Why Does the Apple TV Still Exist?

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

The other possibility that I’ve come up with is to merge the Apple TV with some other technologies in order to make something more than just a simple TV streamer. Gaming can be a part of that, yes, but there needs to be more. Broader HomeKit support, perhaps with support for other wireless home standards, would help, as would a much more sophisticated set of home automations.

And if Apple really wants to continue to play in the home-theater space, I’ve been saying for years that there’s room for an Apple SoundBar, that could integrate the big sound of HomePod with the Apple TV software to create a solid music and video experience.

Snell is playing off a recent episode of Dithering, where Ben Thompson and I pondered the question of why Apple TV (hardware) exists in a world where the Apple TV app is built into TVs and present on other cheaper boxes, and where those new TVs also support AirPlay 2. My thought was gaming — double-down on it. Put a controller in the box. If you want to separate Apple TV from Roku and Amazon Fire and Chromecast, remember that there is no Roku/Fire/Chromecast Arcade. Only Apple Arcade.

Really, Apple Arcade is the only recent evidence that Apple remains strongly committed to the Apple TV platform. Every single Apple Arcade game is available on Apple TV — which is difficult for games designed for touchscreen phones. And I will bet that it’s been difficult for some games performance-wise to achieve 30+ FPS on Apple TV 4K. I think Apple’s requirement that Arcade games not just play but play well on Apple TV is a sign that they’re committed.

Apple’s not going to win the war for AAA shooters against PlayStation or Xbox, but they could out-casual-game those two. Make Apple Arcade more of a competitor to Nintendo Switch, with an Apple TV plugged into your TV and mobile play on your iPhone or iPad.

Making Apple TV a first-class HomeKit hub is a great idea too, and I’d buy an Apple sound bar in a heartbeat. I’ve been using two HomePods for audio output from my Apple TV, and it works so great — but HomePods clearly aren’t optimized for this. A sound bar (SoundPod? HomeBar?) could be great.

Sunday, 14 February 2021