Apple unveils new Apple TV, believes future of TV is apps

Sarbottam Bhagat

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new Apple TV as well as two new iPhones, iPad Pro and Apple Watches, during a press event on Sept. 9, 2015 at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

“We believe the future of television is apps,” Cook said before introducing the expected new Apple TV. “Apple TV represents the future of television.”

Cook told the audience the television experience has been virtually standing still, while innovation has been thriving in the mobile space.

“Today we are going to do something about that,” Cook said.

The latest Apple TV features a new remote, Siri controls, a third-party App Store and a completely overhauled operating system. The TV runs on tvOS, which is based on iOS and is “built for the living room,” according to Apple’s Eddie Cue, senior vice president of Internet software and services at Apple.

The new black remote features a glass touch surface on the top half, allowing users to navigate the Apple TV with swipes and other gestures. The Bluetooth and motion-sensing remote has volume controls for the TV and a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope for playing games. It can last three months on one charge and recharges using a Lightning connector.

With the Siri control, Siri can be directed what to do and what shows to play. Also, if the viewer misses something in the episode Siri can rewind and turn on captions by being told to.

Siri can make movie and TV suggestions based on genre. It will search across iTunes, Hulu, Netflix and Showtime and give the user all avalibilities on a single screen. Cue said more would be added in the future.

Siri searches across all apps, so users don’t have to jump between HBO Go and Netflix to find something specific.

The biggest boost for the device is opening it up to third-party developers. The device can be used to play multiplayer games. Apple demonstrated a few examples, including Harmonix’s Beat Sports and Hipster Whale’s Crossy Road, but apps extend beyond gaming and other sources for video streaming.

Apple also brought companies like Gilt on stage to demonstrate how consumers will be able to shop directly on Apple TV. In this way, Apple TV can offer much broader functionality than similar living room devices from Roku or Amazon, which stick largely to entertainment. For instance, Major League Baseball (MLB) has an Apple TV app for watching multiple live games at a time with pop-up notifications and interactive stats.

“That alone is a headline feature that could draw more and more people into the Apple TV experience,” Cook said.

Apple’s digital media player has languished since its last refresh in 2012. Cook said in March that Apple TV had 25 million users.

With the newly built-in app store, Apple and third-party developers can expand Apple TV’s software ecosystem and widen its core functionality to put a much bigger emphasis on gaming.

“When you consume this way, you realize just how much better it can be,” Cook said.

This is the next step in Apple’s attempt to own the living room, and arrives ahead of the company’s own internet TV subscription service, expected to arrive sometime in the next year.

“The new Apple TV looks very promising,” said Roshan Chalise, a freshman in Business Administration. “We’ll have to wait and see how it’s rivals respond to Apple’s strategy in the near future.”

The Apple TV set-top box, which is slightly larger than a hockey puck, connects to the TV and to the Internet. It will start at $149 for a 32-gigabit version, going up to $199 for a 64-gigabit version.

It will be available in late October in over 80 countries and 100 by the end of the year.