Meet the Apple TV, the ubiquitous smartphone company’s stab into the home-entertainment industry. At the cost of $200.85, this cable box will connect to your television and grant it access to Apple’s myriad of services. In some aspects, however, some might call the cost of the product not representative of its quality. The initial fee may throw potential customers off, not to mention the monthly fee of 17$ for Apple One , a subscription service that grants access to Apple’s premium services at the cheapest price.
The heftier price tag compared to other streaming services might be excused with Apple TV’s services not being solely reliant on the various films or shows it may be pumping out. Apple Music, Apple Arcade and Apple Photos are the available and seemingly indefinite amount of applications accessible at the moment by an Apple TV. It is also accompanied with its own special features, absent in every other subscription service. Upon first glance, one might think it’d make up for the extra costs. Though I’d like to argue otherwise.
The Services: Innovative or Insipid?
Apple Music is one of the three available services on the television. It showcases the feature of being able to play music as well as showcase the lyrics and official video of a playing song. Being able to choose from a massive catalogue of musicians at a moment’s notice is very convenient, but it doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from the competition. It has similar features to Spotify Premium, another music subscription service, save for a few artists who produce solely on either of the respective platforms.
YouTube also allows one to view videos at no cost, though many videos lack the option to accurate lyrics and subtitles. Though having accompanying lyrics to your song might serve well during the occasional karaoke night, Youtube already serves the purpose of video showcasing. Apple Music on Apple TV seems to serve a very niche purpose, hence leaving scant reason to argue for its usefulness.
Disregarding the video feature shared by YouTube and Apple Music, the matter of Spotify and Apple Music’s difference comes down to personal opinion. Despite the higher price, Apple has artists that Spotify does not and vice versa. These musicians usually isolate their music to a respective platform to give it a level of prestige, as only their music is accessible through that one specific medium. So, if you think one platform has a larger collection of musicians you’ve developed an endearing passion for than the other, you’re welcome to pay either the lower or higher price.
Apple’s contribution to the gaming industry presents itself as Apple Arcade, another application tacked onto the Apple One bundle. The subscription grants access to over 200+ games in Apple’s catalogue. These games were initially created to serve the hardware limitations of an Iphone and he appeal of being able to witness your mobile gaming imported onto a much larger medium such as a television does have its merits: multiplayer games no longer requiring each player to have an individual smartphone and being able to connect third-party controllers from consoles such as Playstation or Xbox.
It circumvents the need for multiple smartphones essentially, multiple accounts being able to be accessed mainly on Apple TV without spending a good chunk of change for another phone. However, it doesn’t justify the Apple TV product as a ‘must-have’ in terms of home entertainment. It solves a few setbacks, but none of them troubling enough to warrant such a fee.
Apple Photos allows you to view photos stored in your Iphone’s Icloud on your television. Not exactly a premier feature nor life-changing, but it is nice to view your memories on a big screen. You can enjoy a nostalgic viewing of them with your family. But is it worth paying 17$ a month? Probably not.
Overall, each service peddles an already existing service that resolves niche, trivial problems. Though the severity of the problems may differ from person to person, I for one, think they are minor steps forward locked behind an unreasonable fee.
Apple TV’s Specialised Features: (Over)Optimised Convenience.
Undoubtedly the most useful collection of features in the Apple TV’s considerable inventory, the Apple TV’s bespoke function of connecting with your Iphone (and only an Iphone) creates a…satisfactory viewing experience. Despite the product having its own remote, you can choose to make its utility completely irrelevant by linking your phone to your television, ousting the original remote from its position.
The original remote performs routine functions akin to every decent remote. A volume button, smooth touch-enabled clickpad and a Siri function which allows you to input in voice commands, following in accordance to your stated desire. Well you can forget about that, because bluetooth connection with your Iphone will give you all of those options and MORE! All the options available on the remote are now present on the phone’s lockscreen, which is motion activated. Each Iphone is already outfitted with a Siri which does the exact same thing as the remote, ultimately rendering its unique feature useless.
Not only that, the Iphone provides an expedited process of payment, whether that be a renewal of a subscription service or the purchase of a movie on Apple’s streaming service, being able to scan for identification through either facial or fingerprint recognition software. This feature is absent from the remote, relegating it to a second option in the case your phone is low on charge. Apple’s penchant for innovation is pushed with such monstrous fervour from its team, that even its newest products become obsolete the moment they are publicly available. Simply a radiant business practice.
Airpod Connection seems to be a first for the Apple TV, as it’s the only feature with evident benefits. Under the assumption you own them, the Apple TV harbours the ability to link with a maximum of two pairs of its compatible earphone counterparts. Keeping its built in surround sound system, the dynamic audio will shift earbuds in accordance to the onscreen action. Furthermore, it also serves as a way to watch your shows quietly, should you thirst for a late-night bingeing session. Aside from that, it also features the Siri function, once again allowing you to use voice commands on a whim. Did I mention that the TV comes with a remote?
Once again, Apple follows the trend of overpricing their products with minor justification and bizarre technical choices. It serves very niche purposes and maybe lends a speck of extra convenience, but it remains arduous to justify its pricing. If you see the problems the Apple TV solves as persistent and dire, you’re very much welcome to purchase it. The Airpod Connection feature is actually useful and Apple’s personal streaming service has shows that are of likely top-notch quality, both in production and writing. However, paired with its services making little effort to differentiate itself from competition, you’re better off just signing up for a regular Apple TV+ subscription at $10 a month, which includes the streaming service only. So whilst the Apple TV has lots of features, a portion of it won’t likely find much use within your daily life.
I declare the Apple TV, somewhat worth buying if you have extra cash.
(Photos courtesy of Apple)