Apple TV 4 is a beta product and, if you bought one, you’re an unpaid beta tester

“Apple TV 4 is a beta product and if you bought one then you’re a beta tester, too. And why not? It’s Apple’s modus operandi these days,” Wil Gomez writes for Mac360. “Release a new and long anticipated product with a few gee whiz features, get it into the early adopter crowd’s hands, and let them find the bugs that need to be nailed down.”

“There’s much to like about Apple TV 4. It’s powerful and has plenty of storage. Siri is great but can’t seem to find music,” Gomez writes. “What’s with that? And Siri can’t spell for crap, and Apple seems to think Apple TV users do not know how to type, hence no third party Bluetooth keyboard support. What’s with that? Why can’t Siri be used to dictate into forms the way we can dictate notes or use search queries on the iPhone?”

“It’s because tvOS .87 is a beta operating system, and the real one, the one you’ll fall in love with, won’t arrive until tvOS 2.1, sometime next year,” Gomez writes. “In the meantime, enjoy your life as an unpaid, unofficial Apple beta tester. He won’t say it, but chief design honcho, Sir Jony Ive, thanks you. But I’m not happy being one of the company’s unpaid, unofficial, non-voluntary beta testers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The new Apple TV is a diamond in the rough. We’re not sure Steve Jobs would have released it this way, but it’s here now, and there are many enjoyable aspects of the device that are certainly worth the price and then some. Hopefully, significant, solid, and useful tvOS updates are coming soon!


        1. These sort of responses are meaningless. They are like the old (and equally meaningless) irrational, guilt-inducing comments mothers would make to get you to eat everything on your plate.

          “Think of all those poor, starving children in Africa (or India or wherever).”

          What? If I eat everything on my plate those kids won’t be starving any more?

          No one ever said these type of complaints are the equivalent of not having food, shelter, safety (which is a relative concept since what you consider to be a safe environment, I might think is dangerous), etc. Stop conflating things.

          kaplanmike is right. “First world” or not is irrelevant, it’s still a problem.

          1. I want things to work well too…that’s why I buy Apple products. But I realized when I bought my Apple TV on day one, Apple watch on day and iPhone 6s on day one, etc., that the bleeding edge sometimes comes with a price of a few bugs. For me, the joy of having the product on the first day outweighed the problems associated with v1.0. Therefore, expected a few problems and don’t feel compelled to bitch about it in MDN comments!

            1. Why so? My TiVo is a device that as a concept and indeed product is years old yet still has considerable bugs in the interface and general usability not to mention controller build quality, though overall it’s still great compared to what came before. So the bugs in ATV 4 maybe be unfortunate but to claim that constutes. Sub V1 product at least deserves some substantiation.

            2. What are you on? Is that the standard by which you now measure Apple – your crappy Tivo device with bugs. Is that what you are reduced to?

              I used to celebrate Apple quality, as did people like you. Now, you seem to want to excuse unfinished products.

            3. Yes you could argue, if you were in a debating competition or were trying to work out an argument that said shipping unfinished, beta products was okay.

              But that would be like Google or Microsoft. Not Apple.

              This is the fourth version of Apple TV. You expect each new version to be more polished than the last, surely?

            4. AT4 is really a v1.0…new UI, new OS, new app universe, completely new remote (evolved, now with Siri), new 3rd party products, and yes, new hardware. I’m not an apologist, just sayin, relax and expect a few bumps. This is all going to go away when a few updates roll out.

            5. Ah! That means Windows 8 was a v1 product and all of America should recant those complaints made about poor Microsoft and that unfortunate new operating system. It was all made better a year or two later in Windows 10 after all.

      1. @kaplanmike: So, you and Wil Gomez return it to Apple for a full refund. No one forced you or Wil to buy an AppleTV. It isn’t mandatory. And you still have the great Apple ecosystem without it.

        Don’t get me wrong. Apple has not been at the top of its game lately, and the new AppleTV has too many inexplicable warts to be brushed off as new release bugs. The Apple Watch was far more polished and complete at its release. Apple is huge, but it has to properly allocate those resources if it hopes to support its growing product lineup and ecosystem. A lot of pieces of that Apple ecosystem need help – iTunes, iCloud, parts of El Capitan, and now AppleTV.

        I am a strong Apple supporter and I am confident that Apple is working to be the best that it can be. Sometimes the company falls a bit short of its goals. Sometimes it falls a lot short. But Apple remains the best option by a long shot. Anyone who wants to jump ship to Android is welcome to do so. But you will have to live with the consequences.

  1. the first iPhone in 2007 was a diamond in the rough and look how far it’s come. Hell, even SJ tried to sell developers on the idea of web apps before the native apps were released.

    Do you remember MobileMe, then later rebranded iCloud in 2011?

      1. People forget about those mistakes. Steve did not run an infallibly tight ship. Problems in software and hardware have always been a part of Apple.Sometimes it’s hard to make a perfect product on the first iteration..

    1. The first iPhone in 2007 was a massive, massive improvement in usability over every other phone on the market. The nearest competitor with a full-front touchscreen, the LG Prada, had a T9 keypad for typing and you had to hit and drag miniature scrollbars to move up and down a page. And the less said about the Prada’s browser and network access, the better.

      In the face of that, people were more than willing to put up with some of its shortcomings. A diamond in the rough, after all, is still better than a polished lump of coal.

  2. @MDN Take: Anytime anyone trots out “What Steve Jobs would’ve done” You lose credibility.

    Steve Jobs released the original iPad, that lost support only after a year!!! My iPad is stuck on iOS 5 and yet the iPad 2 can run iOS 9.

    1. I hope that was tongue in cheek. You can’t expect them to support old hardware forever.

      I don’t think this Apple TV was exactly what Apple wanted. They were unable to get the content deals they wanted, so they released the product they had.

      I’m glad Apple released the Apple TV now and is lettings developers have a go at experimentation. Meanwhile, they will continue to work on content, and let the Apple TV evolve.

      1. Of course I don’t! But the original iPad was a “test” HARDWARE product if there ever was one (as far as Apple’s standards).

        The “issues” with AppleTV are all software related and can eventually be updated. Missing features doesn’t make a product “beta” buggy untested features makes it beta. The Apple TV runs just fine as is. A lot better than the older Apple TV. Do i miss the keyboard? Yes. But support will come – probably in the next update along with a new iPhone app.

    2. “Steve Jobs released the original iPad, that lost support only after a year!!! My iPad is stuck on iOS 5”

      It didn’t lose support after a year. It launched with iOS 3, and could be updated the following year to iOS 4, and the year after that to iOS 5. It was able to run the most recent version of iOS up to 2.5 years after its release.

    3. Michael, the original iPad was introduced (April 03, 2010) iOS6 came out (Sep 19, 2013). ~ 2 1/2 years.

      Although incapable of running iOS6, I know plenty of people that are still using the original iPad today including my next door neighbour.

      1. I’m still using it now!

        BBC iPlayer and Youtube have given up on it and the Safari browser is as flaky as hell at playing video. But it still works well enough for simple reading, writing and web surfing, banking etc.

  3. I have been using my new 64GB ATV and I am convinced that unless you wish to play games then the previous AppleTV is far superior. I am very disappointed to loose ability to control the AppleTV using my AppleWatch. STUUUUUUUUPID….

    Apple had more than 2 years to get this to market and all we have right now is an after thought incomplete product 🙁 Why on earth would Apple alienate existing appleTV owners is beyond me…

    I was going to sell my other 3 AppleTVs and now I am thinking of selling this one instead. Really OUCH…

    1. Completely agree.
      Scrolling is the $hits.
      Not being able to search our 3,300 film library on my Mac BUT you can BUY iTunes movies from search. BS! And, even if you have the movie stored locally after purchasing it, your only apparent option is to buy it again… Double BS!

      Have 4 other ATVs that will NOT be upgraded.

      Wait or get a “classic” ATV.

    2. So, you just went out and purchased the new ATV simply cause it was an Apple product?! Without any research as to if it would meet your needs and circumstances…. Well … I’ll just stop right there.

  4. You at least expect the things that have always worked. The remote app. A Bluetooth keyboard to work with it. Siri is nice but she doesn’t do passwords. Or usernames. Half step forward. Two steps back.

    1. I don’t know, I’d call Siri a whole step forward. New gaming platform also a whole step forward. Temporarily not having bluetooth KB/iOS remote app support is maybe a 1/2 step back.

      So that put’s it at least 2 steps forward and a 1/2 step back.

      1. Sadly the step back places existing owners at a huge disadvantage. I agree that this ATV is great for someone NEW to ATV and does not own a previous generation ATV then you are right it is great. However, I think the initial buyers will always be the existing ATV owners and that usually means those with investment in Apple Ecosystem which is why the steps back are slap in the face for those who really like Apple products.

        1. I upgraded from ATV2. It’s been pretty seamless. My family is not huge into TV or sports so we’re cord-cutters. I unplugged the ethernet, HDMI, and power cables from my old unit then plugged them into the new one. Did the initial setup with my iPhone. Installed Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, PBS, YouTube and a couple other content apps. Installed Crossy Road, Asphalt8, Lumino City, and Beat Sports for the kids. Set the screensaver to my shared family photo album, taught the remote to control the volume on the receiver I have attached to the TV via optical audio. Then taught the ATV to work with my vintage Tivo remote (Best RC design ever) which works for everything but gaming (did you know ATV can learn to work with any remote?). All this took me less than 30 minutes.

          For $50 more than my original purchase 4 years ago I got 1080p, a MUCH faster, smoother and better looking UI, Siri support, gaming, as well as a whole new app platform.

          yes, the keyboard thing is a bit of a drag right now, but I’ve managed to use the on-screen keyboard with very little difficulty. You only need to type passwords during your initial setup. I’ve used the on-screen KB to search for a couple apps, and in my opinion it’s not really any better or worse than a grid format on-screen KB.

          The way people carry on about a few minor initial flaws you’d think Tim Cook had come over and slapped them in the face while they were setting it up.

          I love the product so far, and look forward to seeing what Apple does with it. I’ve yet to see a successful product of Apple’s that hasn’t constantly developed itteratively.

  5. And yes I know that’s probably just temporary but all these things they do to make the setup easy with your appleid pairing from your phone. I was so excited that the setup was going to be easy. And then I tried to pair my keyboard. And what had started in a delightful way became one of those things. One of those big buts that you have to tell your friends about when they ask if it’s worth getting.

    1. Uh, nobody’s questioning your volition. What the article is questioning is releasing stuff that isn’t “insanely great” and using the audience as unpaid beta testers. That’s Microsoft’s game, but Apple seems to want in on it for some reason.

      1. I mean he makes that statement as if it’s something new, and unique to this product. And I submit that this is a fools game… every product created and introduced to the general public is a beta product to some segment of purchasers. Why? No two people are alike, or have exactly the same use, or need, or experience for every aspect of any tech device. So my purchase may be the perfect answer for my needs, but lack in areas required by you, and others and vice versa. The best we can do is perform a modicum of research, and due diligence to determine IF the product MIGHT meet our intended needs, couple that with a desire or urge to satisfy the need or WANT that we’re experiencing and take the purchase plunge. If you’ve done proper due diligence most likely the 1.0 version of the product will fulfill your basic need,… the need, or want that prompted you to make the purchase in the 1st place, then, if you have faith in the company/vendor producing the thig-a-mijig, you understand that v1.2 will address some concerns you have with v1.0…. and so on, and so on, and so on, until you finally get a version that does exactly what you wanted in the 1st place….. then the company discontinues that product to introduce the new & improved product and it all starts again…. back to beta. Very few things are initially perfect, all v1.0 stuff is BETA, so, what’s new!?

  6. Unlike Android phones that were sold new with old operating systems and were NEVER updated.

    And don’t even get me started with Google Glass.

    It’s just a software update, get over it.

    1. I think the point is… Lots of us have been using Apple products since the mid-late 70s, it used to be a very small community so it was easy to produce new stuff that SIMPLY WORKED! ya only gotta please 10 people, today however Apple is a world-wide conglomerate trying to please billions of people from multiple cultures, backgrounds, and countries and communities with varying likes & dislikes and it’s quite literally IMPOSSIBLE to release any v1.0 product that makes everyone happy, so you release what you believe will satisfy the mostest with the bestest, then wait for the fallout and address the noisiest concerns, release v1.1 etc. and continue until most are at least pretty satisfied. They do have competition for your hearts, minds, wallets, and wall street has to be fed. So that’s life for any huge company in the 21st century market economy. If they waited to perfect every aspect of the new product they’d never get it out the door and would eventually be driven out of business, it’s quite a balancing act and I think they’re doing a darn pretty good job so far…. Yes I do remember, and miss those “IT JUST WORKS DAYS”.

  7. I don’t think this is a fair assessment. The Apple TV had a developer beta program. It launched, and the features it has work. It’s a solid 4th generation working product with features that will likely be added soon. Just because the features we want added are obvious doesn’t make it beta.

    Apple Music – now that was a beta launch disguised as a GM, and I say that as a current paid subscriber.

  8. This is one of the very saddest of trends at Apple:

    The beta product shoved into the market as ‘finished’.

    We remember this was the fate of OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Thankfully, but the time 10.9.5 hit the ground, Mavericks was extremely good.

    10.11 Yosemite: Never came out of beta. I participated in the actual beta testing of Yosemite and gave up bothering to report problems because Apple Didn’t Care! I was demoralized. To hell with that again. I never updated to Yosemite except on test partitions. It sucks that bad to me.

    Now we have 10.11 El Capitan, which is an attempt to pull Yosemite out of beta. So far, not there yet! But it’s a good step forward. I’m still on 10.9.5 on my work Macs. I’ll be moving one of them to 10.11.2 in the near future to see how it works out.

    Add your Apple betaware nightmares…

    TV: We knew it was a ‘hobby’, meaning it was NOT ready for prime time, even now. But I think the TV 4 has all the guts in it to be GREAT! So I’m going all in.

    1. IT’s not a trend, it’s the response to vicious market environment, unfair patent and copyright trends, cannibalistic competition and unrealistic expectations from a growing customer base of people from other platforms who want their products to at least resemble in some way the products they’re used to. But you obviously stick with Apple because deep down inside you know this, and also know that things are much worse in the other arena, and keep hoping things will get better, me too.

  9. Perhaps I am missing something, but I set up the new Apple TV two nights ago and find it fantastic. I have found Siri to work really well with finding a choice of movies under various categories. I also like the ability to swipe down and chose movie chapter very easily. I am not a high level tech guy, so maybe I am not as sophisticated for judging this product, but for what I bought it for, I have only accolades.

  10. Wow! What a bunch of whiners. Got mine yesterday and it’s great! Now watch the hundreds of complaints that fly in when they realize they have to charge the remote. You can’t please everyone.

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