David Lewis Talking Tech & Audio
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Apple TV – an overlooked gem

It sits there unnoticed yet in my home it’s quite the hero…

Apple TV Originals and the cast of The Morning Show

WWDC is all about software – all the new OS are trotted out there, yet one consistently gets binned off. And as we get ready for this year’s developers conference, what are the chances that Apple tvOS and the TV app once again get overlooked?

Apple has invested heavily in Apple Originals since its 2019 launch – and it shows. The amount of high-quality original content available is stunning. Blackbird, Hijack, Bad Sisters, Sugar, The Morning Show and Shrinking are just some of the Apple TV originals that come to mind and are all series that I’ve watched and loved.

You now even get the option of watching Apple Original movies at home whilst they are still being run at theatres. History tells us when Apple gets serious about something they normally get what they want and succeed.

Apple TV is all I need

I’ve made a mistake recently…I signed up for another 18 months of Sky TV (a subscription-based satellite TV provider in the UK) at £50 a month but realised over the past weekend that I can’t remember the last time I turned it on and used it.

The reason for that is simple – Apple TV!

In my home, Apple TV is the go-to TV streaming service. Not only does it give me access to those originals I just mentioned but it also means I can also view virtually any channel through it – the BBC and YouTube for example. – which means that I can watch pretty much anything I want through my Apple TV box.

As much as I love it and would miss not having it there are a couple of areas where it could be improved – and that is in its OS. Whilst iOS 18 is taking all the glory and is due to have a massive overhaul this summer, tvOS sits there getting short shrift and overlooked.

Missing a trick

Apple is missing out – they are on to something pretty special with their TV service and with just a few minor tweaks to the UI it could be even better.

Last December Apple made an update to Apple TV and there were some general housekeeping improvements – namely the customisable tabs you get to choose from which makes it far more user-friendly and familiar.

The Search feature works pretty well with Siri but there is more to it than that. Scrolling down lets you search with some handy genres – like movies by particular directors and even franchises such as Marvel & Star Wars. One other useful feature though is you can add apps to the tab list for your favourites.

The Home tab though is a bit cheeky. This 4K box doesn’t come cheap costing up to £170 and for the first row on the home page to be locked to the Apple chart feels a little as if it’s being rammed down my throat – that ought to be customisable. This theme runs through Apple TV with their content always being pushed first. It will even remind me to watch movies or series that I’ve marked as viewed – they just need to reign it back a little if you ask me.

The splash page you land on with the icons for all your apps and services looks a bit dated and clunky reminding me of very early iPhones. The ability to add some widgets would be handy maybe to make that page feel a little more personal. That page is the most in need of a refresh.

The elephant in the room

Apple and Netflix are not friends – and you can tell. Yes, you can add Netflix to your apps on that splash page I mentioned, but there is no app available so that you can add it to your tabs for quick and convenient access. Also, it means it won’t suggest any Netflix content almost as if Apple are trying to ignore it exists.

Apple doesn’t want to stump up the cash I’m sure – but they can afford pretty much any price, and if they want this to be the only TV experience you need then they need to put their pride to one side and get a native Netflix app sorted.

Another tab I’d love to see is a live TV app to add to my favourites. Yes, yes I know we live in a streaming age but there is still some decent live TV out there and it would be great if Apple TV could make it easier to access and find.

Speaking of live TV – Apple is leaning more and more into sports with both soccer and baseball having tabs already. You can only assume that they have their eye on delivering more sports content so being able to pick out live games easily would be getting ahead of the curve. With the MLB app, you can choose to have a multi-screen view, which is where having the A15 Bionic chip at its heart comes into play. Hopefully multi-screen will come to more and more apps soon.

It just works

I mentioned I have my Apple TV running through a pair of HomePods and the audio is lush. Apple TV also brings into play your phone too – you can use it as a remote and the real gem is that you can use your iPhone as a keyboard for typing in passwords. Yup – the ecosystem comes to our rescue again.

Apple TV is that near to being perfect. Already it’s my primary source of TV content and with just a little love for the guys and gals at Cupertino, they could have something amazing on their hands.

With AI coming to various Apple OS in force this June at WWDC I hope they find some way to sprinkle tvOS with some AI magic dust. How about if you could just ask the Apple TV to list the top ten Denzel Washington movies for instance and it goes out and finds them for you – from whatever service – wouldn’t that be kind of cool?

As this box is a premium item & it’s a monthly subscription service as well (£8.99/monthly or as part of the Apple One bundle) let’s hope Apple doesn’t decide to rake in a few extra pounds by deciding to bring advertising to Apple TV and to get rid of ads you have to pay a higher tier monthly sub.

The quality of content from Apple Originals is stunning and overall the user experience is great – but with just a few little tweaks and some time and attention Apple TV could be perfect.

Apple needs to realise they are on to a winner with this service and stop thinking of it as an afterthought.

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