Archives For Apple

Until recently, my 4th generation app-ified Apple TV hasn’t really been any more or less useful than my Roku 3 and Fire TV. And, for some, its launch without Apple’s rumored television service has been a significant disappointment.

However, I was recently turned on to Channels ($15) – a new app which streams live television from any HDHomeRun network tuner, So you can pipe both linear television and streaming services all through the same input and interface (although, as of yet, without universal Siri search). While this will naturally appeal to cord cutters with an antenna, those very same HDHomeRun OTA models now map clearQAM (for those with providers that still deliver, like FiOS) and, of course, there’s the HDHomeRun Prime for digital cable via CableCARD.

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Apple TV To Enable App Folders

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2016

Given the 3000 “channels” Roku boasts, you’d think the streaming pioneer would provide some sort of sensible organizational structure. Sadly, many owners (such as myself) are left with an unwieldy scrolling grid of providers. Yeah, we can rearrange app placement within the grid.. but there’s no way to isolate by category or viewer. And it’s not like this is a new concept as WDTV brought way more robust presentation, including tabs and folders, to the television… about three years ago.

Well, the “new” Apple TV is poised to leapfrog Roku (and Amazon) when they release tvOS 9.2 in the coming weeks. Beyond a new (and improved) podcast app and Bluetooth keyboard support, Apple will port a variant of their rudimentary mobile OS foldering feature to the big screen.

While I can’t speak to actual folder usage (as the feature is in developer beta), given Apple TV remote control fussiness, advanced app management may not be the most comfortable to implement. Yet, I’m highly confident it’ll be worth the effort and look forward to getting organized on my brand-spanking-new unit. Continue Reading…

By way of Com Hem, an international TiVo partner, the DVR pioneer appears poised to launch smart watch apps for remote control — citing both the Apple Watch and Android Wear platforms. Beyond replicating existing smartphone app functions, like changing channels as while browsing the live guide, TiVo indicates voice control is also on the docket… as alluded to last September.

Initially, these Dick Tracey-esque wrist interactions appear specific to Com Hem TiVo customers (and the apps are saddled with a ‘beta’ designation). Yet, with CES just kicking off, I suspect we could learn more about potential retail customer support within the next 48 hours.

As to other TiVo news from the Vegas trade show, an HBO GO announcement seems like a lock and I’m hopeful we’ll learn more of an OTA-only Bolt solution… with or without “Aereo” branding. Continue Reading…

Deal of the Day: $30 off Apple TV

Dave Zatz —  December 26, 2015

While it may be a few years before we once again “watch TV”, my new blessed reality clearly hasn’t slowed me from acquiring gadgets. So, although I missed out on Target’s limited Black Friday inventory, I just ordered Apple TV on sale from… RadioShack’s zombie corpse. This $120 deal drops $30 off MSRP and bundles an HDMI cable of unknown length and provenance.

appletv-deal

Of course, what sets the new Apple TV apart from its predecessors is a full-fledged and open (vs curated) app store along with a premium touch sensitive remote that also sports Siri voice control. Apple offers both 32GB and 64GB models, but the extra space doesn’t yet seem useful and the 32GB is probably suitable for most… for now. The Roku 2 (2015) is still the streamer I most frequently recommend given the broad app selection, simple but efficient interface, at a very attractive price point ($60-70). However, until or unless Roku migrates their platform to Android, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV offerings will potentially be richer and more capable.

(Thanks Bryan A!)

August is out with several announcements today as they now publicly transition from a singularly focused smart lock company into a home automation player. We’ve got service relationships, a smart keypad, a doorbell camera, and, of course, more smartlock. The existing August lock drops in price to $199 with a significantly updated model joining the fray at $229.

August_Smart_Lock_HomeKit_Angled_Silver

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While Philips Hue HomeKit-compatible gear isn’t officially expected until October 6, the A19 Starter Kit has begun appearing at various retail locations. Indeed, I literally got my hands on the v2 hub bridge. It’s smaller and squarer than the existing model, with a nicer matte finish and generally more tasteful presentation… that is entirely irrelevant since you’ll be plugging it into your router somewhere out of sight. There are three indicators, plus a glowing ring that surrounds the much larger pairing button.

As Philips moves the line to HomeKit, pricing of Hue bundles looks to remain unchanged (in the US, anyway). What’s not yet clear, but should be revealed within the next 48 hours, is the cost of a standalone HomeKit bridge to retrofit the bazillions of Hue homes that sport iOS (like mine). Also unclear, as I’m pretty sure an App Store update is required, is the extent of Siri voice control. For example, will it best Amazon Echo’s existing but limited (tho useful) Hue interaction?

UPDATE: The HomeKit replacement hub has popped up on Amazon for $60… But I’m waiting to learn more about Siri’s capabilities before making my purchase.

Plex Confirmed For New Apple TV. No Timeline, Probably No Universal Search.

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Unboxing the new Apple TV

Dave Zatz —  September 13, 2015