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Are Apps The Future of TV?

“The future of TV is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook as he launched the fourth-generation Apple TV. But are we set to transform the way we consume and connect with television? We examine the latest Apple TV and its new App Store to find out.

During the much-anticipated September Keynote event, Apple showcased a host of revamped devices, including the iPhone 6S and an iPad Pro with a swanky smart keyboard accessory (A.K.A. Apple’s version of the Microsoft Surface Pro). But the show-stealing product was the fourth-generation Apple TV and the vision bestowed upon the new set-top box.

“It’s the golden age of television,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps.”

To me, the word ‘provocative’ sticks out here. Will having a TV App Store challenge the channel-browsing habits that have defined the television experience for decades?

Short answer: Yes. Slightly longer answer: Yes – And it’s about time!

In 2007, the first generation Apple TV was released. A year later, the iPhone App Store was launched with only 500 apps. That number has grown to well over a million apps in just seven years.

Now that Apple TV will finally have an App Store, it’s where the iPhone was back in 2008: open to third-party apps.

The App Store has changed the world by encouraging app developers to create mobile experiences that transcended industry, entrepreneurship and international distribution boundaries. Will allowing developers to create apps for the Apple TV lead to a similar revolution in the channel-browsing experience?

To assess this question in detail, we have examined the latest Apple TV set-top box and its new App Store to find out if apps are set to transform the way we consume content and interact with television.

 

The New App Store

The long-awaited overhaul to Apple TV is centred on Apple’s vision that apps are the future of television. The biggest new feature of the Apple TV is its new App Store.

In conjunction with the launch of the tvOS Operating System, the newly built-in App Store allows Apple and third-party developers to expand Apple TV’s software ecosystem and widen its core functionality.

“When you experience TV in this way through an app, you realise how much better it can be. You can search for what you want, you can interact with it where and when you want.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Apple TV Remote

Source: VentureBeat

As Chris Welch from The Verge notes, this is the next step in Apple’s attempt to own the living room. It arrives ahead of Apple’s own TV subscription service, expected to come sometime in the next year.

To achieve such an objective, you can understand why Apple has taken the same route that allowed them to capture the smartphone experience. The App Store for TV is almost identical to its iPhone equivalent. There are top charts and a single purchase of an app means you can install it across all your Apple devices. Apps even have continuity among devices that allows you to buy an app on your Apple TV and run it on your iPhone.

Apple launched the new App Store for TV by referring to it as “the golden age of television”. This may be a ‘provocative’ vision, but it’s unlikely to prove as disruptive to the TV industry as the iPod and iTunes proved to be to the music industry. When you consider the strikingly similar launch of the revolutionary iPhone App Store over seven years ago, Apple could just as easily referred to the new App Store for TV as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

 

The New Siri Remote

The new Apple TV provides a ‘hands-on’ approach to interacting with television using Siri, Apple’s personal assistant technology. The new Siri touch remote allows viewers to shop, listen to music, and search using vague descriptions. E.g. ‘best movies from the ‘90s’ will see Siri searching in the box before displaying all the results.

Apple TV and Remote

Source: Daily Star

As seen above, the top of the remote features a touch surface for easier navigation. It maintains the simplicity accustomed to Apple products with just a few buttons — Menu, Airplay, Siri/Voice control, play/pause, and an option to adjust the volume. And to top it off, as you watch shows and movies, Siri can also provide current weather conditions or keep you updated on sports scores.

 

The New Gaming Platform

With new features, it is the remote’s game controller functionality that will change the way we interact with our TVs. The new tvOS Operating System means that game developers can new create gaming experiences that feature touch surface navigation and voice command functionality.

Apple has made games a primary selling point of its new Apple TV product. This is not surprising when many of the components necessary for an innovative game experience will come with the device. This includes the new Siri remote and an App Store to buy and download games. Furthermore, Apple already had unexpected success with Games being the top category of apps for both iPhone and iPad.

“I think Apple’s going to create a big new category in gaming, one that others have tried and failed to create before,” said Jan Dawson from technology research firm Jackdaw Research. “What the Apple TV has the potential to do is to bring casual gaming to the living room and make it a much more social activity.”

 

So what is the future of TV? Stay tuned…

The launch of the fourth-generation Apple TV could bring an innovative change to content consumption and interaction.

The App Store will allow developers to change what we can expect from the television experience. The Siri Remote will allow users to change how to navigate and interact with their big screen. The Gaming Platform will allow Apple to change casual gaming by bringing it to the living room TV.

These innovative changes are the future of Apple TV, but that doesn’t mean that apps are the future of TV.

The future of TV is the right kind of apps. Streaming apps likes Netflix and casual games like Crossy Road make sense as apps for TV. But would browsing Social Media or shopping on your TV provide a better user experience than your iPhone or computer? I don’t think so.

Note to the future of TV: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Do you think apps are the future of TV? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.