Apple TV isn’t just getting a big facelift. It has a new OS that packs a lot more power than the old model and has an all-new user interface that looks a lot easier to navigate.
More exciting than all this are the tools that will allow developers to “create apps just like in the mobile space,” said Apple executive Tim Cook. The new TV OS will be compatible with Metal, Game Center, UI Kit, and other crucial developer tools.
“Apps have changed what we do on our iPhones and iPads, and we think it’s going to do the same thing for our television,” said Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue.
The new Apple TV will have a 64-bit A8 chip just like the iPhone 6. It will have three ports: a power port, an HDMI port, and an ethernet port on the back.
The remote has been completely redesigned with all-new Siri integration. The top part of the remote is now a glass touch surface that you can swipe and tap. There are only five buttons; one of them activates Siri. We’ll talk about Siri and the Apple TV a little later.
The buttons on this remote can control your television volume and inputs, meaning you’ll only need one remote to use the Apple TV. It works through Bluetooth, so users won’t need to aim at the television to get accurate results. It has an accelerometer so it can sense how fast it’s being moved (useful in certain games) and a gyroscope so that it can sense angle.
And it charges with a lightning connector and can hold a charge for three months of regular use.
This is a huge step up from Apple’s original flimsy remote that feels like it’s likely to snap in half.
A few games were announced for the Apple TV today, including Galaxy on Fire, Rayman Adventures, and Disney Infinity 3.0, as well as the new Guitar Hero Live.
When I talked yesterday about Apple TV and the gaming ecosystem, I said that it would be hard for people who play mobile games to adjust to playing on their televisions. Apple is opening a door here for mobile gamers by highlighting multiplayer titles that could bring new people into games.
Crossy Road, which won an Apple Design Award this year, is coming to the Apple TV with single player and an all-new multiplayer version. You can play with the remote’s touch surface by swiping and tapping, and a second player can join in on their iPhone or iPad. If one player dies, they can be revived and the two players can keep moving on together.
And of course, you can also prank each other by blocking paths and pushing each other into traffic.
Harmonix is also bringing a game exclusively to the Apple TV. It’s called Beat Sports, and it’s a rhythm and motion based music game played with the remote. The demo we saw showed the player facing off against a robot who was throwing baseball pitches on the beat. The player had to hit the balls back and hit the robot. It gradually got harder and harder.
This game also allows up to four-player co-op, with other players joining in on their iPhones or iPod Touches.
The controls on this one looked a little challenging. You swipe on the touch surface to move your character and swing the remote to hit the balls.
The new remote really does work a lot like the Nintendo Wii remote. The demo also showed the remote being turned sideways to play certain games, like the driving game Asphalt 8. Most of the interactions with the remote are touch-based; the buttons weren’t used in gameplay.
I like the touch integration; it looks like it makes it a lot easier to navigate the apps. Speaking of which…
Movies and Shows
The Apple TV still has movies and TV shows in iTunes, as well as photos. It will now also feature Apple Music and the App Store.
Searching for a show or film will bring you to a page that will give you a summary and other relevant information for that media, as well as what apps it’s available on. Users won’t need to search within Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes specifically to see what’s available. The Apple TV will do that work for them.
At launch the Apple TV will work with Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, HBO, and Showtime, with more services to come.
Siri is also in full-force here. In the demonstration, she was able to accurately search based on the input “show me comedies that are good to watch with kids,” or “show me action films.” She was then able to narrow down the search (“Just the James Bond ones,” “Just the ones with Sean Connery”).
In playback mode, you will be able to swipe down from the top to get access to chapters and settings. Siri will also show you the cast of what you’re watching without interrupting playback. You can ask her non-sequitur questions while you’re watching and she’ll answer them in a pop-up from the lower half of the screen, again without interrupting playback.
Coolest of all, Siri will help you out if you don’t hear something the actors said. In the demo, the demonstrator asked Siri, “What did she say?” during an episode of Modern Family, and Siri rewound the episode and added temporary subtitles.
The 32-GB Apple TV will cost $149. The 64-GB Apple TV will cost $199.
It’s due to launch in late October in 80 countries, and will reach 100 countries by the end of the year. TV OS is in beta for developers today, with access to the new hardware.