Apple just made the biggest update to Apple TV it’s made in years.
The new Apple TV, which launches at the end of October, runs an entirely new interface that comes with an App Store, support for Siri, and a brand new remote (and at $US149, it’s double the price of the previous version).
Apple is convinced that this is where the TV industry is headed — rather than simply streaming video, you should be able to run full apps and play games all using one single device.
The new Apple TV works smoothly and is really easy to use, based on my limited time with it. And the integration with Siri seems like a natural fit for a product like the Apple TV. During my hands-on demo, I spoke into the remote control naturally, and Siri picked up on every request.
You can get really specific with what you ask for when talking to Siri. For instance, when I asked to only search for action movies starring Jennifer Lawrence, the system immediately pulled up “The Hunger Games” and the X-Men movies Lawrence has starred in.
The interface is simple and easy to navigate, too. Apps and games are laid out in a straightforward grid-style format that’s easy to manoeuvre.
One of the biggest differences between the new Apple TV and Apple’s previous model is its remote control. The new set top box comes with a redesigned remote that features a track pad and a few physical buttons. You use the track pad to navigate the Apple TV’s user interface and to select apps.
It worked smoothly for the most part — a subtle swipe to the right would move the cursor in that direction, and vice versa. I do feel like it might take some getting used to, however, since it feels more natural to press buttons on a remote control.
You can also use the remote as a game controller, although the Apple TV will also be compatible with current third-party game controllers that already exist for the iPad and iPhone. I used the controller to play a Star Wars video game on the new Apple TV, and it was fairly easy to pick up on. Since there are sensors inside the remote, you can tilt it back and forth to steer your spacecraft in the game.
I didn’t have too much time to explore apps on the Apple TV, but I did get a peek at how Airbnb looks running on the Apple TV. You get a full-screen view of the property you’re looking to rent, and it displays the number of rooms in the house and other information about the house or apartment you’re browsing. It looks slick and clean, but I’m still a bit sceptical as to what value apps like Airbnb bring to the overall Apple TV experience.
Regardless, the new Apple TV is a much-needed update to its predecessor. Even little things such as universal search will make a big difference in everyday use.
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