Apple TV today remains something of an expensive hobby for Apple, but has plenty of pieces in place to become a must-have product that 21st century television watchers would be willing to pay to use. As it stands now, Apple TV has a few problems. They can be overcome in short order, but they are problems nonetheless.
Here is my list.
Price – If there’s another streaming television box available that has a price tag to match Apple TV then I don’t know what it is. $99 tops.
Features – Apple shifted Apple TV into an iOS-like platform complete with applications and while there are thousands of apps available, navigating and using the device remains cumbersome, more so because for most of us, it still sits at Input #2 rather than Input #1 where the cable TV box plugs into the TV.
Single Sign-On – Yes, it’s coming. Apple said so. But the problem remains. The single sign-on option is good for those few channels as apps available on Apple TV, but most of them require a cable TV account to be activated so what’s the point?
TV Guide – Apple says a guide is coming and Siri will be smarter but some real world action would be an improvement over a keynote presentation. Cable TV operations also have a guide and, yes, it’s cumbersome as hell to use, but show me something better. Apple hasn’t done it, either.
DVR or Archive – As much as we hate the cable TV company for high prices and poor service, there is one function we love. The DVR. Some cable TV outlets let you record thousands of shows and multiple TV shows and movies at the same time. Until everything can be streamed all the time, any time, to any device, a DVR options would be useful. Sling TV plans to introduce a DVR option to its service offerings.
Back To The Future – Where is the hope for Apple TV? There’s the aforementioned SlingTV which has an Apple TV app and a monthly subscription for dozens of TV shows, but it’s a mish-mash of networks, and not exactly comprehensive. AT&T just introduced DirecTV Now, a streaming TV service which will also debut on… insert drum roll here… Apple TV. In fact, one DirecTV Now package gives viewers a free Apple TV to use.
Maybe Next Year – Allow me to predict that somewhere in 2017 Apple might have an Apple TV version that makes it to prime time and dispenses with the hobby status; a device and service and apps that allow us to cut the cable TV cord and go straight to streaming video like Netflix, but with major network choices, some sports, and perhaps even some apps for local television stations.
Did I fail to mention 4k? You won’t find much Ultra High Definition content on network TVs, but it’s everywhere else these days, from Netflix to Amazon to YouTube. UHD TV’s are priced like LED TV’s from a few years ago so the 4k trend is obvious, but, as usual, Apple isn’t there. Yet. So, look for an Apple TV 5 in 2017, one that does 4k, and might even work as a DVR.
One thing is for sure. The content wars have just begun, so now it’s time for Apple to dispense with the hobby and turn Apple TV into a real product with a real business plan.