Features that will make you want the new Apple TV: Everything you need to know about Apple's new streaming box
Apple's latest vision for the television is finally on sale, after it was announced last month. In the UK it will set you back £129 for the 32GB model, with the 64GB version costing £169.
The previous version had been around for what seemed like forever and since it was released back in 2013, we've not seen a great deal of new features added to get really excited about. Until now.
The lack of an update had seen the Apple TV fall well below rivals like the Android TV packing Nexus Player and Amazon's Fire TV, both of which feature app stores and gaming abilities. But, the Apple TV is back and looking for a place in your living room.
So what exactly is new this time around? Let's take a look and see.
An actual App Store
It might surprise those who haven't used the previous iteration of Apple TV, but the machine's biggest downfall comes from its complete lack of an App Store. Coming from the brand that pioneered the idea in the first place, it’s certainly been a glaring omission.
The new Apple TV has sorted this issue, putting it on par with Google's Android TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
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The iOS App Store is jammed full of apps for every major streaming service, from Amazon Prime Instant Video to Netflix and ITV Player to All 4, so we're hoping most of these will make their way across to the Apple TV eventually.
But, the App Store will go beyond just streaming apps. One of Apple's big pushes with the device is gaming. You'll be able to play Disney Infinity 3.0, the upcoming Guitar Hero title and Crossy Road – complete with multiplayer! – without the need for a separate console.
Updated Siri remote
Along with the inclusion of an App Store, another notable addition to this year's Apple TV is the the updated remote. Now, we didn't have anything against the old version – it was slick and simple to use – but it was very basic.
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The new remote retains the metal build of its predecessor, but the new all-black colour scheme helps it match better with the Apple TV itself.
There’s a brand-new touch sensitive pad for navigation, but the buttons are sticking around too. They’re just slightly larger and joined by a dedicated one for activating Siri and one for volume.
Just like on the remote for the Fire TV, there’s a microphone for voice commands and a bunch of motion sensors so you won’t need a dedicated controller to play basic games.
The remote will stay charged for three month, and then charge through a Lightning port on the bottom.
Siri integration and Search
Siri on the Apple TV just makes sense. Android TV and Amazon Fire TV already have very impressive voice-recognition features – just say the name of what you want to watch, or an actor, and it'll bring up all the relevant results. You can even ask Siri questions during a video, so either actors who are starring or something more general like the weather or sports scores.
The virtual assistant is quite possibly the main attraction of the new box and Apple claims it will be the main point of navigation. Thanks to the microphone and dedicated Siri built directly into the new remote, you can fire off a search without using the annoying on-screen keyboard or shouting at the television.
Apple has also added in universal search to the tvOS software so you can search across multiple streaming apps without jumping between them.
A similar feature was introduced with iOS 9, letting you search directly into apps from Spotlight. But of course only select developers will be able to build the functionality into their apps. Netlfix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO GO will be launching with this universal search feature.
The UI has been given an iOS 9 inspired facelift
While lots of areas of the new Apple TV have been completely revamped, the general user-interface isn’t really one of them.
You’ve still got that scrolling lists of large icons, but everything looks a little bit more like iOS 9. Transparency effects are commonplace, icons have been cleaned up and it just looks a whole lot more modern.
As you scroll over the artwork for a movie, it shimmers with a 3D effect. It looks pretty darn cool.
Apple Music has been added too, so you can listen to Beats 1 from your sofa.
Completely updated hardware and a new look
Considering the current model boasts a mere 512MB RAM and an Apple A5 processor, a serious hardware upgrade was always on the cards.
Powering the new Apple TV is an A8 chip, so performance should be a lot snappier, but we’re not sure how much RAM will be tucked inside. That’s not quite as powerful as the chips keeping the pair of new iPhones humming along, but it’s still a massive step forward.
The design of the box itself has also seen an upgrade. It’s a little bit taller than before, but the black colour scheme is still sticking around.
Pricing, storage and release information
If you were expecting the all-singing, all-dancing new Apple TV to come in at the same £69 price-point as the model it’s replacing, you’re going to be a bit disappointed.
A 32GB model starts at £129/$149, with the 64GB version costing an extra £40/$50. It is available from the Apple Store now.