The new Apple TV, which came out last week, is Apple’s first step into its reimagination of the television experience.
At first glance, it may seem like the previous two versions of the Apple TV — but thanks to a new remote control, Siri integration, and the App Store, it’s clear that Apple is beginning to make good on its promise of making a big push into the living room.
I’ve been testing the new Apple TV for a few days, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot so far. There’s a lot to love, but also a few things I’m not so crazy about. I’ll have a full, detailed review later this week.
But for now, here are some initial impressions:
Love: Siri search is the killer feature
Using the built-in microphone on the new Apple TV remote, you can ask Siri to find you just about anything across iTunes and streaming services like HBO Now, Netflix, and Hulu.
I love that you no longer have to launch an app, type in what you’re looking for, and wait for the results to load before watching. Just give Siri an actor name, an episode title, a movie title, or whatever else, and the results come up.
Even better, you can search while you’re using an app — that’s something rivals like the Amazon Fire TV can’t do.
Hate: Searching has its limitations
While Siri makes it easy to search for shows and movies, it doesn’t work with the App Store, one of the major new features on the Apple TV.
Apple features a lot of great apps on the main page of the App Store, but there are thousands of others basically hidden behind that. That said, Apple will likely add more discovery features to the App Store like category pages and lists of the most popular apps in the near future.
Love: The apps are really impressive
When Apple first announced developers could make apps for the Apple TV, my biggest concern was that we’d see a bunch of smartphone apps blown up for the big screen. That’s thankfully not the case.
I’ve tested several of the new third-party apps and they all offer a unique, TV-centric experience. This probably sounds crazy coming from a 30-year-old guy, but my favourite app so far is QVC. It has a live stream of the channel (for free!) and a simple buy button that lets you purchase the product the hosts are talking about. This feels like the future of interactive TV.
Hate: Typing is a pain
I’ve been an Apple TV user for about five years. One of my favourite features has been using Apple’s Remote app on my iPhone as a virtual keyboard when I needed to type something in. But the Remote app doesn’t support the new Apple TV yet, so I have to tediously use the remote to select one letter at a time on the screen.
I also wish I could use Siri to dictate what I want to type, but it’s unclear if Apple will ever add that feature.
Love: The remote is easy to use
My biggest complaint with the original Apple TV remote was that it was a little too simple — just a directional pad, menu button, and play/pause button. In addition to the Siri microphone, the new remote also has volume controls and a home button that brings you right back to the home screen. (The volume controls work with just about any TV too. There’s no need to program the remote.) And the glass touch pad at the top makes it a lot easier to navigate menus than the old-fashioned directional pad.
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