I switched to Apple TV 4K a few months back. Over that time, I have transitioned to watching more and more content on it. One app, though, has now made it perfect for me!
It was time for change
Firstly, apologies, as this blog may end up being a little UK-centric. That to one side, though, there may still be some relevant content, regardless of where you read this. And that is, push your content provider hard!
In the UK, one of the most convenient ways to get as many channels as possible to view, is via a broadcaster named Sky. I have been with them for over 20 years at this point. Their service is not bad, to be honest. It’s wide-ranging, and comprehensive. Many of their original documentaries are well produced, and they spent a ton of money on gaining sole rights to major sports events. Football, cricket, snooker, tennis, and Formula 1 are all well catered for. And, crucially, they give you access to live TV as well, including mainstays of our nation such as the BBC channels.
They offer multi-room and iOS mobile viewing with their Sky Go app, and also an Ultra HD option. Admittedly, all these options come at a cost, but the services are there if you want them.
Like many, as the cost of living soars, I have been looking at outgoings, and focused heavily, for a time, on my Sky subscription. With a little delving around, it, turned out, I could find all the content I wanted, via stand-alone apps. Eurosport, Discovery +, and NowTV (oddly a subsidiary of Sky) were all options. No long-term, 18 month contracts, and all very affordable. I did my sums, then haggled hard with Sky.
After a few, long, protracted calls, it seemed they really wanted me to stay, and I got the deal of a lifetime. I managed to get everything, including Ultra HD, for less than the apps I had been looking at.
That was the first part of the jigsaw complete.
It’s about the quality though
Ok, so I had the choices I wanted now, but I had also recently bought the Apple TV 4K box too.
Every time I watched content through Apple TV, it somehow beat the Sky box in terms of picture quality. The 4K box I have is running the A12 Bionic chip, which makes using it superfast. In itself, it is a simple, no fuss box to look at. Standing a mere 35mm high, you barely notice it once installed. There are only 3 ports too – the power supply, HDMI and a gigabit ethernet connection (although my is connected via 802.11 Wi-Fi 6). Streaming, has never proved a problem for me. I have reasonable speeds of 80Mbps down, which, has proven more than good enough.
The latest remote is a joy! I had one of the originals, and it is just an awful user experience. This iteration is a different story, though. Much like the recent MacBooks, Apple listened, and gave us the remote we wanted. It’s chunkier, and uses, simple circular gestures to fast-remind and search. It has a click to browse feature and swiping gestures as well. Siri is probably at its best on this device, and more often than not, will find the programmes I am searching for. Another remote related feature I love is the fact that your iPhone will detect when you are searching for something, and will offer to act as remote…with its much quicker typing functionality. A brilliant touch!
There are some typical Apple-esque features when setting your box up for the first time. In the settings menu, you can perfectly balance the colour of your TV, to get the verybest picture quality from your 4K Apple TV box. And, there is also a way to guarantee perfect audio sync as well. As I said…all very Apple. It’s why we love them, right?
Speaking of audio, that is also better. Apple TV 4K is both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos enabled. I have been using my AirPod Pro with Apple TV 4K, and it is just the most immersive experience. You can even share audio with someone else in the room via their AirPods (if suitable). Spatial Audio, SharePlay, and the option to access your Apple Music library, all go to make this box a stellar buy.
Their streaming platform is also one of the most affordable out there. So intent are Apple on breaking in to this market, that the fee of £4.99/month, for the content, is ridiculously good value.
Add to all that 4K High Frame Rate HDR, and this is, undoubtedly, the best viewing experience I have had at home. But…there was a missing piece to the puzzle…live TV. Until last weekend that is!
I became a beta tester!
I had heard that Sky Go, the mobile viewing app, was coming to Apple TV. Sure enough, it is! Currently, only beta, but it is coming as a full release, for sure.
I applied to Sky to join the beta programme. You have to go through a few rounds of emails, form filling and NDA’s, but once all that is sorted, they send you over the log-ins for the app.
I already had the TestFlight beta app installed (I used it recently for FilmicPro). Add the app to your TV, done via Siri actually, and the Sky Go app then appears on your home screen on Apple TV with your other apps such as Netflix and YouTube.
So far, even though it is only in beta, I have been delighted with it. The interface is occasionally a little ‘laggy’, and once or twice, I have had to reload the app as it could not work out what day I was viewing. But those tiny drawbacks aside, it has been a great addition to my Apple TV 4K.
Last weekend I watched the entire coverage of the Grand Prix on it, and yesterday watched one of the most thrilling days of cricket I have ever seen! All live, 4K and colour calibrated to my panel. Live TV will be coming to Apple TV later this year, via Sky Go. You won’t have to suffer the reportedly awful NowTV interface, either. Nope, it will be Sky Go, just as you already know it.
If this story sounds familiar, then good! For those of us surrounded by Apple devices and firmly have both feet in the Apple ecosystem, using Apple TV 4K just makes sense. Yes, you’ll need a Sky subscription, but trust me, they want your business! Haggle hard. Be totally prepared to leave if you don’t get your way. Once they know you have done your homework, and are ready to walk, you’ll be amazed at what deals are out there.
All the Sky channels I want, but without having to leave the refinement and quality of Apple TV.
Now that is a chef’s kiss moment!
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