NSFW: The part of Apple TV that really sucks

Setting up an Apple TV for basic streaming and iTunes access is ridiculously easy: Plug it in, turn it on, then hold your iPhone or iPad to the top of the Apple TV. The Apple TV copies Wi-Fi and iTunes account information from the iOS device and you're off and running. When it comes time to watch stuff from cable channels, however, the setup process becomes a nightmare.

Apple's recent price cut on the Apple TV to $69 caused me to go out and get a second one. It replaces a second-generation Apple TV I've had for years, which is now relegated to my bedroom. To be fair, the problems I had setting it up really aren't Apple's fault. Netflix, Crunchyroll and other premium services were about what I expected: I had to sign in using account credentials before I could access content.

The cable and dish content providers who have created Apple TV channels are a different story. They use a validation system to make sure that you're actually paying someone — your local cable or dish provider — to watch their stuff. Over and over again I'd access the settings of each channel, get a validation code, then have to go to my Mac or Safari on my iPhone and type often cryptic URLs into the address bar, then verify to unlock.

In fairness to the content providers, Apple and the Apple TV itself, I didn't run into any show-stoppers doing this: Each time I visited a validation URL, I'd enter a code and then be told the content was then mine to watch. But after a half an hour I realized I'd only unlocked about two or three rows of Apple TV channels, and decided I was done for the moment. It was repetitive, it was boring, and it was so...un-Apple-like.

Clearly that's not the ideal user experience for Apple. I'm sure they'd like to do something very different.

We've heard rumors about a new Apple TV for a while. Maybe we'll even see such a device make an appearance at WWDC in June. I don't know. I don't have the faintest clue.

But one thing's for sure: Whatever Apple brings to home televisions next has to have a better gatekeeping system than the current version does. Because what's happening now just sucks. While that may not be Apple's fault, it's definitely Apple's problem to solve.