When the most recent generation of the Apple TV was released back in 2013, it was meant to be the perfect companion for cordcutters – people who had ditched their traditional cable subscriptions and only watched TV via services like Hulu or Netflix. In addition to apps for those two streaming offerings, the 2013 Apple TV also allowed users to stream live sports via the NBA League Pass and MLB.tv apps and people could streaming content (including music) from the iTunes Store. Plus, streamed video could now be displayed in 1080p HD, a huge step up from the 720p visuals of previous Apple TV generations.
These features, were highly praised by users but more could still be done. For example, Apple could introduce support for more apps and services and the the company could even tweak the Apple TV’s user interface. In fact, rumors this week suggested that Apple would make the new Apple TV a games console in its own right, even positioning it as a rival to the PS4 and the Xbox One.
Those rumors also stated that the next-generation Apple TV would be announced today at Apple’s press conference, where the company was also expected to show off new iPhones and a new iPad as well. That speculation has now been proved correct as the 4th generation Apple TV is packed to the brim full of gaming-centric features.
One of the biggest gaming-focused features of the new Apple TV is its brand new touch-enabled controller. Previously, the Apple TV’s controller was a bit like an iPod with no screen, but this one features a touch-sensitive glass surface, which is meant to be its main input source.
This touch surface (it resembles the PS4’s DualShock touchpad more than a screen) allows users to swipe just as they would with a smartphone. There are some buttons, though – such as menu, pause, play, display and a volume slider, plus there’s a microphone button too and when people press it they can speak to Siri. Siri integration allows users to say things like ‘what did she just say’ (it will rewind the media by 15 seconds) or ‘play that episode of [TV show] that featured [guest star]’ and it will find it in an instant.
And, this new Apple TV controller can be turned sideways and used for gaming too. Apple clearly isn’t messing around with Apple TV’s gaming capabilities, having enlisted several heavy hitters to help. For example, the family friendly title Disney Infinity 3.0 will get an Apple TV compatible version, as will music rhythm reboot Guitar Hero Live. Shadowmatic and Rayman Adventures have also been confirmed, along with popular mobile app Crossy Road which will be released on Apple TV, complete with multiplayer and co-operative gameplay.
Moreover, Jon Carter from Harmonix took to the stage to announce their Apple TV exclusive game, Beat Sports. As the name would suggest, Beat Sports is a fusion of what Harmonix does best – music rhythm and party games – with sports thrown in for good measure. One example of Beat Sports’ mini-games includes one where a player flicks their wrist to the music in order to hit baseballs. It may sound a little ridiculous on paper but this sort of oddball gameplay is exactly the sort of thing that will get people talking, and, as Apple would hope, will get people buying Apple TVs.
Although the Apple TV seems to vying for the casual audience more than hardcore gamers, the price could appeal to everyone. The 32GB Apple TV sells for $149 while the 64GB sells for $199, which is massively cheaper than the PS4, the Xbox One and the Wii U. The new Apple TV will go on sale in late October.
Does the Apple TV’s gaming focus interest you? Do you think that the Apple TV will affect the sales of the PS4, the Xbox One and the Wii U? Leave a comment and let us know.