Apple is offering a choice of a 32GB model at $149 or a 64GB one for $199 (The New York Times raves that “the upgraded $149 box is now the best TV streaming device you can get for your money”). But what do you get for your money and how will it change the way you’re watching movies?
While the previous incarnation of Apple TV offered access to apps from Netflix, HBO, Hulu and broadcast and cable networks, the new Apple TV offers its own apps, created by third-party developers, with endless possibilities.
The biggest news is that the Apple TV now supports universal search, voice control and Siri integration so that you can ask your TV “find me films starring Jason Schwartzman” or anything directed by Christopher Nolan, for instance, and it will pull up options for viewing those films in various apps (for sale on iTunes, for example, or streaming on Netflix or Hulu). Get a preview of how it works here.
Another nice feature: If you miss something that a character says, you can ask Siri “What did they just say?” and Apple TV will replay that portion with subtitles turned on.
So while Apple TV’s promise that “the future of TV is here” is a bit overblown, there is some truth to it. Instead of turning your TV into a computer, the new Apple TV basically turns your TV into an iPhone.
But there are some major limitations too, as The Verge points out in its review: “Only a small handful of apps work with Siri search right now — iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime — so finding something in, say, the ESPN or CBS apps isn’t possible. Siri can’t find you a funny YouTube video, which seems like a shame.”
You’d also think that Siri would track your viewing habits and recommend other shows or films you might like, a la Netflix, but in this incarnation of Apple TV, that’s not the case. “There’s a big discovery piece that really ties all these services together that’s missing here. TV isn’t all about demanding things from a robot,” according to The Verge.
Also, if you have a 4K television set, you might not want to bother with the Apple TV, since it doesn’t allow you to stream content available in Ultra HD 4K TV.
One other big catch: you can’t use your iPhone to communicate with your Apple TV. And you’ve still got to sign in separately for all of the subscription apps.
All that said, while it’s not the future of TV, it’s at least headed in the right direction.