Mossberg reviews the new Apple TV: ‘This is the one I’d buy’

“It seems like we’ve been waiting for years for Apple to reinvent the TV,” Walt Mossberg writes for Re/code. “We know that, in recent years, the company has pursued an effort to create its own TV service to compete with cable, one presumably to be delivered via a spiffy new device. But that effort has failed, at least for now.”

“While Apple isn’t reinventing TV or even making a whole TV, as some had speculated, it is taking a product leap in streaming set-top boxes with a new Apple TV, which will start shipping at the end of this week,” Mossberg writes. “I’ve been testing this new model, and I like it. It’s much faster and easier to navigate. But it feels very much like a first effort at a new approach.”

“Apple TV is finally a citizen in Apple’s huge app ecosystem. It now runs a version of iOS, called tvOS, and has its own app store… it’s easy to imagine Apple TV leveraging iOS to offer far more choices than the current content leader, Roku, which boasts over 2,500 channels,” Mossberg writes. “Apple TV has a great new remote that includes a slick, accurate glass touchpad, much like the one on Mac laptops, and a version of Siri that, in my tests, worked surprisingly well almost every time to find TV shows and movies. The remote now can control the volume of your TV, with no setup in most cases. And with an obscure setting on some newer TVs, it can even turn them on and off and change to the right input.”

“I don’t know when, if ever, Apple will reinvent TV. But this isn’t the moment. I can say that, if I were buying a streaming box right now, this is the one I’d buy, if only for the promise of lots of apps,” Mossberg writes. “By making the set-top box a part of its giant app and services ecosystem, the company is moving Apple TV into a future that’s much broader and bigger than Roku’s or Amazon’s. And that makes the case. In effect, while it may not have reinvented all of TV, Apple has reinvented the streaming set-top box.”

Tons more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, it’s a work in progress, but, for some time now, even with prior models, it’s been easy to recommend Apple TV. This one is a no-brainer. Go get it!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. On the existing Apple TV, there are already “apps.” Each of the content choices, such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO, ESPN, etc… they are apps. There are equivalent apps that you can install and run on iPhone and iPad. But on (old) Apple TV, they are placed on the Apple TV home screen by Apple. It’s like the first year of iPhone when all the apps came pre-installed, and THEN the App Store opened.

    With the new Apple TV, customers choose their content apps from a “store.” That means even content creators with a relatively small potential audience can “be on Apple TV” by creating an app to play their content. Apple can make this easy by providing a general “template” for a video content app in the developer tools. Unlike cable TV, where every one of hundreds of channels are there getting in the way, Apple TV can provide even more choices but with the customers choosing what to see (and ignored).

    There are also “interactive” apps (such as games), but I think the big deal for “apps on Apple TV” is how it vastly increases content choices for customers. The rumored “Internet TV bundle” is a collection of the most common TV choices, meant to displace cable TV. But what the new Apple TV offers from DAY ONE is the opposite, and probably MORE important in the long run.

    1. A skeleton content app would just create a proliferation of news apps on iOS, where each newspaper has its own news app, rather than using a common file format for a centralized Apple news player. Dedicated newspaper apps are just a way for newspapers to lock their customers in.
      Well for video, the problem isn’t the file format or the streaming technology, it is just the source to get the video from.
      With a unified CHANNEL-LESS model, who needs channels or video player apps?

      1. Yes, because the “app-centric model” has been such as failure on iOS for iPhone and iPad… 😉

        Apple TV has the built-in consolidated (common) “tools” for streaming video content. Each “content app” uses those tools in the ways Apple specifies, using a common video format that Apple specifies (or the app is rejected). Third parties create the interface and user experience within those specifications (THAT is the “app”); they are NOT creating a standalone “video player” from scratch, and having users download dozens of such apps that replicate functionality.

  2. Of course, one major factor holding back Apple efforts to “reinvent the TV” is the stoic, catatonic intransigence of the media oligarchy. They are technology oblivious. They don’t like change. They’re slow to modernize. They require constant iron boot kicks in the ass to figure out that the future is passing them by, blatantly explaining why their media sales are suffering. They get one big “DUH!” from me.

    Just this week, this utter rubbish decision was attempted to be imposed upon owners of digital media:

    It’s still illegal to rip DVD and Blu-ray discs for personal use
    Jailbreaking of mobile phones, tablets, wearables, and smart TVs get DMCA exemption.

    IMHO it is NEVER, and will NEVER, be illegal to BACKUP YOUR DIGITAL MEDIA! As I’m constantly pointing out, The #1 Rule Of Computing is: MAKE A BACKUP! I like to shout it from the mountain tops, it’s that critical.

    Therefore, for the media oligarchy to force nonsensical garbage like the US Librarian of Congress declaring it illegal to back up encrypted media is, IMHO, to be entirely ignored. But note that it does remain illegal to make copies of digital media for other purposes.

    Ideally, media providers would provide owners of their media with a backup upon request, or simply provide one in-the-box. That would entirely alleviate this situation. I’ve seen this happen! It should be universal.

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