First look: Fourth-generation Apple TV with Siri Remote

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple TV 2015 edition – review roundup.

You got an Apple TV? The Galaxy on Fire series has kept iOS space shooter fans entertained over the years, but for the Apple TV release, Fishlabs decided to do something different.

Apple has built its voice recognition system into its latest set-top box, meaning that viewers who are unable to make out a key line of dialogue will be able to ask Siri, “What did he say?” The Apple system will then jump back ten seconds and add subtitles, preventing the frustrations caused by the BBC production Jamaica Inn, which attracted more than 2,000 complaints about mumbled dialogue. Apple opened up preorders for the fourth-generation Apple TV on Monday, but didn’t say when the 32GB and 64GB models would be available to buy in-store.Apple TV was a “hobby” for the company for a long time, but after selling more than 25m units, Apple is getting serious about its set-top box in 2015. It’s unclear why the company didn’t announce a date, given that they probably want to sell a lot of products, but now it’s official: New Apple TVs are on Apple Store shelves starting right now. Taylor Swift famously yanked her catalog last year amid a broader industry restructuring that has seen the decline in outright music sales and the rise of streaming and its attendant micropayments.

Apple’s newest set-top box arrived in stores—and on the doorsteps of those who preordered—on Friday, and once you rip open the box, setup is pretty simple, although far from painless. Not just for die-hard Apple fanatics or house-proud design nuts who buy their tech specifically to match their minimalist “brushed chrome” scheme, the fourth-generation console finally looks like a serious contender for Amazon Fire’s throne, thanks to revamped hardware, more streaming services and a new, easier-to-navigate touchpad remote. A new working paper released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms that services like Spotify displace permanent downloads, which generally pay significantly more than the $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream. But is the hype – “the future of TV is apps” – correct, or will Apple TV struggle against cheaper rivals like Amazon’s Fire TV and Google’s Chromecast? And while games of this sort can be complex on consoles, Manticore Rising is designed around the Siri Remote with an auto-firing ship, which means you get a reasonably full-fledged experience without needing a gamepad.

But much of the noise being made about the overhauled Apple TV is thanks to its newly launched tvOS operating system that’s set to bring apps to your flatscreen. But they also get people who would otherwise steal songs to pay a little or at least listen to ads on Spotify and similar services. “In other words, our analysis shows that interactive streaming appears to be revenue-neutral for the recorded music industry,” said Luis Aguiar, a research fellow, at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville, Spain, and Joel Waldfogel, a economics professor at the University of Minnesota. Chen of The New York Times seemed especially surprised by how much he liked it–many of them noted that Apple faces some stiff competition in this market.

But it’s not just the app function that will put hours back into free time. iPhone users will already be familiar with Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled “personal assistant”. But unlike other competitors, and this is where Apple really trumps the Amazon Fire TV 4K, Siri will also respond to more complicated demands, such as “bring up all action films from the 1970s” or simply “Siri. Amazon’s approach with the Fire TV Stick was to boil the contents of the regular Fire TV down into a small USB-powered HDMI stick, like the Chromecast, that you can plug directly into your TV and power via USB. They don’t get into controversies over keeping track of whom to pay and how much they are owed–central to the issue of the latest royalties dispute. “While we find evidence that Spotify displaces piracy, the new revenue generated through streaming payments (coming from formerly pirate consumers, buyers, or individuals that used to forgo consumption) is roughly offset by revenue reductions from the sale of permanent downloads,” Messrs. Yes, the first 20 times of exclaiming “Siri, fire up Downton Abbey” to an empty room will feel strange, but perhaps we’ll soon cringe thinking of our predecessors tapping on clunky remotes in the same way we do when watching Richard Gere answer his gigantic Eighties cell phone in Pretty Woman or the naff email system Tom Hanks uses in You’ve Got Mail.

But it didn’t work for me at the office—the network I’m using has WPA2 Enterprise security, which requires me to log in with a username and a password, not just a password. As well as the usual gaming suspects, Apple TV features a host of new titles are set to be included such as Manticore Rising, Rayman Adventures, Shadowmatic, Transistor and Guitar Hero Live. It’s hard for me to imagine Apple releasing a brand-new TV device that would struggle to play higher-end games, but the current $69 model doesn’t run any apps at all, so it would still be a step up. Entering usernames and passwords with a remote is a pain in the butt, so you might be tempted to grab a Bluetooth keyboard, or launch the Remote app on your iOS device, to input this text like a gentlemen.

The new Apple TV doesn’t offer 4K streaming – this may not mean much to you now, but it will in two or three years when Apple is scrambling to catch up with other big players. Beyond running apps, such a product would also have another major feature: It would be a small, unobtrusive device to bring AirPlay support to any TV set.

It lets you play plenty of games, but titles originally designed for phones and tablets aren’t necessarily as appealing on a big screen, and most work best with a third-party game controller. And then consider that those apps could also be used to transform TVs throughout an office into status boards (at IDG I velcroed iPads to the back of TV sets so we could run Panic’s Status Board app). It might also be nice to see an update or addition to the $99 AirPort Express that does what Google’s $35 Chromecast Audio does–supply audio via AirPlay to an external speaker or other output device. I don’t know who to blame, Amazon or Apple or the streaming gods themselves…” “Apple points out that Apple TV runs a 1.0 operating system, called tvOS.

I’ve got a bunch of Bluetooth adapters that sort of do this, but I’ve found using them to be unreliable, and of course, they require that you stay relatively close for the connection to remain intact. I find myself connecting my iPhone to speakers by the good ol’ headphone jack in most cases, which is dumb (and forces me to be next to the speaker to play anything, and give up the use of my iPhone if I’m not sitting right there). All of that is fine, but you have to wonder: Why is Apple still frantically squashing bugs three days before the product ships? (The answer is, no doubt, ‘Because we can’t miss the holiday season, no matter what.’)” “Limitations are everywhere. Only a small handful of apps work with Siri search right now – iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime – so finding something in, say, the ESPN or CBS apps isn’t possible. Tim Cook says a Siri search API is coming, but I get the feeling Apple wants Siri search to be a differentiator for the more premium services, so we’ll see how wide open that API is when it gets here.

And once Siri drops you into a streaming app from that universal search, it’s a free-for-all – they all have different interfaces and recommendation engines, and none of them talk to each other.” “As good as Siri has become, it feels limited on this device. Even for those more basic elements, the device is better at streaming video content than less expensive products from Amazon, Roku and Google, all of which I tested over the last month. The comments section is open for your early thoughts on it – or, indeed, if you’ve been using one of the rival devices and have views to share on how Apple TV will compete with them. If you already have a subscription you purchased within that service’s iOS app (which you shouldn’t do anyway, since you’re likely paying more than if you had just subscribed in a web browser), you can click Restore Purchases and you won’t have to sign in.

And luckily, when it’s time to enter your email address, there’s a Recent list with shortcuts to the email addresses/logins you’ve already entered—that’s really handy. If you put apps in the top row of icons, the marquee row along the top will show you a preview of content inside those apps. (In the old generations of Apple TV, that top row was off limits.) For example, I put Netflix up there and saw popular Netflix items like Orange Is the New Black and Family Guy. You might want to take a quick tour through the Settings app, especially if you want to enable Restrictions, say, to disallow purchases or rentals from iTunes, or in-app purchases, or Explicit music or podcasts, or R-rated movies and M-rated TV shows. Here, once you’re in your profile, the different sections like Recently Watched, Recommended for You, Trending on Netflix, and so on are all conveniently located on one screen.

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