How Apple is revolutionizing TV

The first time Apple tried to bring something new in the TV space was back in 2007, with the first-generation Apple TV. That wasn’t popular enough to call it a real success. But Apple didn’t stop. Three years later, Apple introduced its second-generation, and two years after that, Apple tried again with its third-generation box. This one was closer to what the company wanted but it was something that didn’t fit with the desires of the customers. 2015 found Apple more confident with its fourth-generation Apple TV.

The 4th generation Apple TV has a new operating system that is an extension of iOS. We can say it is another place to create iOS apps. If iPad has direct the touch for input, Apple TV can be used using the Siri Remote. A big plus is that it responds both to a touchpad interface and a voice.

The Apple TV’s new hardware design

The fourth-generation Apple TV is a bit bigger than its predecessor but still small and square. It doesn’t require more attention and you can put it beside your television. The design is very simple. There are no buttons and the ports are on the back of the box so that the cables can be easily hidden. What you can find on the box is a tiny LED light that lets you know when the device is awake.

And because everything is designed to be simple for everyone that use it, that includes also setting up the Apple Tv. If you have another iOS device, you can simply attach it to the Apple TV and it will extract all the information and settings it needs.


The Siri remote

The new Siri remote is an improvement compared to the previous Apple TV remote. A good thing regarding this one is that it includes a Menu and Home button and also volume controls. The last remote didn’t have these buttons so you needed one remote for the Apple TV and one to control the TV.

The things that the last and the new remote have in common is the Play/Pause button. Another thing you can do with the new remote is to use it as a controller when playing games. The new remote is elegantly designed and the size fits perfectly in your hand. The Siri voice control is a big big plus, so the most important button is the one that activates Siri. Talking to Siri will make the search faster than typing something.


The Apple’s TV iOS

The new Apple TV’s user interface is not a fantastic innovation but it’s an improvement compared with the previous models. One of the main setbacks is the fact that Apple relied too heavily on its standard interface across touch devices like the iPhone and iPad to mirror it on the TV. It is hard to replicate the functionality, take away the direct touch capability and have an UI that is easy to navigate.

One of the most important things that you should understand about the tvOS is that it is not iOS. The Apple TV is not a bigger iPhone. It does not have the functionality of an iPhone: no multitouch, no camera, no microphone access, no notifications, no pinch, no 3D press, no keyboard. You get 6 buttons and a small matte surface that you can drag your thumb across and click.

The apps are large and it’s easy to scroll and move around. Maybe it’s not perfect but it has some great parallax effects that show your actions on the remote’s touchpad. When you see an element in focus, it gently gyrates a few independent layers, and it features a 3D animation. If you are using Photoshop, you can use Apple’s Parallax Exporter plugin to create icons from layered Photoshop documents.

The problem comes when you have to navigate without using Siri, especially when you have to search something by typing. Also, the App Store is not so great compared with the one for the iPhone. The store allows to browse only apps that are featured in top charts: top paid, top grossing and top free.

But all of this are minor issues and we can say that the new Apple TV is better than any of the previous models.



The Apple TV entertainment options

It’s important to say that the new Apple TV is not a video game console and can’t replace PlayStation 4 or Xbox. Apple Tv wants to be a complete entertainment system and games are an important component, not a primary function. The entertainment features on the Apple TV will develop depending on what the users what to use it for. If consumers will see the new Apple TV as a viable gaming platform, developers will create more games for it. And if Apple TV owners will spend money on games, then tvOS will become an ecosystem that is financially viable for game developers.

Apple really wanted to create a fully home entertainment experience and we can see that when talking about its streaming apps. An impressive improvement is the speed. And we can see that when using Netflix, Hulu, Showtime or HBO. The speed is one point that makes the transition from another device seamless. It is clear that Apple wanted to make the entertainment side of the business very smooth so that people can easily enjoy spending time on the Apple TV.

Another impressive feature is the ability to rewind or fast-forward through video. The available apps work very good with Siri and you don’t have to search for something from the menu, but simply ask Siri to switch over what you want.


Summing up

The television has been around for generations, it is not a new invention. It has usually served as a tradition of theatrical performance, and at it heart, the big screen is about role play, telling stories and drama. The TV is not about to-do lists, sending emails and productivity hacks. It is about people, ideas, stories. Apple TV gets this and the apps that succeed in this environment are the ones that feel grand and play their part as something more that everyday stuff. We’re curious to see how it evolves next and we’d like to hear your thoughts about this.


Based on Apple Human Interface Design Guidelines

Diana Caliman

Diana Caliman