What's the difference between Apple TV, Apple TV app, and Apple TV+?

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in General Discussion
If you instantly know the difference between Apple TV, Apple TV app, and Apple TV+, then remember there's also Apple TV Channels, Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD, and the Apple TV apps for Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and TV sets. What words are being overused here?

Watching Apple TV+ on the Apple TV app on iPhone
Watching Apple TV+ on the Apple TV app on iPhone


The reason that your Mac keyboard has a Command key with that clover-like icon is that designer Susan Kare put it there, but the reason she did is that Steve Jobs rejected the Mac team's original plan to put an Apple logo on it. Just as there's a Windows key for PCs, there would've been an Apple key for Macs, but Steve Jobs said no.

It appears that nobody else in Apple has ever said no since. Once the company took "Computer" out of its name, and once it stopped using "i" in front of everything, it settled on prefixing every product with the word Apple. Curiously, you can even date the move from "i" to "Apple" with the Apple TV as that had originally been announced under the name iTV.

At the time, changing it to Apple TV was just a legal decision after grumbles from the UK's television network ITV, but since then it's given rise to a generation. Not just of products named Apple, but specifically products named Apple TV.

Counting the different services, the different hardware, and the different apps, we make it that you can use the words "Apple TV" to mean about eight different things. We'd say that there may be a prize for anyone who can contort all eight into a single sentence, but we tried that above.

More seriously, we do regularly find ourselves having to explain how to get Apple TV+ through the Apple TV app on Apple TV. If only so that we can always refer you back to here, let us attempt to clear up the mess before Apple brings out yet another version of the Apple TV hardware.

Apple TV hardware

It all started in 2006 when Steve Jobs gave us a sneak peek of the iTV. We really wanted an actual TV set made by Apple. We did not know this was as close as we were going to get.






Flash forward to today and not a giant amount has really changed in the hardware. It's still what used to be referred to as a set-top box, and you plug it into your TV set.

Unless you have a Samsung smart TV or one from some other manufacturers that has Apple TV built in. Apart from those TV, Apple itself currently sells two versions of the Apple TV hardware.

There's the Apple TV 4K, and the previous model, now referred to as Apple TV HD to differentiate it. And that is the differentiation, really -- one is a HD 1080p box, the other is a 4K one.

You can get them with different storage capacities, and there's a better processor in the 4K version. There's also better audio. But really, you're buying the $149 HD one to save a little bit of cash, or the $179 4K version because you have a 4K TV set.

Apple TV app

Whichever model you get, or if you watch through the right TV set, what you see first is the Apple TV home screen. And that is not the same thing as the Apple TV App -- probably.

Originally, all Apple TV models started up with the home screen. Later, Apple introduced an app called Apple TV and loved it so much that they made it appear whenever you tried to go to the home screen.

Alas, there were problems. Apple presents that app as your one-stop place to watch everything available on your Apple TV -- and it isn't. Netflix doesn't work with it. So you just have to leave that app to go watch the most popular streaming service in the world. And there are others.

Apple TV is more expensive than its rivals, naturally, but for many people, this is how all their TV watching starts
Apple TV is more expensive than its rivals, naturally, but for many people, this is how all their TV watching starts


The way you get other services, such as Netflix, added to your Apple TV is to download their app from the Apple TV App Store. So when a channel tells you they're on Apple TV, that's what they mean -- probably.

Apple TV Channels

Apple TV Channels were announced in March 2019 right alongside Apple TV+, but it's chiefly a new name for an existing idea. Apple TV has long boasted that you could watch 100 channels through it, and that includes live sports, plus subscription services like HBO Now.

Today, Apple TV Channels is one name for all the services you can watch through your Apple TV hardware, and specifically through the Apple TV app on it. Except for Apple's own.

In this sense, it's like Apple News. You get the regular Apple TV Channels service, and you can pay extra for Apple TV+. Except that what you get for your extra fee is solely Apple TV+, everything else remains either free or a separate subscription.

Then, too, Apple has still not rescinded its apparently temporary plan to give people one year's free Apple TV+ access when they buy a new device. So right now, for many people, Apple TV+ is an extra that's free.

Further muddying the waters enough to make this tricky to explain to your parents, is the business of what is a channel and what is an app. Whether you're Netflix with a library of on-demand programs, or you're ABC News with live broadcasts, it's up to you whether you choose to be a channel, an app, or conceivably both.




Apple TV+

This is now the highest-profile use of the words "Apple TV," and it is the ever-growing catalog of dramas, comedies, children's shows, documentaries, and films. It may not yet have become as ubiquitous as Netflix, and it doesn't appear to have grabbed the same instant high-profile that Disney+ has.

However, its slate of programs is wide, and so far every show is well made. Some are more successful than others, but as productions they are first-class and there is bound to be at least some you like.

There is just the question of where you watch them. It can be on a TV set, but it can also be in one last use of the Apple TV phrase.

Apple TV apps

On Apple TV itself, plus the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac, there is an Apple TV app. You can't miss it because Apple doesn't call it Apple TV. Instead, it's just called TV.

Do a Spotlight search for the words "Apple TV" and your Mac or iOS device will know you really mean the TV app, and that's somehow a little indicative of the whole service. You want to do something and Apple TV translates that into what it thinks you want.

Except when it doesn't. You have to give Apple some credit for not swamping the TV app with its own Apple TV programs, but it doesn't have to make it quite so hard to find them.

This failing is not confined to Apple TV. Netflix is also difficult to dig through, but you'd hope that Apple would be better. Instead, Apple TV - sorry, the TV app -- makes it very easy for you to continue watching something you've already started like a series.

It just takes a lot more steps to find, say, all the Apple TV+ comedies or films. That might be intentional now as the Apple TV library remains small, but the company is adding new shows all the time so the way you find them is becoming a bigger issue.

Nonetheless, those shows are there to be found. And if we rankle at saying the words "Apple TV" a dozen times per sentence, at least it is getting the title out there. There's no way to know if that ever translates into more people trying Apple TV+, but if it gets anyone taking a second look at the Apple TV apps, or the Apple TV set-top boxes, that's a good thing.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,599member
    The overuse of "Apple TV" is almost as bad as their overuse of individual buttons on the Apple TV remote. I'd be happy with a dedicated Apple TV butto.. wait, a dedicated Apple TV app button on the remote, but trying to get the what-was-once a home button to do it, and having a long press for actual home seems daft. As if Apple's trying to make the whole Apple TV (box) just for the Apple TV (app) and nothing else. I know you can change it, but still. 

    Apple often tries to push these media aggregators and other inter-company integrations, and as awesome as they'd be if *every* media outlet used them, they unfortunately don't, so they're kinda useless. News works fine, possibly because the outlets have enough control of the layout that they're happy. But for TV, the networks want to define your whole experience - whether that be for the better or worse, it's what they want to do. Most of them are still pissed that they can't show you what they want you to watch, as they used to do with broadcast TV; but I digress...

    As a result of not every network being on the Apple TV (app), if you search and it doesn't find what you're after then you have to go to the network's app anyway, so you may as well just go there first. So far in the UK for the traditional networks, only the BBC uses the Apple TV (app),  but plenty more have an Apple TV (app). ...oh crap, I mean many networks have AN Apple TV app that's not THE Apple TV app - on the Apple TV (box). Plex for example isn't on the Apple TV (app) but is on the Apple TV (box). The macOS TV app has half the content that's on the Apple TV (box) missing, because here in the UK at least, it's only got Apple TV+ content.

    So yeah, they need to stop overusing "Apple TV", imagine trying to explain this to your 70 year old parents... "You need to use the Apple TV remote to open the Apple TV app on the Apple TV box to browse AppleTV+ content. Whoever thought that was a good idea?!
    edited May 2020 chemengin1muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 2 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,991member
    A couple of days ago I posted on the Apple Discussion forum about this very issue. You wouldn’t believe how many people are confused about the free one year subscription to Apple TV+. There is a constant stream of posts from users asking why, every time they select a movie to watch, they are prompted to either rent or buy the title. They think the Apple TV+ subscription means they can watch everything free they find inside the Apple TV app. If it says Apple TV it means free and users associate it with streaming services like Netflix or Disney+. It’s causing great confusion and, more importantly, disappointment and anger at Apple’s offerings.
    edited May 2020 elijahgmike54GeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 24
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,378member
    While there are some confusing branding issues going on here, probably the biggest underlying source of these problems is the jockeying for position of content providers. All the parts are there for cable providers, streaming services and individual channel apps to be fairly seamlessly integrated on the ATV box. The barriers to that are almost entirely due to individual content providers, e.g. Xfinity, Viacom, Netflix, etc., restricting or refusing to participate in those integrations. Netflix shows up within ATV’s search results, but won’t allow its content to be linked from within the ATV app. ATV has a single-sign-on feature for cable subscribers, but Xfinity won’t participate, which means their customers are frequently required to re-enter credentials for individual channel apps. Viacom has a feud with Comcast, so even though Xfinity customers get Viacom content via their cable box, they can’t have it on their ATV set-top box. There’s an Xfinity cable-box app for iPhones and iPads, but that’s not allowed on ATV, because everyone would return their $10/month cable box if there was. There’s too much money to be won or lost for these things to be allowed to work seamlessly. Apple may be the biggest company in the world, but they’re still not big enough to muscle the others into submission.
    pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 24
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    In some ways Apple is the most brilliant marketing company ever, but naming products they barely get passing marks - through the years they have been consistently inconsistent in naming products - I truly believe they’ve lost brand equity and revenue based on confusing their customers. It’s as if they do not have a master branding strategy, each new product launch feels is as if they have a new marketing team brainstorming without an understanding of the product branding past, present and future. Air, SE, i, plus, Apple, Pro, confusing except to the most loyal Mac fans like us readers that spend the time to learn it all and keep it straight. In some cases there is feature/function overlap which calls for research and comparisons to figure out what product best fits your needs, or the product has the same name as years prior with no numerical or year designator adding confusion to a more casual buyer (is it possibly deliberate?) — a mess in my opinion.
    elijahgaderuttermike54flyingdpjeffharrismuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 24
    jdgazjdgaz Posts: 390member
    I may be old school, but a 10 page user guide for the Apple TV box, The TV app, and TV+ would help a heck of a lot of people. As for +, we have enjoyed Dickenson, Home, and are now starting on a few others. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 24
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,252member
    I'm glad AppleInsider posted this article, but unfortunately it won't help a lot of those affected unless Apple takes some positive steps to disambiguate their product/services branding in this area. I have no doubt that this is having a negative effect on the bottom line, but who knows how big it really is. this is unfortunate because all of these things provide a lot of end user value on their own and Apple needs to get the right word out on each one. 
    mike54pscooter63
  • Reply 7 of 24
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 533member
    My Samsung Frame TV has the AppleTV app and we could activate the free year of AppleTV+ and likely will before the chance runs out.
    However, we haven’t rushed to try AppleTV+ partly due to lack of content (so it makes sense to delay the start of the free 12 months as long as possible).

    In a broader sense, we mostly use the Netflix app on the TV, sometimes the BBC app.

    Before I bought the current TV I used the AppleTV HD hardware daily, but it’s left redundant now and I can’t think of a reason to buy the new 4k model seeing as the TV has the AppleTV app on it.

    The other UK channel apps are a joke. I would even be prepared to put up with adverts but the app implementation is so bad that it usually crashes or fails to load about 75% of the time. So we have given up on these other apps. 

    I had to explain the differences to my other half last month, so I know it is confusing. The AppleTV offerings are about the worst thing about Apple at the moment, if it’s confusing to people in our house then it must be way beyond the comprehension of many others.

  • Reply 8 of 24
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,222member
    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    elijahgmike54qwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,599member
    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    Gotta agree. The only time I've seen Cook enthusiastic about anything was when Oprah Winfrey was on stage. Other than that everything seems very much blasé and almost like it's too much effort for him to really be there. He struggles to extoll the virtues of a brand new product, that's left up to the other VPs; his usual "it's maaahgical" quip is so so tired and overdone it comes across as entirely false.
    mike54bloggerblogqwerty52
  • Reply 10 of 24
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,378member
    elijahg said:
    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    Gotta agree. The only time I've seen Cook enthusiastic about anything was when Oprah Winfrey was on stage. Other than that everything seems very much blasé and almost like it's too much effort for him to really be there. He struggles to extoll the virtues of a brand new product, that's left up to the other VPs; his usual "it's maaahgical" quip is so so tired and overdone it comes across as entirely false.
    Right. Tim Cook isn’t like Steve Jobs, Apple is doomed, yadda, yadda, yadda. That’s an original thought right there.
    pscooter63jeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 24
    CloudTalkinCloudTalkin Posts: 906member
    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    No you saw a photo of Jobs possibly looking introspective and you projected your feelings on it.  The chances of him being deep in thought about hardware and software were equal to the chances he was trying to squeeze out a fart without anyone noticing.  Nostalgia can be funny like that. Jobs made as many errors as Cook has made.  They both have had successes and failures.  Trying to turn a bad naming scheme into an object lesson on effective management really doesn't make sense.  Jobs brought the company back from the brink.  Under Cook the company went from $100 million plucky outsider to a trillion dollar behemoth.  

    Could Jobs have done the same thing?  IDK and neither do you.  We both do know Cook could do it cuz he did it.
    roundaboutnowpscooter63king editor the gratejeffharrismuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 24
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,599member
    AppleZulu said:
    elijahg said:
    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    Gotta agree. The only time I've seen Cook enthusiastic about anything was when Oprah Winfrey was on stage. Other than that everything seems very much blasé and almost like it's too much effort for him to really be there. He struggles to extoll the virtues of a brand new product, that's left up to the other VPs; his usual "it's maaahgical" quip is so so tired and overdone it comes across as entirely false.
    Right. Tim Cook isn’t like Steve Jobs, Apple is doomed, yadda, yadda, yadda. That’s an original thought right there.
    Yeah that's not what I said in any way. Maybe you should rename yourself AppleZealot?
    bloggerblogdarkvaderMplsP
  • Reply 13 of 24
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,599member

    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    No you saw a photo of Jobs possibly looking introspective and you projected your feelings on it.  The chances of him being deep in thought about hardware and software were equal to the chances he was trying to squeeze out a fart without anyone noticing.  Nostalgia can be funny like that. Jobs made as many errors as Cook has made.  They both have had successes and failures.  Trying to turn a bad naming scheme into an object lesson on effective management really doesn't make sense.  Jobs brought the company back from the brink.  Under Cook the company went from $100 million plucky outsider to a trillion dollar behemoth.  

    Could Jobs have done the same thing?  IDK and neither do you.  We both do know Cook could do it cuz he did it.
    Not really sure it was Cook, it was the engineers and the designers behind the closed doors at Apple that did it. You can tell he has little to do with it just by his manner, and how he never actually demos anything because he doesn't really have an interest in it. He's an operations guy, and an excellent one at that. But it was well known there was a lot in the pipeline after SJ's death. The Watch was, and probably the Airpods too, and probably an ARM Mac. AppleTV+ is likely something that SJ didn't have a say on, and of course dropping into "SJ would have" territory here and yes I know 2020 Apple is a lot different to 1997 Apple, but he was one for focus; to do a few things but do them well. Apple's obviously much much bigger than in 1997, and not in financial troubles, but SJ liked minimalism, from the UI to the products themselves to the stores to the product lines. Nothing about Apple's product lines is minimal now, AppleTV+ included.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    elijahg said:

    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    No you saw a photo of Jobs possibly looking introspective and you projected your feelings on it.  The chances of him being deep in thought about hardware and software were equal to the chances he was trying to squeeze out a fart without anyone noticing.  Nostalgia can be funny like that. Jobs made as many errors as Cook has made.  They both have had successes and failures.  Trying to turn a bad naming scheme into an object lesson on effective management really doesn't make sense.  Jobs brought the company back from the brink.  Under Cook the company went from $100 million plucky outsider to a trillion dollar behemoth.  

    Could Jobs have done the same thing?  IDK and neither do you.  We both do know Cook could do it cuz he did it.
    Not really sure it was Cook, it was the engineers and the designers behind the closed doors at Apple that did it. You can tell he has little to do with it just by his manner, and how he never actually demos anything because he doesn't really have an interest in it. He's an operations guy, and an excellent one at that. But it was well known there was a lot in the pipeline after SJ's death. The Watch was, and probably the Airpods too, and probably an ARM Mac. AppleTV+ is likely something that SJ didn't have a say on, and of course dropping into "SJ would have" territory here and yes I know 2020 Apple is a lot different to 1997 Apple, but he was one for focus; to do a few things but do them well. Apple's obviously much much bigger than in 1997, and not in financial troubles, but SJ liked minimalism, from the UI to the products themselves to the stores to the product lines. Nothing about Apple's product lines is minimal now, AppleTV+ included.
    Again, you're projecting and seem to be viewing Jobs and Jobs' Apple through rose-tinted glasses.  You can't tell anything about Cook by his manner.  You definitely can't tell anything by him not demo'ing, especially whether or not he has interest in it.  A bad leader can turn a good company into a turd.  A good leader can make a good company better.  In my opinion any objective evaluation of Apple under Cook can only conclude he has been not just a good leader, but a great one.  Financially, ecologically, and philanthropically today's Apple is miles ahead of where it was before.  I don't even think that can be argued against.  Again, overuse of "Apple" in the naming scheme of certain products and services is a bad move, a blunder in my opinion.  But it is not indicative of a larger issue.  That's hyperbolic reaching.


    pscooter63jeffharrismuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 15 of 24
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,599member
    elijahg said:

    Apple needs a visionary. I saw a photo of Jobs sitting in a small room at his home using an iMac, he was in deep thought about the hardware and OS as a package. I’ve been using Apple TV since it first came out and I’m often confused with the UI and the names. 
    No you saw a photo of Jobs possibly looking introspective and you projected your feelings on it.  The chances of him being deep in thought about hardware and software were equal to the chances he was trying to squeeze out a fart without anyone noticing.  Nostalgia can be funny like that. Jobs made as many errors as Cook has made.  They both have had successes and failures.  Trying to turn a bad naming scheme into an object lesson on effective management really doesn't make sense.  Jobs brought the company back from the brink.  Under Cook the company went from $100 million plucky outsider to a trillion dollar behemoth.  

    Could Jobs have done the same thing?  IDK and neither do you.  We both do know Cook could do it cuz he did it.
    Not really sure it was Cook, it was the engineers and the designers behind the closed doors at Apple that did it. You can tell he has little to do with it just by his manner, and how he never actually demos anything because he doesn't really have an interest in it. He's an operations guy, and an excellent one at that. But it was well known there was a lot in the pipeline after SJ's death. The Watch was, and probably the Airpods too, and probably an ARM Mac. AppleTV+ is likely something that SJ didn't have a say on, and of course dropping into "SJ would have" territory here and yes I know 2020 Apple is a lot different to 1997 Apple, but he was one for focus; to do a few things but do them well. Apple's obviously much much bigger than in 1997, and not in financial troubles, but SJ liked minimalism, from the UI to the products themselves to the stores to the product lines. Nothing about Apple's product lines is minimal now, AppleTV+ included.
    Again, you're projecting and seem to be viewing Jobs and Jobs' Apple through rose-tinted glasses.  You can't tell anything about Cook by his manner.  You definitely can't tell anything by him not demo'ing, especially whether or not he has interest in it.  A bad leader can turn a good company into a turd.  A good leader can make a good company better.  In my opinion any objective evaluation of Apple under Cook can only conclude he has been not just a good leader, but a great one.  Financially, ecologically, and philanthropically today's Apple is miles ahead of where it was before.  I don't even think that can be argued against.  Again, overuse of "Apple" in the naming scheme of certain products and services is a bad move, a blunder in my opinion.  But it is not indicative of a larger issue.  That's hyperbolic reaching.


    You may want to look up the definition of projecting. There were plenty of failures and abandonments under Jobs, he was by no means perfect, and by many accounts not a nice bloke. And perhaps you lack the ability to read people, but I can, thank you. Did I at any point say Apple wasn't a better company now? Not at all. There are just a growing number of areas where they could improve. 
    bloggerblog
  • Reply 16 of 24
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,040member
    So Apple TV isn't an actual TV?
    mike54darkvaderqwerty52muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 24
    digitoldigitol Posts: 268member
    What a NIghtmare and total clusterfook of product naming!!  Same story for iTunes confusingly Also known as:  itunes, music, applemusic, itunes match, icloud music library. Again for iPhone iPhone X,Xs,XR,max, etc.. Total rubbish. 
    edited May 2020 darkvaderelijahg
  • Reply 18 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Good article!  I hope Tim reads it and learns....

    The whole AppleTV mishmash seems to me to be a classic case of marketers telling technicians what they will create:
    -- Create THIS and I will sell it
    -- Create THAT and I will sell it
    -- Crate THIS TOO and I will sell it

    Steve's genius was to marry the multiple disciplines that comprise new products and balance marketing, design, production and implementation,etc. into a cohesive whole that was greater than the sum of its parts.

    Apple can and does still do that -- but not always.

    For me, the greatest benefit of an AppleTV is that I could use it as a hub for Apple's HomeKit.
    The fact that the base model is using 5 year old A8 processor should tell you a lot.
    elijahg
  • Reply 19 of 24
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,647member
    Totally agree with the article and many of the posters here. I have delayed upgrading to Catalina on most of my computers, but I recently got a used MacMini to use as a video hub and it took me a while to figure out that movies weren’t in iTunes anymore, they were in the AppleTV app. I assumed this was just an app for the AppleTV+ service. I guess it should have been more confusing to me that Movies were actually in iTUNES, but that’s a different story. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 20 of 24
    galfridusgalfridus Posts: 44member
    A good article, but the fact this has to exist means I have thoughts.

    I’ve used the Apple TV since its inception (had a white MacBook sitting in another room with EyeTV hooked up DVR’ing shows from a cable box and then OTA, which then served those shows up to the Apple TV by way of Home Sharing) and have hung on with every change... and this has been the most confused it’s ever been. Is it hardware? Is it an app? Is it a service? The best parallel the original Apple TV had was the iPod—an Apple-styled media player that should have been the best option on the market. And, for a while, I think the Apple TV was the best option.

    Once Roku stopped being just a basic Netflix device and had a store, once Google started pushing on Android TV (regardless of their failures there), once Amazon played its hand with the Fire TV, and once it was clear Apple wasn’t going to convince the content creators to accept it as an OTT provider, Apple should have taken decisive action instead of limping along (the fact that Apple still has no first-party or officially blessed third-party OTA tuner astounds me—it’s a no-brainer and the fact Amazon beat them to it with the Recast is just stunning). That being said, I think the entire landscape is an absolute mess and that it’s still anyone’s game.

    If Apple can get off its rear and create an Apple TV equivalent to the Fire TV Cube (one with far-field mics, Siri built-in, and an IR blaster), that would make the case for a refresh on the hardware. If not... then there’s close to no reason for a new box (yes, a more powerful processor for Apple Arcade is “nice,” but useless until there is a packed-in game controller and there are full-fledged user profiles in tvOS—having the Apple TV box tied to a single Game Center ID is asinine). If they can’t make a box that is a useful piece of hardware (not just a player) and integrates into a smart home and its entertainment center, then they should stop making the thing.

    Just as the Music app was the equivalent to the iPod, I think the TV app is the same to the Apple TV (which makes me ask if the future Of the tvOS interface is tied to the current TV app interface on the Apple TV box). I think there needs to be a visionary working hard on making sure the app works seamlessly across every platform and is presenting Apple’s best work, but many of their non-macOS, non-iOS app work feels half-hearted. Personally, I think the need for the app on other platforms mostly disappeared once MoviesAnywhere arose, but I still think Apple can use the app as a marketing tool to pull users over to the Apple TV hardware (hopefully better and more functional than it currently is).

    The Channels are the first really good thing I’ve seen in a long time and I really want to see them push that aggressively. We subscribe to BritBox and it’s seamless—let’s see more of that! I’d really love to see more of the free providers (Tubi, Crackle, Filmrise, etc.) take advantage of it, too—it’s more likely to get their ads in front of faces that way. An OTA (Tablo, HomeRun, ChannelMaster... whatever) “channel” would be great, too. And a guide—something that integrates channels and apps with live feeds (Pluto, ESPN, the news apps, the OTA apps, etc.) so we can see what’s on right now—would be great (even though it’s playing catch-up).

    And then there’s Apple TV+. I’m subscribed to it (I bought a Mac mini and got the free year), but I have yet to really be impressed by anything. I wanted to like For All Mankind and Raven’s Quest, but the former just fell flat with me (there’s a lot of retro-futurism they could be exploring there and they just aren’t) and the latter feels like it’s trying way too hard to be a semi-serious successor to The IT Crowd vis-a-vis The Office (and it misses the mark on both). I watched Beastie Boys Story and... nothing was new (nor did I think it was all that compelling once the discussion made it past Paul’s Boutique... which was 30 years ago). The Snoopy stuff has been fun to watch with my kids, but is that worth the potential monthly cost? What value does Apple TV+ bring at that price when Hulu is the same price? What does it actually do to serve Apple TV users?

    Like a lot at Apple right now, the Apple TV offerings are a mess, but I think it’s the biggest mess. Apple needs to determine what its core businesses are, and I don’t think content creation is one. If they take inspiration from Jobs’s pro/consumer hardware quadrants (Power Mac, PowerBook for pros and iMac, iBook for consumers), I think Apple can begin to refocus (only, as opposed to just hardware, it should be pro hardware, consumer hardware, services, and first-party apps).

    For the Apple TV ecosystem, I think refocusing means taking a serious look at the home hardware (the Apple TV and the HomePod) and Apple TV+.

    In terms of the hardware, They need to ask if Siri is going to be a true competitor to Alexa, or is it going to be an also-ran like Cortana? If Siri is going to be more, then it’s well past time Siri be its own service and it be placed in everything (and licensed) just like Alexa (and, despite loving my HomePods, I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed due to Apple dragging its feet for five years). Personally, I would love a Fire TV Cube-like Apple TV with full voice controls and IR blasting, or an Apple-designed sound bar with HomePod-like capabilities and the same IR blasting, but I don’t see it coming (who knows what WWDC might bring?).

    In terms of Apple TV+, they need to ask if content creation is actually a “service” or if it’s just a vanity project. Right now, it’s a vanity project. If they beef it up (buy Philo or Sling and maybe Filmrise or Crackle and get some big exclusives to beef-up the content offerings and integrate them *tightly* with the Apple TV app), then it might make it a proper OTT service. If they can’t do that, then it’s still just a vanity project, and spinning-out the content creation makes the most sense to me—it just isn’t needed, it’s muddling the message, and it’s distracting the company from from the core businesses.

    Sorry for the wall of text. This is one of those things I’ve chewed on for a while and I keep being disappointed by Apple (but the others, too).
    elijahg
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