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Steve Jobs on an Apple Television: No Need for 'All These Complicated Remote Controls'

The New York Times publishes an interview with Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson which among other topics may touch a bit further on Apple's plans for a connected television set.

Isaacson had quoted Jobs in his biography as saying that he had "finally cracked" the difficulties in building an Apple television set, describing "the simplest user interface you could imagine" and iCloud integration for content. In the wake of the book's release, it was reported that Apple is indeed working on a Siri-enabled TV, an innovation that would fit with Jobs' description of his rethinking of the television.

The new interview with Isaacson suggests that input methods were indeed one of Jobs' primary concerns regarding a TV set, lending credence to the idea of a Siri-enabled device.
I didn’t go into details about these products in the book because it was implicitly Apple’s creations and it’s not fair to the company to reveal these details. But, he did talk about the television. He told me he’d “licked it” and once said, “There’s no reason you should have all these complicated remote controls.”
Essentially reiterating comments shared last week at a Fortune meeting, Isaacson notes that beyond television, Jobs was also working on textbooks and photography as his next areas of focus, but it remains to be seen whether and how Apple pursues those areas of exploration without Jobs at the helm.

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Top Rated Comments

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64 months ago
How does an Apple Siri based TV solve the "multiple" remote problem ? My TV only has 1 remote, the others are for the different boxes that hook up to the TV...
Rating: 9 Votes
64 months ago
I must be one of the only people that thinks talking to my TV would be a lot more work than just pushing a button on a remote control lol
Rating: 8 Votes
64 months ago
Can HE just be revived, or cloned, or something?

Guys like JOBS should live 200 or 300 years at least.

THAT would be a game changer. Revolution every couple of years. Joy in products, technology dreams, great - INSANELY GREAT stuff.

Now imagine if we're left with only GATES and BALMERS.
Rating: 7 Votes
64 months ago

WHole point of this tv is to remove all said "different boxes". Just stop and think about it. A TV that would NEVER need anything attached other than ethernet.

So Apple is planning on giving me Blu-ray, PS3, Xbox360, a complete 7.1 DTS sound receiver with speaker hook-ups and HDMI switching in their Apple TV set ?

Talk about a nightmare... having to upgrade this 3000$ TV each time I wanted to upgrade one part of the setup.
Rating: 7 Votes
64 months ago

The downside with a Siri-enabled TV set is that it would need to be smart enough to realize when you are just talking while the show is going so that it will not do any unexpected commands. I'd also imagine that you'd need a quiet room in order to speak to the TV set. Even with dual-noise canceling microphones it would still be strained.

Somehow I gotta believe they've figured this one out :-)
Rating: 6 Votes
64 months ago

It's about time. Remote controls for TVs are very complicated, and there are so many of them (TV, DVR, cable, etc.).

What's complicated with pressing a power button the changing the channel or the volume. Talking to your t.v is dumb. "Change channel" "The increase volume" "The go to channel 434". What a joke.

The number is the problem and not the complexity.
Rating: 6 Votes
64 months ago

Now imagine if we're left with only GATES and BALMERS.

Imagine that... Being left with people who donate billions of dollars with time and energy so people can live better lives. What an awful future we have to look forward to with those lowlifes sticking around.

What an incredibly stupid thing to say.
Rating: 5 Votes
64 months ago
I hope this isn't going to be plagued by Apple's simplicity. It's a blessing and a curse.

When it comes to games and media I want to optimise it to my own tastes. I want to be able to adjust the rear surround speakers if need be, change the tone, record something on Sky TV and watch something on Freeview.

Didn't Steve know about HDMI Control? My equipment can talk to each other so I need to use one controller for day-to-day use. It even controls my PS3 (works in-game too).
Rating: 5 Votes
64 months ago

Apple is slowly going to kill themselves. Well at least for intelligent people, they'll probably be real popular with the general pop though. "There’s no reason you should have all these complicated remote controls.", what the hell is complicated about a remote control?????? How stupid is Apple going to design their products for? I have new a Panasonic plasma (bought for picture quality, not simplicity!) and the remote is clearly labeled, and easy to use. It has MANY functions(complicated?), so I have more control to set up the TV as I see fit. And guess what, I actually had to READ the book that came with it and LEARN how to use it. That's how you better yourself tough.

Apple's biggest problem right now is the fundamental fact that complexity=freedom. The more choices I have (complexity), the more freedom I have to customize a device for me personally. This is one big reason the professional community has been in such an uproar with apple products lately. What I want in the future is MORE freedom from my devices and software, not less. Apple seems set though on designing products for the stupidest people among us to use without thinking, all the while marketing to them that they are smart for doing so.

You're referring to the dumbing down of society which I agree with. As technology becomes more accessible - it's a slippery slope of how best to use these tools and at what sacrifice.

Jobs believed in simplicity. But does that train people to be lazy? I'm not saying it does. I'm just stating a question.

It's great when you can create something that even a child can use. But at the same time - how is that intellectually stimulating for people who are not children?

I'm not suggesting things should be complex and that everyone should be a techie. But having the right skills is important.

That's why I find Steve Jobs such a contradiction. Such a proponent of education and creating smarter minds - but his products also pander/market themselves from his control-freak mentality of not wanting the user to do anything he didn't want them to do.

Perhaps I am not articulating this well. Perhaps I'll get downvoted. As much as I love having easy-to-use devices - there's something to be said about learning how things work.

Steve loved engineers. But with his products, you aren't creating a world of engineers because he didn't want you to tinker with what he made. So how does the next generation of engineers get their training?

my .02
Rating: 4 Votes
64 months ago
Heck, my late father (and millions of other dads) had the whole "remote control" thing figured out decades ago.

You see, some of us remember actually _being_ the remote control when we were kids :)

Mom & Dad would sit on the couch, while us kids sat on the floor near the TV.

Whenever Dad wanted to change channels, he would simply speak the command: "Son, change to Lost in Space!" and it would magically be done for him.

(And that included adjusting the fine tuner, the horizontal and vertical holds, and even the tint on color sets!)
Rating: 4 Votes

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