We've been saying for more than a year that Apple TV is due for a major makeover; compared to competitors such as Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV, the streaming media player is clearly dated—the last refresh appeared in 2013. Apple fans need not worry, though. It sounds like that overhaul will finally arrive in about two weeks, in the form of a fresher look, a new operating system, and some enhanced features.
The timing—linked to the Sept. 9 press event for the new iPhone 6—couldn't be better. A survey released last week by market research firm Parks Associates has revealed that, based on 2014 sales, Apple has slipped to number four in the streaming media player market, trailing not only Roku and Chromecast, but also Amazon Fire TV.
Over the past few weeks there have been a number of leaks about what new features the revamped Apple TV will get. Do not expect the launch of the long-rumored skinny TV service aimed at cord-cutters and cost-cutters. But, according to the Apple-focused website 9to5Mac, the new player will have a slimmer, sleeker design than the old Apple TV, with a faster processor, a redesigned remote control, and more internal storage.
Here's a quick look at the three new features we think will have the biggest impact.
Apple iOS9. By some accounts, Apple TV will now run a special TV-optimized version of the company's new operating system. One of the main benefits of this OS is the Proactive search feature, which lets you hunt for content across many different apps and services. It may also help Apple TV offer personalized recommendations for apps, TV shows, movies, and games.
Siri Voice. According to BuzzFeed, which first reported that Siri was coming to Apple TV, the system's new remote control (see below) may have a microphone for relaying your search and voice commands to the personal assistant. By sparing you the hassle of the virtual keyboard, Apple TV will make life easier and move more into line with its competitors. Some people believe a Siri-armed Apple TV might even serve as a home automation hub, letting users control Apple HomeKit-enabled devices such as lights, locks, and thermostats.
New and improved remote. Reports say the remote will be bigger and feature both touch input and gesture support, perhaps as a way to make Apple TV more game-friendly. The device allegedly has IR (infrared) and Bluetooth technology, too, the latter possibly for private listening via Bluetooth headphones.
Apple is also expected to unveil a software developer's kit and a store, both devoted to apps and games created for Apple TV.
We'll share more news on the Apple TV after the Sept. 9 product announcement. In the meantime, feel free to check out our streaming media player buying guide and Ratings for information on other devices.
What do you watch most with your streaming media player? Let us know by adding a comment below.
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