Apple TV universal search integration expands to PBS and PBS Kids, suggests API now open

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2016
It appears Apple has made good on promises to roll out developer access to Apple TV universal search APIs, as tvOS now includes deep content links from both the PBS and PBS Kids apps.




The change was spotted on Saturday by AppleInsider reader Erik, who discovered a Siri query for "Curious George" surfaced the PBS Kids app as a viewing option alongside the usual iTunes and Netflix choices. A separate search for "Antiques Roadshow" returned a results page showing streaming availability through the PBS app, a separate title from PBS Kids.

Universal search is a tentpole feature for the fourth-generation Apple TV, a set-top box capable of streaming movies, TV shows, music and more from a variety of apps. With ties to Siri, universal search allows users to find content from multiple sources by typing in or speaking certain search terms. For example, a query for a popular TV series like "Scandal" returns a dedicated results page with matches from all apps and services through which that content is available, in this case iTunes, Netflix and Hulu.

Initially, universal search functionality was limited to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO.

A month before fourth-gen Apple TV units hit store shelves, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company would open universal search APIs to third-party developers in the near future, but declined to comment on an exact time window.

"I think that many, many people will want to be in that search," Cook said. "And that's great for users. Think about your experience today. Even if you're fortunate enough to have the content you want to watch in an app, you sometimes don't remember exactly where that show is, so you're going to Netflix or Hulu or Showtime. You shouldn't have to do that. It should be very simple."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    All I care about is searching local content.  This will likely NEVER happen, because Apple doesn't want you to have it.
    edited January 2016 Solielijahg
  • Reply 2 of 49
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 914member
    Great... But why the hell cant Siri/universal search find anything in my locally connected iTunes library? It's completely stupid. I ask Siri to watch something that's in my library and accessible through the "computers" app, and yet it directs me to buy it from iTunes or watch on Netflix. 

    The new new AppleTV is good but certainly not great IMO. I get weird lag quite often where things take a while to respond, the on-screen keyboard is a serious downgrade from the old one and locally stored TV shows are STILL listed really badly. On the first AppleTV (the Intel one) the seasons for a particular TV show were all grouped together. Now you have to scroll endlessly through X seasons of each show to find what you're after. It's stupid.

    With 32/64gb available also, why can't we sync movies/TV shows to store on the box like the original could? Means you have to have iTunes running on a powered on Mac/PC to watch anything local. Totally ridiculous. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 3 of 49
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,803member
    All I care about is searching local content.  This will likely NEVER happen, because Apple doesn't want you to have it.
    That could lead to a roundabout solution using Plex, if the API is open, but I'd rather not fiddle with any circuitous method if I don't have to.
    edited January 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 49
    PutzyPutzy Posts: 7member
    So how long before we start seeing a roll out on things like BBC iPlayer? I must say that the ATVs biggest downfall is the lack of apps that can use siri search. Hopefully it's not too long before everything is Siri-able
  • Reply 5 of 49
    elijahg said:
    Great... But why the hell cant Siri/universal search find anything in my locally connected iTunes library? It's completely stupid. I ask Siri to watch something that's in my library and accessible through the "computers" app, and yet it directs me to buy it from iTunes or watch on Netflix. 

    The new new AppleTV is good but certainly not great IMO. I get weird lag quite often where things take a while to respond, the on-screen keyboard is a serious downgrade from the old one and locally stored TV shows are STILL listed really badly. On the first AppleTV (the Intel one) the seasons for a particular TV show were all grouped together. Now you have to scroll endlessly through X seasons of each show to find what you're after. It's stupid.

    With 32/64gb available also, why can't we sync movies/TV shows to store on the box like the original could? Means you have to have iTunes running on a powered on Mac/PC to watch anything local. Totally ridiculous. 
    Apple is de-emphasising the local library in favour of the cloud.  I would expect they will never allow local searching because all their efforts are about driving folks to the cloud.  

    On another note ... the article says that the search for Netflix works, but it's never worked for me.  My search finds absolutely nothing except what Apple has in the cloud.  It directs me to the iTunes store every single time even if the movie is in Netflix or on my local iTunes or both.  

    Is this another one of those (many) features that works for the folks in California, so it's considered to be "done" already?  Has this worked for anyone?   
    edited January 2016 Soli
  • Reply 6 of 49
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 914member
    Apple is de-emphasising the local library in favour of the cloud.  I would expect they will never allow local searching because all their efforts are about driving folks to the cloud.  
    I realise that, but what about TV shows that Apple's not got on iTunes, or ones you already own that're from DVD for example... I really don't feel particularly compelled to re-buy all the TV shows I own just so they can be downloaded from the cloud. The cloud is great for smaller files like music and photos and works really well, until you get to large TV sized files. Then the mediocre upload speed of most connections really bogs things down and it doesn't work well at all.
  • Reply 7 of 49
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,803member
    elijahg said: 
    I realise that, but what about TV shows that Apple's not got on iTunes, or ones you already own that're from DVD for example...
    But that's his point; and as I said, if the API is open, you'll be able to use a 3rd-party app, like Plex, to access your local content via the Siri Remote.
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 8 of 49
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 914member
    Soli said:
    But that's his point; and as I said, if the API is open, you'll be able to use a 3rd-party app, like Plex, to access your local content via the Siri Remote.
    Yeah, just Apple needs to realise iTunes isn't the centre of the universe. Hopefully Plex will work reasonably, though it has tended to be a bit finicky and unreliable with a pretty poor interface when i've tried it in the past.
  • Reply 9 of 49
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,803member
    elijahg said:
    Yeah, just Apple needs to realise iTunes isn't the centre of the universe. Hopefully Plex will work reasonably, though it has tended to be a bit finicky and unreliable with a pretty poor interface when i've tried it in the past.
    I think I can safely speak for Prof. Peabody when I say that we both hope Apple does offer Siri Remote search for local content via Home Sharing.
  • Reply 10 of 49
    Local content!!
    +1000


    elijahg
  • Reply 11 of 49
    friedmudfriedmud Posts: 159member
    elijahg said:
    Great... But why the hell cant Siri/universal search find anything in my locally connected iTunes library? It's completely stupid. I ask Siri to watch something that's in my library and accessible through the "computers" app, and yet it directs me to buy it from iTunes or watch on Netflix. 

    The new new AppleTV is good but certainly not great IMO. I get weird lag quite often where things take a while to respond, the on-screen keyboard is a serious downgrade from the old one and locally stored TV shows are STILL listed really badly. On the first AppleTV (the Intel one) the seasons for a particular TV show were all grouped together. Now you have to scroll endlessly through X seasons of each show to find what you're after. It's stupid.

    With 32/64gb available also, why can't we sync movies/TV shows to store on the box like the original could? Means you have to have iTunes running on a powered on Mac/PC to watch anything local. Totally ridiculous. 
    Apple is de-emphasising the local library in favour of the cloud.  I would expect they will never allow local searching because all their efforts are about driving folks to the cloud.  

    On another note ... the article says that the search for Netflix works, but it's never worked for me.  My search finds absolutely nothing except what Apple has in the cloud.  It directs me to the iTunes store every single time even if the movie is in Netflix or on my local iTunes or both.  

    Is this another one of those (many) features that works for the folks in California, so it's considered to be "done" already?  Has this worked for anyone?   
    Netflix searching works just fine for me.  For instance, if I say "I want to Watch The Walking Dead" it comes up and shows me it's available on Netflix and iTunes and will take me right to either one.
  • Reply 12 of 49
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,803member
    friedmud said:
    Netflix searching works just fine for me.  For instance, if I say "I want to Watch The Walking Dead" it comes up and shows me it's available on Netflix and iTunes and will take me right to either one.
    But only for items which you've purchased on the iTunes Store or that are available via Neflix; not your personal library. For example, you can't say, "Play 'Scarlett's first piano recital'" and have her play that named file from your local iTunes library on a Mac or WinPC via the Home Sharing connection 
  • Reply 13 of 49
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    All I care about is searching local content.  This will likely NEVER happen, because Apple doesn't want you to have it.
    I'm routinely amazed how little some of you understand about Apple and fringe cases. it's not because they don't want you to have it. it's because few people do it (techies) and it's hard to do it right. you're a fringe cases. most Apple income comes from the mainstream use cases. 
    lolliverlkrupp
  • Reply 14 of 49
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    elijahg said:
    Great... But why the hell cant Siri/universal search find anything in my locally connected iTunes library? It's completely stupid. I ask Siri to watch something that's in my library and accessible through the "computers" app, and yet it directs me to buy it from iTunes or watch on Netflix. 

    The new new AppleTV is good but certainly not great IMO. I get weird lag quite often where things take a while to respond, the on-screen keyboard is a serious downgrade from the old one and locally stored TV shows are STILL listed really badly. On the first AppleTV (the Intel one) the seasons for a particular TV show were all grouped together. Now you have to scroll endlessly through X seasons of each show to find what you're after. It's stupid.

    With 32/64gb available also, why can't we sync movies/TV shows to store on the box like the original could? Means you have to have iTunes running on a powered on Mac/PC to watch anything local. Totally ridiculous. 
    On another note ... the article says that the search for Netflix works, but it's never worked for me.  My search finds absolutely nothing except what Apple has in the cloud.  It directs me to the iTunes store every single time even if the movie is in Netflix or on my local iTunes or both.  

    Is this another one of those (many) features that works for the folks in California, so it's considered to be "done" already?  Has this worked for anyone?   
    how strange -- you're saying Netflix search works for all of us, but not for you? hmm. sounds to me like you're searching it wrong. 
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 15 of 49
    patsupatsu Posts: 429member
    Soli said:
    elijahg said: 
    I realise that, but what about TV shows that Apple's not got on iTunes, or ones you already own that're from DVD for example...
    But that's his point; and as I said, if the API is open, you'll be able to use a 3rd-party app, like Plex, to access your local content via the Siri Remote.
    elijahg said:
    Soli said:
    But that's his point; and as I said, if the API is open, you'll be able to use a 3rd-party app, like Plex, to access your local content via the Siri Remote.
    Yeah, just Apple needs to realise iTunes isn't the centre of the universe. Hopefully Plex will work reasonably, though it has tended to be a bit finicky and unreliable with a pretty poor interface when i've tried it in the past.
    Nah... It can also mean Apple expand iTunes to stay as the center of the universe. Software can always evolve.

    If you only want to search and play, the open Siri Universal search API should be more than what you need.
    And you don't really have to use an existing media player like Plex or iTunes. It can also be a separate 3rd party app that specializes in indexing and searching media, just like Spotlight.

    In fact, if Apple want to, they can also enable app searching and deep link into the system. They already have it on regular iOS devices.
    If they reuse this mechanism, it should follow the same privacy policies.



    edited January 2016
  • Reply 16 of 49
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Plex hasn't included Siri search in iOS 9 yet, what makes you think it is coming to AppleTV anytime soon? This feature would basically cap off my media server needs.
    edited January 2016 lostkiwi
  • Reply 17 of 49
    patsupatsu Posts: 429member
    Plex's blog about Apple TV is pretty upbeat. They explained their approach here:
    https://blog.plex.tv/2015/11/02/plex-on-the-new-apple-tv/

    They reused a large part of their media server mechanism, which is available on OS X.

    As long as the search API is open, Plex or some other developers should be able to integrate it with their existing server search facility.


    edited January 2016 lostkiwi
  • Reply 18 of 49
    I tested Plex on Apple TV and it is decent app but still looks like PCapp designed for Windows with lots of crappy settings. And it cannot recognise often shows on my disk if they are not stored in properly named directory. For me it was lot easier to stream using Beamer
  • Reply 19 of 49
    As long as the API is open, it's up to the app dev to implement. Infuse is what I'm using for media management (it's not bad and getting better with active development) and they've already said as soon as the APIs are available they'll implement it - the dev's realise it's an important feature, it'll get used no worries.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Soli said:
    friedmud said:
    Netflix searching works just fine for me.  For instance, if I say "I want to Watch The Walking Dead" it comes up and shows me it's available on Netflix and iTunes and will take me right to either one.
    But only for items which you've purchased on the iTunes Store or that are available via Neflix; not your personal library. For example, you can't say, "Play 'Scarlett's first piano recital'" and have her play that named file from your local iTunes library on a Mac or WinPC via the Home Sharing connection 
    How the f that you expect Siri to work on your so called "local library" which is actually not? Your librabry is located remotely in your computer and that is NOT local!
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