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Posts tagged with "apple tv"

Six Colors’ ‘Apple in 2022’ Report Card

For the past eight years, Six Colors’ Jason Snell has put together an ‘Apple report card’ – a survey that aims to assess the current state of Apple “as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple”.

The 2022 version of the Six Colors Apple Report Card was published yesterday, and you can find an excellent summary of all the submitted comments along with charts featuring average scores for different categories here.

Once again, I’m happy Jason invited me to share some thoughts and comments on what Apple did in 2022. MacStories readers know that last year didn’t exactly go as planned. While iOS 16 delivered a meaningful update to the Lock Screen for people who care about customization and the iPhone 14 Pro came with substantial improvements to the display and camera tech, the iPad story was disappointing and confusing. This is reflected in my answers to Jason’s survey, and it’ll be a recurring topic on MacStories in 2023. At the same time, I was also impressed by Apple’s performance on services, concerned by the evolution of the Shortcuts app, and cautious about the company’s newfound approach to HomeKit.

I’ve prepared the full text of my answers to the Six Colors report card, which you can find below. I recommend reading the whole thing on Six Colors to get the broader context of all the participants in the survey.

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Apple TV 4K Updated with an A15 Bionic Chip, HDR10+, and a Lower Starting Price

Today, Apple published a press release announcing an update to the Apple TV 4K, which now comes in two configurations that offer different storage capacities and network connectivity. The Apple TV HD is no longer available on Apple’s online store.

The Apple TV 4K has been updated with an A15 Bionic chip and support for HDR10+, which is part of tvOS 16. The base configuration, which is $129, has 64GB of storage and is WiFi-only. The other model adds Gigabit Ethernet and has 128GB of storage for $149. The top-tier Apple TV 4K supports Thread networking too.

Apple says:

CPU performance is now up to 50 percent faster than the previous generation, delivering greater responsiveness, faster navigation, and snappier UI animations. GPU performance is now up to 30 percent faster than the previous generation for even smoother gameplay.

The Siri Remote now charges via USB-C.

The Siri Remote now charges via USB-C.

The Siri Remote has remained mostly the same, except it has added USB-C charging in place of the previous model’s Lightning port. The Siri Remote is included with the Apple TV but can be purchased separately for $59.

Overall, the changes to the Apple TV 4K are fairly minor, notwithstanding the snappier UI the A15 Bionic enables. I don’t see a good reason for most people to upgrade from a previous generation Apple TV 4K unless you play a lot of games on the Apple TV and have run into storage limits. If you have an Apple TV HD before and are planning on buying a 4K TV, the new model will save you some money and offer a few new perks. Although it’s a shame that Ethernet is only available in the more expensive configuration, that’s probably part of how the cost of the base model has been brought down, and I’m sure most people connect their Apple TVs via WiFi anyway.

The new Apple TV 4K is available for pre-order now, with deliveries beginning on Friday, November 4th in 30 countries, including the US.

Apple’s Fall OS Updates Promise Deeper HomeKit and Entertainment Integration

Apple’s fall OS updates will include a variety of HomeKit and home entertainment features. Unsurprisingly, some of those changes can be found in the company’s Home and TV apps, but this year, those apps only tell part of the overall story. To get the full picture, you need to zoom out from the apps, where you’ll find an interesting mix of new smart home device and entertainment features sprinkled throughout each platform.

Let’s start with HomeKit devices. This year, many of the changes coming to Apple’s OSes relate to two important categories: video cameras and door locks. Controlling both types of devices will become easier this fall, thanks to deeper integration with the upcoming OS releases.

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Joe Rosensteel Reviews the New Apple TV 4K

Joe Rosensteel has an in-depth look at the new Apple TV 4K on his website, Unauthoritative Pronouncements. Joe covers every step of the setup process, the new Siri Remote, and the new Apple TV 4K hardware. He concludes that although there have been substantial improvements in some areas, notably with the Siri Remote, there is a lot of room for improvement, especially for a device that is considerably more expensive than its competition.

One of my favorite critiques is of the setup process, which does a good job transferring your Apple TV apps to a new device, but leaves users to log into them one by one. It’s a frustrating experience that’s all too common on more than just the Apple TV. As Joe explains:

There is still this logical disconnect in this process where I have authorized the Apple TV to log into my Apple ID and access my iCloud data, including data from my existing devices, and iCloud KeyChain, but it can’t set up an Apple TV with all my apps and services logged in. I know someone might insist that this is for security, but it absolutely isn’t because all this data exists, in iCloud, accessible to anyone who has my unlocked iPhone and Apple TV - which is what is required to just populate empty apps on the screen.

My login state for these other services should really be stored in iCloud across all Apple devices I own, or with a token authorization system that uses the iPhone in my hand. At the very least, aggregate all of the services I need to log into in one spot for me to do it with Face ID, or Touch ID, opening up the saved password data for each of the entries I need to make.

The new jog wheel ring around the Siri Remote’s clickpad can be confusing to interact with too, especially because it doesn’t work with all third-party apps:

What about using it as a jog wheel? Well … it doesn’t work in all circumstances you will expect it to work in. You need to be in an app that supports the feature. YouTube, Hulu, and Disney+ don’t support it, for example. In some apps, the wheel moves the position on the timeline forward … and then backward, even though you’ve completed “a rotation” around the wheel because this isn’t really a wheel. It’s four directions mapped to a ring that doesn’t actually turn. It really breaks the rotation metaphor.

There’s a lot more to Joe’s review of the latest Apple TV, so be sure to check it out. As someone who consumes video exclusively through an Apple TV, many of these criticisms rang true. I haven’t tried the new Apple TV 4K myself, but I did replace my old Siri Remote with the new model, and despite taking a bit to get used to, that one change has been a substantial upgrade.


Apple’s New Siri Remote Lacks Motion Control Sensors Required by Some Apple TV Games

Jon Porter of The Verge rounds up recent discoveries about the new Apple TV 4K’s Siri Remote. First reported by Digital Trends, the new Siri Remote lacks an accelerometer and gyroscope. As Porter explains:

The change means that the new Siri Remote won’t work with certain Apple TV games that rely on motion controls. According to code in tvOS 14.5 seen by MacRumors, trying to play an incompatible game will lead to the following error message: “To play this game on your Apple TV, you need to connect the Apple TV Remote (1st generation) or a compatible PlayStation, Xbox or MFi controller.”

On one level, the omission of the sensors in the new Siri Remote is surprising because it comes hard on the heels of an expansion of Apple Arcade’s offerings on all platforms, including the Apple TV. Still, the original Siri Remote was never a good game controller. The button layout and diminutive size made it a poor substitute for a traditional game controller. The new Siri Remote is a little bigger than the former version, but I don’t expect it would work any better as a controller.

With support for Microsoft and Sony controllers available since tvOS 13 and the addition of support for current-generation console controllers in tvOS 14.5, Apple has clearly made the decision that a purpose-built controller provides a better gaming experience. I just wish Apple would consider making its own controller with a fast, low latency connection like AirPods, which benefits from Apple’s proprietary technology layer that sits on top of Bluetooth.


Apple Updates the Apple TV 4K with a New Siri Remote, Enhanced Video Support, and Color Calibration Tools

It has been a long time since the Apple TV was updated, but today the day for an update finally arrived with an all-new Siri Remote and other new and updated features.

The new Apple TV 4K announced today runs on the A12 Bionic chipset, which enables high frame rate HDR and Dolby Vision for the first time. Not only will 60 frame per second HDR content be streamable from video services, but it can also be AirPlayed to the Apple TV using an iOS device that supports recording HDR video. Apple didn’t mention it on stage, but the device’s tech specs reveal that the Apple TV 4K also supports HDMI 2.1, WiFi 6, and Thread, a feature that we covered recently on AppStories. Thread will enable the Apple TV 4K to act as a border router directing HomeKit device traffic in your home.

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Apple’s Perplexing Home Strategy

Zac Hall, writing for 9to5Mac, explains why Apple’s move to discontinue the original HomePod last Friday raises a number of questions about its home strategy and is cause for concern that extends beyond the HomePod itself:

Apple discontinuing HomePod isn’t impossible to understand, but the move does leave me with a number of questions for Apple. What’s the threshold for success for home products? What does Apple hope to achieve with home products? Why should customers trust Apple believes in its home products when it doesn’t lead the market? Why not just invest in AmazonSonos, and other smart home solutions that feel less like a hobby?

Hall puts his finger on something that’s been bothering me since news of the HomePod’s demise broke. In January, I reviewed the HomePod mini, and I love it; not because it’s the best-sounding speaker I’ve used, but because it fills a role that the larger, more expensive HomePod couldn’t fill in my home. However, the mini isn’t a replacement for the original HomePod. The smaller speaker can’t fill larger spaces like my living room the way the original HomePod can. Nor can the mini play the same role in my home entertainment setup.

As long as Apple continues to support the original HomePod, my multi-room audio and TV setup will be fine, but it’s also undeniably a dead end. It’s not as if I don’t have other options. There are plenty of good AirPlay 2 speakers available that I can eventually swap in, as Hall points out. However, coupled with the expensive, long-in-the-tooth Apple TV, I don’t have the confidence I once had in Apple’s home strategy, especially when it comes to audio and video entertainment, which feels especially strange to say when Apple Music and TV+ are so clearly important parts of the company’s service strategy. All of which led me to nod as I read Hall’s conclusion:

Remember when Mac users had similar concerns about pro machines in Apple’s lineup? Apple rightfully held a roundtable event with a small group of press to communicate its commitment to professional customers with the pending release of an iMac Pro and development on a next-generation Mac Pro.

That strategy was very effective at taking a step toward earning back the trust that was lost over time with Apple’s pro customers. Apple’s Friday night statement that it’s happy with the response to HomePod mini and no longer producing the original HomePod needs a lot of follow up.

Perhaps a spring media event will clear up some of the questions raised by the elimination of the HomePod. For now, though, Apple’s home strategy is more perplexing than ever.


4K YouTube Content Begins to Show Up on the Apple TV 4K

YouTube is being updated to support 4K streaming on the Apple TV 4K for the first time, although it’s limited to 30fps and doesn’t support HDR. The speculation is that higher frame rate, HDR content could be forthcoming in an update to the Apple TV hardware.

First spotted by 9to5Mac over the weekend, The Verge confirmed on Monday with Google that 4K streams are indeed rolling out to Apple TV 4K users, although they are not yet live for everyone. While at least some 4K content is also available on select iPhone models already, including my iPhone 11 Pro Max, The Verge notes that it’s not yet available on all iPhones and iPads with compatible resolutions. When asked about iPhone and iPad 4K compatibility, Google told The Verge that YouTube would support 4K content on the iPhone and iPad soon.

Apple TV Channels Bundle Now Available Featuring CBS All Access and SHOWTIME

Apple today announced the first bundle offer that’s ever been available for channels in the company’s TV app. It comes with a unique twist in that the offer is only available for customers who already subscribe to Apple TV+, whether through a paid subscription or as part of their free year of service for purchasing a new Apple product. Apple TV+ subscribers can now subscribe to a bundle of CBS All Access and SHOWTIME for just $9.99 per month following a 7-day free trial. When subscribed to separately, these two channels together would cost $20.98 per month, making this a substantial offer.

Apple’s press release highlights some of the features that make channel subscriptions appealing:

By subscribing through Apple TV channels, customers can watch content from all three services online and offline, ad-free and on demand, only on the Apple TV app. Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share the subscriptions to Apple TV+, CBS All Access, and SHOWTIME using just their personal Apple ID and password.

As someone who has used Apple’s TV app heavily for years, I’ve written before about how much value I find in the channels experience, and how disappointed I am that Apple hasn’t been able to strike more deals for additional channels partners. When Apple TV channels first launched in early 2019, HBO was the most prestigious channel available, but when that service transitioned to become HBO Max, there was no longer a channel option available for Apple users. New streaming services like Disney+ and Peacock haven’t been made available as channels either. So Apple has built a solid TV experience for the streaming age, but it’s not available for the services people care about most. I’m not particularly hopeful that today’s bundle news will change that at all, but it’s good to at least see a little life from the company’s channels initiative.