Metro Weekly

Apple TV: Impressive, but worth $149?

Apple's TV streaming device brings a renewed focus on games and apps for a heft premium

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Tim Cook made a “provocative” statement when announcing the new Apple TV. “We believe the future of television is apps.”

Unfortunately, Tim seems to have missed the fact that apps have been a part of smart TVs, games consoles, set-top boxes and streaming devices for a while now — including his own Apple TV — but we’ll excuse the hyperbole for the moment. Indeed, what Cook and co. really mean is that more so than ever, Apple TV is bringing iOS ever closer to the living room.

With new software, dubbed tvOS, a focus on streamlining and beautifying everything, and a deep Siri integration, it’s by far the most coherent Apple TV has ever been.

Siri, for instance, can be activated through a new remote. Ask it to pull up a specific film and it can, but ask Siri to find that one episode of Modern Family with Edward Norton and it can do that, too. It’ll also present a variety of streaming options — buy from iTunes or stream through Netflix, for instance. Siri can pull down a variety of other information, too, such as the weather or the latest sports scores, which will be shown in discrete bars at the bottom of the screen. One cool feature that Apple demoed was asking the remote “What did she say?” and having the on screen content dialled back 10-15 seconds.

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With regards apps, there will be many and varied. Developers can utilize similar tools to those they’d use to make iOS games and apps. Most of the major streaming services are onboard, Airbnb and Zillow are present, Apple Music is obviously here, as are a number of games such as Guitar Hero, Disney Infinity and Crossy Road. A rather bizarre focus of the demo was on shopping — Gilt, the discount site, presented an Apple TV app that would allow users to simply navigate their wares. Why anyone would browse online shopping from their TV, rather than their iPad or laptop, is anyone’s guess, though.

Apple TV will launch this October, starting at $149 for 32GB of storage and $199 for 64GB of storage. The current Apple TV will stick around at $69. Unless you’re desperate to browse apps and play games on your big screen, however, it begs the question of whether the new Apple TV is worth the massive premium over its predecessor — or, indeed, bargain alternatives like Google’s Chromecast, which costs just $30.

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Shelf Wood
Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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