Apple TV got a software update last week that didn't exactly blow our hair back--the icons got a new, flat, iOS 7-and-8-ish look, and we got Family Sharing support, a new Beats Music channel, and that's about it. The new icons are pretty and all, but the experience of actually using the Apple TV didn't noticeably improve. Here are five suggestions for Apple to make the next Apple TV update a real upgrade.
The most frustrating thing about the Apple TV is how each channel that requires a pay TV provider description makes you log in separately--and they don't all support the same roster of providers. If you have Time Warner Cable, there's no way of knowing which channels that works with without having to check each channel individually, hunting around for the login screen, since they don't all have it in the same place. It's maddening.
There needs to be one place you log in with whatever credentials you have, and you're signed in across the whole suite of channels, like the OS-level Twitter sign-in on iPhones and iPads. Or at least let me indicate which pay TV provider I use, and tell me which channels are supported. And give me a little notification message (even an email) when new channels are added that I can actually use.
This is a tall order--being able to search for content across every channel is basically the holy grail of settop boxes. But Apple's competitors are at least trying. Roku and Amazon's Fire TV are way ahead, and Apple needs to catch up.
Speaking of Fire TV, Apple TV should let me search and navigate with my voice. Ideally this would be built in--Fire TV has a microphone built right into the remote, along with a button you press before speaking so it knows to listen up. But I'd also accept having to use Siri on an iOS device as the go-between.
Today when I say, "Siri, I want to watch John Candy films on my Apple TV," I only get results for movies playing at nearby theaters. C'mon Apple, you should know by now I only watch movies at home...
Safari plug-in for queueing videos
My favorite way to watch YouTube on my TV is to queue up videos in my web browser or YouTube apps to play on my Chromecast. The YouTube experience on the Apple TV is pretty bad in comparison. Navigating the channel with the Apple Remote is clunky, and using AirPlay to send one video at a time from the YouTube iOS app to the Apple TV works all right, but needs a better queing feature.
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