Ap­ple TV (4th gen­er­a­tion)

Now you can run apps on your TV

Mac Format - - CONTENTS -

£129 (32GB), £169 (64GB) Man­u­fac­turer Ap­ple, ap­ple.com/uk

Re­quires HDMI ca­ble In­cludes Siri Re­mote, Light­ning ca­ble (to charge re­mote)

The fourth version of Ap­ple’s set-top box rep­re­sents a fresh start. Though it looks sim­i­lar to its pre­de­ces­sor, save for a 12mm in­crease in height, the new Ap­ple TV in­tro­duces the Siri Re­mote – packed with a track­pad, mo­tion sen­sors and a mi­cro­phone – and tvOS, which cru­cially brings apps to Ap­ple‘s box.

For bet­ter or worse, tvOS’s menus use a sim­i­lar lay­out to the old Ap­ple TV, but with em­bel­lish­ments such as multi-layer icons that give a 3D ef­fect, and stereo-po­si­tioned sound to help you pin­point the cur­rent se­lec­tion across the screen. It looks great, yet it also feels fa­mil­iar. There’s barely any­thing in­stalled by de­fault that you might want to hide, yet we hope for sup­port for fold­ers soon.

Nav­i­ga­tion is done by swip­ing or tap­ping on the re­mote‘s track­pad, and click­ing it to se­lect things. Fast swipes speed you around menus more quickly, or you can hold the Siri but­ton and say what to open.

Speak­ing to Siri to search for video (“Show Tom Hanks films”) mostly works well, as does re­fin­ing re­sults (“Just those from the ’80s” or “Just come­dies”). Siri can’t con­trol mu­sic yet – that’s com­ing – so it’s eas­ier to stream from an­other de­vice as the lack of an al­pha­bet­i­cal in­dex makes very hard work of brows­ing tunes.

Search­ing us­ing the on-screen key­board (a sin­gle row of let­ters) is far and away the most an­noy­ing thing about Ap­ple TV. This in­put is­sue is ex­ac­er­bated by the in­abil­ity to use a Blue­tooth key­board or the iOS Re­mote app in its place. It leaves a sour taste when your pass­word is re­quired for pur­chases, en­cour­ag­ing the use of a weak pass­word. We’re dis­mayed that Ap­ple al­lowed text in­put to ship in this lim­ited state.

Game on

Mo­tion sen­sors in the re­mote draw com­par­i­son with Nin­tendo’s Wii con­sole for gam­ing, but only two but­tons (play/pause and the track­pad’s but­ton) can be used for game­play, and there’s no sen­sor bar to al­low for games that re­quire point­ing at the screen. Game con­trollers made for iOS work with many games, though ev­ery­thing must be playable with the re­mote, which con­cerns us due to the sim­plic­ity it en­forces and how that might limit games on Ap­ple TV.

We like the abil­ity to train the box to recog­nise sig­nals from TV and home the­atre re­motes and use its Siri Re­mote to send them in­stead.

A trio of choices

This new model comes in two ca­pac­i­ties, yet tvOS man­ages stor­age for you, clear­ing things out as

Search­ing us­ing the on-screen key­board – a sin­gle row of let­ters – is by far the most an­noy­ing thing about Ap­ple TV

needed. Ap­ple rec­om­mends the 64GB model if you’ll use many apps and games. You can pre-emp­tively man­age stor­age, but you can’t tell tvOS to never delete an item.

Home Shar­ing, Air­Play, and ex­tend­ing your Mac’s desk­top are also pos­si­ble on the older £59 model, yet you might think this one more sen­si­ble for its fu­ture flex­i­bil­ity. There’s great po­ten­tial in tvOS, es­pe­cially where me­dia stream­ing is con­cerned, but it’ll take time to see whether game con­troller re­stric­tions are too tight for Ap­ple TV to ever of­fer liv­ing room games as sat­is­fy­ing as on tra­di­tional con­soles – though we were lightly en­ter­tained by what’s on of­fer. Alan Stone­bridge Apps make this the best Ap­ple TV yet, with po­ten­tial to over­come the US-cen­tric fo­cus of older mod­els.

Ver­sa­til­ity from third-party apps

Track­pad and voice con­trol

Lack of alternate key­boards

Siri’s reach is lim­ited at present

tvOS is re­as­sur­ingly fa­mil­iar, but this is most pos­i­tively not the Ap­ple TV you’re used to.

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