The new Apple TV: Here’s what the reviewers are saying

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alto’s Adventure is coming to Apple TV.

That’s the consensus among reviewers this week as the newly upgraded set-top box — seen by Wall Street analysts as a big bet on the living room — prepares to hit stores Friday. On Thursday I came to grips with the new touchpad remote and chatting to Siri, but for many people the most exciting thing about the fourth-generation Apple TV is the appearance of the App Store.

Consumers for years have had to wrestle with a bewildering array of set-up boxes, cords and television ports to get all of the online shows that they want to watch on the biggest screens in their homes.BOSTON, Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Strategy Analytics’ just published iOS apps forecast predicts the Apple iOS App Store will reach nearly $30bn in revenue by 2021. It’s still early days, but access to more apps has the potential to overcome many of the limitations of the old Apple TV3 as well as bringing casual gaming to the big screen. 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.

In addition to some impressive family-oriented games, the Apple TV already hosts apps from the likes of Airbnb, QVC and Gilt, testing the device’s prowess as a shopping platform and multimedia player. Last time we heard from Storehouse they were launching major updates for their app that ditched the social networking functionality and replaced them with tool to help you better share with your close friends and family. A bigger selling point for many is the slick new remote control, which Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook hailed as “revolutionary.” It does a pretty good job acting on Siri voice commands like “Show ’80s romantic comedies,” writes Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal. Well now they’re introducing an Apple TV app that helps you and your friends share what’s going on in your life with everyone gathered around the TV.

In another bonus, the new remote has a touchpad like a MacBook, eliminating the need for a bulky monstrosity that carries dozens of buttons and arrow keys. Most of them are flotsam and jetsam at this point but it shouldn’t take developers long to get onboard now that they no longer need to jump through so many hoops. The hockey puck-sized box offers some cool new features that can be used now — you can search for shows through the voice assistant Siri and a new remote lets you navigate by touch and play games. Tomorrow global content owners Netflix, Hulu, Disney, YouTube, Spotify and others will experience exponential revenue growth fueled by in-app subscription sign-ups.

Storehouse, a company we voted our favorite mobile app at the Crunchies in 2015, is taking a crack at the tired TV slideshow, but in the process seems to have created something so cool that it makes the concept exciting again. “Users don’t really want their whole iCloud libraries being shown on the TV,” Storehouse CEO Mark Kjawano told me. Nevertheless, users will frequently still have to use this fancy remote to hunt and peck, one letter at a time, through an on-screen keyboard to find movies. “It’s excruciating,” gripes Yahoo’s David Pogue, blasting an “absurdly designed layout” for the on-screen keyboard that puts all 26 letters of the alphabet on a single line.

This can be because of photo duplicates, screenshots and mundane images like photos of receipts that end up destroying the photo slideshow experience. Elsewhere, some reviewers were disappointed that the Siri commands only worked with a few key apps, and that its handy search capabilities aren’t available for YouTube or broadcast channels like NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS. The developers of popular media players VLC and Plex have committed to bringing their apps to the new Apple TV, which will certainly make it more useful for people who like to stream content around their home. Netflix recently allowed in-app sign-up for its service and quickly climbed the ranks of the highest grossing entertainment apps in more than 20 countries. What Kawano and his team wanted to do was give everyone access to the TV feed and let them showcase their favorite pictures on the screen at a moment’s notice.

Apple TV’s watch-by-apps approach has another benefit — it can be the device that finally pulls together all of those subscriptions, watchlists and movies you’ve randomly downloaded all across the Web. Apple’s continued position as a premium brand, App Store popularity and embedded technology easing in-app payment will contribute to increased sign-ups for subscription services on the iOS platform. For now Apple TV owners have a few apps to choose from – mostly streaming services and games but also a handful of “experience” apps like Airbnb for browsing rentals, Kitchen Stories for cooking tips, Craftsy for tutorials and Zova for exercise – alluding to the Apple TV’s potential as a Wii-style family device.

That’s particularly unfortunate, according to Yahoo’s Pogue, as Amazon’s video service “is looking like it’s going to be the new Netflix, now that Netflix is de-emphasizing movie acquisition.” It will be interesting to see whether, like iOS, some apps are only available in the US – a quick look at the US store already reveals games which aren’t available in Australia. With the freedom to install apps Apple also grants you the ability to reorganise the apps the home screen, plus you can double-click the home button to call up an iOS-style app switcher. While the iOS app includes photos, videos and text to tell stories, the app for tvOS just focuses on the visual multimedia. “We decided that [text] just wasn’t the right thing for the living room,” Kawano said.

Both Apple and Google have pretty clear policies stating that any developer who submits an app that passes store standards can be made available for their devices. Other revenue streams remain strong – in-app purchase will still drive billions in revenue each year throughout our forecast – but the growth of subscription and consolidation among key players is a key trend that will drive future growth for the App Store, Apple, and content owners.” About Strategy Analytics Strategy Analytics, Inc. provides the competitive edge with advisory services, consulting and actionable market intelligence for emerging technology, mobile and wireless, digital consumer and automotive electronics companies. Apple TV apps look like they’re offering developers really interesting opportunities to play with how people view content on such a large screen, Storehouse has a beautiful iOS app and it appears that their TV app is striving to reach the same visual aesthetic while offering users some new utility.

But truth be told, iTunes’ selling point has never really been about exclusive content but rather convenience for customers who own its phones, tablets and other devices. Ultimately, if the two companies do not get along, there will be a lot of customers who will be forced to split their libraries or pick one content hub over the other. As entertainment becomes a bigger part of all of these companies’ businesses, it’s possible that consumers will just have to keep dealing with the consequences of corporate clashes in their own living rooms.

You can still take a big swing at the ball and there’s an optional wrist strap, which could be a wise investment if you’re not in the market for a new television. Tilting the remote to steer works well, although it’s surprising that Apple hasn’t forced every game to use the remote the same way so sometimes you’ll need to turn it around in your hands as you switch games. This won’t bother everyone, but it’s another frustration compared to other consoles which generally make it easy for everyone in the house to track their progress and play at their own speed. It’s a little top heavy and not as comfortable as the PlayStation VR (I wear glasses and it was weighing down on them quite heavily, leaving behind a red mark on my nose that later disappeared), but the visual experience it provided was just as good, if not slightly better in some instances.

This is largely thanks to the two specially designed controllers made for it that offer slightly more functionality and freedom than PlayStation’s Move controllers (those glowing coloured orbs on a stick). Unless you’ve gone diving before, not many people in the world have probably been able to approach a whale or any animal that lives in the sea larger themselves. Sold as a game set during a zombie apocalypse, you’ll supposedly be able to bash, slash and explode your way through hordes of undead once its final version is out.

As the title suggests, you’re an office worker tasked with completing a series of mundane tasks: Eating doughnuts; firing employees using a large “fired’ stamp after grabbing the employee’s file from a filing cabinet; making a coffee; plugging in PC and printer power cables; and logging into a computer to print out a photo. Apart from the fun games, the Vive also has a pretty nifty feature that I haven’t seen in any of the Sony’s PlayStation VR demos I’ve played so far that prevents you from running into walls. Then, once in the game, if you walk too close to a wall in the real world then a virtual representation of it is overlaid on top of the virtual world you’re in to prevent you from a collision. Mcree, HTC senior manager of product marketing, said it was unlikely for some time due to the fact 15-20 gigabits per second of data is currently being fed to the Vive headset, and wireless technologies aren’t fast enough to deal with that just yet.

One can only hope boffins can make wireless go faster sometime soon, or VR headset engineers can find some magical compression algorithm for the video, and a way to have low latency, wireless gaming. And that’s the final thing I wanted to point out about the Vive: all the demos I tried were all about walking around, whereas the demos for most Sony games required you to be sitting.

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