Apple TV is cool, but not groundbreaking

Apple's Eddie Cue takes the stage to discuss Apple TV.

Apple's Eddie Cue takes the stage to discuss Apple TV.

Apple has long spoken about the need to change the way we watch television.

Rumours of an Apple TV has been brewing since co-founder Steve Jobs revealed his hopes to his biographer several years ago.

This was followed up by a comment from Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue who said the state of television "sucks".

While many people hoped to get a physical television, the company is sticking with its Apple TV device and focusing on apps.

Apple released its revamped device today and it has three main features: voice-activated search, games and new apps.

The company didn't show off the device's 4K capability but it says it can push out content at that higher resolution, though you still need a compatible television. It doesn't list 4K in the specifications and there is still some discussion around it.

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Hipster Whale's Andy Sum demonstrates Crossy Road on the Apple TV.

Hipster Whale's Andy Sum demonstrates Crossy Road on the Apple TV.

The games look the most interesting feature.

The company did a demonstration of someone playing Crossy Road and it looked so good I wanted to jump up on stage and take the controller so I could have a go.

The games are controlled by using your remote (additional users can use their iPhone or iPad) and have a distinctive Wii flavour about them.

Mobile games are huge business and opening up Apple TV to developers could prove to be a winning formula for the company.

Apple spent most of its time showing off how Siri, its digital assistant, will work with Apple TV. Unfortunately, this feature won't be available in New Zealand.

In theory, it looked good. In real life, I'm not so sure. Siri doesn't have the best track record yet so I'd expect some funny results and lounges aren't typically the quietest of rooms which may cause confusion.

However, anything has to be better than painfully typing in search requests so hopefully this will be better.

It is also promising a better user interface, though that's not as urgent as it used to be with Samsung and LG in particular now having very televisions.

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Another cool feature it demonstrated was live streaming sport. The Major League Baseball app could be used to watch live sport, highlights and browse news. It looked great but this app won't be available to Kiwis and I doubt it will come any time soon for our favourite sports.

For Kiwis, there are limited useful apps available for watching television. The US has Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime, while we'll only have a New Zealand version of the first one.

However, if Lightbox and Neon come aboard it makes it a more compelling product. And if the ondemand apps from TVNZ, TV3 and Sky TV were on there then it could find itself in more Kiwi homes.

For now, it'll just be a device to watch Netflix, listen to Apple Music and play games.

The device goes on sale in October and should be in New Zealand by the end of the year. No local prices are available yet.

32GB: US$149
64GB: US$199

* An earlier version of this story said the new Apple TV didn't have 4K capability. 

 - Stuff


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