Out with the old
But one of the more interesting moments of the company’s September 9 event was the introduction of the new Apple TV. The Cupertino firm gave its set-top a significant hardware and software upgrade, with the clear intention of showing users "the future of TV." But what does this future entail, exactly?
Here’s a look at the 9 major upgrades Apple brought to the fore with the new Apple TV.
It’s voice activated
After the calls came from users to do so, Apple followed Amazon’s trail and added voice search functionality to the new Apple TV. Using Siri, the new Apple TV has the ability to search media via genre, actor, comedy, age bracket and more. Users can activate Siri with the touch of a button on their remote. It’s a convenient feature the old Apple TV was sorely lacking.
Did you miss an important scene during your rewatch of West Wing? You can ask Siri to rewind the show for a specific amount of time. If you didn’t hear something, you can ask Siri to replay a sequence with captions. Even better, you can ask Siri which famous actor is on screen right now and have it tell you all the films or TV shows the actor has ever been in.
More third-party app compatibility
While the old Apple TV kept its storefront limited to a handful of third-party apps like Spotify and Netflix, the addition of the App Store will allow developers to create their own apps for the Apple TV. So far, we’ve only seen Apple TV versions of Zillow, Gilt and MLB.com, but with 11 million developers currently on the case, we’re sure to see a few thousand more by the time the device launches in late October.
You can play games on it
Users will have the ability download games directly to the new Apple TV. Apple showed off a variety of games at its event, including Crossy Road and Disney Infinity 3.0. However, users should expect to see other games on the console soon, including Rayman Legends, Galaxy on Fire 3 and Asphalt 8. It might not rival console mainstays like the Xbox One or PS4, but it should have enough power under the hood to play many, if not all, of your favorite iOS games in 1080p.
Apple TV controller gets a major upgrade
Apple added a number of new functions to the Apple TV remote that improves its functionality. Not only is it easier to swipe through content, but the remote’s built-in gyroscope and accelerometer offers users and developers a bevy of new and potential functions. Touch is an elegant addition to a piece of hardware that started to show its age a long time ago.
tvOS is a game-changer
Simply called tvOS, the new Apple TV software is the epitome of what Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs wanted from the get-go: it’s easy to use, fast and intuitive. Best of all, it’s swipe-compatible, which means you’ll be able to use the touchpad on the remote to get from point A to point B. If swiping isn’t your style, tvOS’s interface is optimized for use with voice commands. There’s more options here than ever before, freeing the new Apple TV from the narrow-minded control scheme of its predecessors. (Image: https://www.apple.com/pr/products/images/TV_AppleTV_Remote_MainMenu_Movies_LANDING.jpg)
It’s Apple Music compatible
While the Apple TV had the ability to stream music via Airplay and Spotify, Apple’s decision to add Apple Music compatibility to the new Apple TV OS opens new doors for a user’s media consumption. Users can stream their favorite albums, create custom radio stations, or (if they’re feeling risky) Beats 1 Radio.
Third-party accessory compatibility
Now that Apple is offering developer support for the Apple TV, users should see more accessories on the market. Apple says that developers will release more than a dozen made-for-Apple TV game controllers in the next few months, starting with SteelSeries’ MFi Nimbus controller.
Simplified ports, at a cost
In (newly) typical Apple fashion, the company removed the audio-out ports from the Apple TV for the sake of simplicity. This means that the only way to get sound out of the Apple TV is through the single HDMI port on the back of the device. This might not seem like a big deal to most people, but it will make it harder to use the device with larger sound systems that require optical audio out. By comparison, the Amazon Fire TV has an optical audio-out, which Home Entertainment Editor Nick Pino calls "super useful."