Why apps are important for the new AppleTV

Apple TV 3.0There are a lot of rumours going around about the Apple TV or ‘iTV’ as some want to call it by its original internal name. It of course won’t be called iTV but thats a different matter.

I think the main selling factor of the new rumoured Apple TV will be iOS 4, some may say “why do I need this”, “what use are apps when I use my TV to watch TV shows”. You just need to look to the iPad to see how this will be successful, many including myself were underwhelmed when it was first released but as soon I saw iWork I knew the potential of this device. I told many people at the time how it would have such potential thanks to apps. Most of those people now own or want an iPad.

I see the Apple TV being used with a screen-less multi touch device similar to the Magic Trackpad which will include an accelerometer, gyro, compass, microphone and so on. All the standard things for an apple device to interact with apps.

First I’m going to look at the potential of apps on Apple TV then in a second post look to games which I feel will be the real killer feature.

There are many types of apps that just won’t work on Apple TV, you don’t really need to produce a document or type up notes. There will be very light typing on this device. It is a consumption device. I don’t think it will run iPhone apps as most of these are portrait and on a 1280×720 TV that just doesn’t work. It could however run iPad apps as long as the multi touch remote can function well with them.

The types of apps that will really excel on this will be video, music, photo, news, reference, utilities, magazines, books, all consumption apps.

A few sample apps for video would be :

iPlayer for the latest BBC shows, most likely using the Safari browser

AirVideo to let the computer convert any video format possible to run well with the Apple A4 with h.264 decoding.

EyeTV for watching live TV and checking the recordings on your mac

YouTube which is currently on the Apple TV

For those outside the UK services like Netflix would also be good

All of these video apps are available now for iPad and would be even better on Apple TV.

A few sample apps for music and photos would be :

Spotify, imagine having access to all the music that Spotify has from your TV connected to your surround sound

iPod, of course with updated cloud iTunes streaming similar to spotify

Photos, this will of course be a native app but could also be used by other apps to create exciting slide shows and perhaps an external camera accessory could be used similar to photobooth but on the big screen.

A few sample apps for news, reference and utilities would be :

Flipboard, Times, Early Edition, Reeder, all great iPad apps imagine replacing your TV watching news in the morning that includes content you don’t want to watch with content tailored for you using your facebook, twitter and RSS.

Utilities such as weather, stocks, to do lists, calendars that can be shared by the whole family could also be useful.

Finally a few sample apps for magazines and books would be :

Pixelmags, one of my favourite magazine companies I could see they could very easily product Apple TV magazines based on the iPad app so you can see a magazine on the big screen.

Other magazine companies could also produce even more dynamic content that may not even look like a magazine.

Books could also be on this device, why not, more sales for Apple and Amazon with iBooks and Kindle respectively.

Apple needs to price this at around $99 to $149 and there is no reason they couldn’t with it effectively being a screenless iPhone/iPad with same internals to save on costs.

That’s my take on apps on the Apple TV and in the next post will look at games.


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  2. Alexander

    I don’t know about books, but I think the idea of having apps on the AppleTV is very interesting. Jobs always said that AppleTV is ‘a hobby’ for Apple, but I think it is time that they did something to change AppleTV into something more than FrontRow for your television.

    Can’t wait to hear your ideas about games!

  3. Pingback: Why Games are important for the new AppleTV « Rob Sammons' Blog

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