Apple to Open Up Apple TV's Universal Search to Additional Apps via New API

One of the key features of the new Apple TV set to launch later this month is universal search, which allows users to find content across a number of different services using text entry or, in some countries, Siri voice search. Universal search will work across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime at launch, but it was initially unclear whether the feature would be expanded to include additional content sources over time.

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In a follow-up story on his interview with Tim Cook last month, BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski relates some additional details on Apple TV shared by Cook, including word that developers will indeed be able to make their content available to universal search via an API.

“At launch we’ll have iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and HBO — so we’ll have five major inputs into universal search initially,” Cook said. “But we’re also opening an API, so that others can join in.”

And Apple’s confident that they will do just that. “I think that many, many people will want to be in that search,” Cook said. “And that’s great for users. Think about your experience today. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have the content you want to watch in an app, you sometimes don’t remember exactly where that show is, so you’re going to Netflix or Hulu or Showtime. You shouldn’t have to do that. It should be very simple.”

Cook went on to note that universal search will be intelligent enough to know which services the user is subscribed to, highlighting which sources are available free or with existing subscriptions. This is true even when different services offer only a portion of a television series' seasons, such as a show where older seasons are available through Netflix with an existing subscription but newer seasons may need to be purchased through iTunes or through a new HBO subscription.

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Top Rated Comments

Mac Fly (film) Avatar
115 months ago
Plex
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
QuarterSwede Avatar
115 months ago
Good. Does this include a guide system? Like a Netflix interface, except for ALL content? Searching is only one method of finding content. We also need a curated guide.

Meanwhile, we also need a system that shows live shows/events.

Live content is where interesting things happen. Recorded content is stale. Plus, you can interact with others during live content broadcasts.

Does the new Apple TV have a built-in NTSC or CableCard tuner?
Recorded content is stale!? People LOVE to binge watch shows. There definitely needs to be a lot more live but there's room for both.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
V.K. Avatar
115 months ago
This is very good news and I hope developers will take advantage of that. I would definitely like to be able to search YouTube and Ted from the universal search interface. But what I would really like to know is whether universal search will work on local iTunes libraries connected via Home sharing.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jandmtv Avatar
115 months ago
Universal search Ali is all fine and well. But what's more important to me is a universal provider login. It is so ***** annoying having to log into each and every channel with my provider info separately. And very time consuming too!

How difficult would it be to add universal provider login into the settings menu, input provider name, email and password and done.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mark Booth Avatar
115 months ago
Dear Amazon, The ball is now in your court! If you don't do an Amazon Instant Video app for the new AppleTV, you only have yourself to blame for not being on the device WITH SIRI search capability!

Mark
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BladesOfSteel Avatar
115 months ago
Probably won't happen. Universal Search probably works via metadata mining, but it's unlikely that your home computer content has recognizable metadata to use.
But if you put in the data yourself - via subler for example - then your movies would have the same meta data as any iTunes material.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)