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Apple TV 2015 launched with the app store we’ve always wanted

David Ludlow
9 Sep 2015
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Apple finally updates its Apple TV product, adding in an app store, but there's no 4K support

The last Apple TV is, hands-down, one of the best media streamers I’ve ever used, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth and it’s locked down to the pre-installed apps that Apple has chosen for it. Finally, we have the replacement we’ve been waiting for with the 2015 edition of the Apple TV.

While the box may look similar to the existing one, the new model runs a brand-new operating system, tvOS. When the box powers on, the interface looks familiar to the existing Apple TV’s, but it’s a little brighter and a little cleaner. I’m pleased that Apple hasn’t changed this part of the interface too much, as the product’s simplicity is one of the main reasons that I’m a big fan of it.

Apple TV 2015 new interface

A new remote

How you interact with the Apple TV has changed massively thanks to the brand-new remote control. Rather than the control dial, rather like an old iPod, that the existing product has, the new Apple TV has a touchpad. This should make it easier to swipe to fast-forward and rewind through content. The remote uses Bluetooth 4.0 and has an integrated battery that lasts around three months. Cleverly, it's charged via its Lightning port on the bottom.

Apple TV 2015 remote

Siri

The real change comes from the remote’s microphone and Apple TV’s Siri integration, so you can now launch apps and control playback using your voice. Navigating content, you can use your voice for natural language interaction. For example, the demo showed how telling Siri that you missed something will get the Apple TV to jump back 15 seconds and turn on subtitles when you’re watching a film.

Siri really comes into its own when you want to search for content, as you can ask it simple things, such as showing you top action films, or James Bond films. You can even filter further by saying that you only want Bond films starring Sean Connery. Siri doesn’t just search the iTunes store but  searches across multiple apps to tell you where your content is. It will search iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime, with the latter three only available in the US. However, Apple has said that it will integrate more services in the future. It certainly looks quicker than typing using the on-screen keyboard.

Siri can also be used while you're watching other content. On-stage, Apple demonstrated how Siri could display sports results or the latest weather report in a pop-up box that slides up from the bottom of the image so that you don't completely obscure the film.

App Store

Finally, there’s an app store: something that Apple TV has been crying out for. It means that you’re not limited to the apps that Apple choose for you and will let the Apple TV expand its capabilities. In the app store, you’ll find games, such as Guitar Hero. Motion control via the new remote gives you Wii-style control over the on-screen action, which could make it a winner for casual gamers.

The app store contains more standard apps that you’d expect to find on your iPhone, too, such as Airbnb. I’m sure that it will also mean that you’ll be able to expand the capabilities of the Apple TV, with catch-up TV services and media streaming apps likely to make a debut. Given Apple’s clout, I’m sure that the apps store will be way better stocked than with the similar Android-based Nexus Player or the popular Roku 3.

Hardware

The new Apple TV is just 10mm taller than the current product, but more powerful with a 64-bit A8 chip, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Ethernet on the back for anyone that wants a wired connection. It, as widely expected, only outputs Full HD (1,920x1,080) video and the Apple TV doesn't support Ultra HD yet. I'm not that surprised, given the bandwidth requirements of Ultra HD or storage needs if you download shows. Still, it would have been nice to see Apple take the lead and push Ultra HD.

Apple TV 2015 specs

Release date and price

The new Apple TV is out in October in the UK. It will sell for $149 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model, while the existing Apple TV will remain on sale. I'll bring you UK pricing when it's available.

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