WWDC 2018 Wish List: tvOS

Here, let me just reuse my opening paragraph from last year’s post.

Here, let me just reuse my opening paragraph from last year’s post:

As we get closer to WWDC, I notice that there’s a dearth of excitement, interest, or rumors in anything involving the Apple TV. It’s hard to blame anyone for the disinterest since the platform hasn’t really wowed anyone since its premiere and no major rumors have circulated in advance of Monday’s event. I’ll run through a list of things I would like to see, though I myself am skeptical any of them will materialize in a few days.

That was easy.

That was easy.

The only thing from my original list that was knocked off last year was “backup and restore” which was addressed by storing your home screen and settings in iCloud to use on other Apple TV devices. That approach negates the need to use backups like an iOS device does. Another oddity is AirPlay 2 which magically appeared last week after a year of delays so the jury is still out on how “shipped” that is.

Apple also shipped a UHD HDR capable box last fall, which was a big deal. They even came around on whether they should convert all media to 60 FPS HDR (very bad) or switch modes (not bad). They have had to make refinements to this at several stages but it does seem to be improving. When they announced UHD they also announced that all movies would get UHD for free when available from most studios. The big exception was Disney. Any Disney news coming, I hope?

I still would like to see Apple tackle:

  • Picture in Picture - This is just a silly omission of a television technology when they have it for other platforms.
  • Interactive Programming Guide - With an increasing emphasis on live TV provided by multiple sources there needs to be a mechanism to expose what’s available to the user from the disparate silos. (Especially because the programming guide some of these bundlers provide in their own apps is shit.)
  • A New Multitasking View - The rolodex card thing has got to go.
  • Streamlined Apple ID and Apple ID Switching - A lot of people live with other people. Who knew?
  • Siri - Google demonstrated Google Home and a Chromecast working together over a year ago now.

Last year I called out tvOS for having huge shortcomings (regionally, and in terms of applicable services even if it was working in your region). Apple has made incremental moves to address these things but there are still huge potholes for a user if they happen to fall into a service, or use a provider, that doesn’t provide support. There is also a huge service missing from tvOS still, Netflix. A service that is far and away the number one service people subscribe to if they subscribe to online services.

There’s even a technical grossness to the way that TV the app redirects you to why you watch. This is true of Siri’s search as well. you get bounced around redirects that change what you see on the screen at each step. Why doesn’t tvOS resolve these links to a final destination and perform one change of the visible interface?

Expensive Box

The price situation is worse this year than it was the year prior. The 2015 4th Generation Apple TV costs $150. The same as it did when it was introduced. That is isnane. The 5th Generation Apple TV 4K added last year is even more expensive at $180 for 32 GB, and $200 for 64 GB.

There is no reason to buy a 64 GB Apple TV.


Apple has had three years to justify 64 GB and they haven’t. Even after the storage caps were increased. Right now the pricing structure seems to exist only to drive people to spend “a little” more money to get the next level.

Third Party Players

Many of the services have made their own playback controls, which is bad, because then different apps behave differently. The Siri playback controls don’t work in certain apps, and the same goes for hand gestures. The other week I had to watch Westworld in the DirecTV Now app because HBO Go doesn’t recognize my free HBO subscription from AT&T via DirecTV Now. DirecTV Now doesn’t behave like a normal playback system on the platform.

Games, lol

Gaming is a hilarious joke on the Apple TV. When it was first teased, people thought that they would have “console level” games on Apple hardware on a big screen in their living room. Apple undermined everything about that starting with input methods. It’s still bizarre that Apple demos the Apple TV in stores with a third party game controller.

If Apple demos an upgrade to Metal and shows how many polygons they can push now I will make a very impolite gesture with with my hand because those polygons will not matter.

I would argue that they should strip out any gaming aspirations and make a more economical streaming device.

More to Come

There’s still so much more to do with this platform. Especially with the Apple streaming service on the horizon. Let’s see how much progress Apple thinks they need to make…

2018-06-03 23:59:00

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