Somewhere along the path of logic and rumor, reality struck. As the new Apple TV isn’t yet the iOS app-ilicious platform many of us (including me) had anticipated. Sure, it’s got apps… but they’re a pre-loaded and limited affair managed by Apple. The notable and possibly contradictory partner service is provided by Netflix. But there’s no CNN, Hulu Plus, SlingPlayer, or countless other video apps (or framework?) as seen on the iPhone.
Given Apple mindshare and retail domination, at $99 and in a much more sophisticated looking package than say the Roku, they’ll surely sell a ton of these devices. Yet I won’t be one of the new Apple TV early adopters — TiVo and Roku handle the vast majority of my VOD (Amazon) and Netflix video streaming needs. And then some.
While I’m disappointed by the absence of an Apple TV App Store, two new Apple features in particular do appeal to me and will be worth keeping an eye on. First off, AirPlay looks promising and appears to put newish, competing technologies like Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) to shame given the numerous ways you can beam and control multimedia to or from various devices. In fact, depending upon how it’s implemented in iPhone iOS 4.2, AirPlay may just overcome the absent software marketplace by streaming AV from an iPhone to Apple TV. As the evolution of AirTunes, AirPlay will also enable you to stream audio around the house from iPod or iTunes to upcoming, third-party audio devices. Sonos better watch their back.
Related, it makes perfect sense to use an iPhone or iPod Touch as an enhanced Apple TV remote control. Indeed, the Remote app appears to have an upgrade on tap:
with a flick of your finger, you can rent new movies and TV shows, scroll through the Netflix catalog, and browse your media collection. If you want to find something specific, use your device’s QWERTY keyboard to quickly tap out the title instead of clicking letters on the Apple TV screen.
The new Apple TV ships in a few weeks. Are you in?