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Apple VP talks improvements for TV 4K, tvOS and HomeKit

(CNN) —  

There’s a brand new Apple TV 4K and Siri Distant on the town. In addition to testing it out for every week, CNN Underscored was one of many first shops to talk with Apple concerning the refreshed Apple TV 4K.

“We wish to ship the most effective expertise for purchasers for all of the stuff they love to observe and we wish to make it actually wealthy for people who’re engaged with the Apple ecosystem,” says Tim Twerdahl, Apple’s vp of product advertising for house and audio.

However is that this in actual fact the most effective streaming system?


As we gleaned from our expertise, the new Apple TV 4K by itself isn’t a wholly new product. Just like the iPad Professional, it’s all inside {hardware} adjustments alongside just a few new options. It delivers 4K decision (one thing its predecessor did as effectively) however brings added help for high-frame-rate content material, which is made attainable by the brand new A12 chip. “Delivering that finest viewing expertise on the TV is absolutely what Apple TV is all about,” says Twerdahl. “We wish to be sure that no matter specs you care about, to get the very best image high quality to have that the majority cinematic expertise to actually get pleasure from all of the superb content material that’s on the market.”

In our testing, the Apple TV 4K did current content material in a really sharp and vibrant matter. Remember, although, loads of that is dependent in your TV mannequin. With help for 4K together with requirements like Dolby Imaginative and prescient, HDR and Dolby Atmos, Apple is attempting to supply a gamut of choices. One new function is the power to paint steadiness your TV along with your iPhone, which we really feel is a superb function that permits you to get extra out of TV 4K and your TV. Nonetheless, you’ll want an iPhone with Face ID in an effort to measure coloration ranges of your TV and to regulate how the Apple TV 4K is presenting content material. When you don’t want the brand new mannequin to benefit from the colorimeter, the brand new mannequin is the important thing to high-frame-rate content material, although — we had been in a position to take a look at this with one app, RedBull TV, and it does certainly broadcast at a better body fee. This fashion the content material seems to be extra practical. The problem right here, although, is you’ll want a TV that helps it and extra content material is required. Like 4K decision, this can be a type of future-proofing your setup.

Along with presenting the content material, the brand new A12 Bionic chip contained in the Apple TV 4K can also be answerable for powering tvOS and the apps you select to obtain. By means of the App Retailer you may get streaming providers or video games.

With the latter, the A12 Bionic goals to ship extra energy that builders can faucet into. In our testing, video games do load sooner and really feel a bit extra dynamic. The gaming expertise is on par with that of an iPad Professional, and it’s immersive. “Our deal with gaming has been extra not too long ago on arcade stuff, as a result of we expect that that’s an amazing worth for purchasers. There’s an amazing quantity of content material in there,” says Twerdahl. “And we’ve performed so much to make that have unbelievable. Most notably, in all probability help for all these completely different sport controllers.”

The expertise of enjoying a sport on Apple TV with a controller aids within the ease of choosing up a title. It’s additionally a bit extra dynamic, contemplating there are haptics and motors constructed into the controllers. This fashion it gives extra suggestions over a linked iPhone and even the Siri Distant.

And with Apple Arcade, for $4.99 a month, you get entry to a plethora of titles. “It’s in all probability not designed to compete instantly with the Xboxes and PlayStations of the world,” says Twerdahl. “They create one thing to the market that I believe is exclusive and nice for actually hardcore avid gamers.”


Apple TV has all the time lived within the higher echelons of pricing. We named the earlier Apple TV 4K “the improve decide” after testing a plethora of streaming gadgets, because it was $80 greater than our general decide (Roku Extremely). Apple hasn’t performed a lot to carry that value down, because it nonetheless begins at $179 for the 32GB mannequin. “We predict there’s an amazing quantity of worth on this $179. After we discuss one of the simplest ways to observe TV, I form of give it some thought at three ranges,” Twerdahl says.

The primary degree, in response to Twerdahl: “Making certain that we’ve got the {hardware} specs to ship the very best high quality expertise you may get.” Arguably, that is the objective with any streamer. And whereas Apple gives the core viewing requirements you’d count on at as much as 4K decision and works to upscale content material in actual time, it additionally permits you to coloration steadiness the panel, which did enhance the image high quality in our testing.

“The facet of getting all of the content material individuals need and making it straightforward to find and luxuriate in,” Twerdahl names because the second degree. That’s the place the Siri distant is available in, as Apple’s digital assistant will help you discover content material and deal with all of your requests. You could be particular like “Let’s watch ’The Love Guru’” or extra broad with a style or particular film collection request. The Apple TV app, which we’ll dive into beneath, serves because the central hub for really useful content material and easy accessibility for viewing. The largest leg up that the Siri Distant has: It doesn’t simply level you to purchase the content material you’re asking for, however actively hyperlinks to providers that you just’re already signed into to observe it. So if we ask for “Star Wars Rebels” it can pull up the cardboard and take us into Disney+, for the reason that Apple TV is aware of we’ve got an account. That’s a step additional than what Roku, Chromecast with Google TV or Hearth TV will do.

The third space Twerdahl walks us by is the ecosystem as “an space we proceed to speculate actually closely in making nice experiences throughout our merchandise. And that concept that you probably have an iPhone, Apple TV is that rather more highly effective. Not solely are you able to faucet to set it up, you should utilize it as a distant you possibly can AirPlay from it.” What does that imply, precisely? Should you use Apple gadgets like an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Mac, the Apple TV 4K suits proper in. It’s just like what we mentioned when we took a better have a look at how the Mac integrates with different Apple gadgets, however falls again to the widespread notion of “higher collectively.” It additionally cements the Apple TV 4K as a house hub of kinds inside your Apple ecosystem.

“That’s what I believe actually units Apple TV 4K aside from everyone else is that this energy that permits us to have the most effective viewing expertise, and the deepest and richest ecosystem integration you may get,” Twerdahl explains.

Equally, as tvOS has acquired updates by the years, it’s moved Apple’s providers to the large display. And right here we’re speaking about Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, Health+ and Images. All of them now have a devoted app icon and provides you quick access to them. And because you’re signed in with an Apple ID, all of it syncs throughout gadgets.

Health+ is an particularly deep integration, because it pulls reside knowledge off of your Apple Watch whereas streaming a exercise on the TV. Twerdahl notes that “we introduced collectively Apple TV {hardware}, this superb service that’s altering individuals’s lives and created a customized knowledge channel for Apple Watch to speak to Apple TV.” The Health+ integration is one which we’d wish to see Apple re-create with different providers, because it does put a dynamic twist on figuring out at house. It’s service throughout gadgets for purchasers and groups working collectively inside Apple. Equally, with Images, you’ll see the Apple TV 4K recommend reminiscences to have a look again on incessantly, particularly because it takes over the primary prime window of the tvOS house display.

Pcitured here is the Nanoleaf Essentials Lightstrip, which can connect using Thread.


Pcitured right here is the Nanoleaf Necessities Lightstrip, which may join utilizing Thread.

Just like the HomePod Mini, Apple is including Thread connectivity into the Apple TV 4K. Like Bluetooth, Z-Wave or Zigbee, Thread is a brand new good house connectivity normal. And, as Twerdahl explains, Apple believes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Thread are three key radios for the good house. Particularly, with Thread, Twerdahl says, “It’s all about low energy, cheap mesh networking and the power for lightbulb makers like Nanoleaf to place Thread radios in these bulbs, and never must have a separate hub to manage all of it. However let Apple TV or HomePod Mini be that hub.”

In our testing, the inclusion of Thread connectivity right here does make it fairly straightforward to arrange HomeKit-enabled gadgets. We additionally hope that as Apple expands methods to get Thread equipment on-line, it might carry extra gadgets into the fold with help for HomeKit. At the moment, the ecosystem is just not as ubiquitous as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s House. It does provide safety and peace of thoughts that isn’t available from the opposite two, although.

Since Apple launched its good house ecosystem it’s been working to bolster it. What we’ve discovered is that whereas there are many gadgets with HomeKit, they don’t usually work with different ecosystems in the identical model of a product. The wrongdoer seemingly being the foundations and necessities of enjoying inside HomeKit.

Beforehand, the answer for getting Thread was a HomePod Mini or a border router from a third-party accent maker. However Apple is making that a little bit simpler by together with the know-how within the Apple TV 4K. Twerdahl sums it up by saying, “We wish to make it as versatile as attainable for individuals to get into HomeKit and form of Apple’s view of the good house.”


And as our time with Tim Twerdahl started to expire, we needed to ask him about the way forward for Apple TV and the potential gadgets we’d see. Going off of the Apple TV 4K being priced at $179, we needed to see his ideas a couple of cheaper Apple TV. Perhaps even taking a web page from Google’s or Roku’s guide, delivering it in a streaming stick or dongle-like capability. Whereas he wouldn’t reply it particularly, he did provide some insights, saying, “To us, we wish to be sure that we’re all the time eager about the worth aspect of the equation, not simply the value level, proper? And if we proceed to carry outsized worth, as I imagine we do, that’s what’s most vital for us.”

It’s a really Apple method, and we hope that the model may finally discover worth in a number of choices of the identical product line. That is just like how Apple gives the iPhone 12 and the 12 Mini and initially provided a HomePod and a HomePod Mini. Both approach, it’s clear that Apple isn’t leaving house leisure anytime quickly, and in the case of the TV particularly, there’s much more to work on. For now, the new Apple TV 4K delivers on that worth even at a better value with no considerations a couple of lengthy runtime.

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