The iPhone’s App Store is the virtual marketplace that launched a thousand think pieces. Apple called it “revolutionary” (as it does every product) and many tech sites called it world-changing. And now, eight years after it launched, the Apple TV will finally get its own App Store too.
Apple announced today it’s opening up the Apple TV OS to third-party developers with “tvOS.” “We believe the future of television is apps,” Tim Cook said during the keynote.
It’s desperately needed, because the Apple TV now is kind of what the iPhone was at the start of its life: no third party apps and limited capabilities. (Remember when YouTube coming to the iPhone and Apple TV was a big deal?) Sure, you can stream some live content (mainly if you or someone you know happens to be a cable subscriber), but for the most part, you’re stuck watching Netflix or the random video clips that the Apple-selected channels provide. Unless, of course, you can mirror your favorite shows and content using another Apple device.
“When you experience TV in this way through an app, you realize how much better it can be. You can search for what you want, you can interact with it where and when you want,” Cook said.
The new touch remote lets users search for and control content with Siri. There is less of an emphasis on channels and more of an emphasis on Siri suggesting things you could watch, based on genre, actor, time period, etc. Then Apple TV will let you see every place that the movie or TV show is available.
Some developers got early access to revamp their existing apps, like Netflix, HBO, Hulu.
The MLB.tv app has also gotten a facelift- it’s now called MLB At Bat and features live streaming, split screens, and live stats surrounding your game. And NHL Game Center is coming in 2016, too.
The newly opened OS means people are excited about the possibility of game development for the Apple TV, especially with the addition of a touch screen remote and a fast new processor. Many have predicted it will become a go-to for casual gamers, similar to Nintendo’s Wii, according to industry insiders.
And the Harmonix Beat Sports demo looks pretty much like a Wii game, except you can use your iPhone or iPod touch as a controller.
J.P. Morgan analyst Rod Hall says that’s great for the company’s bottom line. AppleInsider got ahold of the note Hall sent to investors before today’s event, saying, “every 5 percent share Apple can carve out of the $35 billion console gaming market would add about 2 percent to his annual earnings per share forecast.”
Apple brought up the maker of the app Crossy Road, Hipster Whale, to demonstrate how the controls work. And now it’s more like Frogger, with multiplayer. The new Guitar Hero, Shadowmatic, and Disney’s Star Wars Infinity are also coming to the new Apple TV.
And the Apple TV App Store has continuity so if you’re playing a game on your iPhone, you can switch to the Apple TV and start where you left off.
This gaming focus sounds a lot like the hype for the iPhone’s App Store. When the iPhone app developer kit reached 100,000 downloads, a press release quoted vice president of the now-defunct THQ Wireless saying, “The iPhone is the mobile platform game developers have been dreaming of.”
It’s rumored that Apple is going to jump into the original content packaging market as well, but that keeps getting delayed as the big networks drag their feet over money. And Apple might even start making its own shows and movies.
Will the Apple TV App Store turn out to be like the iOS App Store, aka “among the most influential things for humanity that happened in that time period,” according to the founder and CEO of Evernote?
Well, I don’t even think that statement is objectively true. I’m just hoping I can watch Steven Universe live without my parent’s cable subscription.