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.
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.
Unlike the Apple Events channel on older Apple TVs, which automatically appeared on the Apple TV on the day of the event, fourth-generation Apple TV owners will have to manually download the Apple Events app from the App Store.
Apple has previously announced that the keynote will also be live streamed on its website if you use Safari on iOS or OS X, or the Microsoft Edge browser on a PC. Apple has also stated that the second and third generation Apple TV will also be able to stream the keynote. Although the Apple Events channel is not yet available on those older Apple TVs, in previous years it has appeared on the Apple TV a few hours prior to the keynote.
More screenshots of the Apple Events app for the fourth-generation Apple TV are embedded below.
Following yesterday's release of the Apple TV Tech Talks videos, I came across this project by Aaron Stephenson that lets you watch WWDC sessions and Tech Talks on the Apple TV itself. You'll need Xcode to install it, but, if you're a developer, it's a good way to watch videos on the big screen and take notes/try code on a Mac – WWDC sessions go back to 2011 and you can mark videos as favorites, too.
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.