Originally released in January 2007, the Apple TV has remained a hobby device focused primarily on streaming and AirPlay throughout its first three iterations.
The arrival of the fourth-generation Apple TV in October 2015 has changed many things for the better, chiefly thanks to its ability to download and run locally third-party applications and games. Apple believes dedicated apps represent the future of television so developers can now submit third-party applications and games for the Apple TV.
And with games being the most popular app category in the Apple TV App Store, the device could change the gaming landscape just like the App Store for iPhone apps did when it launched in the summer of 2008. Companies are also creating dedicating controllers for gameplay on the big screen.
Available in 32 and 64GB varieties, the device ships with the vastly improved Siri Remote. It features six buttons and includes a non-user replaceable lithium-ion battery and Lightning connector for charging, accelerometer and gyroscope sensors for gaming and a trackpad-like area for efficient navigation throughout the user interface by way of swiping over its touch-sensitive, clickable Touch surface.
Communicating with the Apple TV over Bluetooth 4.0, the Siri Remote also packs in an infrared blaster for TV volume control. And since the Apple TV itself supports the HDMI Consumer Electronics Control standard (HDMI-CEC), users can easily control power and switch inputs of other HDMI-CEC devices using their Siri Remote.
Another big change is the inclusion of Siri-powered voice navigation, courtesy of the Siri Remote’s dual microphones. Using the remote, users can search movies and television shows across multiple built-in content sources such as iTunes, Netflix, HBO NOW and Hulu. In addition, third-party developers are permitted to expose their own content for searching through Siri.
Despite its lack of a built-in TV tuner, a dedicated personal video recorder or 4K video output, the fourth-generation Apple TV is a vast improvement over the previous models.
While there’s still work left to be done on revolutionizing the outdated television experience, the new Apple TV does many things right and is all about future potential. And since the box runs Apple’s new operating system called tvOS and based on iOS 9, the new Apple TV is at long last a true platform that will only get better with each new software update.
There are currently no known modifications or jailbreaks for the Apple TV 4.
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