Apple's fourth-generation Apple TV launched October 26, 2015.
At a Glance
- Apple's long-awaited fourth-generation Apple TV features an A8 processor and 32 to 64GB of storage, along with a touch-based remote control that doubles as a gaming controller. It has a brand new operating system, "tvOS," which includes deep Siri integration and a full App Store. Apple began taking orders for the new Apple TV on October 26, 2015, with the first deliveries scheduled for October 30.
- Full App Store with SDK for developers
- New "tvOS" operating system
- Touch-based remote that doubles as a controller
- A8 processor
- 32 or 64GB storage options
- Deep Siri integration
Apple introduced the long-awaited fourth-generation Apple TV set-top box at its "Hey Siri" media event on September 9, 2015, giving the world an updated look at Apple's vision of the ideal television experience. The new box became available for purchase online on October 26, 2015, with the first deliveries occurring on October 30, 2015.
The Apple TV, which connects via HDMI to compatible television sets, focuses on what Apple says is the foundation of a great set-top box: powerful hardware, a modern operating system, a fun and easy user experience, powerful tools for developers to create apps, and a dedicated App Store.
Combined, these factors are aimed at expanding the available content on the Apple TV and making it easy for users to sort through that content to find new movies to watch, new TV shows to follow, and new games to play.
According to Apple, "Apps are the future of television," which has led the company to focus on software as much as hardware. The Apple TV includes 2GB RAM and an A8 chip that's much faster than the A5 in the previous version, allowing the device to support a full App Store with both casual and console-quality games, in addition to a range of apps that offer everything from live TV to weather reports. It also supports 1080p video at 60 frames per second.
To take the work out of watching TV, the Apple TV includes Siri support for searching for content by voice commands. Universal search capabilities also allow users to search through multiple apps at once to find exactly what they're looking for.
When looking for a movie, for example, it's possible to search through iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime all at once to find content, which is a lot simpler than attempting to find a movie or a show using the search feature in each individual app.
Siri is accessed through the new Siri Remote, which includes a glass Touch panel for navigating through the Apple TV interface as one would on an iPhone. The remote has two microphones for picking up on Siri voice commands, and a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope let the Siri Remote double as a game controller. With Bluetooth 4.0, the Apple TV also supports third-party gaming controllers and Bluetooth keyboards (as of tvOS 9.2).
The Apple TV runs tvOS, a new operating system designed just for the Apple TV. It brings an iOS 9-style redesign to the television set, and Apple has redesigned all of its apps for the new operating system with a heavy focus on highlighting content to make it easier than ever to find things to do on your TV. There are new screen savers and a new Apple Music app that brings Apple's new Music service to the television for the first time.
To store apps, games, TV shows, movies, and music, the Apple TV includes either 32 or 64GB of storage space and it supports super fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
How to Buy
The fourth-generation Apple TV became available for purchase on Monday, October 26, 2015, and the first deliveries began arriving just a few days later. The Apple TV is available in 32 and 64GB configurations, with the 32GB version priced at $149 and the 64GB version priced at $199.
The Apple TV can be purchased from the online Apple Store and from Apple's retail stores. As of January, Apple is also offering discounted refurbished versions of the fourth-generation Apple TV from its online refurbished store.
Apple is continuing to sell the third-generation Apple TV, but it does not support Siri, tvOS, or the App Store. It is available immediately from Apple for $69.
Hardware and Design
Design wise, the fourth-generation Apple TV isn't much to look at. It continues to use the same black square design as previous Apple TVs, but it's thicker and heavier. It measures in at 3.9 inches wide and deep like the existing box, but it's 1.4 inches tall, an increase of half an inch. It weighs just under a pound, at 15 ounces. The size increase of the new Apple TV may have been done to accommodate the new A8 processor, as a teardown revealed a much larger heat sink in the new set-top box.
The Apple TV uses a 64-bit A8 processor, which was first introduced with the iPhone 6. It's a huge improvement over the A5 chip in the third-generation Apple TV, and it allows the set-top box to run high-quality console-style games.
With the A8 processor, Apple-designed technologies like Metal are supported, allowing game and app developers to get maximum performance from the chip with the best possible graphics and graphical effects.
The Apple TV includes 2GB of SK Hynix LPDDR3 SDRAM, significantly more than the 512MB of RAM included in the third-generation Apple TV.
Audio and Video Support
With the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus now able to capture 4K video, there was some hope that the fourth-generation Apple TV would support 4K video, but it does not. It supports 1080p video at 60 frames per second.
It includes Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 sound, with support for the following audio formats: AAC, MP3, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV. It also supports JPG, GIF, and TIFF photo formats.
The Apple TV is available in 32GB and 64GB capacities, but Apple limits the initial install size of each individual Apple TV app to 200MB because apps on the Apple TV use on-demand resources. Apps larger than 200MB must be broken into downloadable bundles that can be accessed as required. Each time an app used, it needs to download the required assets from iCloud as needed, saving storage space on the Apple TV. This can result i some short wait times when installing large apps and games.
It is not clear why Apple put this limitation in place, but it may be related to App Thinning, an iOS 9 feature that cuts down on the size of apps by installing only what's needed. Apple TV apps, like Apple Watch apps, are universal and included with their iOS and iPad counterparts, so there are a lot of assets dedicated to each device that are not necessarily required.
Apple is also likely keen on preserving storage space for content like television shows, movies, and music.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
The Apple TV supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO and it includes Bluetooth 4.0 for connecting to accessories such as game controllers and keyboards. The Apple TV is also able to connect via Bluetooth to Bluetooth-enabled headphones and speakers, something that was not possible with the previous-generation Apple TV. With a set of Bluetooth headphones, Apple TV users can watch television without bothering others in the room.
The Apple TV only supports two Bluetooth controllers at one time, limiting the number of players are able to play games together on the device using controllers as an input method. As of tvOS 9.2, the Apple TV 4 also supports Bluetooth keyboards.
On the back of the Apple TV, there's a spot to plug in a power cable, an HDMI 1.4 port, a 10/100BASE-T Ethernet port, and a USB-C port, for "service and support."
The set-top box part of the new Apple TV may not have gotten much of an exterior revamp, but the Apple TV remote that accompanies it has seen a major overhaul to let it handle Siri commands and function as a gaming controller.
Available in black to match the set-top box, the new "Siri Remote" does away with the click wheel on the old Apple TV remote, replacing it instead with a glass Touch surface that lets users scroll through content on the Apple TV as they would on an iOS device.
Touch controls on the Siri Remote are an important part of the Apple TV navigation experience, which is designed to be simpler and streamlined in comparison to other set-top and cable boxes. According to Apple, the touch surface on the Apple TV remote is designed to feel "fluid and precise," and so natural that a user never needs to look down at the remote to hunt for a button.
On the remote, a thumb can be used to swipe, scroll, select, and move around the screen, putting an end to clunky button-based interactions, and a click anywhere on the surface makes a selection. It's also possible to use the touch surface for fast forwarding and rewinding, which is more precise than other methods of scrubbing through content.
While the top of the Siri Remote is made of glass, the bottom half of is made of aluminum. It has two built-in microphones to let it hear Siri commands, along with a menu button, a home button, a Siri button that activates the personal assistant, a set of volume up and down buttons for controlling volume, and a button for pausing and playing shows.
At the bottom of the Siri remote, there's a Lightning port that's used for charging with the included Lightning to USB Cable that can be plugged into a USB port on a computer or an iOS power adapter. According to Apple, the Siri Remote's battery lasts for several months on a single charge.
Along with an IR transmitter for use with television sets, the Siri Remote has Bluetooth 4.0 to communicate with the Apple TV, so line of sight is not required to use the set-top box.
With the IR transmitter, the Siri Remote can control the volume on a TV or A/V receiver, so there's no need to switch between multiple remotes. There's an accelerometer and a gyroscope built into the remote, which, along with the touch portion, allows it to be used as a gaming controller for iOS games.
Because it accepts IR input, the new Apple TV can also be controlled by older Apple TV remotes, including those dating back several generations.
The Siri Remote has its own dedicated accessory, the Remote Loop, which attaches the bottom of the Siri Remote to the wrist so it doesn't fly out of a hand during motion-based gameplay.
Siri Remote vs. Apple Remote
The Apple TV remote that has Siri built-in is only available in a handful of countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the United States.
In other countries, Apple simply calls the remote an Apple TV Remote and disables the built-in Siri support. Instead, the microphone button on these remotes brings up the onscreen search app. The remotes are identical, however, and Siri can be used on an Apple TV Remote if the Apple TV is logged into an account tied to a country where Siri is supported.
Siri's limited availability on the Apple TV is reportedly due to pronunciation and translation issues for movie and television show titles. These problems will need to be overcome before Siri can expand to additional countries, but Apple does plan to add Siri integration for more countries and languages in the future.
Siri Remote Tips and Tricks
To rearrange an app, hover over it and hold down the touch surface until the icon starts to jiggle. Then, swipe left, right, up or down to move the app, and press the touch surface once to finish.
The touch surface has accelerated swiping, meaning that a faster swipe results in faster on-screen scrolling.
Hover over any letter on the keyboard and hold down the touch surface to bring up a contextual menu, which includes uppercase letters, accents and a backspace key.
Hover over a song and hold down the touch surface to bring up a contextual menu, which includes various Apple Music options.
Press the Menu button once to go back.
Press the Menu button twice quickly from the Home screen to start the screensaver.
Press and hold the Menu and Home buttons simultaneously to restart the Apple TV.
Press the Home button once to return to the Home screen from anywhere.
Press the Home button twice quickly to bring up the App Switcher, which displays all apps open. Swipe up on the Siri Remote's touch surface to force close an app.
Press the Home button three times quickly to access VoiceOver.
Hold down the Home button to place the Apple TV in Sleep mode.
Hold down the Siri button to use Siri.
Press the Siri button once and wait to view a list of commands you can ask Siri.
Press the Play/Pause button once to change the keyboard between uppercase and lowercase.
Press the Play/Pause button once to delete an app in wiggle mode, which requires hovering over an app and holding down the touch surface until the icon starts to jiggle.
Hold down the Play/Pause button for 5-7 seconds to return to the Apple Music app.
Siri Remote Settings
The sensitivity of the Siri Remote's touch surface can be adjusted in the Settings app under Remotes and Devices > Touch Surface Tracking.
The triple-press Home button accessibility shortcut can be changed in the Settings app under General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut.
The Siri Remote's battery level is listed in Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
The Siri Remote can power on/off or adjust the volume of your TV and speakers over HDMI-CEC or IR. In some cases, this pairing process is automatic after setup, or manually configurable in Settings > Remotes and Devices > Home Theater Control under the "Turn On Your TV with Your Remote" and "Volume Control" menus.
iOS Remote App
As of iOS 9.2, the Apple Remote app for iPhone and Apple Watch works with the fourth-generation Apple TV. iTunes Chief Eddy Cue has also said Apple is working on a new remote app to debut in 2016 with additional features.
Apple TV How Tos
The fourth-generation Apple TV runs a new operating system named "tvOS," which takes iOS 9-style design elements and translates them to an Apple TV interface. Content wise, the Apple TV continues to offer the same channels and apps, like iTunes and Photos, but all of the Apple-created apps have been redesigned for the new system.
tvOS Upcoming Update
Apple has seeded four betas of tvOS 9.2.1 to developers. As a minor 9.x.x update, tvOS 9.2.1 focuses on introducing performance improvements and bug fixes rather than new features.
tvOS Current Version
The current version of tvOS is tvOS 9.2, released to the public on March 21. tvOS 9.2 introduces features that have been sorely missing from the new Apple TV, including support for Bluetooth keyboards to make text entry a simpler process. It includes folders for organizing the Home screen much like one can do on an iOS device, introduces a new look for the app switcher, brings support for dictation, introduces new firmware for the Apple TV Remote, and includes Siri search for the App Store.
For more information on tvOS 9.2, make sure to check out our full release post and watch the video below, which highlights all of the new changes in the update.
tvOS 9.2 follows tvOS is 9.1.1, which was released to the public on January 25. tvOS 9.1.1 is a minor update that focuses on under-the-hood improvements and bug fixes, but it also introduces a Podcasts app for the Apple TV.
tvOS 9.1.1 follows the release of tvOS 9.1, the first major update to tvOS. tvOS 9.1 launched on December 8, 2015, and introduced support for Siri search for the Apple Music app. The update also included support for the Remote app for iOS, giving users an easier way to input text on their set-top boxes.
tvOS in More Detail
tvOS was designed to put content front and center, but with a familiar design that's easy to navigate. The tvOS home screen is organized into different apps, much like on an iOS device, and opening one of those apps delves into the content inside.
Navigating through tvOS is done through the touch-based remote and through Siri voice commands. Most-used apps, like Netflix or Hulu, can be added to the top row of the Home screen for quick access, and when selected, content from within the app is displayed above. With Netflix, for example, content from a user's playlist might populate the top bar whenever Netflix is selected.
When a movie or television show is selected, it'll be shown full screen with a plot summary, information on the director, a cast list, a trailer, Rotten Tomatoes score, and the platforms where it is available. Below the full view of the movie information, similar content is shown. When a movie is playing, simple gestures like placing a thumb on the Siri Remote or swiping brings up details like where you are in a movie or relevant movie details.
Apple Music is available on the new Apple TV, with a unique widescreen view that's perfect for looking at album art, watching music videos, and watching behind-the-scenes videos posted by artists on Apple Music Connect. The Photos app also has a new tvOS-optimized look, for displaying all photos and videos in life-size detail, and the iTunes app and interface has been totally revamped with a cleaner, more focused look with small touches like parallax effects to make the Apple TV experience more immersive.
Switching between apps is done by double clicking on the Home button on the remote to scroll between them, a gesture familiar to anyone who has accessed the App Switcher on an iOS device.
When the Apple TV is sleeping, tvOS displays new screen savers that feature aerial videos of scenic cities and landmarks, replacing the existing photo montages shown on the third-generation Apple TV.
As with the third-generation Apple TV, the fourth-generation box still supports AirPlay Mirroring and AirPlay for streaming content from the iPad, iPhone, or Mac to the television.
A full App Store is the most important new feature in tvOS, as it allows users to customize what they do on the device, choosing which apps and what content to install. The App Store features traditional apps like Netflix and Hulu, but it's also open to all iOS and Mac developers, introducing a wealth of new content for the Apple TV. Apple began allowing developers to submit apps for the new Apple TV App Store on October 22, 2015.
According to Apple, apps are the future of television and have the potential to revolutionize the television landscape just like apps on the iPhone and the iPad did for smartphones and tablets. As Eddy Cue said on stage, with an app, you can search for the content you want to watch, watch it when and where you want, and interact with it in ways that are not possible with traditional content delivery methods.
Supported apps include sports apps, weather apps, news apps, concerts, educational programming, and more, but there's a limitation to be aware of when it comes to apps - no WebKit or UIWebview support. Without WebKit, there's no tool for browsing the web on the Apple TV, so all apps that use WebKit to display information need to find another way to display that content on the Apple TV.
For example, a Twitter or Facebook app on the Apple TV might not be possible because there would be no way to open up web links shared on the sites. It also means websites and web browsing isn't an Apple TV feature, a restriction Apple likely put in place to avoid the hassles of attempting to navigate a website from across the room with a remote.
Developers need to build smarter apps tailored specifically for the Apple TV, which is more hassle up front, but the absence of WebKit benefits users in the long run with better interfaces and high-quality apps created just for the Apple TV experience.
Some of the apps available on the Apple TV include HBO, Showtime, Hulu, Netflix, NBA, NHL, MLB, ABC, CNN Go, Fox Now, YouTube, PBS Kids, PBS, Disney, Starz, and Watch ESPN, all with custom interfaces and abilities designed to take advantage of tvOS. As on the third-generation Apple TV, many of these services require a subscription to access content.
The tvOS App Store initially received some criticism because it was difficult to discover content on the device. At launch, aside from a limited number of featured apps, the only way to download content from the App Store was via search, but Apple later added iOS App Store features including Top Charts, app categories, and web previews.
In addition to traditional media apps, iOS game developers are able to bring their games to the television through Apple's set-top box. Developers can make their apps universal, making them available on iOS devices and the Apple TV alike, which makes it possible to start a game on an iOS device and then switch over to the larger television screen using Handoff capabilities.
The Siri Remote is the primary control method when playing a game on the Apple TV, but Apple-approved game controllers can be connected via Bluetooth, and with multiplayer games, the iPhone and the iPod touch can be used as controllers.
With the built-in gyroscope and accelerometer, the Siri Remote can be used much like a Wii Remote, as a motion-based game controller. It can serve as the steering wheel in a racing game, or as a tennis racket or bat in a sports game. The Touch surface even serves as a virtual directional pad for use in endless runners, platformers, puzzle games, and more.
Though Apple is allowing the Apple TV to be used with game controllers, all games built for the Apple TV must also support the Siri Remote, so all content on the device is accessible without requiring users to purchase an additional accessory. Controllers are optional, though, and Apple has teamed up with SteelSeries to help it create the $50 Nimbus, the first certified controller designed for use with the Apple TV.
Apple's choice to require the Siri Remote as a mandatory control method has been unpopular with developers. The Siri Remote has a limited number of input methods and has the potential to stymy serious game development on the device. Developers can only access the touch-based directional pad, an accelerometer, and a single button.
Siri integration is a key part of the tvOS experience on the new Apple TV, and Siri is able to answer to a range of commands to make finding content on the Apple TV easier than ever before. As Apple says, the idea is to "take the work out of watching TV," which it does by pairing Siri search with the touch-based Siri Remote.
Siri on the Apple TV is activated by pressing on the dedicated Siri button on the Siri Remote and then speaking a command. Siri can respond to a huge range of requests on the Apple TV, doing everything from offering up movie recommendations to revealing the actors in a television show.
For example, to search for a movie, a user can say something like "Find Princess Bride," which brings up a list of options to watch the movie, through both iTunes and other services like Netflix. Going straight to a show can be done with a command like "Watch Modern Family on Hulu," or "I want to watch Gone Girl on iTunes."
Siri can do a lot more than simply search by movie or TV show title, and the personal assistant is a fantastic way to find new content to watch on the Apple TV. Siri can respond to questions like "Show me some action movies," "Show me movies from the 1980s," "Find me some funny TV shows," or "What are movies that are good to watch with kids?"
Searches can then be further narrowed down with a subsequent command like "Only the good ones," with Siri pulling data from Rotten Tomatoes reviews to filter content to show only highly rated television shows.
As on iOS, Siri can open apps and games and respond to commands that are more than simple content searches. For example, Siri can display sports scores, movie times, weather, and stock status. Siri can also be used to change specific settings with commands like "Turn on Enhanced Speech," a feature that boosts dialogue and softens music and sound effects, or "Turn on closed captioning" for subtitles.
One of the neatest Siri perks is a feature that replays content. During a TV show or movie, ask Siri "What did he just say?" or a similar command and Siri rewinds 15 seconds and temporarily turns on captions. Rewinding and fast forwarding can also be done with voice commands like "Fast-forward five minutes," or "Play from the beginning."
Siri displays information on the cast in a movie or television show when queried. Asking questions like "Who directed this movie?" or "Who stars in this movie?" brings up a list of the cast. Siri can filter based on cast, director, date, or age rating.
With commands that bring up extra content, like behind-the-scenes information, sports scores, or weather, the information is displayed at the bottom of the Apple TV interface so it does not interrupt the show or movie that's on the screen. Tapping on the remote opens the bottom bar full screen, pausing the television show or movie that's playing, and it's simple to switch between tasks with a swipe of the remote.
To access live television shows, which Apple began promoting after the release of tvOS 9.2, Apple TV owners can use commands like "Watch ESPN live" or "Watch CBS," two of the channels available through universal search that also offer live viewing options. Some live streaming apps will require subscriptions or authentication with cable providers.
Siri's impressive content abilities are enabled in part by a systemwide search feature that lets tvOS search through multiple apps to bring up different movie and television content suggestions. At launch, supported apps include Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, HBO Go, and Showtime, but Apple plans to expand the number of apps that can be searched in this way in the future. An API for universal search will be made available to developers so all apps will be able to take advantage of the feature in the future.
In the United States, universal search is available for the following apps: iTunes, HBO GO, HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, PBS, PBS Kids, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, FOX NOW, FXNOW, NAT GEO, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Jr., Watch ABC, Starz, and CBS.
Ahead of the launch of the Apple TV, several publications published reviews on the accessory, with helpful tips and highlights that we've aggregated below. Reviews may be useful to those who are on the fence about purchasing the device as they offer a good look at the Apple TV in action.
Most sites have expressed positive opinions on the new Apple TV, pointing out the benefits to Siri voice integration and the new App Store, which has a lot of potential for the future, but it's not the television revolution some were expecting.
The Verge's Nilay Patel was impressed with Siri on the Apple TV, calling its implementation "among the best in the game," but he pointed out some limitations: Siri only works with a handful of apps at launch, including Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime. On tvOS apps, Patel describes them as oversized iPhone apps, with few that take advantage of the TV, but he highlighted the potential for all-TV shopping experience with the QVC app.
The QVC app is the only app that really and truly blends television with interactivity: it shows you a live feed of QVC, and it overlays the familiar information box on the left side of the screen with a buy button. So you're watching the regular QVC TV channel, and you can just click to buy, or swipe down to see more photos of the item and related items while the video keeps playing.
Buzzfeed's John Paczkowski said the new Siri remote is a "drastic" improvement over the standard aluminum Apple TV remote and universal search is "fantastic."
Siri is a TV remote that actually makes sense. It does what you want it to do with a minimum of fuss and clutter. There's a touchpad on one side of the remote, and you can use it to navigate in all sorts of ways. Swiping across a film's timeline to pinpoint a particular moment, for example, is surprisingly accurate and easy. Universal search -- which not only enables searches across multiple streaming video services, but prioritizes the results based on the services you subscribe to -- is fantastic. After using it for a few hours, I found myself resenting Apple for not enabling it sooner and leaving longtime Apple TV users like me to suffer with the lousy search function that preceded it.
Paczkowski also came up with a novel use for the Remote Loop Apple TV accessory, which attaches to the bottom of the device to keep it securely in hand when gaming.
But frankly, the loop is better used as a means of locating and rescuing the diminutive remote after it's gone missing between couch cushions. I've used it for this purpose at least three times so far, and given the loop's utility for this sort of thing, it's puzzling that Apple doesn't view it as a crucial part of the remote, instead selling it as a silly $13 accessory.
Mashable's Christina Warren was a fan of the Apple TV's super simple setup process, but Yahoo Tech's David Pogue wasn't a fan of the on-screen keyboard, calling it difficult and "excruciating" to use for tasks like logging into apps.
Simply plug the Apple TV into HDMI and power and then use the Bluetooth connection from your iPhone or iPad to share information such as iCloud and iTunes Account preferences and your WiFi password.
The Next Set-Top Box
There are some questionable rumors from Digitimes suggesting Apple is already working on a trial production of fifth-generation Apple TV, with volume production set to ramp up in the first quarter of 2016 for an unspecified launch date. The rumor says the next TV will feature a CPU that will "dramatically improve the device's hardware performance."
Ahead of the launch of the fourth-generation Apple TV, the set-top box went several years without a significant update. It remains unclear how often Apple will update the Apple TV now that a new version has been released. It could potentially be updated on a yearly basis like the iPhone, but Apple's plans are not yet known.
No More Streaming Television Service
Apple was rumored to be working on a streaming television service to accompany the new Apple TV, but following delays and difficulties negotiating deals with content providers, Apple has reportedly shelved its streaming TV plans once again.
Apple is not abandoning its plans for a television service entirely, but it has so far been unable to secure the deals that would allow it to sell a bundle of channels for $30 to $40 per month because media companies want more money for content and they are reluctant to unbundle their channel offerings.
Rather than working on a streaming service at this time and dealing with the ongoing frustration of trying to establish deals with content providers, Apple instead plans to focus on its tvOS App Store, which serves as a platform that gives media companies the tools to sell content directly to customers.
Based on the rumors dating back to 2009, Apple's television strategies have continually shifted over the past few years as it has failed to establish necessary deals to fulfill its ambitious television plans. Apple was originally aiming for a full a la carte television service that would replace traditional cable packages, allowing consumers to untether themselves from existing cable providers and existing subscription packages.
Unsurprisingly, both cable and content providers were resistant to the idea, the former because such a service would entirely disrupt the television industry and the latter because providing content to Apple could anger cable providers and upset existing revenue streams. Pushback from from current TV industry giants has been a sticking point for Apple over the years, preventing the company reaching deals that would allow it to enter the television market.
After facing continued negotiation troubles, Apple reportedly scaled back on its television ambitions, shifting its focus to working alongside cable companies instead of against them. Over the years, Apple has been rumored to be working on television products ranging from a cable box replacement to a service that would combine cable content with an Apple interface, commercial skipping, and additional cloud-based DVR functionality.
With the proliferation of web based streaming television services and standalone content packages from companies like Netflix, HBO, and Showtime, the television industry is growing used to the idea of web-based television services, so there was hope Apple would be able to launch a streaming television service to accompany its fourth-generation Apple TV.
Apple was rumored to be working on a web-based service that would bundle approximately 25 channels for $30 to $40 a month. Apple met with multiple content providers to discuss the service, including ABC, CBS, Fox, Disney, Viacom, and Discovery, along with dozens of local affiliates, but it was ultimately unable to secure the deals it needed to launch the service.
Apple's content-related television plans are once again said to be on hold, with Apple now focusing on its tvOS App Store.
Though Apple's streaming plans are on hold, there have been rumors Apple is exploring the possibility of original television, mainly as a way to promote Apple Music. Apple executives have met with TV producers and Hollywood studios to discuss the possibility of original television programming that would be offered exclusively to Apple customers. Discussions with Hollywood execs are being led by iTunes chief Eddy Cue and iTunes VP of content Robert Kondrk.
Apple's first original show is said to be a dark semi-autobiographical drama called Vital Signs, starring Beats co-founder Dr. Dre. Apple is planning to make six episodes of the series, each of which will reportedly focus on a different emotion and the way Dre's character handles it. It's rumored to be very dark, reflecting at least in part on the life of Dr. Dre. It will be available to Apple Music subscribers, and some rumors suggest Apple may not have plans to broaden its original content efforts beyond Apple Music promotion at this time.
Apple is also working on an original non-scripted television show that will be focused on the App Store. Though few details are available at the current time, it is said to "spotlight the app economy." A potential release date is not known, nor has Apple specified how the TV show will be distributed. Apple iTunes chief Eddy Cue has said the show should not be taken as a sign that Apple is planning to make a deeper dive into original television programming, but a recent report from Fast Company suggests Apple is indeed aiming to take on Netflix and Amazon with its own original programming offerings, courting "triple a-list" talent for the project.
The Apple TV of the Future
For a long time, there were a slew of rumors suggesting Apple planned to debut a full high-definition television set, spurred by Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography, which suggested Jobs wanted to revolutionize the television industry much like he transformed computers, music players, and phones. "I finally cracked it," Jobs was quoted as saying.
Rumors reached a fever pitch over the next few years, and in 2012, news hit suggesting multiple television prototypes were in testing. Rumor after rumor continued until 2015, with some even ranging into the fantastical, but no television set ever appeared.
As it turns out, Apple's testing did not result in a product worth manufacturing, and as of 2014, Apple has ceased its work on developing a full-blown high-resolution television set, putting the project on ice.
"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," [Jobs] told me. "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud."..."It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it." Walter Issacson - 'Steve Jobs'
Apple was reportedly unable to come up with a feature set compelling enough to warrant entry into the highly competitive television market, despite years of research. It is not clear if Apple will revisit its television set project in the future, it is possible Apple will reevaluate its plans as technology improves.
For time being, Apple will focus its resources on improving the Apple TV set-top box and the tvOS App Store, revolutionizing television through the integration of content and interface without having to develop an actual television set and enter a brutally competitive market.