Most of my time on the new Apple TV (probably around 90%) revolves around watching video (a combination of Plex, Netflix, Stan, iTunes or ABC iView). The final 10% is games and novelty apps like the hilarious GIFtv. The latest novelty app to catch my eye is Avian – a Twitter client.
But Avian is not a Twitter client like Tweetbot – that would be impractical for the Apple TV. Instead, Avian displays one tweet at a time, and literally places it on a map of the earth. You might be reading a tweet from the heart of New York City, and then Avian will surface a tweet from a user in Brazil, China, or New Zealand. As you transition from tweet to tweet, Avian zooms in and out, and rotates the map to the location of the tweet.
Last week, equinux, the maker of Live TV, an Apple TV app for streaming live German television, noticed something strange. Live TV, which was featured on the German Apple TV App Store and ranked among the top free Apple TV apps in Germany, seemed to disappear from the store shortly after an update to the app was launched.
In turns out, Apple now hides an app in the charts once you’ve installed it. Give it a try: Go install TV Pro Mediathek (VOD for German TV content) from the App Store (currently #3 Top Grossing in Germany) and then go back in to the App Store: boom – it’s gone from the charts and the next-placed app has moved up.
We have confirmed that the same phenomenon occurs in the US Apple TV App Store using the AMC television network’s Apple TV app. If you download the AMC app, which is currently featured and ranked among the top free apps in the US, and then force quit the store by double clicking the Home button on the Siri Remote and swiping up on the App Store app, the next time you launch the App Store, AMC will no longer be on the Featured page or on the top free app chart.
This is an interesting experiment. Screen real estate is at a premium on the Apple TV App Store. By eliminating apps that a customer has already downloaded, Apple is able to present customers with more new apps. The change does mean, however, that the charts are not true top charts, but instead, top charts of apps someone hasn’t already downloaded.
This change makes a lot of sense, especially on Apple TV. In my own experience, I am less likely to browse deep into the Apple TV App Store than I am on iOS App Store or Mac App Store. By limiting the Featured page and charts to apps that are new to me, it’s easier to discover new apps without paging past the ones I already downloaded.
When my family gets together, we like to play games. One game has been a mainstay of our gatherings for the last four years: SketchParty TV.
SketchParty TV is a multiplayer game similar to Pictionary which uses an iOS device as the marker and your Apple TV-connected television as the drawing board. If you have a 2nd or 3rd-gen Apple TV, you can use the iOS version with AirPlay Mirroring. For 4th-gen Apple TV owners, there's a native Apple TV app that connects to the iOS version.
The 4.0 update to SketchParty TV is a big one, with a visual overhaul for iOS 9+, a redesigned canvas, updated scoring system with speed-based rewards, and full support for the Apple Pencil on iPad Pro devices.
The Team Setup interface was always usable, but it got a lot of special attention in this update. In addition to improved word list settings, entry of team members is easier and now you can drag to reorder and even switch between teams.
If you own a compatible iOS device and a 2nd-gen or higher Apple TV, SketchParty is an excellent game for friends and family gatherings. Right now it's on sale, too, for $5.99 (normally $9.99). Check it out in the iTunes App Store.
Apple has begun rolling out web links and iTunes web previews for Apple TV apps. The change, first noticed by Jeff Scott and which we were able to confirm via Safari on OS X, allows users to link to tvOS apps in a web browser, which will show an iTunes Preview with screenshots, app description, and other information.
MacRumors is reporting that a new feature is beginning to show up on the latest generation Apple TV called Live Tune-In. The feature, described on an Apple TV splash screen, lets you use the Siri Remote to access live streamed media available in certain Apple TV apps. According to MacRumors:
To use Live Tune-In, Apple TV users can speak into the Siri Remote using commands like "Watch CBS," or specifically ask to "Watch ESPN live."
Little by little, the Siri Remote is becoming a more powerful tool for quickly navigating Apple TV apps in a way that is not unlike the evolution we have seen with Siri on iOS.
Actor Michael B. Jordan and NBA legend Kobe Bryant star in a new Apple TV commercial called 'Father Time' that highlights the Apple TV's Siri integration. Bryant who announced his retirement at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, sits down on a couch with Jordan and says "Siri, open the NBA app." The app opens and the two begin watching footage of Bryant's early career. Bryant explains to Jordan, "That's the guy you're playing in this movie, a cold blooded assassin."
Jordan clearly has something different in mind. He grabs the remote and asks Siri to play The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and then to fast forward to 20:36 where he pauses the movie on an image of Brad Pitt as an old man and says "Now that's the guy I'm playing in this movie", at which point Bryant kicks Jordan out. The minute-long advertisement is funny and cleverly manages to incorporate both sports and movie content on the Apple TV, while also demoing some of the core Siri features on the Apple TV.
According to BusinessWire, Starz launched a new streaming service today that is available on iOS devices and Apple TV. The service is noteworthy because like HBO NOW, it is a standalone offering that does not require a cable subscription, though existing cable subscribers can use the service too. The Hollywood Reporter adds that on iOS:
The app allows up to four users to watch simultaneously and offers virtually unlimited downloads, a first for a premium cable channel app. Existing Starz subscribers can authenticate and view Starz programming through the app as well.
On Apple TV, Starz supports universal search with the Siri Remote.
Starz features more than 2400 items each month, including original series like Outlander, and movies from Disney and Sony, which will include Star Wars: The Force Awakens later this year. A Starz streaming subscription costs $8.99 per month.
Apple aired a new Apple TV commercial today starring Alison Brie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to highlight the Siri capabilities and Apple Music integration of the device.
In the ad, Brie and Coster-Waldau are practicing a kiss scene behind the scenes of a movie set by watching some sample footage on the new Apple TV. Both actors control video playback through the Siri remote, which can be used to scrub through video just by talking to it. After asking Siri to "find Game of Thrones", the Siri remote is then used to play Jeremih from Apple Music.
The ad follows a string of short Apple TV commercials focused on quick app and game highlights. Earlier this week, Apple released tvOS 9.2 with improved Siri features, the ability to organize apps in folders, and more.
You can watch the ad below.
Apple has today released tvOS 9.2 for the fourth-generation Apple TV which was released in late 2015. Like iOS 9.3, tvOS 9.2 is more than just a minor point release with bug fixes – it also comes with a few new features which make notable improvements to the product. The headline new features in tvOS 9.2 include support for Bluetooth keyboards, the ability to use Siri dictation to fill out text fields, folders for apps, and support for Live Photos.
For the past week I've been running a developer build of tvOS 9.2, and below I've outlined the changes, big and small, that this release brings.
How to Update Your Apple TV
If your Apple TV has not automatically prompted you to upgrade to tvOS 9.2, you can also request an update manually. Simply go to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software.