Tag Archive for ‘Apple TV’

The New Apple TV 4K ➝

It now comes with the A12 Bionic and is capable of playing back HDR content at 60 frames per second. There’s a nifty new video calibration feature that uses your iPhone’s front-facing sensors. But the biggest change is the new remote.

From a design perspective, it looks like a merger of the Siri Remote and their previous aluminum Apple remote. They’ve added a mute button and power button, moved the Siri button to the side, and introduced new directional controls.

The directional control section is touch enabled to allow for quickly scrolling through lists, has clickable direction buttons for precise movement, and the outer edge can be used like a scroll-wheel for scrubbing.

I’m going to reserve judgement on the remote for now — I need to use one to really have a good idea. But at first glance it seems ugly, yet functional.

It’s worth noting, the new remote will be available for $59 and is compatible with all tvOS-based Apple TVs.

➝ Source: apple.com

Why Does the Apple TV Still Exist? ➝

First, a bit of an excursion regarding the Apple TV’s remote — Jason Snell:

Look, I know the Apple TV Remote doesn’t have a lot going for it. It’s impossible to orient properly by touch, and a stray finger swipe can end up losing your place in whatever movie or TV show you’re watching. There are so many reasons to dislike it. And yet… I also kind of like the Apple TV Remote, if only because it enables rapid scrubbing through content (click the touchpad, then swipe left or right to move the cursor) in an efficient way that I haven’t seen from any other remote I’ve used. I like it. It’s not enough to make me recommend an Apple TV to anyone, but it’s enough for me to keep using my existing Apple TV and keep using the Apple TV remote rather than just switching full-time to my Logitech Harmony universal remote. And while I don’t really use Siri on Apple TV, I have friends who swear by it, especially its clever feature to jump back in time and turn on captioning to clarify a line of dialogue.

The remote deserves some criticism, but it receives far more than it should. Every TV and set-top-box remote is basically garbage and it seems like everyone forgets that when discussing the Apple TV remote.

I’ve been a fan of the Siri Remote since day one. The ability to control HomeKit devices with my voice, being able to quickly swipe through lists, and essentially acting as a universal remote is just so nice. We don’t use any other remotes in our house. The Apple TV remote turns our TV on and off, controls the volume of our receiver, and interacts with the only non-game console connected to our television.

I would argue that it’s actually the best TV remote I’ve ever used.

But back to Snell:

Which brings us back to the original question: Why does this product still exist, and is there anywhere for it to go next? Gruber and Thompson suggest that perhaps the way forward is to lean into an identity as a low-end gaming console. Maybe amp up the processor power, bundle a controller, and try to use Apple Arcade to emphasize that this is a box that is for more than watching video.

Apple should, absolutely, continue building the Apple TV. Because people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

Apple can’t control what other set-top-box and TV manufacturers do. If they were to develop a new video codec, a new technology for streaming video that requires a dedicated hardware chip, the ability to hand-off video from iPhones like you can with audio to a HomePod — what are the chances that these other companies would support it? How long would they support it for? What if their implementation didn’t work well?

If Apple wants to be in the living room, they need to make their own box to ensure a rock solid, predictable experience. I’m actually surprised that companies like Netflix and Hulu aren’t building their own boxes too.

➝ Source: sixcolors.com

Button Remote for Apple TV by Function101 ➝

I’m one of the few that actually likes the Siri Remote — I appreciate its small size, ability to control the volume on my receiver, its ability to turn on and off my television, and way I can quickly scroll through lists with the trackpad. But if you’re looking for an alternative, this remote by Function101 seems like an excellent option. It offers a more traditional button layout and is designed to work with the Apple TV.

➝ Source: function101.com

Why Is the Apple TV Constantly Advertising to Us? ➝

Josh Centers, writing for TidBits:

The Apple TV app on the Apple TV is currently the bane of my existence. In theory, it should be a tidy way to manage everything you watch, bringing together content from Apple, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, and other streaming services (but still not Netflix, for some reason), plus live news and even sports. It sort of does that, but over time, Apple has started using the app to push the company’s own paid content, especially its Apple TV+ service.

Josh explains how to adjust the TV app’s settings to display your up next list in the top shelf instead of recommendations. This is an absolutely essential change — everyone that owns an Apple TV should have it set that way. It helps to mitigate some of the frustration with Apple promoting content that you may or may not have access to from within the Apple TV app itself. You can simply launch directly into your content from the top shelf extension. But I still wish you had the option to limit the media in the Apple TV app to only show what you already pay for. I don’t expect that will ever be added, though.

It’s becoming clear that Apple is more than happy promoting their services through apps like Apple TV. And because of this, I’ve slowly moved away from using Apple’s apps and services toward alternatives. For most of my TV and movie viewing, I use Infuse, which streams content from my Plex library. That library is populated with ripped DVDs, Blu-rays, iTunes content that I’ve stripped the DRM from, and media I’ve recording using Plex’s DVR functionality. It’s a much nicer setup and I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll need to pay in order to watch something listed.

I still pay for Hulu and Disney+, but I’m watching less and less there. I sort of hope I can eventually reallocate the money I currently spend on streaming services toward purchasing media instead. Canceling these recurring charges would feel pretty freeing and I have a hunch I will end up saving money in the long run — especially since I tend to rewatch the same dozen or so TV shows most of the time.

➝ Source: tidbits.com

tvOS 13.3 Adds Option to Display Up Next Queue in TV App’s Top Shelf Extension ➝

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Apple redesigned the Apple TV home screen with tvOS 13 allowing for full screen panoramic previews in the Top Shelf area. However, at the same time, it also changed the content of the Top Shelf for the TV app from the user’s personal Up Next queue to ‘What to Watch’, a selection of top television shows and movies chosen by Apple (essentially, a form of advertising).

This naturally caused a lot of complaints from users. Apple appears to have listened. In tvOS 13.3 beta, there is now an option in Settings to change it back.

It’s amazing to me that tvOS 13 shipped without the option to revert the TV app’s top shelf extension behavior. I went the trouble of transitioning away from the TV app because of this — to WatchAid. If I was annoyed enough to move away from the app entirely, I couldn’t have been the only one irritated.

➝ Source: 9to5mac.com

TV App Regression

TV App’s Watch Now Tab

Joe Cieplinski, on the state of Apple’s TV app:

At first, when I saw the way Apple was mixing and matching all the content from available channels, iTunes rentals, purchases, and streaming services like Prime, I was annoyed. How am I supposed to find shows specific to certain sources in here? And more importantly, how can I tell the difference between what I already have access to with my existing subscriptions, and what is going to require a new subscription or a one-time payment?

And that’s the rub. You can’t easily get a screen with all the content you already have access to. Sure the library tab will show you movies and tv shows you’ve purchased on iTunes. But my HBO subscription? Prime? These are just mixed in with all the rest of the content. You can dig and find HBO specific pages, sure. But they are buried behind multiple layers of UI.

Joe goes on to make the point that all Apple needs to do is get you in the door with the one-year free trial. After that it’s a sea of impulse buys. $4 for a movie rental, $5 for a new channel subscription, and so on. It’s so easy to spend money in the Apple TV app because there’s no differentiation between what you do and don’t already have access to.

And that’s why I’m so irritated by tvOS 13. I was a massive advocate for the TV app. Up until now, it was an excellent way to take all of the streaming services I had access to and aggregate my watch list into a single location. It didn’t matter if the show was on Hulu, Crackle, or Prime Video, I could let the TV app keep track of that for me.

This was such a fantastic experience. The TV app even let me skip launching the app itself by displaying my Up Next queue right in the top shelf. That’s entirely gone now, though, and it’s all been replaced with a bombardment of advertisements enticing me to spend just a few more dollars to gain access to the next hit show.

I don’t want that, though. I don’t need more monthly subscriptions or one-off movie rentals. So I’ve decided to move the Apple TV app into a folder and shift focus toward alternatives.

I’ve been acquiring physical discs more lately. I just bought the entire series of Avatar: the Last Airbender on blu-ray and have been slowly converting each disc into MKV files that I can store on our Plex server. It almost seems like everyone forgot how cheap discs are and how incredibly good the quality is. And if you’re willing to spend a little bit of time ripping, converting, and maintaining a Plex server, in the long run you’ll end up spending far less than you would on streaming services.

There’s a part of me that considers the ultimate goal to be acquiring enough media through physical discs and purchased media that I won’t need to pay a monthly fee for video services anymore. But until I’ve acquired a large enough catalog of shows and movies in Plex, we’re still stuck using streaming services to supplement.

WatchAid’s Top Shelf Extension

I’m not using the Apple TV app to aggregate that content anymore, though. I’ve transitioned our watch list to WatchAid instead. It’s not a perfect app, but it offers most of the features I miss from the old TV app and doesn’t include as much of the up-sells — there are still links to purchase content in iTunes, but those are pretty unobtrusive.

I do wish you could explicitly tell WatchAid what services you had access to, so it would only surface those as streaming options. And I would love to see a tab for browsing only content available in your chosen services, but I guess this is as close as I’m going to get at this point.

It would be better if Apple went back to the drawing board and updated the TV app to a bit more friendly to users again. For now, though, WatchAid is leaps and bounds better than the current state of the TV app.

Apple TV+ ➝

Coming November 1 for $4.99 a month. And much like Apple Arcade, the subscription can be shared with up to five family members.

Here’s the thing about the pricing, though, you might never have to actually pay for it directly. Apple is offering a free year when you purchase a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV. If you buy Apple products with any degree of regularity, you’ll likely be able to string these free years together indefinitely.

If not for the free year deal, I don’t think I’d pay for the service. I’ve been watching less and less content from for-pay streaming services lately. My wife and I spend most of our TV time watching YouTube, game shows on Pluto TV, and various sitcom reruns with our over-the-air antenna.

But who knows, maybe I’ll watch something on Apple TV+ and end up getting hooked.

Update 9/18/19: Apparently the free year of Apple TV+ is limited to one per family, a there won’t b any way to string these together or stack the offers for multiple years.

➝ Source: apple.com

tvOS 13 Beta 2 Brings Picture-in-Picture to Apple TV ➝

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Although strangely not mentioned in Apple’s WWDC keynote, tvOS 13 beta 2 has a nice surprise: support for Picture-in-Picture video playback.

You can now watch shows from the Apple TV app whilst multitasking around the rest of the operating system. Just like the iPad, Apple TV users can leave the video playing in a thumbnail window whilst they navigate the rest of the operating system.

This seems like the sort of feature that Apple should have demoed on stage. It probably would have received a greater response than PlayStation 4 controller support did.