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Apple’s fourth-generation set-top box, the $149 Apple TV, is launching next week and it won’t be just a hardware upgrade. For the first time since the Apple TV’s 2007 debut Apple is providing a software platform to enable third-party experiences on your big screen TV.

Discussing the sad state of the television industry and talking about how Apple can improve a “terrible, broken” process of watching television during the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, California last night, Cook said that Apple’s new tvOS platform represents a “foundation” for the kinds of experiences his company aims to deliver to consumers.

On disrupting the TV watching experience

The new Apple TV is the “foundation” for a new kind of the TV watching experience, which has been “terrible” and “broken” thus far, in Cook’s own words.

The current “linear TV” experience “has to be brought up and modernized” he said. In reiterating that the future of television is apps, Cook underscored that Apple’s new fourth-generation Apple TV and the tvOS software platform both give providers such as HBO the tools to sell their content directly to consumers.

Asked if consumers would dig Apple TV apps considering they would supposedly be “hard to search,” Cook said, “Have you ever tried to buy HBO through a cable company?”

“The first thing that has to be done when you buy a house is lay the foundation,” he continued. “The starting gun has been fired.”

new apple tv content search

The new Apple TV features a universal search function allowing customers to use the power of their own voice to find content across a variety of built-in sources such as Netflix, iTunes, HBO and more. In addition, third-parties writing apps for the new Apple TV can make their own video content searchable across the system with dedicated APIs.

On iPhone S-upgrade cycle

Asked whether the Cupertino firm should consider abandoning its established S-upgrade cycle for iPhones to speed up innovation, Cook said the iPhone 6s has as many innovations as its predecessor, naming features like 3D Touch and more.

“We have a pressure to innovate every year” as customers themselves get to vote with their wallets each year, Cook quipped. As for the iPhone Upgrade Program, it’s meant to provide more choices to iPhone buyers rather than compete with carriers.

Other highlights from Cook’s WSJ.D Live talk:

  • Apple will be taking pre-orders for the new Apple TV beginning next Monday, with shipments beginning by the end of that week.
  • Apple Music has convinced approximately 6.5 million users to stay with the service as paying subscribers and currently has 8.5 million more customers on three-month trials
  • The health aspect of the Apple Watch “has a long product road map ahead” as sales of the wearable device have been accelerating since its April 2015 launch.
  • Cook sees software as becoming an increasingly important part of the car of the future, predicting “massive change” coming to autonomous driving.

On privacy, government and encryption

When the Wall Street Journal editor Gerry Baker challenged the 54-year-old CEO on the possibility of a government backdoor in its software, Cook reassured Apple won’t make trade-offs in customer experience to appease Uncle Sam.

“We are not making a trade-off with customer experience. Our view is that you can have both. We think encryption is a must in today’s world,” he said.

“No back door is a must. You can’t have a backdoor that’s only for the good guys. Any backdoor is a door bad guys can exploit. No one should have to decide privacy or security. We should be smart enough to do both.”

On social issues

Because “we’re a global company” and taking into account that “government isn’t working well” when it comes to education, the environment and human rights issues, Cook said Apple has “a responsibility to be a great global citizen.”

“Each generation struggles with treating people with basic, proper human respect. It’s so bizarre, I think. I’ve seen this growing up. I’ve seen in today. I’d love to help be able to push the ball over the line,” he said.

“Because I think the world would be so much a better place if we just treated people well and treated them with basic human respect. We want to give back. Our culture is to leave the world better than we found it,” concluded the Apple chief.

Source: The Wall Street Journal