At an Apple product announcement event held on September 9, 2015, CEO Tim Cook presented an assortment of new Apple products, including the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, but for TV viewing and home theater fans, the product of interest is the new Apple TV Set-top box.
It Is All About The Apps
With the statement “The Future of TV is Apps”, Apple CEO Tim Cook essentially declared that the age of having to tune into a specific over-the-air or cable/satellite TV channel is over, and that the key to TV watching is streaming content from the growing number of available apps and managing those apps to satisfy your personal viewing desires.
With that philosophy in mind, the newly revamped Apple TV that was previewed incorporates not only a piece of hardware, but a software platform that includes a newly designed App Store and interactive onscreen menu, as well as employing a newly designed remote that features a swipe-able touchpad and the talents of Siri to navigate it all under the rubric of the TvOS operating system.
Universal Search With Siri
The key to finding content is inclusion of Universal Search. Instead of clicking on each app to find out what is on, Siri can search of your apps find it for you via voice interaction. Just tell her what you want (programs by title, star, genre, etc…) and she will display the results on your TV screen, and then you can either command siri to open specific app or program or use the touchpad to swipe and click on your selections(s).
For Sports Fans
The new Apple TV also offers access to the MLBTV.com streaming, which provides access to real time scores, stats, and other features, and, with paid subscription, you can actually use the Apple TV to watch two games on your TV at the same time.
What TV/Movie Apps Are Not Included – Yet
Although the new Apple TV provides a lot of TV/Movie content flexibility, which includes major services, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBONOW, Showtime, iTunes, and Apple Music. So far Amazon Instant Video and YouTube are not included. Also, Apple’s previous effort to provide its own TV/movie subscription package has not borne fruit yet, but all things will probably come in time.
More Than Just Watching TV Shows and Movies
On the other hand, the new Apple TV also offers game play (with the ability to use select third party game controllers), and although was shown was not as sophisticated as what you can access on the XBox or Sony Playstation 3/4 adding this capability as more entertainment value for consumers – which includes provisions for two-player game play.
Another feature of the new Apple TV is online shopping via the GILT app, which allows shopping by product categories.
The new version of Apple TV comes in the same form factor as the current generation model, with the following connection options: Power receptacle, USB (service only), HDMI, and Ethernet (Wifi is also built-in), as well as a lightning connector that provides charging for the included Bluetooth-enabled remote control (the remote can hold a charge for about 3 months). However, unlike the current Apple TV, there doesn’t seem to be a Digital Optical Audio Output for those that have home theater receivers that do not provide HDMI inputs.
The Price of Entry
Keeping in mind that you will still have to pay for any subscription fees required by the streaming services you wish to have access to, the price of the 4th Generation Apple TV media streamer/set-top box is as follows: $149 for the 32GB version, and $199 for the 64GB version. Also, for those prefer media streaming closer in price to others on the market the 3rd generation version of the Apple TV will still be available for now.
For more details, check out the Official Apple TV Product Page. the 4th vs 3rd Generation Apple TV Comparison Page, and some informative FAQs posted by Macworld.
The 4th Generation Apple TV with TvOS is expected to be available to consumers by late October, 2015.
Bonus: The 4th Generation Apple TV vs The 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV