Early Apple TV reviews agree the streaming puck isn’t revolutionary

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alto’s Adventure is coming to Apple TV.

The fourth-generation Apple TV isn’t all that different from other streaming set-top boxes. While Apple hails it as the “future of TV,” the word from early reviews of the streaming puck indicate that the Apple TV holds plenty of potential, but isn’t quite revolutionary.

The snowboarding game will be making its debut on Apple’s set-top box soon after the device starts shipping, and will feature support for both the included Siri remote and third-party controllers. (The iOS version, meanwhile, has also been updated with controller support.) It’ll be a universal app, so that you’ll only need to buy it once on either iOS or Apple TV, and will include support for iCloud saves, so you can share progress with the iPhone and iPad versions of the game. Alto’s Adventure first launched on iOS in February, and went on to become one of the best titles on the platform in quite some time — a much-anticipated Android version is also in the works.

Siri’s universal search is being lauded by early reviewers as the new Apple TV’s best feature, letting you find content across multiple services without having to remember which one has what, or inadvertently paying to buy or rent content you could stream for free with a subscription. An API will let developers add universal search to their own apps, so presumably other music streaming services could jump on board, like Pandora and Rdio, which both have apps for other set-top boxes such as the Roku and Fire TV. The story behind the story: When Tim Cook told BuzzFeed’s John Paczkowski that Apple would open the universal search API, he said, “It should be very simple.” But as of yet we don’t have a solid idea of how simple developers will find it—in other words, how long users like us will have to wait for more apps to support universal search.

The fact that Apple Music, which presumably had a head-start, will need another couple months at the least might mean that “simple” is a bit of a stretch. Earlier this week, some users started noticing that Siri is refusing to answer basic music queries — such as checking which songs are trending in the charts — for those not subscribed to Apple Music. Setting up a streaming box is usually a painful process, but Apple has made it super simple to get started with your new Apple TV: Just put your iPhone running iOS 9.1 with Bluetooth turned on near the TV, and that’s it. “When you install streaming apps like Hulu and Netflix from the App Store, you type in your login credentials by swiping left and right with the remote to select letters of the alphabet one at a time—you have no option to do this by speaking into the microphone or using a keyboard on a smartphone,” Brian X. Swiping across a film’s timeline to pinpoint a particular moment, for example, is surprisingly accurate and easy.” “The Apple TV gets the Internet TV remote right by reaching for the same touch-screen feeling that makes the iPhone intuitive to a 2-year-old,” Fowler writes. “The new remote has a glass touchpad on one end that you swipe and tap around with your thumb as if it’s an iPhone. Developers are in various stages of work on their tvOS apps—some are still in progress, others are awaiting Apple’s approval, and early partners like HBO and Netflix are ready to go.

But if you’ve already preordered an Apple TV or plan to buy one when they hit store shelves on Friday, be prepared for a dearth of quality apps—at least right now. “Because Apple TV is a platform that’s new to developers, the current selection of apps is limited and some first efforts seem…not as well-conceived as they might have been,” Paczkowski writes. “But’s that going to change—and quickly. As developers get their hands on this thing and spend some real time coming to understand it, I suspect we’re going to see some great stuff coming down the pipeline.” The possibilities for gaming alone are endless, but Brian X.

Chen of the Times found that an app for reading comics on the TV proves that the best tvOS apps don’t have to be games. “I don’t know when, if ever, Apple will reinvent TV,” Mossberg says. “But this isn’t the moment.

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