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Apple today announced a new version of its Apple TV set-top box, which features a touch-sensitive remote and a shiny new user interface design that has integration with the company’s digital voice assistant Siri.
The news came during the company’s annual Fall media event, for which Siri was intended to be in the spotlight. While the event is still happening, thus far it seems like adding Siri to the new Apple TV is exactly what it was trying to hype.
During a live demonstration, Apple showed how seemingly easy it is to use Siri when navigating through various programming. For simple navigation, the touch-gestures should do the trick, but for more complex instructions like finding a movie or TV show to watch with children, Siri might be better. [Upon further reflection, I can understand why Apple would have difficulty getting TV networks to sign up for that rumored streaming service its planning. With the new Apple TV, you don’t really need to navigate via channel or by network. You navigate directly to the content you want, sometimes found within an app. It lessens the influence of the TV programmers, while leaving the best part (the content).]
Speaking of the remote, it’s finally something worthy of the company Steve Jobs built. As you’ll see in the image above, the top of the remote is devoted to touch gestures. It maintains the simplicity of the last version of the remote with just a few buttons — Menu, Airplay, Siri/Voice control, play/pause, and surprisingly an option to adjust the volume. And to top it off, the remote has a lighting cable port at the bottom — presumably for charging (3 months per charge) and connecting to other devices.
Apple also announced that Apple TV will be running on a new operating system, tvOS — which will finally give developers the ability to create their own apps that are intended for television screens rather than mobile devices or desktops. This is something both developers and consumers have been clamoring for since at least the introduction of the Apple TV itself. Those apps will also have continuity with other existing apps on iOS and OS X, according to the company.
There were a few attempts to show how diverse the Apple TV could be with third-party applications, most notably with a new Major League Baseball app that provides easy access to stats while watching a live game. It’s also worth pointing out that with the addition of an Apple TV app store, Apple just made a play to become a console for casual gamers. This is something that Google’s Android TV platform hasn’t quite mastered, and Amazon’s Fire TV hasn’t done much better. (More on that later.)
Unlike the previous three models, Apple appears to have reversed its decision to eliminate the need for storage (probably because of its push into gaming). The new model has two options: a 32Gb version for $150 and a 64Gb version for $200. The new Apple TV should hit shelves in late October, the company says.