New Apple TV Reviewed, Revamped 'Remote' App for iOS Coming?

With the first wave of orders for the new Apple TV on their way to customers, initial reviews of the device are beginning to appear. The first one comes from FoxNews.com's Clayton Morris, who calls the revamped device "very promising" with the potential to be a "quiet hit", but only if Apple puts some of its marketing effort behind it.

I've been testing the new Apple TV, and I think Apple may have a quiet hit on its hand. By quiet I mean there won't be long lines of rabid, un-showered fans camped outside Apple stores to buy the new gizmo, but Apple may slowly win people over with the new version.

While most of the features of the Apple TV have already been discussed, Morris offers a bit of hands-on perspective with observations such as much faster connections to networked iTunes libraries than the original Apple TV, and a unique Netflix streaming interface that is fast and easy to set up.

Morris reports that he has been told by Apple that it has opened up its AirPlay functionality for streaming content from other iOS-based devices to the Apple TV to third-party developers, although it is unclear exactly what is meant by this statement. Users currently testing iOS 4.2 have already reported that a variety of third-party applications that utilize the built-in iOS video player already seem to be AirPlay-compatible, so it is not clear if Apple's comments are simply referring to this capability or if they are moving to open AirPlay up for other implementations from developers.

Morris uses the example of his mother, an iPhone user and occasional Apple Store visitor, as the prime potential customer Apple should be courting by pushing the new Apple TV for its Netflix streaming and AirPlay capabilities, as well as the greatly-reduced price point compared to the original version. But to reach that customer, Morris argues that Apple will have to make the new Apple TV much more visible than its predecessor.

The new Apple TV is very promising, but it won't amount to hill of beans if Apple markets it the same way they did the last one -- basically not at all. Apple can jokingly call it a 'hobby,' but if the company wants it to be a successful hobby they need to educate consumers the same way they did with the iPad.

With Apple also having posted the Apple TV's version of iOS 4.1 for download, users have been poking through the operating system for hints and clues about its functionality. In particular, a forum user at Australian site MacTalk discovered a new icon for Apple's languishing Remote application, suggesting that an update bringing features such as support for Retina displays and iPad, as well as Apple TV control, might be coming in the near future.

101912 new remote app icon

An assortment of other hints, such as references to FaceTime, external storage and DVD player support, have also been discovered in the Apple TV's iOS 4.1, although it is unclear exactly what some of the functionalities are meant to be and whether they may simply be part of the shared iOS codebase or are in fact Apple TV-specific.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)

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