We’re about an hour away from the Apple event where they will announce the new Apple TV. Here are the things I’m going to be watching for based on my time researching Smart TVs, game consoles, and set top boxes.
Input remains the biggest challenge for all attempts to bring computer smarts to the screens on our walls. While the software and content options for the new Apple TV will matter, if Apple truly revolutionizes TVs, I suspect if will come from an improvement in input.
Historically, improved input has accompanied Apple innovation. The Mac’s mouse. The iPod’s scroll wheel. The iPhone’s touch screen.
The other lesson here is that none of these inputs were wholly Apple inventions. In each case, the input technology had been used by other companies in the past. The iPhone’s touch screen seemed ho-hum until people actually used it and realized how much attention to detail Apple had put into perfecting the input.
So I’ll be surprised if the remote control has some feature that we haven’t seen on remote controls in the past, but I also suspect that if Apple TV is a game changer, it will be because of the remote control.
The current Apple TV is limited to d-pad interactions—up, down, left, right. There are a lot of interactions that need the ability to select an arbitrary point on the screen instead of navigating to that point by successive d-pad button presses.
The most obvious need is in games. The rumors are strong that the new Apple TV will focus on games. The remote control has been described as Wii-like in its ability to detect motion.
The question is whether or not there will be any interfaces where you may see a pointer on the screen. I highly suspect app developers will build apps that include pointers, but do any of the Apple apps themselves include a pointer. And if so, where is it used and how does it work?
I have little doubt that the new TV operating system will support embedded web views. Web views are critical for many apps.
So the big question is whether or not Apple will include a browser as well. I’ve explored some of the arguments for and against a browser in the past.
I’ve been looking forward to today’s announcement since I started researching the web on TVs in 2012. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when Apple is no longer treating TVs as a hobby.