7 Apple TV flaws Apple should fix fast

Apple, Apple TV, iOS 9, iPhone, connected, IoT
Credit: Apple

'Hey, Siri, what apps are available?'

Opinions are universal. Everyone has one. I’m enjoying the new Apple TV, but there are a few problems Apple needs to address.

Discovery – the big one

Developers have been working for months to create apps in time for the release of the Apple set-top box, but their hard work is being undermined by poor app discoverability. The only way you’ll find an app is if it is listed on the front pages of the App Store section. If it isn’t there, you must search for apps by name. Apple is offering sales charts for U.S. Apple TV users, but they aren’t available everywhere. There are no genre-based listings.

Also read: 10 Apple TV features you’ll use

Developers are unhappy about this. As long-term Apple developer Pangea Software’s Brian Greenstone wrote: “I just worked my ass off for the last two months getting five games ready for launch day,” he said on Apple’s Developer forums. “And now I see that there’s absolutely no way to discover the apps unless a user explicitly searches for it. This is such a slap in the face to all of the developers who have been working so hard.”

Greenstone’s not one of those self-publicizing developers out to make a buck by slamming Apple or sharing the company’s secrets. I think Apple owes him rapid improvement to app discovery – even a Web-based interface you could explore while watching TV would help.

Common sense

The other evening I purchased an episode of BBC series, ‘Accused’ through iTunes on Apple TV. It was great. When the show ended, I looked for an easy way to purchase the next episode. There wasn’t one. I had to quit the screen I find myself in once the show stops playing, return to the TV shows search interface and search for the series again to find the next episode. Why? Surely it should be easy to purchase other episodes of a series the moment you finish one. Poor usability.

Social media

I’m guessing social media is a function Apple’s thinking about. The ambient stock/weather/sports score window suggests how social media messages could easily be displayed while watching a show. This won’t be for everyone I imagine, but I think switched-on digital natives will want features like these (but I imagine support for this will require a major TVos update).

More TV

The BBC’s decision to promise Apple TV support in future is welcome, but disappointing. The BBC’s iPlayer service was an important step in the transformation of broadcasting, but since then the company’s technology strategy appears to be  informed by the usual Apple-denying Neanderthals. Every broadcaster should engage with Apple TV and get their channels out there – it’s the best chance yet to make channels available to international audiences, many of whom (particularly expatriates) will be willing to pay.

Siri

Everyone has a Siri problem. Mine is to remember to hold the Siri button down while I speak. When I manage to achieve that, Siri’s a brilliant tool – I like using the “What did he/she say” command – but why doesn’t Siri on Apple TV work with Apple Music? I can’t think of one good reason. This needs to be addressed.

Search

It is ridiculous that I can’t dictate a query into the search box using a Siri remote. It is even more ridiculous that I must use an incredibly unwieldy line-based text entry system rather than the old grid model. It is infuriating that I can’t pair the TV to my iPhone and use the Remote app keyboard. These poor UI decisions don’t put users first and must be resolved.

Podcasts

Apple has been developing a Podcasts app for Apple TV. Where is it?

Opinion

Everyone has one of these. Mine? Most of the problems Apple TV seems to have are confined to usability. What does this mean? It's the software, stupid. Apple has put a tall flag in the sand here and the software will improve. The future of entertainment is connected, digital, smart. And in many ways, Apple TV sets the bar.

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