Monday, May 26, 2014

Apple and Apple TV - is a revolution possible?

The future of Apple TV... This is a defining moment for the future of Apple and Steve Cook.  There is absolutely HUGE excitement about the idea of a truly revolutionary TV experience.  But why?

I look at Tivo.  Tivo was so revolutionary, when compared to a VHS recorder.  VHS.  VHS is a relic, and that is what I have to compare to Tivo.  They innovated, and stopped, from my perspective.  We have the experience that could be described by some as exactly the same decade later.  What are my chief Tivo complaints?

  • The remote.  I can no longer control volume - the volume controls are worn out!  I keep buying replacement remotes...
  • Why does it seem to take 50 clicks to get to content?
  • Skipping commercials is... still too hard.  And commercials are too loud!
  • Watching recorded content is too limited.  Why can't I watch on my computer or iPhone or iPad and have it extraordinarily easy to navigate?
  • It costs a lot for what I get.
What complaints do I have about the Apple TV?
  • Why can't I control volume?
  • Why can't I search other content sources - like netflix?
  • I have to have an iTunes server in my home to get the most from Apple TV.  This is a barrier to many new users.
  • Why does it take so many clicks to go from my TV show playlist to get to a movie, and back again?
  • Why do I still end up with letterboxed HD content on my HD TV through my Apple TV?
So what would make for a revolutionary apple TV to me?  Some comments assume that the next version would have a screen or additional control over an attached TV.
  • iTunes Match for all media - audio books, movies, tv shows, and even books.  This would make a need for an iTunes server gone - let Apple run the iTunes server!  I could sync all media to my iOS devices without plugging into a computer.
  • Help us, let us control the volume.  If Apple controlled the TV, the entire TV, this could be done even if I use a FireTV, Roku, Tivo, over the air digital TV, or a cable/satellite TV box.  There seems to be zero will or interest in the TV industry at fixing this very broken feature.
    • do that from my computer, iPhone, or iPad - then my remotes to change the volume do not always eventually break!
    • set minimum/maximum volumes
    • reduce dynamic range for TV commercials - I'd love it if a loud commercial was nearly muted!  A button and/or learning capability using my input to help improve this would be welcome; consumers are ready to help.
    • automatic reduction of dynamic range for movies - all movies these days seem to have quiet whispering moments you cannot hear, and ear-crushing loud times that wake the whole house during late-night movie watching by other family members.  The ability to adjust the range acceptable for me would be helpful.
    • let me use headphones in my iOS device to listen to my video on my TV, and mute my TV if I want.  How would I use this?  When I go for a snack or break and other TV watchers do not want to pause, I can continue to participate!  Also, I can listen and mute the TV and let the room be silent for others.
    • If I could put a microphone in my baby's or child's room to prevent the volume in my room from getting loud in the child's room - that could be awesome!
    • Hooking in a baby monitor to AppleTV could be awesome.
  • Search/Navigation
    • Give me the equivalent of iOS multitasking - a home button to switch from one content piece to another, so when I stop watching a TV series in the middle to watch a movie, it is only a click or two to get my place back.  If this could work across content sources, it would be best.  Imagine clean navigation directly from a specific TV series in netflix, to a movie in netflix, to a TV series in iTunes
    • Let me search and find content across different providers.  Netflix search is ok and all, but it is just not that useful at this point.
    • OK, let me search at all!  When I am browsing movies, I need the option to search by name (other than by scrolling through the list)
    • Voice search could be awesome.  The concept of voice search through the remote might work.
    • Give me a way or ways to skip ahead 15 seconds or a minute (and back).
  • Black screen
    • The ability to have a truly black screen with zero light but letting me continue to listen could be very powerful for those who listen to TV as they go to sleep.
  • Gaming - of course, there have been many rumors that Apple TV will support games in the future.  I am interested to see what happens in this space.   Something more than airplay of iOS gams to Apple TV could be welcome.

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