Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Apple TV 4

Josh Centers:

However, hardcore gamers will likely be frustrated with the gaming experience. Developers might have some surprises up their sleeves, but the Siri Remote is too small and limited to provide much in the way of traditional gaming experiences. Bear in mind that Apple requires all apps to function with the Siri Remote, so developers will be limited in what they can do with more advanced controllers.


Yes, because unfortunately, Apple didn’t implement a single-sign-on service. So you must individually set up each app that requires a login or a cable authentication.


In fact, text input on the new Apple TV is a huge step backward, since the letters are arranged in a straight line instead of a grid. Entering passwords via the onscreen Apple TV keyboard is infuriating, since you have to scroll through every letter. It’s a big step down from the previous Apple TV interface, which presented the keyboard as a grid that was easier to navigate.

Unlike the Apple TV 3, it doesn’t support Bluetooth keyboards or typing via the iOS Remote app.

Yes, [the Flickr app is] still there, but the screensaver functionality is broken. Selecting Use as Screensaver in an album presents an error message: “Screensaver functionality is not available at this time. Flickr will be updated with screensaver support as soon as possible.”


Yes, you can finally connect Bluetooth audio devices to the Apple TV, which should be a boon for those with Bluetooth hearing aids, or anyone who wants to listen to TV without bothering others in the room!


Another drawback to Siri is that video keeps playing while it’s activated, although it mutes the audio so as to not interfere with voice recognition. I hope Apple updates the Apple TV to pause video while using Siri.

Bizarrely, Siri does not work with Apple Music, and Apple says it won’t until early 2016. It also cannot search the App Store.

Jason Snell:

Whenever I try to make a purchase on a new Apple device, I am forced to verify that it’s legit, usually by entering in the security code from the back of my credit card. I expected to need to do that on the Apple TV. But being forced to switch to my Mac, click into my account settings, click on my billing address, and re-enter the code there? That seems… a bit out of the way.

But I did it! And then I turned back around to the Apple TV, only to discover it was once again asking me to input my Apple ID and password.


Unfortunately, Apple’s hardware and packaging are being let down by its software and services. The unboxing experience doesn’t end when the device is pulled out of the box—it ends when it’s set up and running smoothly. There’s a lot more work that needs to be done.

It’s curious that there are no plans to make the Remote app work. iCloud Photo Library is not supported at all.

Wil Shipley:

I literally can’t enter my Netflix password into the new Apple TV because I set it to 60 characters of garbage. No “show my typing” option.

David Gewirtz (via John Gruber):

It’s very difficult to tell top from bottom on the remote. It’s almost entirely symmetrical, and the only difference is the top is less shiny, the surface you’re supposed to use as a touch surface. In the dark, I expect people will be pushing the wrong buttons and talking into the wrong end.

John Gruber:

It’s also pretty frustrating that you can only log into one Game Center account at a time. That seems downright wrong for a shared family device.

I’m still waiting for a software update to fix streaming on our Apple TV 2 and 3.

See also: Nick Heer’s review roundup.

Update (2015-11-04): Dan Moren:

As such, that decentralized approach is also a weakness. Apple’s tipped its hat to that problem with the addition of universal search, one of the very best features of the Apple TV, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Because it means that a lot of the apps end up reinventing the wheel, creating the same features over and over again.

Take, for example, the watchlist. Almost every video streaming app on the Apple TV has some form of this, and while implementation details differ, the premise is the same: a place where you can add videos you want to watch at some point. That’s great…but on a device that’s focused on video consumption it’s also hugely inefficient.

Update (2015-11-05): Joe Rosensteel:

The device feels very unfinished. Surprising, given the amount of time between the last model and this one. Rumors are that the team working on it stopped and it sat there while Apple tried to work with outside parties. Then they gave up and had to resume. Apple picked when to ship this device though, just like every other thing they make.

Dan Moren:

Why Apple decided to forego support for iCloud Keychain on the Apple TV is a mystery, but let me tell you: it sure would be helpful after the fifth attempt to enter the right Hulu password. Given that all of my passwords are already stored in iCloud, why make me do the hard work of entering them all over again? This is the exact purpose for which that system was designed.

Clark Goble (blog):

Text entry is if anything worse than everyone was reporting. […] That said entering all you cable channels is done from your laptop or iPad. No typing via the Apple TV. A lot of the reviews weren’t clear on this making it seem like they were typing all their passwords via the Apple TV text entry screen. I’m glad they were wrong. Honestly it now works vastly superior to the old Apple TV.

Update (2015-11-10): Two more good posts from Joe Rosensteel.

Update (2015-11-16): See also the Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2015-11-24): Joe Rosensteel:

That is the Bezos graph of comparison charts.

Update (2015-12-03): Clark Goble:

Usually Apple’s pretty solid on hardware. Arguably of late far better on hardware than software. Yet the remote is horrible. Seriously I don’t know a single person who likes it. Every time I pick it up off the couch I accidentally hit the trackpad and do something I don’t want to. In the dark I can’t tell what end is up.


The other disappointment is that Siri search seems to work great with the iTunes Store but doesn’t seem to find my movies that I have in iTunes on my iMac. That’s pretty disappointing. Honestly Siri seemed a great idea for the Apple TV but in practice I never use it simply because of its limitations.

Update (2015-12-04): Clark Goble:

So I absolutely love my Apple TV. There are those small caveats that perhaps I focused a tad too much on. But this is the device I’ve really wanted for years. Once more apps become available I imagine this will do everything I can imagine wanting it to do.

Update (2016-02-19): John, Craig & Eddy Solve the Mystery of the Apple TV Remote.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

Snell's comments are devastating. I'm shocked Apple thought data entry was fine. Especially when they had a Remote App that resolved most of these issues. If they could have made the Remote and plus pasting so we could effectively use 1Password with it then most of our problems would be gone. I wonder how many of these relatively negative reviews would have changed had Apple shipped a Remote app with the aTV release.

The remote I'm surprised learned so little from Apple's prior two remotes.

I also think it was a huge mistake for Apple to disallow controller only games. Given the large difference in buttons it's hard to even conceive of how one could emulate a controller with the remote with its paucity of buttons.

Finally limiting Siri not only with Music but with text input makes zero sense given it works on iOS.

Roku is kinda nice...

Unbelievable that they aren't going to make the remote app's keyboard work. I was planning to postpone my purchase until it's there. I don't know what to do if it's never coming; maybe upgrade from my 3rd gen AppleTV to a Roku, or just break down at some point and waste a day trying to type my passwords on that joke of an on-screen keyboard.

[…] this is because of customer feedback because Apple previously said that there were no plans to support the Remote app. Then there’s the announcement of a new […]

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