For a long time it was quiet around the once revolutionary Apple TV. But now the waiting is over. From the 30th of October 2015, the fourth generation of the streaming box is commercially available and it brings some breakthroughs.
More powerful hardware
Although Apple has maintained proven design, the housing of the new box is one centimeter higher than its predecessor. The new box contains the A8 chip, known from the iPhone 6, with its 64-bit ARMv8 processor. In contrast to the recent A5 chip, it is able to display 3D graphics smoothly. For the first time the set-top box is now compatible for gaming. Instead of the previous 8 gigabytes of flash memory, the device is delivered in two versions with 32 or 64 gigabytes of flash memory.
Furthermore the streaming box has improved in terms of Wireless connectivity; it now supports the fast standard 802.11ac MIMO. Apple's willingness to drop outdated standards being demonstrated by the omission of the optical S / PDIF audio interface.
New Operating System
The operating system with the new name tvOS has been completely revised. It is based 95 per cent on iOS 9 and therefore also carries the version number 9. It is not applicable on devices of previous generations.
The user interface is similar to the previous version, but acts in a modern flat design tidier and simpler. Now, the icons and graphics are displayed as film posters and have three to five levels. This allows a cool motion effect (parallax effect) once they are selected. Prolonged inactivity activates new screensavers showing fantastic aerial views of cities and landscapes matching the time of the day.
An outstanding feature of tvOS is the universal search function. It searches several apps simultaneously. In the movie search, it shows deals which are currently offered by iTunes and Netflix, and other apps will follow.
New on the black TV box is Apple's music streaming service Apple Music, with its more than 30 million music tracks and numerous radio stations.
Previously Apple were hesitant to provide an option to introduce new apps. If the pre-installed apps were not sufficient, there was only the possibility to stream the content from other Apple devices via AirPlay on the box. Therefore what users missed most was the ability to install their own applications. In its fourth generation Apple TV has finally established an App Store with applications, specially developed for larger television screens.
It is expected to contain at least 40 apps. Streaming apps such as; Netflix, Watch Ever, Youtube, Vimeo, Qello, Red Bull TV and Bloomberg TV are available amongst others. German-speaking TV stations are not represented yet, with the exception of the cultural channel Arte, but ZDF will follow soon. An important category of the store will contain the games. Available from the beginning are; Manticore Rising, Guitar Hero Live, Rayman Adventures, Crossy Road and Beat Sports especially programmed for the TV box.
Those who bought apps for the iPhone or iPad can install them on the box without having to pay for them again.
Remote control with touchpad ...
The remote control is completely new. The top of the control is made of glass and the back of metal. The arrow keys have been replaced by a touchpad. With just one swipe the user can navigate through the menus or rewind films back and forth.
Acceleration and tilt sensor allow Wii-like gestures. In Beat Sports the remote control is used to hit the balls, for example. For ambitious gamers, there are controllers available from third-parties.
The remote control communicates via Bluetooth with the box, thus no visual contact is necessary. It contains a battery which is supposed to last three months on average. It is charged via the integrated Lightning interface.
... And Siri
Not without reason, the Remote Control is called "Siri Remote". If the user presses the voice input button, Apple's intelligent voice assistant listens with two microphones which are integrated in the remote control.
Siri is especially helpful when searching. On the command "Show me some comedy movies!”, a selection of comedy movies appears on the TV screen. Then it is also possible to narrow down the search by telling Siri to show "only the good ones!" Siri uses reviews to display the movies in order.
If a film scene is boring, the user can ask Siri to fast forward, or they can be entertained by asking Siri how the weather will be over the weekend. The weather forecast will then appear at the bottom of the screen without the film pausing. If the distraction makes you miss a dialogue - no problem! Simply ask Siri, "What did he just say?" And Siri rewinds the scene.
App Store and games multiply the use of the streaming box. With the touchpad the operations work much easier and more intuitively than using the arrow keys in previous devices. Thanks to Siri, the TV becomes an intelligent interlocutor and the ability to simultaneously search through different apps is unique. Apple TV has finally awakened from its slumber.
This article has been filed under: Apple TV, iOS, Apple TV 4 and Siri