tvOS is only a few months old, but we still have big wishes for the big screen Apple TV software.
Apple TV software is based on iOS, so just like we're expecting the tenth-generation iPhone and iPad operating system at WWDC 2016, we're also expecting tvOS 10. Apple believes the future of television is apps, but what's the future of Apple TV? Here's what iMore's editors would love to see come WWDC 2016!
Let's talk about the Focus interface and remote behavior, any changes you'd like to see there?
I'm actually pretty happy with the remote's current behavior after the latest tvOS update, though I'd still like Apple to rethink the design in a future hardware update. The Focus interface is pretty darn cool, and I love the parallax look. But really, I use Siri for almost everything on Apple TV these days.
Visually, the Focus interface is a big improvement from even the iOS 7-era refresh on the Apple TV 3. Not only does the Parallax effect look great, but it helps place the "cursor" in a sea of similar-looking boxes.
The remote, on the other hand, is what I would call an unmitigated disaster. After months of daily use, I still swipe my thumb along the wrong side, despite the trackpad having a different texture to the smooth glass below. The button placement is confusing and seemingly arbitrary, and despite assiduous training I still regularly press the Siri button when I mean to return to the previous menu. That said, the remote's behavior is adequate given the hardware's quirks, though after using the MacBook for so long I wish the remote was Force Touch-enabled for quickly cycling between apps.
I love using the Siri Remote's trackpad for natural swiping on Apple TV. The focus-driven interface makes the entire experience feel more natural and engaging. It is definitely a huge improvement over previous generations of Apple TV. It's the little things that count. For example, it is easy to know which app on the Home screen is currently selected because it hovers above everything else on the screen. When you swipe the trackpad just a tiny bit, the app will move slightly. The selected app will also have text below (or above) it so you can tell what you are focused on. It is much more attractive than having an outline around the selected item.
Without repeating what Bader mentioned about the poorly designed Siri Remote, I agree that it isn't exactly intuitive. I have also tried to swipe the wrong side of the remote and pressed the Menu button when I meant to press the microphone button. There are also a handful of shortcuts that are difficult to remember if you are lucky enough to even know what they are in the first place.
As for the behavior of the Siri Remote, it appears that my microphone button has simply stopped working altogether. I've also struggled with triggering the Up Next view while listening to an album. You are supposed to be able to call up the view simply by pressing the trackpad in the Now Playing view, but it only works for me about 30 percent of the time. So, the behavior of the Siri Remote needs some work.
Teach me your ways, Serenity! As I've mentioned before, I don't think I've ever used Siri on Apple TV; Ren's answer makes me wonder if I'm missing out.
Still, perhaps it's a testament to the Focus interface that I don't use Siri all that much. The interface is a joy to use … when I grab the remote correctly.
See, the Siri remote could use some work (IMHO). Despite purchasing the overpriced Remote Loop, which I thought would help me orient myself when I pick up the remote. Unfortunately, I still hold it wrong and hit the wrong buttons all the doggone time. I sometimes wonder if Apple didn't sit in a darkened room with the remote. I don't think this will ever happen, but I'd love to see a redesigned remote that's easier to hold and easier to feel where the buttons are.
While the Focus UI is really nice, it can get cluttered and I'm not entirely sold on the concept of iOS-like folders on the TV just yet. What would be nice is some sort of integrated viewing guide so I can see what's on the live TV channels I get, much like PS VUE. What I'd really like is a better way to authenticate channels as well as have channels stay authenticated. CNN, I'm talking to you.
The remote was polarizing from day one. Some folks loved it, some hated it. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground. I'm not a fan of Siri on the remote, it's just easier to rewind ten seconds than to tell Siri to do it, so I mostly use my TV remote which works fine with Apple TV.
Confession: As long as Apple TV plays the movies and TV shows I want to see, when I want to see them, I'm fine. My husband, however, is much fussier. So, I've asked him to share his feedback with me so I can share it with you!
"The Siri Remote is a vast improvement. It's more comfortable and more intuitive. It's still too thin for me to hold comfortably, though.
I like the more minimal app page and that it only adds apps as needed but I don't know what I don't know, so a recommended or new app banner would be appreciated. That way I could be prompted to go to the App Store when new and interesting apps become available."
I love Focus Engine on Apple TV. It's a great way to handle interface selection without a fussy pointer. If anything, I'd like there to be more focus. While I can generally tell what's selected at any given time, I have family and friends who can't. The embiggening is nice, the movement is nice, but the option to have an even more obvious highlight and/or tint would be grand.
As for the Siri remote, the recent change to requiring a deliberate push before scrubbing was smart. Next I'd love them to stop requiring the Siri button be held down for the duration of a voice command.
I'm used to either pressing and releasing the Home button on iPhone and, increasingly, simply saying "Hey, Siri" to engage voice. Yes, the hold-down prevents collision with Siri on my other Apple devices, and mitigates privacy concerns over always-listening mics in the living room. But it also means I have to always carry double the cognitive load with half the chance to make both intuitive. It's inelegant.
Apple provides ecosystems. I'd love to see Siri implemented as an ecosystem.
What about Siri? How could Apple improve its virtual assistant on the big screen?
More queries, and better intelligence on the queries it currently handles. Siri's best platform is probably the Apple TV right now, because the company has worked exceedingly hard on making it a solid and reliable experience without overloading it with features — I use it almost exclusively to navigate my Apple TV, which is not something I can say about Siri on any of my other devices. It still has some niggles, and I'd like to see it get better on follow-through questions ("Who plays the sister? What else was she in?"), but it's so far actually impressed me in its current use case.
Siri largely does what I need it to do on the Apple TV, and does so quickly and accurately. Having a microphone built into the remote certainly helps, as does the A9 chip inside a box with no battery-related power constraints. In other words, it's tops.
Siri could certainly be better within apps, and that's something I'd like to see across the entire voice assistant ecosystem, but right now I think the ATV lends itself extremely well to voice input.
Siri for Apple TV is absolutely the best interface for the personal assistant. I'm always surprised by how much information you can find out within the system. For example, while watching a movie, I can ask Siri who stars in it, and then ask what other movies that actor or actress has been in.
Siri will also play content right from the home screen and you can pause, fast forward, rewind, and play content with simple phrasing like "skip ahead five minutes." I love the temporary closed captioning feature. While watching a movie or TV show, you can ask Siri "What did he say" and it will rewind 15 second and temporarily turn on the closed captions. I mean, how cool is that?
As for improvements, I'd like Siri to be able to search my Home Sharing library and locally stored content. Some people have hundreds of movies and thousands of songs stored on a local computer and it is very difficult to sift through it all. It would be great if Siri could simply find it with a search query.
I'm repeating myself, but I just don't really use Siri on the Apple TV. The Apple TV is my glorified Netflix box — I don't really need Siri for browsing Netflix. I've never used Siri to check the weather or do whatever else it is Siri can do on the Apple TV. I wish Siri could do HomeKit stuff; I think that's one way I'd happily use Siri on my Netflix bo— er, Apple TV.
Siri is fine for standard tricks like Stocks and Weather. It's also pretty useful for searching across services for a specific show or movie. Unfortunately, SIri is also pretty dumb. Searching for "CNN app" gets you nothing. Searching for "CNN go app" brings back the result. I'd also like Siri ideally to be always on, and tied into at least Netflix and Hulu for the same level of detail it has for Apple services.
Siri on the Apple TV is better than Siri on the iPhone. I still want better natural language support, and more media apps need to be integrated into voice search.
Octuple beamforming with—oh, wait, software! New Remote.app that lets me use Siri on iOS to control—oh, tvOS software. Okay.
Siri on Apple TV is pretty cool. It can handle multiple languages in a single query. But it can't handle all the queries already available on iOS.
I'd like to see that disparity reconciled most of all. In addition to the consistent triggering behavior I described above, I'd love to be able to say things like "Turn off my lights" and have it, and all HomeKit functionality, just work. I'd love Wikipedia and Bing and all the other informational queries to work as well. No WebKit on Apple TV, I get it, but it feels like such a waste of an educational opportunity not supporting anything, even the TextKit stubs Apple Watch gets.
Built-in apps like Movies, TV, Music, and Podcasts, what would you like to see there?
I'd rather come to my own purchased library first, rather than the store, as the few times I launch those apps I'm just looking to watch my copies of Star Wars Rebels or something similar. But again, I've practically stopped launching the apps themselves given the Siri Remote's ability to just call up the specific show.
Season organization for TV could also use some work — it's really hard to find the correct episode for multi-season shows given the page's extra-long horizontal carousel.
I don't have much to complain about here. These apps are all but transposed from their iTunes equivalents on the Mac.
In Movies and TV, I wish it were possible to read more of the Rotten Tomatoes reviews, but that's a small quibble. In Music, the leanback experience leads to a lot of scrolling through albums and playlists, which would be fine if there was a great way to filter using any other method than by category, a reductive and binary method that does not work for my listening tastes. It's that reason I spend the vast majority of my time in For You, not New.
I don't use the Movies or TV Shows apps all that often on Apple TV, so I don't really have an opinion on the interface or whether it needs work. It is fairly easy to find content and rent or buy stuff. My purchases and rentals are all very easy to access (although I don't have a lot of purchased content).
The Podcast app is relatively useful. It can be difficult to find a specific series at times. And, for some reason, I've had trouble subscribing to a podcast directly from Apple TV, even though it is possible to do.
The interface for the Music app is great. It is similar enough to the desktop version of iTunes that it feels intuitive and easy to navigate. My only problem with the Music app on Apple TV is that the For You section of Apple Music doesn't properly update. It will show the same content, even when I've liked and listened to new stuff. It will also loop its own content. For example, I'll scroll down about a dozen rows of recommendations, and suddenly, I'll see the same content all over again.
The Photos app on Apple TV is kind of terrible. I've never had luck with successfully seeing all of my iCloud Photo Library as a slide show. Using Photos as a screensaver is a complex route to navigate that ultimately doesn't give me what I want anyway.
I agree with Daniel on this one. The apps are pretty similar to their Mac cousins, so I'm happy with everything.
Spoiler alert, but I do like Rene's idea of having TV Shows play the next episode if it's ready and available in your library, à la Netflix. And while we're on the subject of Netflix, it sure would be nice if Apple took a page out of the Netflix playbook and added some smarter media recommendation features. I want to know what shows or movies I should be watching based on previous purchases. Please and thanks.
Music/TV/Movies are all fine, they work for the most part like the apps we know and kind of love, so no issues for me. Photos is a mess. It's limited, never gives me what I want, and is generally a bad experience. Podcasts worked for me untll I had to restart one, and it wouldn't let me fast forward to where I was listening. That was my last podcast attempt.
As above, give me better prompting for new and awesome apps!
I still find the tabs at the tops, the sidebar, and the main content view to be fiddly, navigation-wise. All too often I still find myself switching tabs or sections rather than content or vice versa. I don't know how to fix it, but it feels like it needs fixing.
Otherwise, the movie app works well for me. TV still seems a step behind, though. I'd like to be able to preview a show I'm considering right from the show screen. Episode previews are fine, but give me that trailer up front, or double up on the pilot preview.
I also love that Netflix and other third party apps start playing the next episode immediately after the last. I wish TV Shows would do this.
Any new built-in apps you'd like to see added?
Back to My Mac! Sure, you can do this by enabling AirPlay Mirroring on your Mac, but a dedicated app could let you pick any of the Mac or iOS devices on your network from the Apple TV, and then allow you to stream that device's screen without having to do any legwork — literal or otherwise — to start up the remote computer.
I know this sounds silly, but a voice recorder app would be fantastic. There have been so many times, while watching Jessica Jones or an NBA game, where it would have been helpful to pick up the Siri remote, say "Take a note" and have it sync with the iOS Notes app.
Although I am already a big fan of Dark Sky and Weather Live on Apple TV, I'd like a built-in weather app from Apple. It would be awesome if you could customize it to always show the weather in the upper corner in any app that doesn't play video content, like the Music app. I also really want Safari on Apple TV, complete with iCloud syncing so that all of my favorite sites are already saved.
I love the idea of a sort of hub with all the stuff I need to know at any given time: my Twitter timeline, the weather, the latest news headlines, traffic information, my thermometer setting, my calendar events, etc. Aerial screen savers are cool and all, but I think a hub would be far more useful.
News, and Tweets for one. I'd love to browse my Feedly timeline while seeing my Twitter feed (side by side would be even better. There's a couple of Apps that sort of do this but mostly they just don't work
I'd like an option other than HDMI. For example, Thunderbolt or even DisplayPort.
Maps. I'd love to be able to plan routes and explore the world on the big screen. Also News. Strip out everything but the video in my News feed and let me watch all the things on my TV.
App Store apps? How can Apple better help developers help us?
Three easy fixes, Apple.
1: Let game developers build apps that don't require the Siri Remote. The Apple TV is a pretty powerful little box for what it is, but the Siri Remote is a terrible game controller. Let people program solely for the Nimbus controllers, and everything changes.
2: Make it easier to advertise and promote Apple TV apps outside of the Apple TV. I understand if the infrastructure isn't here to let us buy Apple TV apps on our Mac for later download on our set top box, but at the least, let us add a cool app we see on Twitter to our wish-list.
3: Highlight great current non-game Apple TV apps and give developers direction. I'm sure there are great examples of TV-related development out there, but I have yet to really find and enjoy them. Apple could hugely aid developers by giving them more support over what non-games apps should look like.
The Apple TV App Store is a mess. I have to hunt to discover feature updates and bug fixes for existing apps, and the discovery abilities for new apps is underwhelming.
I agree with all of Serenity's points — who wouldn't? — but I'll take things one step further: start encouraging developers to use the iPhones and iPads already in people's possession as a gateway of sorts to interacting with the Apple TV.
One of my favorite apps on the system is SongPop Party, a group game that utilizes the Siri remote and up to five iPhones in an accessible and extraordinarily fun way. But it's also extremely buggy, as many AirPlay-reliant services are. Make these activities more reliable, the apps more plentiful, and users will come.
Both Bader and Serenity have nailed everything that Apple could do to help developers make the ATV experience better for us. My biggest disappointment with Apple TV is gaming. I'm not sure if something got lost in communication, but it seems like there's a disconnect when it comes to how Apple TV apps work. On-demand resources means developers can initially download 200 MB (think of it as an installer), then up to 2.2 GB of game data right away. Once the app is opened, another 2 GB can be downloaded automatically, for a total of 4.2 GB. The total size a game can occupy, though, is 20.2 GB. But I think a lot of developers saw the stages as limitations and didn't fully embrace the potential.
Hopefully that gets addressed at WWDC 2016, so we can get t a better selection of titles that are more on par with console-type games.
I don't know how they'd go about doing this, but there should be links to Apple TV apps. I'm thinking via the Remote app on iOS or maybe a Siri keyword (remember when AOL had keywords?).
I also think Serenity's point about letting game developers create games that don't support the Siri remote would be a step in the right direction. If you want to make the Apple TV a better gaming platform, you've got to give developers a chance to make truly great games. That means refraining from locking them into a subpar experience courtesy of the Siri remote.
Discovery in the app store isn't great. Developers are going to need to get this fixed as the App Store grows if there's any hope of consumers finding new stuff. I'd also think it would be good to see a TV app store on other iOS devices where I can browse outside of the living room, purchase, and just have the app on my TV next time I turn it on. Games will also need some work, but that might be horsepower alone. Titles like Real Racing 3 are too slow, and stutter. I don't need PS4 quality but I do need iOS frame rates.
I'd love more iPad-style apps. Let the remote simulate a finger and let me work on a really big screen!
It's 2016 and I still can't gift a Mac app or, you know, send someone a useful link to an Apple TV app.
Since I last complained about it, Apple has built out online iTunes Preview pages for Apple TV apps.
I still can't buy an Apple TV app that way, though. And Apple TV still can't receive a link or display a web page.
(Also, apparently, the Canadian television networks can't figure out how to use the tvOS SDK. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem like something Apple can fix…)
Settings, customizations, screen savers—anything else on your list?
More Aerial screensavers, please! They're gorgeous, but I feel like I always get stuck on the same three from London, Hawaii, and San Francisco.
More screensaver types, and yes, more Aerial choices.
The Settings app on Apple TV is clunky. It is somewhat difficult to navigate and find what you are looking for. Once inside, there are plenty of adjustments you can make to Apple TV to fit your needs, like zoom, closed captions, audio, Bluetooth, and screen resolution. It's just that finding it all can be like solving a labyrinth.
Photo screensavers on Apple TV are practically impossible to understand how to use. For example, you have to perform a few steps on your computer before you can use all of your photos as a screensaver. Plus, the iCloud Photos screensaver only shows about three dozen different photos per day. It just loops the same ones instead of loading your entire iCloud Photo library.
It would be cool if Apple allowed us to select one specific aerial screensaver instead of just loading what they have available.
I wouldn't mind some more "keyboard shortcuts" for my Siri remote. Wouldn't it be nice if you could use the buttons on the Siri Remote to quickly restart the Apple TV or switch inputs on your television set? Yes, yes it would.
I'd love to see "complications" make their way to Apple TV. Getting a quick look at the weather, the time, my calendar, etc. by swiping in an overlay would be awesome! It'd be like Dashboard on the Mac (R.I.P.)
Aerial screensavers are just gorgeous. I'm almost always in SF, NY, or China so a few more would be nice, and I'd also like to pick the one I want. There's definitely some sort of algorithm that figures out what it's showing based on location (I never have seen Hawaii) but I'd like granular control. I'd also like the Soundbar of silence bug fixed. It's beyond annoying to have to reset the Soundbar, the Apple TV or both to get sound working once it mysteriously stopes
I'd like better control over audio and video settings. Apple TV is routinely too dark on my TV, but adjusting my TV makes my other inputs too bright. Let me adjust that on the Apple TV.
Also, I'd love a built-in diagnostic tool for audio. We have Dolby 7.1 at home and I want to makes sure everything is setup properly to take full advantage of it.
Settings for Apple TV are organized differently than Settings for iOS and that confuses and consternates me. I'm used to, for example, going to General > Software Updates. That's different on Apple TV. I wish Apple would pick one layout and stick with it.
And, yes, more screensavers. Canyon dives? Race tracks? Drones the limit!
Bottom line it, what's top of your list for tvOS 10?
More polish, expand Siri, provide better options for game developers, and make even easier AirPlay settings, please! Apple's made some huge steps forward with the first version of tvOS: Now it's time to fortify that foundation and make the experience twice as good.
Developers, developers, developers! If apps are the future of TV, treat developers building great experiences for the platform like first-class citizens.
That, and improvements to Siri and the Music app, and I'm a happy camper!
Give us Safari on Apple TV and help developers create big, beautiful games by lifting the restrictions they have on what they can do. Make some improvements to the Photos app.
Give me a really good reason to use Siri on the Apple TV. Siri is a powerful tool when it works correctly, and I think the Apple TV has the opportunity to be a truly great home for the intelligent assistant. It's always plugged in and communicating with Siri directly through the remote means far more accurate communication.
Oh, and give me that hub I mentioned. Apple TV Dashboard 2K16!
Developers and more developers. It something I'd like to see Apple push harder to get the top tier folks getting their stuff over to the TV. Special thanks to those devs who give is a universal app for iPhone, iPad, and TV. Yep, Alto you are great. Would love to see Airplay to Apple TV finally work from Mac OS. I don't know anyone who really uses it because it's just too slow and, wonky. It's time to make it work. If I can get Windows 10 casting to work fine, there's no reason OS X shouldn't do the same.
It's the fine grain settings I'd really like to see. Apple TV is a great device and I want to get the best experience from it.
Continuity for media. Let me walk into my living room and transfer whatever I'm watching or listening to right to my Apple TV. Not through AirPlay, but through handoff. Then, let me walk away again and transfer it to my iPad as I go.
And ship that new Apple TV Remote app, please.