The new Apple TV is here, just unveiled at today's big event. Speculation about Apple's plans for the living room has circled for years, and this represents its most powerful assault on the space so far. A hardware refresh in 2012 added 1080p support, but not much else, so we're more than due for an upgrade, and exec Eddy Cue appropriately called today "a big day for the big screen." Tim Cook called it "the future of television," promising a new tvOS, App Store and showing off features including deep Siri integration with a new remote.
That Siri Remote has a touchpad, mic and Wii-like motion controls built in, necessary for Siri to search across "multiple content options" (iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime, with more to come) on a single screen. Universal search is a feature already offered by competitors like Roku, Samsung, Amazon and Xbox that makes it easy to find a show or movie without having to know which service or app it's in first, and now it's on Apple TV too. There will be two versions of the new Apple TV: a 32GB model for $149, and 64GB model for $199, shipping in October to over 80 countries.
In the onstage demo, Apple showed off features using Siri to locate content by genre, actor or just asking, "What's good for kids?" It also has a feature where asking, "Siri, what did he/she say?" automatically skips back a few seconds and turns on the captions. Taking a page from Siri on iOS (as well as other helpers like Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana) Siri can pull up info on the TV screen, like general facts and current sports scores. Everything during the demo looked to be voice-controlled, including switching apps.
The remote is connected to the box by Bluetooth 4.0, with volume control for your TV, as well as an accelerometer and gyroscope for the motion control features. Apple says it can go three months without charging, but when you need to top it up, it connects to the same Lightning plug as current iPhones and iPads. There's support for third-party MFi-based controllers (via Bluetooth too, key for the gaming experiences Apple is expecting).
As for the box itself, it looks a little taller than the previous squared-off hockey puck. Inside is a 64-bit A8 chip, with connections via an IR sensor, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac WiFi. There's no mention of external storage support, or any resolutions beyond 1080p, so we're figuring those aren't in the cards this time around. What it did add however is Dolby 7.1 support, up from 5.1 on the previous model.
Oh, and about those apps. Once again, the rumors are on target, with Apple unveiling its new iOS-based tvOS. Apple says everything from Netflix to games like Star Wars and Guitar Hero are coming to Apple TV now. Following Siri, the next software demo featured Crossy Road, which is coming at the launch of Apple TV with a new multiplayer mode, which could add players using iPhones as controllers. Harmonix is showing off a Beat Sports game that uses the remote's motion controls to add Nintendo Wii-style features.
The next demonstration featured the shopping app Gilt, where, of course, buyers can swipe through different looks and buy them directly from the remote. Slightly more impressive is a new MLB.com At-Bat app that not only pulls in games in 60 fps, but also features split-screen to watch multiple games, and notifications about events as they're happening that can pull you into a live broadcast.
Both versions of the new Apple TV launch next month alongside the current $69 Apple TV third-gen, but developers can access the tvOS beta and start working on apps today.
Get all the news from today's iPhone event right here.
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