The all-new Apple TV
Siri Remote, apps, games and more!
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.