In an industry stocked with streaming devices including gaming systems, TVs and standalone devices, it can be hard to stand out. For the most part streaming devices offer the same basic concept of apps, music and games. But some devices do stand out, such as the Apple TV, which uses its Apple ecosystem to separate it from the pack of average devices that just stream things like Netflix and run the Pandora app. Apple’s latest iteration of the Apple TV is not only fast, but much more advanced than past generations of the product.
The latest generation of Apple TV (generation 4) was released in the Fall of 2015 and features the same simple design as the previous generation. A small, black box with four rounded corners. The latest generation is slightly taller and comes with a voice activated remote which is integrated with Siri.
It features an OS that was designed specifically for the Apple TV, allowing it to run smoothly. It also brings back the addition of user storage which had been missing from the 2nd and 3rd generation, shipping with either 32GB of storage or 64 GB of storage.
Apple paired the device with 2 GB of RAM, which is a massive upgrade from the 512 MB of RAM seen in the 3rd generation of the Apple TV. Lastly, it’s running the Apple A8 CPU, the same CPU found in the iPhone 6 and 6S.
The Apple TV still offers both WiFi and Ethernet support. It also features Bluetooth technology, which allows the user to use anything from a keyboard to Bluetooth headphones with the device. This makes it incredibly easy to navigate the interface via keyboard and listen to music or watch something while using headphones.
Like many other devices, the Apple TV only offers HDMI as a connection, and the 4th generation dropped optical support so you won’t be able to run sound separately at all.
Finally, the Siri Remote is a great addition to the Apple TV. Voice controls are fluid and allow the user to tell the console when to stop, play, etc. But it does much more than that. Thanks to the Siri Remote users can also search for apps, search YouTube, search for movies, check game scores, check the weather and more all with the sound their voice . This eliminates the need to flip through menu after menu in the user interface looking for what you want.
Prior generations of the Apple TV lacked one important feature that any great streaming device needs, the App Store. The Apple TV has thousands of available apps including the apps you would expect to see such as Netflix and Hulu. The 4th generation Apple TV also has support for Sling TV, Dish Network’s cable streaming service.
This generation also supports games, something past generations were unable to do. Because of this, Apple has a gaming controller for the console, which can be had for $49.95.
Because previous generations of Apple TV didn’t allow you to personalize the apps on the device, the App Store has been a welcome addition to the Apple TV and has helped pushed the device to record sales numbers. With more apps than you will know what to do with available, it truly allows you to customize your experience making it an ideal streaming device for cord cutters.
The Apple Eco-System
One thing Apple has always done really well, is its ability to integrate its products seamlessly. Everything works well with each other and requires minimal setup to make sure each device works with your fellow Apple devices. The Apple TV is no different.
From AirPlay, to iTunes, to the remote app, Apple has made it incredibly simple to use your accounts and devices with the Apple TV. The Apple TV allows users with an iPhone to send almost anything to the television, from heir iPhone. Want to play a song that’s on your phone? Simply hit “AirPlay.” Want to show off the photo you took of your five year old son? Hit “AirPlay.”
Another seamless integration is for Apple Music users and iTunes account holders. Apple Music is easily used on the Apple TV as is renting movies and TV shows from iTunes, or just sharing your music collection. With iTunes, again, you can either choose to access your music collection using Airplay via your phone or Mac computer or you can simply pull it up on the Apple TV itself.
A more recent update has fundamentally changed the Apple Remote app. Apple Remote is an iPhone app that allows you to control the Apple TV from your phone, instead of having to use an external remote. Up until recently, it did not include Siri support. This recent update allows users to use Siri voice search straight from their remote app.
You could say the Apple TV is at the high end of the price spectrum for standalone streaming devices, with some devices coming in under $50. There are currently three Apple TV’s on sale. The 3rd generation, which retails for $69, the 32 GB 4th generation Apple TV which retails for $149.00 and the 64 GB 4th generation Apple TV which retails for $199.00.
While the third generation is far cheaper, it lacks most of the features contained in the new generation of Apple TV. Plus, it’s unknown how much longer Apple will sell and support the old generation. When looking at the latest generation, you will get the most of what the Apple TV has to offer.
The 4th generation Apple TV comes with the Siri remote, a lightning-to-USB cable and a power cord. Unfortunately, Apple does not include an HDMI wire.
You could say Apple arrived late to the game when referencing a lot of features that are new to the Apple TV. From the App store to games, these are all things that have been available on other devices for awhile now. Apple TV isn’t trying to be the innovative game changer that other Apple products have tried to be. Instead, it’s just trying to perfect the way we’ve been doings things for some time now.