The Apple TV is launching later in October but many of the details about the device remain under wraps. At the announcement, Apple announced that the Apple TV Siri universal search feature will include data from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO. Many had hoped that Apple would be more open with this feature, allowing Siri to incorporate data from third-party services without requiring a special Apple partnership. In a move that will please many, Tim Cook has announced that Apple will offer an API for universal search, after all, via an interview with Buzzfeed.
In a recent interview with BuzzFeed News, Apple CEO Tim Cook said universal search in Apple TV is not something that the company plans to reserve for key content partners. “At launch we’ll have iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and HBO — so we’ll have five major inputs into universal search initially,” Cook said. “But we’re also opening an API, so that others can join in.”
Cook says that including more sources is the best experience for customers, suggesting that many services will want to be listed in the search results. The open API will also benefit non-US customers, as Apple is less likely to make partnerships with region-specific content providers.
It is unclear when the search API will be made available for use. From Cook’s wording, Apple intends to launch exclusively with iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO results.
Cook has also confirmed that the Apple TV will not favor one service in particular, including its own iTunes offering. If a user can get the movie or TV show for free, such as through a Netflix subscription, that option will be prioritized. In cases where different series of shows are spread amongst services, the Apple TV will also handle this situation in the most user-friendly way.
In other words, if I’m a Netflix subscriber and I want to binge-watch a five-season series, will an Apple TV search tell me that the first three seasons are available to me for free on Netflix, the fourth is available for purchase on iTunes, and the fifth is available only on HBO? Or will it leave me to work that out myself? Cook said the former scenario is the one Apple’s implemented. “It will be clear which service is free,” he said. In other words, Apple will show each season or episode in all the services in which it’s available to you and iTunes if they have it.
The Apple TV is set to launch sometime in October. Apple has been sending out more developer kits over the last few hours due to ‘amazing demand’ to make apps for the platform. The new Apple TV will retail at $149 for the 32 GB model and $199 for the 64 GB model. The third-generation Apple TV is still available to buy for $69 but won’t get any of the fancy new software features.
9to5Mac’s Dom Esposito got his hands on an Apple TV for a full walkthrough, so make sure to check out our hands on with the new device.
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