Apple itself says of Apple TV, “The future of television is here.” No it’s not. Or, if it is, I’m not happy with the future. And I’m not happy with the present. Thanks to tvOS, itself a derivative of iOS which is derived from macOS, Apple TV is a platform. That means applications, games, and plenty of streaming content. Good so far, right?
There’s YouTube, Netflix, and plenty of television channels and a few cable TV-like subscriptions on Apple TV. What’s missing are the good ones like YouTube TV (but can still stream if you don’t mind AirPlay) but the new Hulu Live TV subscription service is there.
There are problems.
Amazon Prime – First on my list is Amazon Prime. There’s no Apple TV app for Amazon Prime. Yet. I’ve hear rumblings for nearly two years that Amazon was coming.
Remote – I know Apple’s famous engineers think the remote is Apple-like, but it’s more Apple-like and akin to the hockey puck mouse on the original iMac than it is a useful device to navigate. It’s a horrible navigation experience. The device is slippery and prone to being dropped (thank the gods for carpet).
PiP – Where is it? Surely Apple can figure this one out. I’ve had it on TVs for years. Picture-in-Picture should be standard. In fact, with sufficient bandwidth, there’s no reason the PiP can’t be four or six channels at a time. Why is it necessary? Because Apple TV navigation sucks.
Navigation – Not only is the remote a pain to use, so is navigating around TV apps themselves, and there’s that long pause while you exit from one app to jump to another. My cable TV remote– as complicated as it seems with all those buttons– is a far simpler navigation experience. Enter a channel number, press Enter. Done. Apple needs to fix that or at least go full-on PiP so switching can be faster and easier.
Subscriptions – I have two issues here. The first is the need to have a cable TV account to access some of the app channels on Apple TV. That’s nuts. I can get the content already. I’m trying to cut the cord, not tie it tighter. The second is obvious– there are not enough streaming subscription choices. Yet. Amazon is coming. Hulu is there. YouTube TV is not. Yet. Sling TV is. See? And where is Apple? Why doesn’t Apple add a base-line set of channels similar to YouTube TV or Hulu Live TV and then start building content on top of that?
Keyboard – The onscreen keyboard is horrible and requires Apple TV users to swipe the remote a gazillion times to enter letters. Where is the onscreen, three-row QWERTY keyboard?
TV Controls – Universal remotes are a dime a dozen and can be paired to almost any television. But Apple TV’s remote works only on Apple TV. So, if I want to jump video sources– from Apple TV back to cable TV, I need the cable TV company’s remote. Can’t a universal remote be built in to Apple TV remote?
Cut the Cord – Not yet. Streaming live TV subscriptions will help and more choices are on the way, but that merely takes high definition television back to 1989. There’s still a $25 to $75 monthly fee, so cable TV becomes streaming TV with– and I can’t believe I’m saying this– a worse interface. So far, nothing has compelled me to cut the cable TV cord.
I could go on. Apple TV continues to improve, but hasn’t reached a point whereby I can comfortably say goodbye to the cable TV company.