#apple tv

Brian X. Chen looks a bit into Apple University:

In “What Makes Apple, Apple,” another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons.

How did Apple’s designers decide on three buttons? They started out with an idea, Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed — a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.

The Google TV remote serves as a counterexample; it had so many buttons, Mr. Nelson said, because the individual engineers and designers who worked on the project all got what they wanted. But, Apple’s designers concluded, only three were needed.

Ah yes, I remember that remote well. And another great argument for the VP of Devil’s Advocacy

Also, humorous timing of this given my own rant about remotes. (I still personally find the current Apple TV remote too simplistic. It’s nearly impossible to “type” with. But if it added voice input…)

Matthew Panzarino:

One of the most intriguing components of the new iTunes Extras system is that they aren’t set in stone. Because they’re based on a flexible framework that Apple offers to studios, and they’re served from the cloud, they can be added to over time.

There is potential here to create a living library that allows additional content to be served to your existing library. That’s a big selling point for digital purchases over physical ones, just as many studios are finally getting on the digital bandwagon.

For me, this truly is a “finally”. Like Panzarino, I was a huge DVD buff — not because of the format itself, but because of the extras included with the films. Apple started to include them long ago, but only in a half-assed way, and oddly not on the Apple TV.

Scanning over the extras highlighted by Apple, I still am a bit saddened to see only a few titles with commentary tracks. Those were hands-down my favorite extras. But, as noted, studios can add additional content over time, and Apple ensures it will be available for free.

Speaking of Apple and gaming, here’s Sean Heber:

Apple now has everything they need to disrupt the game console industry in a way that none of them see coming. I predict that we’ll see a new AppleTV update (and hardware) this fall along with a new app extension type for AirPlay. AirPlay will become about more than just streaming video to your AppleTV - instead that’ll simply be one of the things you can do with it. Apps (mostly games, I suspect) will be able to bundle an AirPlay extension inside - just like how apps can now bundle photo editing or sharing extensions as of iOS 8. The key difference is where the AirPlay extension app actually executes - instead of running on your device itself from within another host app, the AirPlay extension app will be automatically uploaded to whatever AppleTV you are currently AirPlaying with and will run directly on the AppleTV natively instead. This means no video streaming lag and minimal controller lag. Your iPhone would then turn into a generic game controller with onscreen controls or, if you have a physical shell controller attached to your iPhone, it activates that instead. The game controller inputs are then relayed to the AppleTV and thus to the AirPlay extension app using the new game controller forwarding feature.

This is a very interesting idea — apps as air(play)borne viruses that “infect” the Apple TV unit. It sounds almost crazy enough to be true.

Remember that while it’s stated to have no internal storage, the Apple TV (the hockey puck variety) does actually have 8 GB of memory. This would certainly be enough for any single app (of which games are almost always the largest) to fully reside temporarily, while playing. 

The wild card here in my mind, is the input. The long-rumored new Apple TV box has long been said to be built around some sort of new control paradigm. Will a “magic wand” or some other such controller work with these games as well? Or will there be something else? Or will it simply rely on an iPad/iPhone?

[via John Gruber]

The one thing people seem to unanimously like about the Amazon FireTV is the voice search. So yeah, this makes sense. Though I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s able to search across all content on the Apple TV (unlike on the FireTV right now).

I just wonder if we’ll see this roll out before any new Apple TV hardware or if it will utilize the iOS Remote app. Otherwise, you’d think we’d need some new hardware to be able to listen…

The reviews are starting to come in for Amazon’s new Fire TV and the consensus seems to be that it’s… okay.

People really like the voice search (but complain that it’s limited to Amazon and Hulu content). To anyone who has ever tried to search for anything using the Apple TV remote, this makes perfect sense. This is clearly how it should be done, especially if you have a product like Siri…

People also like the gaming functionality, though note that the controller feels cheap. Also something obvious for Apple to add to the Apple TV, though ideally with a much better controlling mechanism. 

Overall, sounds pretty “meh” to me. But at $99, I’ll probably pick up one just to try the gaming aspect.

The iPhone Company

It’s Apple earnings day which means two things:

1) Wall Street freaking out amidst record numbers.

2) Lots of people on Twitter linking to lots of different charts trying to explain Apple’s quarter.

I’m pretty sure we’ve reached peak chart.

The issue is that the only real things these charts show at this point is that Apple is both a habitual company and a money-making machine. And, to some extent, they prove the law of large numbers. The charts aren’t going up-and-to-the-right as fast as they used to because well, there are only so many people in the world who can buy Apple products.

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Jordan Kahn:

Bloomberg also has plans to integrate new features into the experience that will be first of their kind on the Apple TV. Most notably, the company is planning integration with the existing push notifications it delivers as “tune-in alerts” through its iOS apps. Users will eventually be able to select preferences for notifications right within the Apple TV app that will be displayed on both the TV and mobile devices connected to the same Bloomberg account. The company didn’t say how exactly notifications would work on the TV, or if Apple is involved with the development of the feature. It’s also considering interactive ads. As an example, Okaro described a user pressing a button when viewing an interactive ad to pull up more in-depth product information. Before those features, the company will roll out an update in coming weeks that will enable playlists that sync between Apple TV and its iOS apps.

Creeping ever closer to the future of apps on Apple TV…

Rene Ritchie:

I love bonus content - making of, creative process, deleted scenes, bloopers, and all the rest - as much, if not sometimes much more, than the TV shows and movies themselves. It’s why Hollywood succeeded, on numerous occasions, in scamming me into buying the same movie more than once - the initial release, and then the bonus-laden special edition that followed. The idea of all that content in digital download form is incredibly enticing. Not being able to access it on the best possible device to really enjoy it, the Apple TV, is beyond frustrating.

Agreed. I’m the same way. I used to live for director commentaries on DVD but now that I rent/buy almost all my films through the Apple TV, there’s no option to get those. Ridiculous.

Speaking of Microsoft, the PR train has clearly started rolling leading up to the Xbox One launch later this month. The first narrative being set up is that this will finally be the one box to rule the living room (beyond gaming). Except, as Nilay Patel notes:

It’s a clever idea, but it’s also fundamentally a hack: your cable box doesn’t know anything about the Xbox One, so you’ll still see your cable interface everywhere even as you use the fancy new One Guide — during my visit Comcast’s UI popped up with every channel change. And the Xbox doesn’t have any way of directly controlling the cable box, so it has to simulate the IR commands of a remote control by cannon-blasting them out of the Kinect — in other words, you can change the channel and adjust the volume, but little else. “One of the things we can’t do is record shows,” says Smith. If you want to use your DVR, it’s back to the cable remote. If you want to watch On Demand, it’s the same thing. The Xbox One might sit on top of your cable box, but it’s nowhere close to replacing it.

That sounds like a janky experience at best, and an awful one at worst. Ugh.

I’m not saying there’s a better solution out there right now given that you still clearly have to deal with the cable companies and their piece of shit boxes. But perhaps this is a not insignificant part of the reason why we have yet to see some sort of next generation Apple TV device — there’s no way Apple would release something that works as described above. 

Pouring A Small Amount Of Water On The Apple TV Fire I Sort Of Started

A month ago, I tweeted something in passing:

I guess those excited about a software refresh in a week are gonna be *really* excited when new Apple TV hardware is unveiled next month.

I obviously wasn’t tweeting such information for no reason, but I also wasn’t confident enough in the information to write a full post about it — as I was for the gold iPhone, for example. 

Still, a few others wrote full posts based on my tweet. And over the past couple of days, as we near the Apple event next week, people have been reiterating what I tweeted.

Well, now I feel the need to pour a little — just a little, mind you — cold water on the rumor fire. While I still haven’t heard anything concrete, the most recent whispers I have heard is that the Apple TV project has been delayed a bit. 

That doesn’t mean we won’t see an Apple TV update at the event — we could see an updated unit with a spec bump or something. But the thing to be more excited about, the device with some sort of newfangled control system, doesn’t seem like it’s ready just yet.

Again, not a lot of concrete information here, which is why I only tweeted in the first place. But if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on some huge new Apple TV update at this event. I think the new iPads, Macs, and OS X Mavericks will be enough for one event for Apple.

Originally, I had heard this new-style Apple TV (not an actual television, by the way) was slated for sometime around this November. It’s hard to imagine Apple holding a third event following the iPhone one in September and the iPad event next week. But who knows? Not me, this time.

As opposed to the hulking PS4, this thing actually looks sort of interesting. And at $100, it’s priced to move. The fact that all Vita games won’t be compatible seems like a red flag. As does the fact that the Vita wasn’t selling well to begin with (suggesting the games aren’t that great).

I still like Apple’s position here whenever they decide to make their move.

But the craziest PlayStation news of the day may be that Sony is pushing the Japanese launch of the PS4 for several months to focus on the U.S. Remember when the consoles used to come out in Japan months ahead of the U.S.? Things change. 

Janko Roettgers:

Apple hasn’t opened up its Apple TV device to all third-party developers yet, but instead just added apps from a few high-profile partners to the platform. But that didn’t stop two avid Plex fans, who were able to bring the media center software to Apple TV, thanks to a clever hack. And the best thing: There’s no jailbreaking involved, meaning that Plex users won’t void their warranty or brick their device.

Very clever — sadly, I’m sure Apple will cut this off sooner rather than later. Though I won’t be that sad if the required firmware update also brings an Apple TV SDK…

The chatter around this possibility has been decidedly quiet with less than a week to go until WWDC. That’s either good (surprise!) or bad (winter is coming) news. I continue to believe that before we get any sort of Apple television hardware, we’ll get an SDK that will work with the current Apple TV boxes. You have to seed the ecosystem before it can flourish. 

But I also have this feeling that an iWatch may appear first…