The Future of Apple TV Is Far Away (And More Takeaways From Tim Cook's Event)

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Apple CEO Tim Cook

The tech giant's CEO announced several new products, including the iPhone 6s, a revamped Apple TV and iPad Pro, during the company's annual fall event on Sept. 9.

Apple gathered media and a few special guests — including Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana — in San Francisco on Wednesday morning for its annual fall product event. While the iPhone is usually the star of the show, CEO Tim Cook used the two-hour presentation to give updates on a number of products and unveil several new devices. 

The event, held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, offered few surprises, but Apple still managed to create suspense and delight audiences in a way that only Apple can. There were several key takeaways amid the dramatic product videos, awkward live demos and big product reveals.

The Hollywood Reporter breaks them all down here: 

Gaming Could Sell The Apple TV
Apple's newly overhauled set-top box comes with all sorts of features to aid in the viewing of entertainment content, including voice-controlled commands and multi-app search, but the new feature that got the crowd most excited was the addition of gaming. The newly designed Apple TV remote features multi-touch capabilities that turns it into a controller for casual games. And the newly launched tvOS will allow developers to create games specifically tailored for the TV screen. Two game developers, Harmonix and Hipster Whale, joined Apple on stage to discuss how they have created or adapted games for the device — showcasing just how intent Apple is on making the set-top box a hub for gaming. But it's clear that, for now at least, Apple is going after casual gamers through primarily family-friendly titles like Activision's Guitar Hero. "TvOS will bring games into the living room, especially for consumers that don’t self-identify as gamers and therefore haven’t invested in consoles," said Danielle Levitas, senior vp research at App Annie. "The mobile market has opened up this opportunity for casual gamers and with tvOS, we see a similar opportunity for game developers to target existing and new users. The larger screen will enhance gaming capabilities, providing a richer experience, leading to better monetization.”

The Future of Apple TV is Still Far Away
"The television experience itself hasn't changed that much in decades," Cook told the audience during his Apple TV introduction. "In fact, the TV experience has been virtually standing still while innovation had been thriving in the mobile space led by the iPhone and iPad. Today, we're going to do something about that." He went on to proclaim apps the future of television, but that future might be a ways off for Apple TV. Some partners, including HBO and Hulu, have redesigned their apps for the new Apple TV but more will surely come and new apps could find a home on the device now that Apple has opened up the platform with the new tvOS. Meanwhile, Apple made no mention of its streaming television and original content plans — an announcement that will likely have to wait until early next year. That means it could be a while before consumers see what Apple truly has planned for the set-top box that the late Steve Jobs once deemed a hobby. "We view this next generation Apple TV as the 'tip of the iceberg' and core foundation for its broader content ambitions as we expect a streaming TV service to go live in early 2016, and thus help pave the way for this new avenue of content growth over the coming years," said FBR Capital Markets' Daniel Ives

iPhone, iPad Underwhelm Investors
The Apple event wrapped up around noon PT and one hour later the company's shares closed down nearly 2 percent, which hasn't happened since 2013. Apple shares also typically get a boost ahead of its fall event, which didn't happen this year. It appears that the novelty of these big product reveals has finally worn off. In many ways, the presentations can feel rote. Last year the company announced the iPhone 6, so no surprise that this year it would unveil the iPhone 6s. The "s" model phones also often represent sequential changes to the hardware with Apple reserving big updates for years when it unveils an entirely new model. And while the phone is often the highlight of the fall event, this time it was relegated to the last 20 minutes of the presentation, after a considerable amount of time had already been spent on other announcements, including the new iPad Pro. The iPhone's big updates were the addition of 3D touch and an upgraded camera, said Levitas. "With the 6s and 6s Plus, most updates are expected and evolutionary, but the 3D haptic display is the game changer for the next wave of sales," she added. 

No Apple Music Update
Cook gave an update on the Apple Watch (though didn't reveal any sales figures) and even announced a Hermes-designed leather band, but didn't give new streaming service Apple Music much of a shout out. Launched in late June, the $9.99 a month offering is meant to rival Spotify through unlimited streaming and curated playlists. The only reference to Apple Music was when Eddy Cue took the stage to demo the new Apple TV and showed off the Apple Music app that will be part of the set-top box when it launches next month. The Beats 1 radio station got a small nod, playing in the background as conference attendees found their seats. But Apple didn't give any clues as to how the service is performing as it heads into the final weeks of its three-month free trial, which ends Sept. 30. 

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