Coming soon is the new Apple TV. Based on the reviews this should be a significant improvement from the last generation Apple TV. It seems to be easier to use and more streamlined. The Siri voice activation feature seems to be a great feature. As the article below from the WSJ states this should be a move closer to cable cutting. Check it out:
Apple TV Review: A Giant iPhone for Your Living Room
A new touch-friendly remote and a store full of apps bring the dream of cable-cutting closer
The new $150 Apple TV’s touch-friendly remote and store full of apps bring the dream of cable-cutting closer, says WSJ’s Geoffrey A. Fowler.
By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER
Oct. 28, 2015 9:01 p.m. ET
For a glimpse of the future of television, grab a mat and join me for a Glute Boost with the new Apple TV. On the big screen, a personal trainer app called Zova chirps orders for lower-body exercises. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch on my wrist measures my heart rate so the TV can show how hard I’m working. There’s no escaping these squats.
The new $150 Apple TV streaming box opens the largest screen in your house to an app store with the best that movie makers, game developers, retailers and even personal trainers can dream up. The long-awaited update, arriving this week, still isn’t the cord-cutting fix for pricey cable TV many of us have been pining for. But I expect Apple to continue hacking away at the old ball-and-chain cable subscription, and the new Apple TV is its machete.
Think of Apple’s fourth-generation box as a way to turn your TV into a giant iPhone.
The new Apple TV, the first hardware revision in three years, is thicker, and comes with a remote control you operate through buttons and a trackpad. ENLARGE
The new Apple TV, the first hardware revision in three years, is thicker, and comes with a remote control you operate through buttons and a trackpad. PHOTO: JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Apple TV, which plugs into an HDMI input on an existing set, replaces live TV with apps featuring a narrower range of programming, which you can array across your screen like orderly Chiclets.
What makes apps better than channels? For starters, you can pay for just the ones you want. And they’re interactive, so content can be tailored and you don’t have to just accept whatever happens to be showing live.
A TV built around apps also ushers in new problems. How do you navigate a 65-inch iPhone? Every app is its own world, which can make it harder than the old channel-up button to get to what you want to watch. And some of the best shows and live events like sports aren’t available on apps at all.
The new Apple TV hasn’t totally nailed these challenges. Its app selection is nascent, and it’s the only streaming box in its price range that doesn’t support the 4K Ultra HD resolution on the latest TVs. But after testing the other new streaming systems for the past few weeks—Roku 4, Amazon Fire TV, the Android TV-powered Nvidia Shield, Google’s own Chromecast and even the TiVo Bolt—I think the Apple TV lays the best foundation for what I want TV to become.
The Apple TV’s greatest edge is its remote control. That may sound trivial, but other efforts to make apps work on TVs have been comically complex. Most others require you to tap, tap, tap, up/down and left/right like on a directional pad. Chromecast makes you use a phone. I’ve seen remotes with 51 buttons, magic wands you end up waving around in the air like you just don’t care, even coffee table mouse-and-keyboard rigs.
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. 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. Without having to look down, you feel connected to what’s happening on the big screen.
For the first time, Apple has opened up its set-top box with an iPhone-like app store for streaming channels, games and other software. ENLARGE
For the first time, Apple has opened up its set-top box with an iPhone-like app store for streaming channels, games and other software. PHOTO: JASON HENRY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Dedicated buttons let you play/pause, go back to the home screen, wake up and put the TV to sleep or adjust the TV’s volume. And when you’re playing a game, a motion sensor inside the remote doubles as a Nintendo Wii-style controller. They even sell a wrist lanyard to make sure it doesn’t slip when you’re swinging a virtual bat in the addictive, adorable new game Beat Sports. (For gamers, there’s even a $200 version of the Apple TV with 64GB of storage.)
The new Apple TV ditches the iPhone remote-control app used with past versions. However, the iPhone gets a new power during setup: instead of hunting and pecking in your Wi-Fi network info, you beam it to the Apple TV via Bluetooth. You just hold the phone near the box. And you can still use AirPlay to stream content from your phone or computer. (Beware of too much wireless, however: My Apple TV remote got confused by other Bluetooth gadgets.)
There’s one more button on the remote: a microphone that pages Siri, the virtual assistant. Voice commands (also found on Roku, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV) are easier than entering names on a virtual keyboard. And despite some rough edges, Siri is more helpful than the rest.
The Apple TV uses Siri search as the glue that holds all those individual apps together—imagine if your cable box’s program guide were replaced by a concierge. Siri can tap into the libraries of individual apps and present shows and movies from all the sources where you have access.
Say, “Watch ‘Empire,’ ” and it will point you to the latest episode on Hulu (if you subscribe) or to the iTunes store, where you can buy it. Siri can search inside Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime and the iTunes store—but this selection trails rivals like Roku, and expanding it should be Apple’s top priority.
Siri’s advantage is more advanced queries. You can ask, “Show ’80s romantic comedies” and follow up with, “Just the ones with Tom Hanks.” She’s great at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and can also tell you the weather. If you miss a line, ask Siri, “What did they say?” and she’ll rewind the show a few seconds and turn on captions.
Still, you quickly bump into the limits of Siri on your TV. She heard “ George Takei,” aka Sulu from “Star Trek,” as “George decay.” And when I wanted to watch HBO’s “The Jinx” but couldn’t remember its title, I got nowhere when I asked the Apple TV to show me “HBO documentaries about murder.”
What’s holding back the Apple TV from being the only device most of us need—just like every other streaming box and smart TV—is content. The owners of some popular shows, including big networks and sports leagues, still haven’t been convinced to sell it outside a cable subscription.
People looking to cut cable entirely still have to make compromises, but there are six streaming apps that have become essential: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube, Amazon Video and Sling TV (which streams some live cable TV networks for $20 a month). On its first day, the new Apple TV won’t have the latter two.
The Apple TV remote has a Siri button and a microphone, so you can ask Apple’s virtual assistant for movie titles, the weather and more. ENLARGE
The Apple TV remote has a Siri button and a microphone, so you can ask Apple’s virtual assistant for movie titles, the weather and more. PHOTO: EMILY PRAPUOLENIS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Apple says its TV app store is open, including to rivals. Amazon made a stink a few weeks ago about not selling the new Apple TV because it wouldn’t “interact well” with its video service, but it’s Amazon’s responsibility to make an Apple TV app. (An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.)
In the short term, at least, the Apple TV doesn’t offer access to all the shows you might want to watch. So how does this all shake out?
• If you’re a cable-cutter looking to buy a streaming box immediately, get a Roku 4. Its user interface and remote are dated, but it has access to all six must-have services, and many more, including the most 4K content. It’s also cheaper.
• If you pay for a big cable subscription and want the most that TV has to offer now, get a TiVo Bolt. It lets you record shows, skip commercials and watch streaming services without having to switch TV inputs.
• If you’re a cable-shaver—cutting back, streaming more—or you’re looking for a fun casual game system or companion for your other Apple products, buy the new Apple TV.
In the long run, I suspect more cable cutters will take that third option. Apple has a proven record with attracting the best apps, and sway with media companies. Apple is working on a streaming service that would bring a lot more content currently tied up in cable subscriptions.
Ultimately, the Apple TV’s advantage is that it isn’t tied to the idea of channels, live TV or even streaming. It’s the place where developers are able to do the most cool interactive stuff for the widest audience. There’s already a workout show on the Apple TV that’s smart enough to know if you’re really working out.
The TV of the future needs to be as powerful and easy to use as an iPhone, and this Apple TV is the first box—and the first Apple TV—to achieve that.
Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler at email@example.com or on Twitter @geoffreyfowler