First shown in late 2006 and actually released in early 2007, the Apple TV went through a more substantial transformation than any other Apple product in the past decade. The original model was a stripped-down Macintosh computer with a 40GB hard drive, serving as a screenless iPod for playing videos, music, and photos on an HDTV. Apple unveiled a completely redesigned plastic model in 2010, dropping the hard drive in favor of 8GB of flash storage, and the current third-generation Apple TV ($99 from the Apple Store) is heavily based on that version.
One-fourth the size of the original model and made entirely from jet black plastic, the current Apple TV serves three purposes: it streams media directly from the Internet, from computers running iTunes, and from iOS devices. It comes with a silver aluminum remote control and power cable; you supply the HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. Unlike the second-generation model it cosmetically resembles, the current Apple TV supports 1080p HD output, and runs the latest, iOS 8-like version of the Apple TV system software.
On its own, the Apple TV lets you watch video from Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, and major sports networks ranging from ESPN to the MLB, NBA, NFL, and MLS. Using AirPlay with your iOS device or Mac, you can stream videos, photos, and music directly from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac to your HDTV, as well as mirroring their screens. Under some circumstances, Macs can use a TV equipped with an Apple TV as a second display.
The third-generation Apple TV received a stealth upgrade in late January, 2013 to a “Rev A” model with small internal component changes. Persistent rumors have suggested that Apple would replace the Apple TV with a thoroughly redesigned fourth-generation model all throughout 2013 and 2014, but as of 2015, the device remains unchanged.
We love the current Apple TV and think it’s a great value for the $99 asking price, but it has seemingly remained on Apple’s back burner for a very long time. Since it’s cheap, you can buy one now and thoroughly enjoy what it’s capable of doing, but don’t be surprised if Apple releases a new version later in 2015.
Apple has dipped its toes in original content with projects like the Beats 1 radio station, but there has been a lot of speculation around whether the company will ever produce its own media content, as both Amazon and Netflix have shown it can be very lucrative, launching many successful independent television series in recent years.
According to a contributor report from The Street, Apple is now looking to take that jump. It wants to produce original TV shows as exclusive content for its iTunes library offerings, according to the report, having spoken to ‘members of the Hollywood creative community’ late in 2015. These new TV shows could form part of a future Apple TV cable subscription service.
Recent software updates have really turned me on to the new Apple TV by adding features previously available on the last generation set-top box. The new Apple TV has redesigned apps and a whole App Store for finding new channels and games, a new Siri Remote with voice search that pulls in content from a handful of services, and there’s the full Apple Music experience too. The tvOS 9.1 update added Siri search for Apple Music ahead of schedule and brought support for Apple’s Remote app on iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. The upcoming tvOS 9.2 update goes even further by bringing over an updated Podcasts app and adding app folders and a refreshed app switcher user interface. But there’s still just one more piece of low-hanging fruit left for the Apple TV to grab …
Apple released the new Apple TV in the fall. Despite the clunkier fatter physical appearance, the new Apple TV 4 features better performance, a cool new Siri Remote touchpad and an App Store. The App Store unlocks unlimited potential for the Apple TV as a content platform: rather than waiting for content deals between Apple and the networks, TV channels can release their own apps as they please. When the new Apple TV was announced, Tim Cook said the ‘future of TV is apps’. It is true this is a substantial improvement over the previous-generation Apple TV in terms of content (for UK residents like me, addition of BBC iPlayer is a huge win) however there are big user-experience issues with the app model that current Apple TV software does not address …
The New York Post reports that Apple is closely following the situation with Time Warner; the company is facing pressure from investors to put itself up for sale and Apple is interested in acquiring it. Many investors believe Time Warner stock is trading far below its asset value and many investors believe that a buyout or spinoff of some kind is the best option.
Apple could use the company to accelerate its efforts to launch a digital streaming cable service for Apple TV. Time Warner controls a vast content library, including popular shows like Game of Thrones as well as entities like CNN News. More importantly perhaps, it has deals in place with every channel that Apple would need to become a full TV platform.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has struggled to create a skinny bundle of programming from existing content partners. A deal with Time Warner would give Apple most of what it needs: CNN news, Turner Sports and such hugely popular shows as “Game of Thrones” and “Sesame Street” from HBO — not to mention Warner Bros. movies and TV shows.
Although there is a chance Apple could buyout the whole company, Time Warner may end up spinning off parts of the business, although the CEO is resistant.
With the new Apple TV tvOS 9.2 beta, Apple has added a whole host of new features to the tvOS platform. This includes support for pairing Bluetooth keyboards, Folders organisation for apps on the home screen, a new App Switcher UI and a native Apple Podcasts app.
There are also some enhancements to Siri and other improvements. Apple has added support for two new Siri languages: US Spanish and French Canadian. More images after the break …