The all-new Ap­ple TV

Siri Re­mote, apps, games and more!

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At long last, Ap­ple has un­veiled its fourth-gen­er­a­tion Ap­ple TV with the fea­ture we’ve been clam­our­ing for: apps and games. The de­vice is at long last grow­ing up – lit­er­ally so in the case of its body, which is the same width and depth as be­fore, but 12mm taller.

Yet Tim Cook’s procla­ma­tion that “The fu­ture of TV is apps” sounded a lit­tle bit blind to what the world has been do­ing with games con­soles and some other set-top boxes for years. But apps and games aren’t the whole pic­ture.

The spe­cial sauce in this new TV ex­pe­ri­ence lies in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing Siri Re­mote. It’s a sim­i­lar size and shape to the old alu­minium one, but with six but­tons clus­tered around its mid­dle. Be­low them the body is glossy, and above there’s a dif­fer­ent fin­ish that tips you off that there’s some­thing dif­fer­ent go­ing on up there. That part is a touch-sen­si­tive sur­face that re­places the old re­mote’s awk­ward ring-like di­rec­tional con­trol.

The re­mote com­mu­ni­cates your in­put over Blue­tooth 4.0, so there’s no need to point it just to nav­i­gate menus. This helps to fa­cil­i­tate its key fea­ture: you press a but­ton and then speak to tell the Ap­ple TV what you want. It ought to work bet­ter in the rel­a­tive quiet of a liv­ing room than in public, and this im­ple­men­ta­tion of Siri seems smart – nec­es­sar­ily so to jus­tify Ap­ple’s claim of re­vamp­ing the way TV works – so you can, for ex­am­ple, re­quest ac­tion films and then ask it to fil­ter re­sults to those star­ring a spe­cific ac­tor.

Set in mo­tion

The Siri Re­mote also con­tains a gy­ro­scope and an ac­celerom­e­ter. If that makes it sound a lot like the con­troller for Nintendo’s orig­i­nal Wii con­sole, that’s ex­actly it; an on-stage demo at Ap­ple’s event showed a rhythm ac­tion game, Beat Sports, us­ing sim­i­lar move­ments to the mem­o­rable (and nineyears-old!) Wii Sports.

A Re­mote Loop, sold sep­a­rately, at­taches to the Light­ning port to stop you fling­ing the re­mote across a room. We hope it has a strong lock­ing mech­a­nism.

It might be some time be­fore we see whether Ap­ple can kick­start the legacy laid down by Nintendo, which seemed to have been thor­oughly ex­ploited by game de­vel­op­ers over the last nine or so years. Even with some sig­nif­i­cant ti­tles on the way, such as Ubisoft’s Rayman Ad­ven­tures, would-be buy­ers need to jus­tify the higher cost of this Ap­ple TV – $149 (32GB) or $199 (64GB), with UK prices to be con­firmed. Ap­ple TV also works with proper game con­trollers cer­ti­fied un­der Ap­ple’s Made for iPhone pro­gramme.

There are ad­di­tional hur­dles for de­vel­op­ers to over­come. Within hours of the de­vice’s un­veil­ing, they dis­cov­ered a 200MB limit on the size of apps, with ad­di­tional con­tent hav­ing to be down­loaded as needed. That might sti­fle games at least, or at least dent the ex­pe­ri­ence of some games on slow con­nec­tions.

Why is that the case when the Ap­ple TV comes with a min­i­mum of 32GB of stor­age? That’s dou­ble the en­try-level iPhone, which Ap­ple ex­cuses on the grounds of its per­sis­tent con­nec­tion to the cloud. There might be an el­e­ment of fu­ture­proof­ing, given the few Ap­ple TV mod­els to date, but it feels more like Ap­ple has some­thing else to re­veal about its plans in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.

The Re­mote Loop, sold sep­a­rately, mim­ics Nintendo’s

ef­fort to avoid bro­ken TVs dur­ing gam­ing.

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