Everything You Need to Know About the New Apple TV

The new Apple TV has been anticipated for almost three years. Now that it's been announced, here's what you need to know. First, it's $149 for 32 GB or $199 for 64 GB. If you plan to download a lot of apps (more on that later) you might want more storage. 

Steve Jobs felt he had "nailed" the TV viewing experience and that was years ago. It's finally ready, and a big part of it is the new Apple TV Remote. While others like Amazon have offered voice control before, the new Apple TV Remote includes the power of Siri, thanks to a dedicated Siri button, and can do much more than find a show to watch. The Siri remote uses Bluetooth so you don't need to point it at your Apple TV. The volume buttons can control your own television set, and if you have a setup that supports it, the Apple TV can turn on your home theater. The remote's battery should last three months, and can be recharged using the built-in Lightning port. The top section of the new Apple TV Remote is a glass touchpad, similar to the Apple Magic Trackpad, so you can swipe and it should become second nature. You can swipe down to get info on what you're watching or "scrub" left and right to go back and forth through a movie, similarly to video editing in iMovie. Of course there are times when you want physical buttons and fortunately there are up and down volume buttons. Siri makes it easy to interact with a movie as you say things like "what did she say" and it will rewind 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions!

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Apple TV remote

The new Apple TV can run apps, thanks to the newly dubbed tvOS. Games and apps have long been one of Apple's not-so-secret weapons. The new Apple TV may not be as powerful as an Xbox One or PS4, but "casual gaming" is an industry of its own and the new Apple TV has plenty of power to satisfy that audience with tvOS games. The user interface is going to be new to users and developers, just as the first iPhone was, so once developers figure out the best way to control games remotely, look out. The most successful iPhone games don't try to emulate a joystick but leverage the touchscreen interface, as Angry Birds and Flappy Bird did. That's why it was more than a little disappointing that the Apple TV wasn't introduced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where they would have had a chance to teach developers how to write apps for the Apple TV. Eventually, someone will figure out the best way to play games on an Apple TV and make a lot of money!

Crossy Road

The new Apple TV can play games using the new Apple Remote and even leverage the built-in accelerometer. Apple TV also lets users use their iPhone or iPod touch as a controller. This enables multiplayer games as well. Beat Sports from Harmonix (makers of Rock Band) and Crossy Road are two examples of games that will be ready for the Apple TV at launch and will leverage multiplayer capability.

Beat Sports

Sports fans will love the ability to quickly access live highlights, and statistics. You can watch multiple games at once. And it's all done through Apple's app interface and Siri, independent of a cable TV subscription. Apple did not have any entertainment providers, other than Major League Baseball, on stage, so it's clear they are still working on contracts with folks like CBS, NBC, etc. Many, like HBO, are embracing the streaming bandwagon, popularized by Netflix and Amazon. This could be an "iPod Moment" in the way that Apple convinced music labels to embrace digital music after Napster and others changed the rules. By providing a streamlined searching, browsing, and playing experience, Apple could make content providers even more wealthy, if they join the bandwagon. There were still holdouts, just as there were with digital music was new, but now it's the standard.

Stats

Just because Apple has released a new and improved Apple TV doesn't mean the old one is obsolete. At $69, it's still quite a valuable little device. It still can stream content from sources like Netflix, HBO, ESPN, and of course iTunes. AirPlay still lets you broadcast from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. I have a couple of Apple TVs and they will still be used around the house, with a brand new Apple TV in my living room, acting as my home entertainment hub.

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.