Apple TV: What features should it offer to users?

“Over the past 25 years, I have personally used no less than 25 DMAs (digital media adapters) or some sort of digital electronics connected to or inside my TVs,” Patrick Moorhead writes for Forbes. “I have used 10 of the 25 in the last five years as the experience, content and technology is slowly but surely improving. The first 15 years were a painful journey, to say the least.”

“The recent ones I’ve used in my home were the Apple TV (all gens), Microsoft Xbox One, NVIDIA Shield, AMD or Intel-based HTPCs (home theater PC), Roku, Boxee, Western Digital TV, Google TV, the Google TV-based Logitech Revue and Google Chromecast to name just a few,” Moorhead writes. “Therefore, in addition to being professionally inquisitive on what the next Apple TV could or should look like, but personally, as well.”

“First off, I believe the latest and greatest streamer to beat is the NVIDIA Shield console. Its supports 4K Ultra HD content, can play nearly every major provider’s content, plays games well, has a fast and fluid UI, offers upgradable storage, and has a killer voice search-enabled game controller with private listening capability. I wrote about the NVIDIA Shield here and here,” Moorhead writes. “With 25 years of DMA, now called ‘streamer,’ expectations, here is what I would like to see from Apple.”

• 4K capable: This one is simple. The future of all things video is 4K. The entire industry is moving to 4K TVs, 4K phone video capture, and 4K video services
• AirPlay upgrade with game streaming
• Cloud game streaming of AAA titles
• HomeKit gateway
• True cross catalog Siri natural language search
• Controllers: Simple, Apple Watch, iPhone, iPod, iPad as controllers

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: If Apple has no answer for the 4K Ultra HD question — if it’s not at the very least “the hardware is capable, the content will be coming at a later date” — they’re going to get absolutely reamed in certain quarters.

Why Apple TV is critical; investors shouldn’t underestimate its importance – September 4, 2015
Why Apple needs so much space for their September 9th event: A series of living rooms? – September 4, 2015
Did Apple pick the right or wrong time to unveil reimagined Apple TV? – September 4, 2015
Apple finally gets serious about pushing into our living rooms with new Apple TV – September 4, 2015
Apple dominates pay TV streaming with 61.9% viewership on Apple devices – September 4, 2015
Analyst: New Apple TV platform is bad news for Netflix – September 3, 2015
The new Apple TV’s potential beyond gaming – September 3, 2015
New Apple TV to offer A8 chip, 8/16GB storage, same ports, no 4K, and new black remote – September 2, 2015
New Apple TV will feature universal search, start at $149 – September 2, 2015
Apple TV 4 to focus on extensive Siri control, deep support for gaming – August 31, 2015
Apple TV 4 coming in October for under $200, Apple TV 3 becomes entry level; both get new streaming service – August 30, 2015
Apple TV said to have motion-sensitive Siri-capable remote with touchpad – August 28, 2015
The next-gen Apple TV’s marquee feature – August 18, 2015


  1. I agree that Apple will take a hit if it doesn’t support 4k. Just because the tech press will demand it.

    4k is beautiful when watching perfectly exposed shots of the Grand Canyon or other such beauty subjects. However, 4k will do nothing to improve the vast majority of story based television. 4k can be too hyper-real when people are the subject. There is an entire industry that’s job is just to deliver the “film look” which mostly consists of limiting color, resolution, and adding picture jitter motion making 4k a moot point. IMHO, 4k is a waste for the majority of watching. All I can think that it’s really good for is Nat Geo shows and Sports if the refresh is high enough.

  2. I love this stuff – 4K nice – but it really is a maginal improvement. I have been using a Kindle Echo for 6 week now – what I want from the Apple TV is a an Echo like product – does not need the speakers – they are in my TV – but it needs the features – and yes it would be nice if they were voice controlled – but I use the Echo iPad app about as often as I voice command the Echo. So GREAT iPad and iPhone apps – and Echo capabilities make the new Apple TV a cool consumer product – IMHO

  3. Is sounds like some of these stories are suggesting to Apple what they should be putting in their new TV device when the feature set was set in stone a long time ago. We just don’t no (for sure) what it is yet.

    HomeKit gateway would be nice.
    Damn, I just did it myself. 😉

  4. Is 4k that big of a deal? No cable companies are streaming 4k, heck they can’t even get 1080p out the door. How many people have a 4k TV? My 1080p looks just fine and 8k will probably be out in another couple of years. I think 4k will head the same way 3D did! Very little content that I have seen.

    1. If you have cable and you’re not getting 1080p for the vast majority of what you are getting through your cable company you should switch to another service (if you can) or at the very least start complaining to them at a regular basis.

      Yes. UHDTV is a big deal. While at the moment the percentage of TVs in homes that are UHDTV is rather low, the industry is pushing it very, very strongly.

      “8K” (going by several unofficial names at the moment) is likely 5-10 years out, at least.

      HDTV had a long gestation period because it really didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up. Would 720i or 720p or 1080i or 1080p become the dominant variant. (Some TV channels even settled on 720p early on and still transmit that while saying they will likely jump to UHDTV in 2016 or 2017 completely skipping 1080p.) What of the allowed color spaces or allowed audio would be dominant? What compression methodology would be dominant (the implementation pushed by Microsoft and a few others or the variant pushed by the majority of the industry). These and many others kept HDTV from rapidly evolving and being deployed. HDTV started its push in the early 80s and *really* didn’t catch on until 2004 or so.

      And that “8K” issue you brought up… “8K” is, at the moment, having the same levels of confusion as did HD, which could easily make “8K” take as long as HD did to come about– about 20 years.

      Compare that with UHDTV. It got its first major move forward less than 10 years ago and a big jump forward a couple years ago. UHDTV is moving at a pace 4 or more times that of what HDTV did.

      Yes, there is very little content *TODAY*. But, studios are moving to UHDTV (or 4K for the Digital Cinema side of things) much faster than they moved from 35mm to 2K (and some are skipping 2K all together) and much, much faster than they moved from SD to HD. It would not surprise me if even local TV content were done in UHDTV (and down sampled to HD for those who need it) in a couple years or less.

      Plus, also on the content front, UHDTV cameras are becoming the expected camera for everything from cell phones to inexpensive personal digital cameras (e.g., the Hero4 Black). When you can get reasonable quality out of a camera that is as small as a Hero4 and costs just $500 (list), even consumers are going to be creating UHDTV video.

      And as for the “My 1080p looks just fine…”, that’s what people said about SD too (once it went digital) and then again about 720p. A lot of people were saying that you’d need a 60″ or larger TV and you’d have to get uncomfortably close to that TV to see any benefit over SD. But, eventually people realized you could see a benefit even in sets as small as 40″ or less. Now similar people or those same people are saying the same thing about UHDTV, “You’ll need a 60″ or larger set, and you’ll have to sit within three or four feet of the screen to get the full effect of UHDTV.” Reality is that this is pure BS.

  5. I don’t think 4K is “realistic” (pun intended) at this time. The point of Apple TV is to stream online video content, not play locally stored video content. Internet infrastructure is not up to streaming at 4K resolution for most customers, plus the video content to be streamed is not there yet. Maybe for the next gen.

    Also, a typical HDTV size is already at “Retina” quality when placed at normal viewing distance from user’s eyeballs. An iPad’s screen is 262 PPI (pixels per inch). It is typically used closer than 18 inches away from the users eyeballs. The 5K iMac’s screen is down to 218 PPI, but that’s OK because the iMac’s screen is normally bit further away from the user. A typical HDTV (40 to 45 inches diagonally) is only about 50 PPI. But the HDTV screen is located at least 5 to 6 times further away compared to an iPad’s screen.

    In other words, the pixels on an HDTV are already indistinguishable at “1K” (1080p). By Apple’s usual definition, it is already “Retina.” You can admire “4K” with your head two feet away, but when sit down on your sofa to actually watch something, that costly resolution is mostly wasted for most customers.

    1. Generally, I want to see the price say below $100. It needs to be priced for mass adoption. The current A5 model should be discontinued, so that ALL new customers buy the new A8 model. But existing (3rd gen) Apple TV boxes should be supported for new content services, to maximize the potential audience (not start back at zero customers).

      Third-party apps should be focused on access to new content, like the existing “apps” on Apple TV’s home screen for YouTube, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Hulu, etc. Currently, only Apple can bring new content choices to the Apple TV screen. Under the new system, third parties are able to provide access for their content to Apple TV customers, including choices with limited potential audience. The new diverse content choices are available to existing (3rd gen) Apple TV and the new Apple TV, by paid monthly subscription. This allows customers to customize their Apple TV precisely for their viewing needs. And when the deals are finally done, Apple will provide “bundled” (mass-market) content choices.

      A new remote control with touch-based controls. Siri-based voiced control. The microphone is on the Apple TV box, NOT the remote control. It’s stupid to put the voice input on the remote control; if you’re already holding the remote, just use the remote. Since Apple TV knows what’s coming out of its audio, Siri can filter it out to provide accurate recognition, even when the TV volume is high. The optional control apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch are enhanced.

      Gaming is in the form of enhanced AirPlay. The games reside on the iOS device, NOT Apple TV. Apple TV becomes the “must-have” enhancement to the iPhone/iPad user experience. Apple TV does not become a separate platform for gaming.

    2. ken1w,

      I have to disagree with a lot of what you’ve said.

      The Internet infrastructure is there, today. The last mile is getting there and over the next year or two will be moving to get there for the vast majority of users. (See my posts about DOCSIS 3.1 and such on other threads on this site.) And, organizations like Netflix are streaming UHDTV shows at as little as 15.6 Mbps, a data rate that a large percentage of people can get today. Sure, the quality is no where near that of Ultra HD Blu-ray at 128 Mbps, but it is a start and it *is* streaming.

      A typical HDTV screen is not “Retina”. That “Retina” designation has changed from the original designation back when Steve pushed the term. Back then it was based upon the mistaken idea that the resolution equivalent of one arc minute was as good as you’d ever need. People have moved far beyond that now. Some systems have gone even a factor of four or more beyond that.

      And, many studies have shown that human visual perception is often 10x or more beyond that “one arc minute” of angular resolution measurement. The one arc minute resolution is plenty good enough is a concept that got out into the Internet and has, unfortunately, stuck. (It’s just a modern variant of Lenin’s statement (and restated in various ways by many others for decades after him) of “Tell a big enough lie often enough and loudly enough and eventually people will believe it as the truth.” People believe that “one arc minute of resolution is all you’ll ever need” BS because it’s all over the Internet. Nothing on the Internet is ever wrong, right?

      Plus one more thing… If you’re going to do the “xK” thing, it’s based upon the HORIZONTAL resolution not the vertical resolution. The 1080p specification is the vertical resolution. If you do want to mix the two (and you shouldn’t as they are different standards for different markets and different implementations) then 1080p would be called “2K” as the horizontal resolution is 1920 pixels (or about 2,000 pixels for a “2K” kind of measurement).

      And lastly, while 1080p TV sets took a relatively long while to come down in price from the stratosphere of a several thousand dollars per set, UHDTV sets are already at the $1,000 price point and below. Within the next year you should be able to expect UHDTV sets around the $500 price range with reasonable quality.

      1. OK, so I’m saying that a typical 1080p HDTV at normal viewing distance looks as sharp as an iPad Retina display at normal viewing distance. 🙂 What’s “Retina” level for an iPhone (326 PPI and higher) is not the same as iPad Air (264 PPI) and MacBook (226 PPI). Each device is typically used at progressively larger distance from the user’s eye, so the pixels can be larger while maintaining the same perceived image quality (a combination of resolution and distance). By the time it gets to TV viewing distance, 1080p looks “Retina.”

        Every TV set I’ve purchase for the living room has been larger than the last one, going back to old CRTs. When a typical TV that customers buy for “around the $500 price range” exceeds 50 inches diagonal, that’s when 4K will start to really matter. So, that 50-inch plus 4K TV needs to be $500 before it becomes common. Anything smaller at 4K is a waste of money, unless you intend to use it two feet away from your eyes as a computer display. 4K will become the standard eventually. It’s just not today (nor on September 9th)…

  6. I’m really not interested in 4K at this time. Very few people have 4K TVs and the bandwidth necessary for 4K, while available to many, isn’t a reality yet for most.

    Also, 4K is a simple upgrade. New box (if hardware is required) and new content. It’s as straightforward as could be.

    However, the rest of the new Apple TV will define what this new non-hobby device will be and shape things for the future.

    And while 4K is the future, I have no problem buying a 1080p unit now, and buying a new 4K unit in a couple of years or so. It’s not like as if I’m going to have 4K sets throughout the house, so this unit will go with a smaller set outside of our theater.

  7. Since I don’t have a HDMI TV, I’d like to see some normal outputs. And a storage option, either internal or using your Mac’s hard drive or a card or stick. But, all things considered, I know I’m at the very far end of the marketed audience for this thing, and I doubt if it will offer options to make me a customer.

  8. Reamed for what? There is no 4K content available. What is available is to expensive. Why should we pay for a device that has capability but no content available. 4K is not important yet. Maybe 5 years from now.

  9. Also remember that the Apple TV is internet based so if you want to view 4K you would need a gigabit Internet connection to handle a 4K stream to make it work smoothly. 4K is not ready for prime time.

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