app just like the Xbox One does. Xbox One has struggled with this for two years, which is not a deal breaker but definitely an annoyance from time to time. I'd love to see who fixes this issue first.
 

vertical smile

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Sep 23, 2014
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Needs 4k. And yes, I have a 4k TV at home.

While it would have been nice to have, I didn't think it would have 4K.

4K content and the amount of 4K users is still low. Compare 4K content now to 1080p content when the ATV2 was launched. 1080p was everywhere then, and Apple still did 720p.

It would be different if iTunes had 4K content, and my guess is that when that does happen, ATV5 or 6 will have 4K.
 

Michael CM1

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Feb 4, 2008
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Ummm how would you use siri? I feel like that is a big feature that will be utilized even with 3rd party apps.

Not sure how that poster will with a Harmony remote -- which sounds like overkill now if you just use this device for your TV like I will and not any satellite/cable. But if the use of other iOS devices as a full remote (or at least partial) works, iPads, iPhones and Apple Watches could replicate most of the functionality, including Siri. In fact, if the Apple Watch isn't supported very soon I would wonder WTF Apple is thinking. Listening to the remote's hardware specs, it sounds an awful lot like the Apple Watch. Maybe developing code to recognize movement from your wrist instead of in your hand -- such as in that tennis-like demo from Rock Band -- would take time, but it's a natural use for the Apple Watch.
 

HarryWild

macrumors 68000
Oct 27, 2012
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i might wait until they unveil the TV service to see what that is like before deciding to buy. Other than the ability to download apps, there isn't anything much fundamentally different to how the current Apple TV is and operates.

Roku calls the "apps" channels and Apple calls "channels" apps. Roku has Sling TV and Apple TV has nothing for now!
 
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