Apple TV has A4 chip, iOS, so where are the apps, games, a web browser?

Apple TV - no apps, games, or web

The new Apple TV is running on an Apple A4 chip, just like iPhone and iPad, and almost certainly running iOS, so where are the apps, games, and web browser?

We got Netflix, but it was built in just like YouTube. We got iOS under the covers but no iOS-style UI. We got AirPlay, so we can stream from iPhone or iPad, and presumably there'll be an Apple Remote app to control Apple TV via iPhone or iPad...

... but I kinda wanted more.

Apple TV wins on ease of use, but for power and flexibility one of those new Mac Minis and the excellent Windows 7 Media Center are the nuclear option, and many also cheap boxes like Roku, Boxee, etc. arguably have more bang for the buck.

Could Apple have an Apple TV SDK in the wings, something to announce for developers at a late date? Or is it the most closed of the already closed iOS boxes?

I have to believe gaming on Apple TV is a gold mine, so my bet is we see apps... eventually. What's yours?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 50 comments. Add yours.

iMore-On says:

It could be baby steps towards a future video game console

LozBlanko says:

Where is the iTV name? Does the old Apple TV also get an update?

icebike says:

With virtually no customers for this product, Apple has to fish or cut bait. This looks like a first step towards giving the product some visibility, even if it adds nothing that most cable subscription vendors don't already offer for free.

sting7k says:

I guess we missed the part where Steve said "Don't want a computer" connected to their TV.

cardfan says:

I don't need a 99.00 netflix box. And would want more than 720p before paying those rental prices.
Terrible effort by apple IMO. Glad they got the box all small and cutesy, but need more than looks this time.

Mark Rafael says:

Let's hope they don't leave us previous appletv owners in the lurch like they did 3G owners on the last update.

Gee funk says:

My ps3 kicks this piece of craps ass why would waste a 100 bucks plus I get blueray hd gaming and 3d

Dyvim says:

Makes sense to me. iOS UI is entirely direct touch-driven (not even indirect touch-driven like using a trackpad with a Mac), so how were they going to do that on a TV? They could bake in a few more services though (like Pandora).

Anthony says:

I agree. Not enough effort for this product that could be killer. $4.99 for a rental is too much. Honestly, call me cheap but $0.99 is too much for a 1 time viewing of a TV show. $0.99 for an entire month of viewing all episodes released of a certain show is more like it.

DeathGrip says:

99 bucks for a wireless adapter.

dloveprod says:

I was left wanting more too, like an app store so I could get Hulu plus and rejoice. Cute little Christmas gifts.

Tom Stephens says:

"so where are the apps, games, and web browser?"
Rene, I'm guessing you left the room when Jobs clearly stated what Apple intended for Apple TV. Their feedback indicates their target market wants a simple, small, no nonsense box that can stream from the computer. No "nuclear option", no apps, no games, what you see is what you get. I wouldn't hold my breath that you will see anything added in this incarnation.

(Copy of) Dev says:

I am not sure gaming is (or should be) a gold mine on this device. While the $99 price tag may be more attractive than a console, it has a few major problems:
1) Controls. With no bluetooth (the remote is IR), there is no wireless way to add a controller. With a single micro-USB port, there is no elegant way to add more than one controller, and designing a product that requires external adapters or dongles just does not seem Apple's style.
2) Horsepower. Taking nothing away from what Apple has accomplished with iOS, the AppleTV hardware looks seriously underpowered compared to current generation consoles. While it would certainly be capable of Plants VS Zombies, it would struggle with Madden or Call of Duty; at the very least, an AppleTV port would look and play substantially worse than a 360 or PS3 version. Again, it does not seem Apple's style to set up a situation whereby they would look bad in a head-to-head comparison. Conversely, the Wii has certainly set up a very profitable niche avoiding that fight altogether, but the Wii had its revolutionary control scheme going for it, whereas the AppleTV, in this generation, does not. I would not put it past Apple to try and find a similar blue ocean, but this does not seem the device to do it.
3) Storage. Games need local storage far more than do streaming content, and the AppleTV does not seem to have it. When you need auto or textures, you need them now, and a streaming-based device with no external media and (presumably) small on-board storage simply has no way of getting that job done. Even if games are loaded into whatever space exists on the local HD, they would have to be purged when the next game is loaded. I doubt gamers would want a situation where they would have to re-download The Sims 8 (from Apple or from their computer) each time they want to play the game. It could work, but again, it seems at best a very inelegant solution, so I doubt that Apple has plans to attack this market.
That said, Apple will likely sell eleventy kajillion of these things, so, if they offer up an SDK and an easy way to purchase, developers will figure out games and experiences that can work within those constraints. But since those constraints are so severe, I doubt Apple intended this to be a gaming machine, but just as what they announced; a limited-functionality device that offers a drop-dead simple way to get media onto your main TV screen.

SheiknetChris says:

It is heartbreaking that Apple only half-heartingly 'gets' games. Bluetooth controllers and an input API--problem solved. Steve and Co. are so afraid of adding complexity, they don't realize how simply this could be managed. My guess is the Windows Phone 7 will be the first with viable controller add-ons. Steve will label them as 'cumbersome' and that will be that.
@Loz: I don't think old users are getting any update from this.
@Gee funk: I don't think this is a PS3 target. I think it is for the stupid-simple crowd, plus $100 is almost disposable income for some.
@Everybody: I don't think Steve told everybody "Buy this product or we will kill you!" I think it is more like "Here is an easy to set-up solution that costs $100 and it does this this and this." There is no extra clutter and few empty promises.
Wonder if it will get a jailbreak ;-)

Brian says:

The 720p is definitely a downer. I think they'll iron that out soon though. Thanks for the post!

icebike says:

@SheiknetChris:

@Everybody: I don’t think Steve told everybody “Buy this product or we will kill you!”

Why go there?
The underlying message is: You are not allowed to criticize any Apple product. If you don't like it go somewhere else.
Almost nowhere else on any of the Smart Phone Experts sites do you encounter this mind set. But it is rampant here on TiPb. Why is it when anyone makes any criticism of Apple someone answers with "no one if forcing you to buy it"? Isn't this the same thing as sticking your fingers in your ears and singing LA LA LA LA real loudly?

Ryan says:

I just want to know if Apple is gonna put out an AirPlay update for the older models of Apple TV, and if purchasing from Apple TV gonna be disabled on older models.

Shrike says:

I don't think Apple has a good UI implementation for Apple TV such that it can play iOS apps well. It's probably something that simple.
I don't doubt for a second that they want leverage the 250k app strong App Store for an AppleTV like device. They just don't know how to do it yet.

frog says:

I'd have liked to see a web browser

Paul says:

To Bad - no Bluetooth. That leaves out web surfing (keyboard) and also gaming (touch-controller).
But surfing is like having a computer and I guess people doom' wanted that (or are supped to buy an iPad for couch surfing).
For gaming you need storage (or can they be streamed too?)
Every thing else makes sense - accessing my library and MobileMe will do for photos.

Glenn#IM says:

I was really hoping fir something more. Comcast is way too much, but looking at the 4 dollar rental, that will add up. You might as well get a new iPod touch, and pay for HuLu plus, and hook it up to the tv. Seems that is all I watch lately. Reruns, and classic movies. Game apps would be cool on the big screen. Weather, and news apps. May be Apple will do something later.

Bart says:

Typical blogs hyping up the event beforehand to try get click revenue, then being disappointed that their rumors didn't come true.
I'm happy with the new TV, just got my order confirmation as I'm typing this. For $99 its worth a test, although I do prefer streaming my own content to a TV and have yet to figure out the best way to do that. I don't plan on buying a mac mini just to do videos and my DirecTV receiver says it can stream video but it sucks bigtime.
Not ready yet to get rid of the DirecTV but hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

Bart says:

P.S. call me old school but I don't want to browse the web on my TV. Integration with a bit of separation please. If I want to browse I'll do it on my Mac or iPad, if I want a good movie experiences I want it without an OS in the background and the best video/audio I can get. If I can stream video from a computer to enhance my movie watching "choices" so be it, but a wireless keyboard and surfing on my TV... meh... and if my computer is my only TV (like some I know) I'm using the computer to browse, not the TV part.

jeanclaudevanDayam says:

No ITV cause contrary to what the fanboys said. Apple is not strong enough to just take a trademarked name like itv any more then it can take espn. This is my i told you so.

peteostro says:

I'm not a fan of the new apple tv. I have the old one and had to hack it with xbmc &boxee to make it useful. They really didn't add much to this version. $.99/4.99 rentals is to much. I was really hopping they would find a way to get apps to work on it so we could do cool things with it, like play games, watch hulu, check the weather etc. Big disappointment. Only good thing is now I can buy the boxee box and be happy about it.

striatic says:

"air play" is the apps.
depending on how flexible air play is, that is.
putting apps on a device like this is a bit silly and would ratchet up the price, if only to pay for on board storage. what isn't silly is the ability to run apps via the iPad and iPhone that are designed for TV screens.
in the demo, they showed the movie UP being pushed to the TV wirelessly.. but what if you can push things other that movies to that screen? having an app run on the iPad but using the TV as a secondary display solves the controller issue and means that the apple TV doesn't need to be upgraded all the time. just update iPhone/iPod/iPad and the apple TV serves as the display adapter.

striatic says:

here is an example. iPad runs a Racing Game app. it sends the video of the track up to the TV screen, while the iPad itself is rotated like a steering wheel to control the car, with acceleration buttons and other doo-dads on the multi-touch display.

striatic says:

but that's all probably a few generation down the line. certainly some software updates at least.

Ghop says:

I don't see how this any better than the old atv other than netflix. I'm hoping they have an update to add netflix to the old atv. I'm dissapointed in this atv update. Playing games through atv is not an issue for me but it would have been nice to see a weather app, few off the news apps (CNN, Fox, MSNBC) already baked into the software, along with Pandora. The could have thrown in Safari also and to me this would have been killer.
I just don't see the value here. For this stuff mentioned above, I would have bought the new atv and moved my existing one to my bedroom.
Airplay is ok but again I have the old atv and my music is in the hard drive and it's hooked to my stereo system so I just play music straight from my atv and use the remote application to control the atv with my iPhone 4.
I just feel they took a step or two back with this or they at least stayed stagnant. As a long time fan of Apple, this is one of the most dissapointing product launches I can remember.
Netflix along with pandora, news apps and weather apps baked in could have been a killer product.

sting7k says:

Looking at all the comments I think Steve was right that this type of device is proving very hard to get right for anyone and become a smash. There are too many players in this arena at all levels. Even at Apple's new prices you could easily top what a monthly cable package costs. That remains a problem. As do live broadcasts, especially sports.
That is a hard sell to the masses who want cheaper and easier. So far every one of these type of things is neither. I think it remain niche for awhile. Most Xbox and PS3 owners don't even use these features.

Ryan says:

There is also the possibility that Apple did include Bluetooth but are keeping it quiet until they have something ready. They've done it before with iPod touch 2G.

JeffreyR says:

Striatic:
I'm with you 100%. Was read to plunk down $99 even though I have an older Apple TV until I realized that there is no streaming from third-party apps on the iPad. Other than embedded Netflix and a better processor, the case has not yet been made that the new Apple TV improves on the old one. I presently can stream any audio (not just iTunes) from my laptop to the Apple TV and through my stereo and speakers via Airfoil. No video streaming, though.

excaliburca says:

"I have to believe gaming on Apple TV is a gold mine, so my bet is we see apps… eventually. What’s yours?"
Not without some local storage.
I don't think this is going to sell as good as the iPad, iPod, or iPhone. Not everything Apple makes sells well. Plus there are already players in the market that have devices that are more fully featured and mature than this device. The cloud may be the latest thing... but I don't think it's there to the point where this thing will go like hotcakes.

OrionAntares#CB says:

Another point against Apple TV is that Amazon VOD is offering FOX and ABC shows for 99 cents per episode for PURCHASE rather than rental.

Quick5pnt0 says:

I was really hoping the new Apple TV would have a browser at the very least, sorta like Google TV. Doesn't matter I guess, because knowing Apple the darn thing probably wouldn't have flash.

Scott says:

Thanks for being one of the few sites to talk about the missing iOS goodness! It seemed like iOS would be a big part of this new AppleTV (iTV) but the familiar UI and Apps are no where to be found! This was a major disappointment for me. I was all set to dump my current Apple TV. Anyways, do you think that we will see an update in the future? Perhaps the full UI wasn't baked yet. I'm hoping we'll see it in the future! Let me know what you think!

eTron says:

Old AppleTV will NOT be getting the update. *Confirmed
Sad for us old AppleTV users. I just got mine like 6 months ago. WEAK!

eTron says:

I'm counting on aTV Flash to add some extra features to this little baby. I see a USB slot on the back there. ;-D

Gee funk says:

@SheiknetChris.
Yeah that's a good point but what I ment was if u own a ps3/xbox360 why waste the 100 bucks when u have all these features and more also even new customers can pick an entry level 360 for a 100 bucks. The only reason I would buy this is if I was travelling and wanted to stream movies from my iPad that's why they have made it so small I think.

Dennis says:

I was surprised to see the Apple TV update, but no one anticipated what Apple actually did with ATV, which was essentially to create a different content delivery model and to simplify the device. The main thing they addressed was the lack of differentiation between ATV and the Mac Mini by reducing the price, adding features, adding integration with other portable Apple devices. ATV is now simpler because its networking functions are more complicated: direct-to-device video streaming and AirPlay. Netflix support coaxes customers to try out Apple's TV- and movie-rentals, which fills in the areas where Netflix is lacking (i.e., current TV shows and recent movie releases). ATV is a cheap way to add these functions to multiple TVs in a home, and integrates with an existing iTunes network, but doesn't complicate home set-up by requiring a NAS. Roku is more competitive with its sports programming agreements. Browsing on a TV is a waste of time, especially without a keyboard; if anyone wants more computing functions, the Mac Mini is more appropriate. As for TV gaming, it's not a "gold mine" at all. Apple is nowhere near the ability to directly compete with Nintendo Wii or XBox 360. Their design ethos is antithetical to hardware controls. Some developers will get clever with Touch/iPad integration, but a handheld touchscreen controller is a terrible way to game on a TV: your eyes need to be on the TV, your hands on the controller. It took MS years and millions of dollars to compete with Sony and Nintendo in console gaming; Apple can't possibly do the same by releasing a $99 video streaming device. If Apple starts adding a hardware keyboard and/or hardware gaming controls, they'll have a gaming console that 1) has no users; 2) has no track record in games; 3) requires ESRB ratings for gaming content; 4) costs more than the Wii. Apple is setting its sights on a realistic market in video content delivery. If they're competing against anyone in that regard, it's Roku, Amazon, and notably Hulu; and not Netflix or Nintendo, which would be impossible for Apple to compete with at this point in time.

unchew says:

i love my apple tv but it has some issues and this fixs them all. this is a great excuse for me to remove my wii that i only use to stream netflix. i really feel with mac mini as a option this is another inexpensive option we can use that easily fits the tv uses up little power and doesnt overheat.

Matthew Therrien says:

Correction ATV does have BlueTooth

Ren says:

I think the real missing feature from all of this is content deals with popular cable channels. Get new releases of shows from TNT, HBO, Showtime, etc. and things get interesting as customers can start seriously considering ditching pay TV.

Brian says:

The entire concept is just wrong. I would have liked to see my big screen turn into a giant iPad, controlled by my iPad or iPhone. Imagine being able to play games like Scrabble with the family, passing around the iPad to control it, download apps, browse the web..AHHH....Apple, you really missed the mark. I think if the iTV included the iOS 4 interface, wow...these things would fly off the shelf.

o6sidian says:

"... for power and flexibility one of those new Mac Minis and the excellent Windows 7 Media Center are the nuclear option ..."
Yeah? Ever heard of Plex (plexapp.com)? I guess not ...
If you have, or do evaluate it at some time, i´d be interested to know what makes WMC superior for you.
Imho Plex rules.

beez1717 says:

I think what should have happened to the apple TV was that they should have made it so that it could do MORE things and do it easier. I would have loved to see the device add 1080P to the mix, have added a DVD player or blu ray player to the mix, and heck, they could have even allowed it to be a cable box. If they had done this then I think lots more people would buy the device because they would see it as the easy solution to all their entertainment needs on their computer.

john says:

With Airplay, in the future, you will play a game on your iphone or ipad, and the tv will simply be the monitor, it does not need hard drive storage, you play it on the phone, and it shows big on the tv.
You play monopoly or any game with the whole family, the ipad is the controller, it does not need bluetooth because it uses the network connection for wireless connectivity.
The apple tv box is simply a portal, not a computer, or a storage device. That is how you will surf the web from you iphone/touch or ipad. The keyboard is on those devices, the mouse is on them as well. You will have access to 250k apps, through these devices. This is how it will gain traction, and help sell ipads as well. With apple it is a united strategy, so one product helps sell the others.
This is what the ipod did, this is what apple tv can help sell other i products. They just need to do this quickly before google tv and internet ready tv's take the market and beat them to the punch.

nickfrancis86 says:

I think that it is entirely possible to play games on Apple TV, maybe not in the sense that were used to with other iOS devices. I could totally see games like Monopoly, Scrabble and games of the like being very successful i.e Apple TV displaying the game board for all players and non players to see. These sorts of games could easily be streamed as they are not that graphically intense. I think that a game like Buzz that is on the PS3 would work brilliantly using your iphone/iPod Touch as the Buzz controller. I don’t think that even just board games would work not all will work but they dont need to. Games like Angry Birds would easily work all that requires is simple swipe gestures. I also think that there are a lot of games that just require a controller that would work very well. In the same way that SNESHD for iPad works with the controller on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Nova or GT Acadamy would be good. Also there is 8GB of internal flash storage onboard so if some games did need to be run from the device then this it totally feasible too. Also if you go in to the world of jailbreaking then there are even more options with the options to use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard or even a wiimote. Apple TV does have bluetooth capability but I understand there are issues with paring. How ever the hardware is there so its just a matter of time. I think that this would be good for Apple to join in with as all the major gaming consoles now having many games focusing on family/party games. Apple have been doing this as well but they just need to port it to the big screen, or at lease give the developers the option to do this. It wouldn’t really take much coding, just an update. Just modify the newly added AirPlay feature to support apps, not just the streaming of music of videos. Which can be done a lot cheaper if that’s all you want. I know that apple are very much orientated towards mobile gaming but I think that this could be a small tangent that would make a lot people happy and vastly increase the sales of the Apple TV product. It may even open up a whole new gaming audience for Apple that they don’t really have on their desktop products, lets admit it gaming is pretty much non existent on mac. I think that this is something that Apple may already be thinking, I mean integration is so important apple, all there products are compatible with one another in many ways. I think that mobileme could also become a sort of PSN/XBOX LIVE service.

Hamranhansenhansen says:

There is no point in an SDK until they sell 5 million. If they do that by WWDC in 2011, then they can release an SDK and show off the apps at the September 2011 event.

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