Before revealing the latest iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7, Tim Cook gave us a brief update on Apple TV. Of course, he didn’t give any figures on how many units the company had shifted, but said that the release of the latest Apple TV box (version 4 if you’re counting) had record sales, compared to previous versions.
The only way is up, it seems, though without raw data it’s impossible to know exactly how high it’s flying.
Cook also talked about apps on Apple TV, saying once again that apps are the future of TV. In concrete terms, there are now over 5000 Apple TV apps, which is a pretty impressive number for a new platform only a few months old.
But the most interesting thing is the way the operating system is going to develop. The latest version, called tvOS 9.2 is out now and has some useful innovations.
Chief among these, and coolest by a country mile, is the increased use of Siri. Already a crucial part of the system because of the way you can search widely using voice, the next update adds dictation.
No more endlessly swiping the touchpad to move the cursor awkwardly from one letter to the next. Press the Siri button and you’ll be able to enter text on the TV screen. And, joy of joys, this extends as far as entering passwords this way. This solves a hideous pain point at a stroke.
For it to work you’ll need to have the system language set to English, French, German, Japanese or Spanish. What’s more, Siri now understands Spanish in the US and French in Canada, where the accents are different, obviously. And for English we’ll be able to specify UK English. Down Under, Australian English is about to become an option.
More than passwords, you’re now also be able to use Siri to search for even more things than movies, TV episodes or weather information. In this new version Siri will search for apps. You can state the name of the app or say “Games” or another category or even search by app developer, if you know such details.
Apps will also have the capability to show video previews so you can see a bit more of any programs you fancy before you buy them, with the big screen a great place to demo the wares.
Displaying photos from your iCloud Photo Library is another development, including Live Photos. This is a neat way to look at photos you’ve shot on your iPhone.
Though it does remind us that when it comes to video, you can’t stream any lovely 4K footage you’ve shot on your iPhone to the telly, because the Apple TV is a 1080P box, it’s not 4K-capable. Sigh.
File management is about to get better, too, with folders enabled so you can mimic the obsessive tidiness of your iPhone home screen and shove all your apps precisely where you want them.
By long-pressing the trackpad on your remote, the apps start dancing and you can press the Play/Pause button and drag one on top of another so a folder is created.
And if you don’t fancy using Siri to input text, though why you wouldn’t is hard to fathom when it’s much easier to just say the words, you can turn to a Bluetooth keyboard such as the Apple Wireless keyboard as a means of controlling the Apple TV.
There are other additions, such as a ‘conference room display’ so that in certain business environments the Apple TV can be locked in a particular configuration, ready for people to use it to AirPlay their presentations, say, but not to play with your own personal apps or illicitly rent movies using your company’s account.
So, as you can imagine, tvOS 9.2 is iterative rather than revolutionary. However, these are good enhancements and while on their own they may not tempt newcomers to the platform, they will be welcome to current Apple TV owners.
Article continues below