5 things I’ve said to myself since I got the new Apple TV

Apple TV unboxedI’ve only conducted 2 unboxing photo shoots in my technological life – Google Glass and the new Apple TV. I assume the inclination to take progressive photos as one opens a new toy says something about one’s level of excitement regarding the potential of that product.

While Google Glass didn’t go so well in execution (at least in its first iteration), I am confident in saying that the new Apple TV is a noteworthy jump forward (but not quite a leap) in how we interact with and consume content via our televisions. I’ve been fiddling with my new toy off and on for the past 24 hours, improving my left/right remote swiping accuracy and find myself commenting out loud with feedback and insights. Just like my unboxing snapshots, this ongoing commentary probably speaks to the potential of the technology, especially given that I’ve been alone and talking to myself the entire time.

Here are 5 of the most blog-worthy comments I’ve made to myself regarding the performance and potential of the new Apple TV.


While this isn’t a true review of the new Apple TV, my overall impression is … IT’S AWESOME! Back to the comments …


 

“Damn! This box is FAST!”

Apple TV InterfaceI had a 2nd generation Apple TV (2010) that I leaned on for access to all of my streaming services, especially Netflix and NHL GameCenter Live. Not only had buffering times started to extend considerably, but the box was failing to remember my account information, forcing me to type my credentials every time I loaded an app. It was time for a new box.

The new (4th generation) Apple TV makes my old unit look plain pathetic in terms of performance. You can review spec details here, but I’ll sum it up with one word – IMMEDIATE. I’ve experienced almost zero buffering time when accessing apps and streaming content, including live sports and iTunes purchases. Of course, performance may vary based on wifi/bandwidth, but my device moves seamlessly between applications through the familiar, iOS-like interface (tvOS). This includes the carousel of open apps that retain your progress until specifically closed.


 

“Give me television shows on Netflix with Krysten Ritter. Ha ha! Yes!”

Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23Voice search is awesome! Voice searching through content from multiple apps/services simultaneously with awkwardly specific requests is double awesome! I happen to be re-watching ‘Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23’ (cancelled way too soon IMO), hence the comment above. Siri (who is seen but not heard) is extremely effective at voice recognition in this iteration and quickly serves up content options from a introductory set of core apps (iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, HBO) along with timely supporting info (ex: local weather forecasts). Even better, content just plays when selected from search results as opposed to dumping you into the app and forcing additional clicks.

I assume Apple will try to integrate centralized search into more applications and eliminate the need to blindly search through silos from various content providers. But so far, so good …


 

“I wonder where app developers will take this thing …”

Apple TV AppsWhile performance improvements and searchability are great, the most exciting part of the new Apple TV for me is what we don’t really know yet – what will 3rd party app developers do with it?

For now, the App Store includes mostly familiar apps available on previous device generations along with a starter set of paid games. As is true of every Apple device, the real utility will explode when the imagination and technical savvy of the app development community comes into play at scale. Apple has provided access to the television, which remains the centerpiece technology in most homes but has always been a “closed” system.

I’m excited to see where ridiculously smart people will take us and how I will be able to improve the utility of the same television I’ve been passively engaged with for the past 8 years. At very least, can I get some calendar integration so as to limit the productivity fail that often results from binge watching? 🙂


 

“It’s gonna be fun to watch cable providers and networks hold on for dear life.”

Cable ProvidersThe writing is on the wall, just as it was for record labels 15 years ago (thanks Napster). Unfortunate for consumers, TV content producers and service providers have a considerably stronger hold on their business model than did the music industry when iTunes showed up in 2001. We’ve already seen the opening salvos in this battle between consumer experience and revenue generation from on-demand providers like Netflix and Amazon. Now, TV technology, previously a joke when compared to evolutions in mobile devices and the accelerating IoT, is catching up to prevailing consumption behaviors and blazing a clearer path towards consumer-dictated fragmentation.

It’s decision time for the powers that be in the TV industry. Will they fight disruption by reinforcing their ownership mentality while making only the smallest required iterations in their business models to stay relevant (aka the Blockbuster approach)? Or, will they partner with disruptors to lead the change effort and establish new normals for content delivery and revenue generation that truly consider how consumers wish to engage with content? While it’s mostly looking like the former, we have begun to see proactive adjustments from a few major players, especially those who’s livelihoods are heavily reliant on the current model (ex: ESPN).

What will TV look like in 5 – 10 years, and who will lead the charge? Its anyone’s guess right now, but betting against Apple has proven unwise since the late 1990s. Just saying …


 

“TV tech could have considerable implications for at-home learning.”

CourseraThis is a blog focused on learning and performance after all. As a “learning geek,” I find it pretty much impossible for me to look at any new technology without considering the learning side of the equation. That said …

One of my first app downloads on the new Apple TV was Coursera, a somewhat surprising early entry. It’s a very limited app given the quick turn for the platform and existing course content structure. Their catalog can be searched, and you can register for available courses. From there, you can watch instructor videos on your TV. However, considerable portions of the existing course experience, including downloadable reading materials and discussion forums, don’t translate well to the TV experience. As I play with Coursera’s app (Intro to Python), I’m starting to wonder …

  • Should online education content providers (Coursera, edX, Khan Academy, online colleges, etc.) design more specifically for TV consumption?
  • Could a two-screen experience (tablet/phone/computer + TV) create a more engaging experience as it has recently for “interactive television viewing” (ex: The Walking Dead and Story Sync)?
  • Will consumers be open to using their TVs as a source for “learning/support content,” especially when mobile devices continue to dominate online consumption and provide a very personal experience?
  • Does the TV and its ability to create a shared viewing experience provide us with new opportunities for learning and performance improvement delivery – at home, school, and the workplace – that existing platforms can’t match?

Interesting new questions, especially given the open app ecosystem of the new Apple TV …


Are you getting the new Apple TV? Regardless, how do you think this product may impact the way we leverage the television for consuming/sharing content? Share your thoughts/insights below! 

5 things I’ve said to myself since I got the new Apple TV

by JD Dillon time to read: 5 min
0