The New Apple TV's Best Features

Editor
Updated

Promising to innovate the stagnant state of television, Apple has declared that the future of television lies in apps. However, the new Apple TV is much more than a collection of software. Available starting Oct. 26 at $149 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB configuration, the Apple TV is offers a fresh interface, handy touch controls and a healthy dollop of voice commands. Here are the top new features of the new Apple TV. It remains to be seen if the device will revolutionize the way we watch television, but it looks compelling nonetheless.

Introducing tvOS

It's like iOS, but for your living room. The new Apple TV interface is cleaner and more intuitive; For starters, when you click on a television show or movie, you'll be treated to a large images with a short bio in an effort to keep the content front and center. When you hover on one of the large poster-like icons with the touch remote, it will wiggle slightly depending on how you move your thumb for a light 3-D effect.

Speaking of apps, Netflix, Hulu and HBO have already created custom apps for tvOS, and a beta version of the SDK is available for Apple's 11 million developers. The hope is to create tvOS-exclusive apps and games that will live in Apple's TV app store. iTunes Movies has been redesigned, while Apple Music will deliver Beats 1 alongside your existing iTunes music catalog.

MORE: Your Guide to Cable TV Cord-Cutting

Siri: The TV That Talks Back

Siri has finally been integrated into Apple TV, allowing for voice-controlled, intelligent search, sorted by popularity. When you perform a search, Siri won't just browse iTunes, it will also scour content from Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO.

So just how smart is this iteration of Siri? Well, it can filter your content searches by actor or genre by saying phrases such as "Show me Bond movies," and "Just the ones with Sean Connery." And if that's not enough, it lets you skip forward or backward during a show simply by saying, "Siri, skip back 7 seconds" or "What did he or she say again?"

Siri can also perform its typical digital assistant duties, pulling up weather reports or answering trivia questions. But instead of monopolizing the entire display, Siri displays the answer along the bottom. If you want some full-screen action, simply swipe up on the Apple TV remote and your content will pause until you return.

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Siri Remote

When it ships, Apple TV will be bundled with a snazzy new remote. Instead of your normal number pad and buttons for volume and channels, you'll see a tabs for menu and Siri. But what really makes the device stand out is the smooth black glass surface at the top. Perfect for a thumb, the touch panel lets you navigate smoothly through the new interface by sliding your finger across the surface.

Clicking and sliding also comes in handy when you want to rewind or fast forward to your favorite part of a movie or television show. A quick downward swipe cues up information that's relevant to what you're watching, such as the cast members. When you feel like playing a game, the remote turns into a touch-based game controller, thanks to the built-in accelerometer and gyroscope.

Touch-Based Gaming on Your TV

It's not the gaming revolution that the Internet predicted, but it's an interesting start. Apple showed off a couple of games made exclusively for Apple TV, such as Harmonix's Beat Sports and a special multiplayer version of Hipster Whale's Crossy Road. Both games are dependent on the touch portion of the Siri Remote.

Thanks to the accelerometer and gyroscope embedded into the Siri Remote, gamers can enjoy motion controls, such as the virtual baseball-bat-swinging in Beat Sports. (Think Wii Sports with better music.) Gamers can enjoy cooperative play via their iPhones and iPads, and cross-platform play allows them to pause a game on Apple TV and finish it on an iPhone.

In addition to the exclusive content, Apple is also leaning on some heavy-hitters to show off Apple TV's gaming potential, with big titles such as Rayman Legends, Disney Infinity 3.0 and Guitar Hero Live coming to the platform. 

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Apps

When Apple TV launches, you can expect to see a Gilt app, which will satisfy your upscale shopping addiction. There's Airbnb and Zillow, in case you want to rent a house for the weekend or buy one. The app store will also feature children's apps such as Play Kids.

Fans of America's pastime will appreciate the addition of MLB.TV, which will feature high-definition streaming, team schedules and apps updating in real-time during games. But if that's still not enough grounders and homers, you can watch two games simultaneously. Hockey fans can also get their fix with the Apple TV, once NHL Gamestream launches in 2016.

Bottom Line

The new Apple TV' features help it stand out in a growing crowd of set-top boxes that play games. The tvOS interface is visually stunning, and the content aggregation feature could be a game changer for those of us with multiple content subscriptions. If nothing else, it makes finding something to watch incredibly simple.

The Siri Remote looks to be a solid merging of voice and touch command that can transition from TV to gaming effortlessly. The apps shown off during the demo are promising, but we're curious as to what new innovation Apple's army of developers can bring to the table; the same goes for the gaming front. Love it or hate it, the new Apple TV will be force to be reckoned with this October.

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