Apple’s TV plans have been an interesting adventure since the product was first announced back in September 2006, and it seems to be at a crossroads as to how the hockey puck can go forward.
It was originally angled as a hub for all of your shows by using a ‘Front Row’ interface, which was something that you could also access with a Mac between 2007 and 2011. But the Apple TV was redesigned in 2010 into the black hockey puck you still see today, powered by Apple’s first silicon chip, the A4.
While Apple TV Plus is going from strength to strength thanks to its breadth of great content, the hardware and the software that powers it, feels like it's in a lull period.
With this in mind, we’ve asked ourselves what Apple could do to improve the product, from colors to a small stick that could rival Amazon’s Fire TV Stick.
Pick 1 - Colors
John-Anthony Disotto — How to Editor
What’s better than a black TV box sitting next to your television? A colorful TV box sat next to your television. Nowadays, our TV setups are pretty monotonous. Usually, there’s not much to look at in black or silver. I want some customization for the Apple TV to stand out next to my 65-inch television.
The colors wouldn’t have to be outlandish but just some other options to make purchasing one an exciting experience. I love yellow, so why not let me spruce up my television cabinet with a small yellow Apple TV 4K?
Sky Glass has proved that there is a market for colorful products in a TV setup and I wish Apple would follow down the same path. I could see something like this being a hit with younger generations and would make someone like me, who has a smart TV, find a reason to buy one just for the aesthetics. Yes, I’m basic, but how cool would a splash of red be in your dull black setup?
Pick 2 - Build it into a TV
Tammy Rogers — Staff Writer
If there’s one thing I can’t imagine Apple doing that I want them to, it’s this. Make an excellent TV for the living room with a HomePod and Apple TV box built in, and you’ll have an extra customer here. Apple displays are stunning anyway, so I can imagine a TV screen from Apple could be wicked.
It would be similar to how the iMac was in the 90s with the Bondi-Blue aesthetic - an all-in-one for all that serves the job of three different devices - work, play, and music. After all, the HomePod sounds good, the Apple TV works phenomenally these days, and putting them all in a TV would save space too.
Just make it big enough, perhaps at 65 inches, and don’t charge too much. If you’re going to do what Amazon does, you can’t cost that much more.
Pick 3 - Ditch the remote
Stephen Warwick — News Editor
There’s no doubt that Apple vastly improved the Apple TV remote with its 2021 Apple TV model, which is also included in the latest Apple TV from 2022. However, the remote undoubtedly adds a significant amount of cost to the package, as evidenced by the fact that the Siri remote costs $59 when sold separately.
As a result, I’d like to see an option to purchase the Apple TV without a remote, giving users the option to simply connect their iPhone and use iOS 16’s built-in remote to control the Apple TV instead. This would be a great way to save cost, and your iPhone is much easier to find in the depths of a sofa when it inevitably goes missing.
The iPhone remote app has all the features of the regular remote, plus the added benefit of using your iPhone’s keyboard to type into search fields. Apple still needs a remote-included option for those who don’t have an iPhone, or don’t want to use one, or of course for people with accessibility needs. However, a remote-less Apple TV package would be one great way to save money in future models.
Pick 4 - Make it a stick
Daryl Baxter — Features Editor
For years now, we’ve had the Apple TV as a hockey puck that sits beside your TV or is mounted to the nearest wall, but it’s time for it to go even smaller.
It’s no secret that Apple silicon is already a huge success - from how it’s supercharged the Mac line, to powering its audio products such as the AirPods Pro.
However, Apple TV has never taken advantage of how small it could contain a chip, which is why it could be a perfect time to miniaturize the product, so you only have to plug it into an HDMI port of your TV without the use of a power socket..
Apple is known for bringing in features and products that do it better than what came before. The taptic engine of the home button from the iPhone 7 is a good example of this, alongside the Dynamic Island finally replacing the notch that debuted with the iPhone X.
So let’s see the biggest redesign to Apple TV we've ever seen, and have it come with a lower price to help it stand apart from its rivals.
Pick 5 - FaceTime
Gerald Lynch — Editor in Chief
With my family spread out right over the UK, the easiest way to catch up with everyone regularly is through a FaceTime call. With the pandemic keeping everyone apart, even my tech-phobic mum can get on with Apple’s video calling service, letting us stay in touch even when we’re miles apart.
But those calls can get pretty crowded on a small iPhone screen! I’ve got a giant TV in my living room, and I’d love to have it feel a bit more like my family were visiting in that room, rather than looking at the underside of my chin. As such, I’d love to see FaceTime calls be brought natively to the Apple TV.
It feels like it’d be easy to do, pairing an iPhone camera with the Apple TV box, especially since Apple has already proved the concept on Mac with the Continuity Camera feature. It feels like a natural home for taking family calls, and taking advantage of the bigger screens on offer in living rooms would make those calls feel far less claustrophobic. And yes, I’m aware that you can already mirror FaceTime calls to an Apple TV — but it’s not quite the same as the simplicity native support would bring to the table.
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Apple TV has had great potential for years, but in some cases, it’s felt like an afterthought. The redesigned Remote in 2017 was not liked by many, yet it took until 2021 for it to see another iteration that brought a circular touchpad and better-placed buttons.
While Steve Jobs said in 2011 that he had ‘finally cracked it’ the television project but it was scrapped a few years after his passing. We’ve seen faster chips and 4K arrive to the hockey puck, but there’s never arguably been a year where you can pinpoint a moment where Apple TV’s hardware and software led the way with shock and awe at an Apple keynote.
tvOS is another story, where it’s not had many improvements in recent years - at WWDC 2022, it barely got a mention, even though it added support for a bunch of gaming controllers, such as the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons.
With WWDC 2023 on its way for June, it would be great to see Apple TV finally get the due it deserves. Whether it's a complete redesign in its hardware or software remains to be seen, but it’s a hockey puck with so much potential, that16 years since its original debut, it’s time for the platform to evolve and make it a justified expense to sit alongside your TV and games console as the pride of place.
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As well as our amazing group of regular contributors, the iMore staff team currently consists of:
Gerald Lynch — Editor-in-Chief
Stephen Warwick — News Editor
Daryl Baxter — Features Editor
John-Anthony Disotto — How To Editor
Tammy Rogers — Senior Staff Writer
James Bentley — Staff Writer