While it's true that the Apple TV 4K might not be the cheapest streaming device on the market, a case can be argued that it is a cut above the plethora of $30 streaming sticks you can buy instead. Some of those sticks, like the Amazon Fire Stick in particular, are hugely popular thanks to their low price and many have made the argument that Apple should launch a stick of its own, powered by tvOS. But it seems that Amazon is now starting to feel the pinch of selling its wares so cheaply and is seeking to make adjustments accordingly.
When you first power on the Apple TV 4K you're greeted by apps and content, but turning on your Fire TV-powered device or TV — some TVs have the Fire TV software built in these days — you're going to see ads more than anything. And while the Fire TV experience has always had an ad front and center, things are getting worse. Much, much worse.
That's after it was reported that Amazon is adding full-screen video ads that will play each and every time one of its Fire TV devices is turned on.
Ads as far as the eye can see
The new experience was first reported by Cord Cutters News and is starting to roll out to people already — some started to see the new ad experience last week. And by all accounts, it sucks and sucks bad.
"This new update will be rolling out to all Fire TVs made in 2016 or newer," the report explains, suggesting that even those with the latest devices are going to have to deal with the ad-pocalypse.
"With this update, the ad at the top of your Fire TV will now start playing full-screen, often promoting a movie or TV show. By hitting the home button, you can quickly exit the ad or if you quickly perform an action on the Fire TV once it finishes, you will avoid the video ad, but you only have a few seconds."
As for Amazon, it seems pretty happy with its decision. “Our focus is on delivering an immersive experience so customers can enjoy their favorite TV shows and movies, as well as browse and discover more content they’ll want to watch. We’re always working to make the Fire TV experience better for customers and have updated one of the prominent placements in the UI to play a short content preview if no other action is taken by a customer upon turning on their Fire TV,” Amazon said in a statement provided to to Cord Cutters News.
Time to upgrade
Apple could make the upgrade decision incredibly easy by offering an Apple TV stick of some sort and it could even charge a little more than the Fire TV stick normally sells for, too. Given the better and ad-free experience, many would be more than willing to pay it.
The problem right now is that the Apple TV 4K is just so expensive. Apple currently sells the 64GB model for $129, around $100 more than you can often find similar Fire TV sticks for — and that's before considering Amazon's alternatives always seem to be on sale for around the $30 mark.
Take our family as a prime example. We have an Apple TV 4K in the living room and that's our main source of content there. But the TVs in our bedroom, and the kid's bedroom, are powered by Fire TV Stick 4K units. Because I find it difficult to pay hundreds of dollars for something we'll use once or twice a week.
But $50? I'd put one in every HDMI port on our TV if it meant throwing that Fire TV Stick out the nearest window.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.