The Apple TV’s first update since its 2010 release brings about huge changes including a new remote, its own operating system, and App Store integration. The new TV is certainly a big step for Apple’s expansion into the living room as these new features allow the TV to go beyond normal television viewing.
Apple showed off shopping apps such as Gilt and news apps such as MLB.tv, but the biggest reveal was the gaming apps. You can play your favorite games from the App Store for mobile devices and with universal syncing you can pick up on the TV where you left off on your iPhone. However gaming possibilities won’t be limited to Candy Crush as they also previewed snippets of console-only games like Guitar Hero and Disney’s Star Wars Infinity that will be available on the new TV. While the limited graphics performance of the A8 processor means Apple won’t rival Sony or Microsoft consoles with the TV right now, it certainly seems they are dipping their foot into the gaming console market.
Gameplay is possible with a new remote that looks leaps and bounds better than the simple edition from the previous Apple TV. There is a touch surface that is used to navigate through the TV interface while also controlling player movement and actions in games. With Wii-like motion tracking you can swing the remote to play tennis or baseball, which opens a lot of possibilities for developers.
The most impressive part of the remote and Apple TV is the dedicated Siri button for speech navigation of the device. With a universal search between all your apps like HBO and Netflix, Siri will find movies and even give you suggestions on what to watch. When told, “Show me the Modern Family episode with Edward Norton”, Siri will bring you right to the episode and in one click you are watching it. Siri isn’t just for as bringing you to your favorite shows and movies though. Missed an important line in the new Game of Thrones? Ask “What did they say?” and Siri will go back 15 seconds and temporarily put on captions. Want to know the score of the game without leaving what you’re watching? Ask “What’s the score of the Patriots game?” and a bubble will pop up at the bottom of the screen. Dismiss the bubble and hop right back into the chase scene.
The new Apple TV is certainly an upgrade over the previous version and the addition of Siri and voice search rivals offerings from Roku and Amazon. With the numerous app offerings already on the App Store and the possibility of developers creating apps solely for the TV, Apple’s new device may not only threaten connected TV competitors but the gaming console market as well.