Over the past few months, developers around the world learned how to design and develop apps and games for Apple TV directly from Apple experts. Now you can share in the experience by watching all the session videos from the Apple TV Tech Talks.
Good starting point for developers who are considering tvOS apps, and useful for
those who have already launched TV apps, too. You can watch the videos here.
We all love our Apple TVs, but nobody loves searching for apps and games on it. The Apple TV is a box with a tremendous amount of power, but it often feels like that power is locked behind a confusing and inaccessible app store.
This catalog aims to change that. AfterPad provides a web frontend for searching and browsing the Apple TV store, as well as curating the best of the best into an Editor's Choice section geared towards power users.
Terrific work by Kevin MacLeod at AfterPad. Until Apple comes up with a solution to link to tvOS apps and browse its App Store on the web, the Apple TV App Catalog will be useful to look up app details, prices, and screenshots.
Like many others, I've developed a habit of binge-browsing YouTube videos and spending a few hours each week on YouTube channels that match my interests. Whether they're Let's Plays, music videos, educational stuff, documentaries, or interviews, the variety of content on YouTube provides a constant source of information and entertainment that I find superior to traditional television – or at least more engaging for me.
I haven't been watching much YouTube on my new Apple TV, though, because I don't like searching and browsing with the Siri Remote or Remote app; I'd rather use the YouTube app on my iPhone and beam videos to my Chromecast if I find something I want to watch on the big screen. Perhaps dictation will speed up the search process in tvOS 9.2.
TechTube, released earlier this week, is a new tvOS app that brings a curated stream of YouTube videos to the Apple TV with a minimal UI optimized for binge-watching. Once you open TechTube, you're presented with a swipeable gallery of videos; swipe left, and the thumbnail preview starts playing without having to open the video in full screen; if you're interested, swipe again, go to the next video, and so forth. Titles are displayed at the top of each preview and there are basic controls once you've opened a video in full screen, but that's about it. There's no complexity involved – you can't subscribe to channels, search, or add videos to playlists. TechTube is a lean-back experience created to open the app a couple of times each day, see what's new, and watch some videos from the selection of available picks.
And that's the aspect of TechTube I like: I don't have to find videos to watch. I can just open the app whenever I'm bored and relax for a bit with videos I wouldn't normally seek out. The team behind TechTube wants to pick videos for "techies, nerds, gadget lovers, and thinkers" on a daily basis, and, so far, the app offers an interesting mix of typical tech content (roundups, gadgets, what's new in software updates, hands-on, etc.) as well as educational videos and interviews. Scrolling through videos is fun; I don't have to think about browsing my YouTube subscriptions; and the app is a good showcase of tvOS and simple interactions with the Siri Remote.
I wouldn't mind having an iOS version of TechTube for those times when I want to sit down with my iPad and take my brain off work for a few minutes. TechTube is available for free on the tvOS App Store.
It's still the very early days for tvOS and the App Store on the new Apple TV, but we're starting to see some really neat apps for the new platform. Some of my early favorites (aside from the obvious content-delivery apps like Netflix and HBO Now) include Plex, VLC, GIFtv, and now Remote Buddy Display.
Remote Buddy Display is an app that enables you to wirelessly mirror your Mac onto your TV. What differentiates it from AirPlay Mirroring, built into OS X, is that you can also control your Mac, using just the Apple TV's Siri Remote. Provided you have installed Remote Buddy onto your Mac, you can take control of your Mac via your Apple TV simply by launching the Remote Buddy Display app on your Apple TV.
VLC is now available for the Apple TV. Just like every other version of VLC, the Apple TV version aims to play video files and streams in "their native formats without conversions". Felix Kühne, lead iOS developer for VLC, writes on his blog:
Today, we are proud to announce VLC on the Apple TV. It’s a full port of VLC media player combined with platform speciﬁc features.
VLC for Apple TV integrates with a plethora of devices and services on your local network and includes a custom way of casting ﬁles directly to the TV from your other computers using a web browser!
I was able to test the VLC Apple TV app for a few hours earlier today, and whilst it is early days yet, I am pretty impressed at what the VLC team has been able to accomplish. Jump the break for all the details and screenshots.
You can get VLC by searching for it on the Apple TV App Store.
With the new Apple TV tvOS 9.2 beta, Apple has added a whole host of new features to the tvOS platform. This includes support for pairing Bluetooth keyboards, Folders organisation for apps on the home screen, a new App Switcher UI and a native Apple Podcasts app.
There are also some enhancements to Siri and other improvements. Apple has added support for two new Siri languages: US Spanish and French Canadian.
There was a ton of work left to do in the first tvOS – and I'd argue that the software shouldn't have shipped without Remote app support – but it looks like Apple is catching up quickly.
Right now there are two notable emulation projects targeting tvOS. One is a distant relative of the MAME arcade emulator, though it doesn’t seem as though it’s being maintained. Another, Provenance, is the one we’ll be spending the most time with. It’s a multi-system emulator that supports most major 8- and 16-bit consoles, including the NES, SNES, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Game Boy, and Game Boy Advance.
That's basically it for now, but more consoles could show up in the future. Provenance is already heavily based on open source code from OpenEmu and other projects, so anyone with a little patience could port other emulators without much extra work.
The long awaited Apple TV App Store opened about a month ago, and since we happen to be into apps that got us pretty excited. We started tracking the new store when it had just opened in late October, and have been keeping a close watch on its progress for a little over a month now. Armed with a database full of apps we set out to share some of the things we’re seeing.
These are some fascinating stats – I wasn't expecting Education apps to be high in the list and, given Apple's promotion during the Apple TV introduction, I imagined we'd see more Shopping apps.
“When we first announced the iPhone, we didn’t tout it as a gaming device. But games became a huge part of iPhone, because it turns out that a lot more people than just hardcore gamers love games. We expanded the market. I think the vast majority of people around the world probably aren’t looking to buy an Xbox or PlayStation. But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy playing games. I think Apple TV expands the gaming market to those people.”
Cue goes on to say that “hardcore gaming isn’t exactly the ecosystem we’re after with Apple TV", adding that, however, hardcore games will be released on it in the future. Essentially, Cue's pitch is reminiscent of Nintendo's goal with the Wii in 2006 – to expand the gaming market to people who don't want to buy a console but would be comfortable with casual games on a TV. Only this time, Apple has an existing multi-billion iOS ecosystem backing the efforts of developers approaching the TV App Store.
Also from the interview, Cue revealed that the full functionality of the Siri Remote will be available in a new iPhone app next year:
"We’re working on a new Apple TV remote app that will give you the full functionality of the Siri Remote on your iPhone," Cue said. "We’re hoping to ship that in the first half of next year."
Yesterday's tvOS update restored support with Apple's existing Remote app for iOS, but it sounds like Apple has bigger plans that involve full Siri integration on the iPhone, too. I wonder if this app will also unlock deeper multiplayer features for gaming – with the "full functionality of the Siri Remote" on an iPhone, will multiple users be able to use their iPhones as controllers for games?