Apple has started this odd trend of announcing highly anticipated new products or upgrades, then waiting months before the official launch, then delivering a product that both amazes and disappoints, then spends a few years hammering out the kinks and polishing it up before repeating the process.
That’s definitely the life cycle of Apple TV, now in its fourth generation, and as much as I love the update, especially Siri integration and the new remote, Apple TV 4 feels like it will be a great product when it becomes Apple TV 5 and has Apple’s long awaiting streaming TV cable channel to go with it.
Me Like, Me No Like
First up, the good and there’s plenty of it, almost enough to justify the 64GB version’s price tag. I’ve all three of Apple’s previous Apple TV models, and each one was better than the last and that’s the same for Apple TV 4.
The reason to like Apple TV is not the selection of channels. Sure, the number has grown through the years but far too many are filler channels or require a cable TV account before accessing so what’s the point?
The secret to Apple TV in the recent past is AirPlay, that simple setting that shoves content from your iPhone or iPad up to the big screen. Apple TV 4 is different than previous versions because it’s now a platform with games and an app store. Setup was straightforward for my Apple TV at home using my iPhone information. I helped to setup Apple TV for Kate Mackenzie’s parents and that required a manual setup which is slow and cumbersome.
Apple TV 4 uses HDMI to connect to your television and video resolution remains 1080p but does not have 4k. There is not much 4k content and 4k televisions remain expensive so that’s why I think Apple TV 5 will be the better product because it gets baked longer.
Apple TV 4’s new touch remote pairs using Bluetooth. There’s also a Siri mic button for voice commands and it works better than expected thanks to two microphones (one to pick up your voice, one to diminish ambient sound so Siri hears more clearly).
Unlike Apple TV 3 which has a long and growing list of available channels, most of which are worthless bolt ons, Apple TV 4 has only a few basic selections; TV shows, Photos, Music, Movies, and the most important, the tvOS App Store. That’s where the fun begins.
Apps are the rule for Apple TV and that means YouTube, Hulu, HBO Go, Netflix and everything else comes as apps, including games.
The new remote is remarkable and combined with Siri makes Apple TV 4 a worthwhile upgrade– once there are a few thousand applications. Siri works very well. Tell her what you want. “I want to watch an action movie.” Or, “I want to watch a comedy” and Siri springs into action unless you want to listen to music. Even with an Apple Music subscription you won’t get any music from Siri. What’s with that? Where’s the Bluetooth keyboard support? See? It needs to bake a little longer.
Apple is getting into the habit of announcing long awaited and much anticipated new products, only to have the rollout to usability take six more months just to get the product up to what should have been the first generation. Apple did exactly that with Watch. And that’s what has happened with Apple TV 4, too.
I know technology is a competitive landscape, and the holiday shopping season is a tempting target, but please, bake things a little longer, Apple.