The New Apple TV: First Impressions from Around the Web

The New Apple TV: First Impressions from Around the Web

In addition to new iPhones, and a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Apple also unveiled a new Apple TV set top box at Wednesday’s big media event. A few lucky members of the media were able to get some hands-on time with the new set top streamer, and here’s what they had to say.

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The Verge:

Using the remote itself feels pretty frenetic, actually — the touchpad is pretty fast, and there’s no pointer on the screen so you’re just swiping between different active app icons. Once you’re locked on an icon, it wobbles 1:1 with your thumb on the touchpad, which is how you know you’re about to jump to the next icon — the current icon tilts all the way to one direction, and then it leaps over with a tiny amount of inertial scrolling as you go through a list. It’s really cool, but it’s definitely different and will certainly take a tiny amount of getting used to.

Apart from that, the interface is pretty similar to the old interface, just cleaned up and with a white background instead of the black background on the current model. Most apps have been updated for what Apple is now calling “tvOS,” and while nothing is radically new, everything feels a little cleaner and lighter. It’s a welcome change from the claustrophobic previous interface.

SlashGear:

Proportionally, the taller box with the same footprint as the old model isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing, but then again this is something intended to be hidden away under the TV, not placed on an illuminated plinth as in Apple’s demo area.

What you do engage with is the new remote control. It feels more like a mashup of a 1st-gen iPod nano and a MacBook trackpad, with the touch surface for navigation being very sensitive: at first, I skittered through the revamped interface, the icons tilting and bobbing as I went.

[…]

What’s clever – and differentiates this Apple TV from voice search on the Amazon Fire TV, for instance – is how Siri understands more complex searches. You can start out by asking for comedies, for instance, and then drill down by asking for just the family-friendly ones.

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Variety:

Apple TV is based on pretty powerful hardware, and that shows when you navigate the device’s home screen. Scrolling through apps with the remote control’s touchpad is fast and fluid, app icons are 3D-animated, and the interface looks a lot lighter than that of the previous-generation Apple TV.

[…]

Using voice to control Apple TV worked fairly well during my brief hands-on test, which says something: My German accent tends to throw off voice recognition systems, but Siri had no problems searching for foreign comedies when asked to do so.

[…]

Siri also stumbled when asked to show TV shows from ABC, something an Apple employee attributed to the fact that the demo was optimized for movies. Also notable: Siri wasn’t actually that smart about connecting the dots. Follow-up questions have to start with certain keywords, otherwise Siri thinks it’s a new question. Launching an app or game requires users to use the word “open,” and not “go to.” And the MLB app wouldn’t open, just because I said “Open MLB.tv,” not “Open At Bat.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday that no one had changed the TV experience – and the new Apple TV doesn’t really change it either.

The Boston Herald:

I had just a few minutes to actually try the device myself, and Apple deliberately didn’t show off some features, but I still got some first impressions about Apple TV’s strengths, and its potential weaknesses.

[…]

Siri even offers some limited functionality while a movie is playing, and is for example able to fast forward any amount of time, or rewind a few seconds and display subtitles when asked “what did he just say?” However, so far, most of that functionality is restricted to iTunes Movies, and not available within apps like HBO Now.

Siri also stumbled when asked to show TV shows from ABC, something an Apple employee attributed to the fact that the demo was optimized for movies. Also notable: Siri wasn’t actually that smart about connecting the dots. Follow-up questions have to start with certain keywords, otherwise Siri thinks it’s a new question. Launching an app or game requires users to use the word “open,” and not “go to.” And the MLB app wouldn’t open, just because I said “Open MLB.tv,” not “Open At Bat.”

The new Apple TV will hit shelves in late October, priced at $149 for a 32GB model and $199 for a 64GB box. In addition to video and music features, the new box will also boast some impressive gaming abilities, and SteelSeries has announced the first Apple TV-compatible gaming controller.

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