Tag Archive for ‘Apple TV’

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.

Valve’s Steam Link App Now Available on iOS and Apple TV ➝

I haven’t had an opportunity to try the app yet. As it turns out, it’s a bit difficult to request a password reset on a Steam account. I haven’t logged in to Steam in probably a decade and, naturally, can’t remember my password — I created the account back in my pre-1Password days.

So I’m waiting on a response from Steam’s support team to see if they’ll grant me access again. Until then, I’ll be anxiously waiting with my MFi controller at the ready.

Apple Exited the Home Wi-Fi Market at the Wrong Time ➝

Bradley Chambers, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

When Apple was selling home routers for $199, they were ahead of their time. They had built a router that was high-end, easy to manage, and worked well. Around the rest of the industry, companies were selling home routers that were hard to manage (if step #1 is to log in to an IP address, you missed it), required rebooting, and couldn’t handle the load.

Since Apple took its eye off of the home router business (The AirPort lineup was dead for many years before the announcement), users have started to buy more expensive solutions. Solutions like Eero, Google WiFi, and AmpliFi have shown that people will invest in their home Wi-Fi. Even solutions from ISPs like Comcast have gotten into the business of upgrading your home Wi-Fi.

I’ve written about this idea before, but I’m glad Bradley is bringing it back to the conversation — AirPort was a huge missed opportunity for Apple. They could have integrated mesh networking into the HomePod and Apple TV, which would have increased their functionality in a meaningful way when compared to competing devices. I bet there are a lot of people that would have purchased an Apple TV or a HomePod to be used as their home’s primary base station.

But Apple could have gone further, releasing an updated Time Capsule that allowed for local backups of iOS devices. And even introduced a new AirPort Extreme with an integrated cable modem.

Between HomeKit devices, iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, your home’s Wi-Fi network has never been more important than it is today. And I think it would have served Apple well if they continued to offer a home networking solution that integrated with all of your existing devices in ways that only Apple could.