“The Apple TV 4K does everything”

The best streaming video player to buy right now – The Verge:

At $179, the Apple TV 4K is on a completely different pricing tier than Roku and Amazon. But if you’re willing to spend that much, in return you’ll get the most polished experience of any set-top box on the market.

The Apple TV 4K does everything; it supports 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and HDR10. It’s the box we recommend if you want to take full advantage of all the features in a high-end TV. Apple’s iTunes store has an enormous vault of content that can showcase those features. The menus feel more modern and stylish than those on the Roku, and Siri is a little better at voice search than Roku’s system, too. App selection is equally as strong. The one asterisk is that YouTube won’t stream in 4K on the Apple TV because Apple doesn’t support Google’s preferred video codec.

Apple’s device is very powerful and lighting fast in day-to-day use. If you’ve gone in on the company’s HomeKit smart home ecosystem, the Apple TV acts as a hub and allows you to control those gadgets remotely when away from the house.

A good reminder that although higher in price compared to its competitors iterations, what you get for that money is the #1 streaming experience with all 3 major platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime & iTunes) on 1 device.

 

Apple TV veteran leaves the company to join ‘social broadcasting’ startup

Apple TV veteran leaves the company to join ‘social broadcasting’ startup | Cult of Mac:

Jen Folse, the former Apple TV executive who is best known to Apple followers for her on-stage presentations at Apple events, has left the company for the startup Caffeine.

Caffeine is a social broadcasting platform for gaming, entertainment, and other artistic content. Folse will take the role as new Vice President of Product, helping to company to create its product roadmap, among other things.

Folse started her career at Apple as a senior product designer back in May 2010. She played a key role in the development and release of four iterations of Apple TV.

A loss for the Apple TV team at Apple as she came across well in her presentations at the keynotes. Maybe the Apple TV has hit a crossroads which had a role on her departure – I hope not.

UK streaming service NOW TV testing new tvOS app for Apple TV

UK streaming service NOW TV testing new tvOS app for Apple TV | 9to5Mac:

UK video streaming service NOW TV has confirmed that it’s testing a new version of its tvOS app for Apple TV 4 and Apple TV 4K. The current version of NOW TV on tvOS is a ported app from the third-generation Apple TV days that doesn’t integrate with modern features like the TV app.

9to5Mac Happy Hour NOW TV hasn’t shared what changes are in store for its new tvOS app, but it is recruiting testers for a version created specifically for the latest Apple TV streaming boxes. The service recently started looking for early adopters to try the new tvOS app:

Fantastic! Since I cut the cord, I have been waiting for NOW TV to improve it’s Apple TV app to perhaps integrate with the tvOS app.

iOS TV App Poised to Be Launching Soon in UK

Benjamin Mayo for 9to5Mac:

As of right now, the TV app is not available – when it rolls out, it will replace the Videos app on iPhone and iPad, in addition to appearing on Apple TV. The TV app integrates movies and TV shows from a variety of sources into one application with discovery, watch queues and other features.

At the iPhone X September media event, Eddy Cue said the TV app would roll out to the UK before the end of the year. He also promised that other major UK channels would add support for Apple TV with video-on-demand apps, including the ITV Hub and My5.

With Amazon’s Prime Video App being released for Apple TV yesterday, it looks like all the promised services and apps are coming together on all the Apple platforms and for UK customers just in time for the end of the year.

No Optical Port On The New Apple TV

Susie Ochs writing for Macworld:

The new Apple TV looks just like the old Apple TV (which is still for sale for $69), only it’s about half an inch taller. But even with more surface area to work with, Apple ditched the optical audio-out port on the old version. Now the only way you can get sound out of your Apple TV is with HDMI.

No optical-out port is hugely disappointing to me, but others might not care as much. The USB-C port isn’t for you; it’s just for service and support.

And that really stinks. My current Apple TV—used daily—is connected to my TV with HDMI, as well as my stereo receiver with an optical audio cable. That way, if I’m just watching TV that will sound good enough on my TV’s speakers, I can leave the stereo off. But if I am watching Top Gun or something, I can mute the TV, flip on the stereo, and enjoy Tom Cruise’s antics in surround sound. I like having the option. I also enjoy sending music from my iPhone, iPad, and Mac to my stereo via AirPlay on the Apple TV, and my television can stay off.

Sure, newer receivers have HDMI or even AirPlay built in, or I could use an AirPort Express to AirPlay music to the stereo, but it bums me out that Apple didn’t think it necessary to let users select different audio outputs for different use cases.

No optical port means an amplifier upgrade is needed – at least for me that is if I am like others to continue enjoying digital sound via the Apple TV.

UPDATE: It seems an HDMI switch box may solve the issue – I will order one and test. It would certainly be cheaper than upgrading my amplifier.

Thoughts on Apple’s Spring Event

I’ve had a few days now to digest the keynote, read opinions, articles and watch multiple videos and exit the reality distortion field and ready to share just a few brief thoughts and key quotes and links that stood out for me.

First of all, it’s fantastic that Apple appears to be streaming live every keynote they host now – in recent years (after the not-streamed-at-all-years) it was an unexpected bonus to be able to enjoy the show as it happens, as not every event was streamed live and instead you had to rely on prominent Apple-news sites to run a typed commentary from one of their writers who was in the audience. Nowadays, it’s looking like the need for these live event-typed-commentary sites are no longer required by the majority – Apple make it easy for folks to watch the live streams via Safari or via the Apple TV. The fact Apple doesn’t make the live stream available for users of Chrome, Internet Explorer or any other browser is deliberate for the eco-system and the business model and not as some naive cynics suggest, ‘clueless’.

Tim Cook is clearly enjoying heading up the keynotes nowadays and his confidence and humour shine through more so than the early post-Jobs keynotes which is understandable. Tim is proving to be an outstanding leader for Apple and this new Apple continues to shine.

Apple TV

Apple-TV-11

With Apple announcing that the Apple TV has been reduced to $69 from $99, this appears to be a price drop in response to their competitors producing newer and more competitively priced devices. Apple may or may not be working on a product refresh for the Apple and based on Tim’s final comment on stage from the Apple TV segment where he implied there was more coming to the Apple TV soon, maybe a refresh is just around the corner.

atv

One new feature they did announce for the Apple TV was the addition of HBO as a studio and channel coming soon to the Apple TV. Apple has been gradually adding channels and networks to the Apple TV and HBO is considered a big player due to it holding the rights to such big shows as Game of Thrones and Veep. You will need a subscription to watch HBO which is priced at $14.99 per month and available in the U.S. to start.

With Tim announcing that Apple have sold 25 million of the devices and HBO being added and as he alluded to, one thinks there is much more to come from Apple in this space.

New MacBook

retinamacbookkeyboard-800x484

Apple also announced a brand new version of their MacBook. As Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac scooped back in January, the new laptop is a futuristic new design with a new design in the keys and trackpad made to achieve an even thinner design. Measuring just 13.1mm thick and weighing just 2.03 pounds, this new laptop is clearly a laptop for the future due to the addition of one port – a USB-C which (depending on an adapter) can power VGA, HDMI, USB and of course to charge. This laptop is not designed for folks who need to hook up thunderbolt-displays or run powerful video-editing software due to it’s connection and power restraints – this laptop is a change in design and has Jonny Ive’s mark all over it. I’ll look at this this MacBook in more depth soon.

Available in 3 new colours Space Grey, silver and gold, prices and configurations start from $1299 available soon.

Apple Watch

apple-watch-6_1

In announcing the configurations and prices for the Apple Watch and a pre-order date of April 10th, Apple are ready to release the product to the world. I thought Apple did a fantastic job of showing everybody exactly where the Apple Watch fits and what you can do with it. The fitness aspects of the device were highlighted with Christy Turlington speaking on stage on how she uses it for her fitness and her upcoming London marathon. Kevin Lynch I thought did a marvellous job of walking through a typical usage of the Apple Watch showing how different apps can aid you in day to day life. Again, I will take a more in depth look at the Apple Watch in the next few days once we have more information.

ResearchKit

Jim Dalrymple summed up perfectly Apple’s release of ResearchKit:

ResearchKit is a software framework that allows doctors and researchers to gather data more frequently and accurately than ever before. It’s a way for those people to help find the causes and cures for the diseases that haunt humanity.

As I sat listening to Jeff Williams talk about ResearchKit, I thought to myself, this is why I love Apple—they care. They don’t just talk the talk and put out press releases about massive donations they make to charities, they are actually making a difference and putting the power of the most successful company in the world behind what they say.

Federico Viticci touching on his own personal experience highlighted his thoughts:

As someone who relies on Apple’s Health app every day and had to go through medical research years ago for a brief period of time, I find ResearchKit to be Apple’s most profound and impactful announcement from Monday.

I remember that, as a patient, medical research wasn’t fun. In my case, I was going through treatments and trying experimental drugs three years ago, and I was handed paperwork that I needed to sign and fill with information about chemo effects and how I was feeling. Having to fill forms manually while you’re sick – even if it’s for a greater cause – isn’t the most pleasant experience. I did it, but it felt antiquated and strangely old-fashioned when compared to modern advancements in cancer treatment. Not to mention the bureaucracy and, as Apple’s Jeff Williams outlined, the infrequency and inconsistency of data and the limited amount of people willing to share their information.

Using an iPhone as a sensor-laden device for medical research seems genius to me and exactly what has to be done to expand medical research and make it more connected and accessible. When dealing with patients – and, obviously, my experience is limited to what I went through, so circumstances may be different – or people who are simply interested in helping with medical research, it’s important to make the data collecting process seamless and reliable. An iPhone is always with you (possibly on you) and it’s filled with sensors that can accurately measure parameters such as steps and vocal intensity; it’s got a screen that can assess manual interactions through touch; with Bluetooth and wireless connections, it can connect to certified medical devices and store data securely in a central repository that can be shared with other apps.

When I was watching the presentation, I could feel that ResearchKit was a big deal to the people who worked on it. But, at the same time, I imagined some of the reactions on Twitter and the comments from people who were thinking the announcement was boring. After introducing a framework that is deeply changing personal health tracking (and that will power Apple Watch), I believe that going one step further to embrace medical research through iOS features and apps is an important new direction for Apple’s Health initiative.

Bloomberg after the event had this to report:

Stanford University researchers were stunned when they awoke Tuesday to find that 11,000 people had signed up for a cardiovascular study using Apple Inc.’s ResearchKit, less than 24 hours after the iPhone tool was introduced.

“To get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study normally, it would take a year and 50 medical centers around the country,” said Alan Yeung, medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health. “That’s the power of the phone.”

Overall it was good keynote and great to see that Apple has ironed out the streaming issues of the past. Look forward to an in depth look at some of these new announcements soon.

Apple brings iTunes Extras to Apple TV, HD Extras to Macs today & iOS 8 in fall

 

Jordan Kahn:

Apple today released iTunes version 11.3 and with it is making its iTunes Extras feature available for HD movies on Macs.  Apple also announced today that the feature is now available for Apple TV with update 6.2 and will arrive on iOS 8 this fall.

As noted by Apple, “iTunes Extras can include behind-the-scenes videos, short films, high-resolution image galleries, director’s commentary, scenes, and more.

Finally – have been waiting for iTunes Extras for Apple TV since the 1st generation of Apple TV.

Comparing Amazon’s Fire TV with Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku boxes

Comparing Amazon’s Fire TV with Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku boxes

LA Times:

The Amazon Fire TV has a Second Screen feature that lets users “fling” Amazon content onto their TVs from their Kindle Fire HDX tablets. This feature will be made available to the iPhone and iPad later this year. The Amazon Fire TV can also mirror the screen of users’ Amazon tablets.

Similar to Apple’s AirPlay feature, it will be interesting to see if it is as easy and reliable as Apple’s solution.

The Amazon Fire TV stands out from the rest thanks to the extra focus Amazon placed on video gaming. Users can use the device to play thousands of games, many of which are free while the rest will be available for purchase – costing $1.85 each on average. Games from notable studios, including EA and Disney, will be available. Amazon is off to a strong start with the inclusion of popular game “Minecraft-Pocket Edition.”

Users can play games using the included remote, the Fire TV mobile app that will launch later or by buying the Fire TV Game Controller, which looks like a traditional video game controller. It sells seperately for $39.99.

This is where Apple TV lags behind at the moment and although you can AirPlay games from your iOS device to your Apple TV, stand-alone you can’t. Although it might not be for long.

Via The Loop.

The BBC on why there’s no iPlayer for Apple TV

The BBC on why there’s no iPlayer for Apple TV

British Apple TV owners have been longing for the BBC iPlayer on our favorite black box pretty much forever, but now we might finally know why it hasn’t happened. BBC’s Chris Yanda has outlined why they went Chromecast, and not Apple TV.

One of the reasons we decided to support Chromecast was that Apple TV currently works only with Apple devices. Chromecast has SDKs available for a number of different platforms including iOS, Android, and the Chrome browser for laptop and desktop computers.

iPhone and iPad owners can get a proper iPlayer experience on their TV using Chromecast. It works really well, but I have to confess to being massively disappointed, still, that it isn’t on the Apple TV. From what Yanda says, it doesn’t look like we can expect to see it any time soon.

It’s still not a particularly great reason, either. The Chromecast is a totally different product to the Apple TV. It requires a mobile device or the Chrome browser to operate – even if it takes the streams directly from the content provider, not from your phone. Apple TV just sits there under your TV, whether you have any other Apple product or not. Chromecast however does mean the BBC just had to add to its existing iOS and Android iPlayer apps to enable the functionality. Apple TV would require a dedicated channel.

Watch the iTunes Festival from SXSW

Watch the iTunes Festival from SXSW

iMore:

Apple has had an iPhone and iPad app for the iTunes Festival in London and the SXSW edition is no exception. Recently updated, the official app is the best way to keep up with all things iTunes Festival related wherever you are. It’ll show a countdown to when each days headline acts take the stage, but you’ll also see local timings for when everyone else starts their slots.

It’s available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and requires iOS 7.

This is an underated service from Apple. Everyone loves music, so tune in at anytime to stream or play the latest live performances from the top artists who are perfoming this month. Download the app for iPhone or iPad here or watch via your Apple TV.