Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Apple TV 4 After Six Months

Ole Begemann:

The remote looks really nice, and I imagine it works great in Jony Ive’s perfectly-lit, tidy, pure white living room. In real life, it often is a usability disaster[…]


Navigating the UI via touch works mostly fine, although it does feel imprecise at times. I imagine that a simple four-directional pad would actually work better for most things I frequently do. However, I can see why Apple went with touch because it allows interactions that would be impossible with buttons, like scrubbing.


The default UI animations are slooooooow and block user input while they’re running.


Despite all the problems I mentioned, I really like the new Apple TV and use it almost daily.

Josh Centers:

The problem isn’t a complete lack of apps (there were over 2600 back in December, and likely many more than that now), but a dearth of those that make the Apple TV compelling (see “Apple TV App Store Growing Quickly… In the Wrong Direction?,” 11 December 2015). Just about every cable channel that offers a provider-activated streaming app has an entry in the tvOS App Store. But highly anticipated apps such as Amazon Video, Sling TV, and Spotify are nowhere to be found.


Elsewhere, Apple TV gaming seems to be struggling. Disney recently announced that it’s already dropping support for its Apple TV version of Disney Infinity, saying in a forum post […] That’s disturbing news for anyone who shelled out $99.95 for the Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition Starter Pack from the Apple Store, which is still on sale! Given that Apple also sells many of the accompanying Disney Infinity action figures, Disney’s abandonment of this app has to be a big blow to the Apple TV team.


A common lament these days is that Apple promotes big developers while ignoring the little guys. […] That’s if you’re a small fish. If you’re a big developer, you have to worry about Apple competing with your core business! Why should Spotify help boost the new Apple TV with an app when Apple is hoping to drive them out of business with Apple Music? If you’re a content provider, why support the Apple TV, when Apple is likely going to compete against you soon?

Marco Arment:

The new Apple TV is decent, but not great — exactly what I’d say about the Apple Watch, the other new Apple platform launched last year.


I’d say Apple TV, Apple Watch, and Apple Music all suffer from the same issues facing many Apple products today: […] To summarize it in one word: hubris.

Update (2016-05-04): Lee Bennett:

When writing about TV4, why do people always forget the fact that tapping the four trackpad edges is like the cursor pad they want?

Update (2016-05-05): Nick Heer:

I wasn’t aware of Siri’s language limitations, but so far, the Apple TV has been the best voice control and dictation experience for me. It seems more consistent and reliable than iOS or watchOS, and many of the baffling early-day omissions — lack of App Store or Music search, for instance — have been remedied.

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I tried one out in a local Apple Store last week. I own the older generation.

I cannot believe that Apple has dropped the optical digital sound port from the new unit! I don't play sound even from Apple TV on my TV speakers! And AirPlay from my iPad; how can I now use that? Apple guy who showed me the thing looked non-plussed, too. Was not aware that the digital sound port had been dropped!

The only options (other than using the TV speakers) is to buy a $US300 HDMI to TOSLink splitter device, or .... To hook up my older generation Apple TV via AirPlay as a slave unit for the optical port. GOOD GREIF! Apple's "hubris" is not the half of it!



Highly worth mentioning:

Hulu just today announced the service Apple has been bootlessly trying to negotiate.

After all the hype, it's back to a "hobby" folks! Eddy Cue has more misses than makes lately.

(I do love my TiVo for OnePass integrated Amazon/Netflix/Hulu/HBO. Roku covers the rest.)

The last update from a few weeks ago is very buggy. Often fails while playing videos from my iTunes library. But it's not just playing via Home Sharing. It's even just playing video files in any app. If the Apple TV has been running for a while video starts stuttering. Only solution is to unplug the Apple TV and restart. I'm not alone in noticing these problems. Quite a few others have reported the same problems. Prior to the last update I had no problems.

Agree with all the hate on the remote. The worst part is a tiny *black* remote is so easy to get lost. At least the white one was a little easier to use. Since you can only use Siri from the remote (no support yet in the iOS app) this is a problem. (Mine's been lost for two weeks now - but I hate the remote enough there's no way I'm paying $60 for an other one)

Regarding the above comment, HDMI to TOSlink splitters are only $25 - $50. However I tried out and returned several. None worked reliably. I ended up just spending the $300 to replace my receiver with a new Sony STR-DN850. It's been fantastic and works flawlessly. That said it's basically the same receiver as my old one in terms of the analog parts. Just newer HDMI support and passthrough with on screen selection of DSP features rather than using a small LED screen. Kind of ridiculous I couldn't use a fully workable and when bought state of the art receiver.

Just to note, while the above rant may make it seem like I don't love it, I really think the new Apple TV is a fantastic device and well worth buying. Over the past few months they've fixed most of the bugs I've had. What's missing is better Home Sharing support (such as selecting or sorting by various metadata) and less cumbersome support of TV seasons. Oh and they need to go back to square one with the remote. Fortunately it's trivial to program your own remote with the device.

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