What is the Apple TV device?
This is a very small set-top box offered by Apple that connects to your TV and stereo system. But it is typically used for its AirPlay video playback abilities, especially when people are renting or buying video content through the iTunes platform and want to view it on their favourite large-screen TV set. Here, people use the iTunes software on their Macintosh or Windows computer to procure the video content with the payment card and/or iTunes voucher and simply “throw” the content to the TV using this device, perhaps using its remote control to pick content or control its playback from the couch.
What was going on with the Apple TV?
Apple had been focusing their operating-environment software development efforts on the iOS mobile-device and the Macintosh regular-computing environments while forgetting about the Apple TV’s operating environment and user interface. This is although a trickle of apps, typically “on-ramp” interfaces for various IPTV and video-on-demand services, was being developed for the Apple TV platform.
The improvements about to take place
Luckily Apple had “woken up and smelt the coffee” when they saw competitors, including TV manufacturers, work on and build up smart-TV operating environments that appeal to the 10-foot “lean-back” operating experience. Now they are working on a software redesign for the Apple TV firmware to bring the user experience up-to-scratch and in line with the latest iterations of the iOS mobile platform.
There is the increased focus on having apps being delivered to the Apple TV platform in a similar way to what has happened with the iOS platform. But I hope this isn’t carte blanche for substandard “junkware” to fill the iTunes App Store. More likely, it would become an increasing number of “10-foot” on-ramps for various online services and that any existing apps targeted for this device are refurbished for the new firmware. There is also the idea of implementing the same kind of colour improvements to the user experience as what has been experienced on iOS devices.
Like all Apple devices, the improved Apple TV will be designed to work tightly with the rest of the Apple ecosystem at the expense of other common industry standards. But I would at least like to see Apple work on the Apple TV and their ecosystem to provision “core-quality” video games that can compete with the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii platforms instead of that computer name being sidelined when it comes to gaming and interactive activities. For example, they could work on multi-screen games that allow iOS devices to serve as “second-screens” or just simply use the iOS devices as game-control surfaces.
Who knows what this could mean for Apple to make their whole ecosystem become more “firm” and “across the board” like what Google and others have been working on with their ecosystems.