Tim Cook Unveils Revamped Apple TV
The set-top box for streaming video first came out in 2007 but has received only minor updates since 2010.
Apple has announced a new Apple TV with several updated features.
The device comes with a new remote with capabilities for voice commands using Apple's personal assistant, Siri, and a touch interface to allow for swiping and pressing motions common on iPhones and iPads.
Siri can search across the Apple TV apps — including iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime and HBO — to find a movie or television show that the viewer is looking for. During playback, Siri also will skip back by a few seconds when someone uses the voice command: "What did she say?" Siri also will pull up information about a title while it is playing and even can pull additional information, like sports scores and the weather, without disrupting the video playing in the background.
The big change that Apple is making to the TV is a new operating system, tvOS, to support third-party apps for the TV. Activision, for example, is bringing Guitar Hero to Apple TV. Several other games, fitness apps and other apps also are new to the set-top box.
Third-party apps already available for Apple TV include Harmonix's new Beat Sports games, Frogger-esque Crossy Road and flash sales site Gilt. The new Apple TV also will support Apple's newly launched Apple Music.
The MLB.TV At Bat app will showcase scores from all national games and will allow people to stream the games from their Apple TV. A live data feature also syncs to the broadcast, and a split-screen feature allows people to watch two games at once.
The new Apple TV will go on sale in October starting at $149.
Apple launched the Apple TV in 2007, but the device never has been much of a priority for the company, especially as it turned its focus to iPhones and iPads. The late Steve Jobs referred to the set-top box as little more than a hobby during an onstage interview in 2010, noting that the cable operators left little room for innovation. Meanwhile, it has been relegated to a subcategory on the Apple website and the last major update came in 2010 with smaller updates in 2012 and 2013.
At one time, observers expected the Apple TV overhaul to be announced alongside Apple's planned live television streaming service. But Bloomberg reported in August that the launch of the TV service announcement had been pushed to early 2016 because of Apple's slow start in negotiating deals with the broadcasters and cable networks.
The Apple TV announcement was part of a two-hour presentation from Apple executives on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The company also used the event to give updates on the Apple Watch and unveil a new, larger iPad Pro.