TV App Goes Part Way Towards Being a True Apple TV Unified Viewing Experience

| Analysis

Apple started off its “hello again” media event with a new unified content viewing app called TV. The app is designed for Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone, and lets you see all of the shows you watch in a single interface instead of jumping around to different apps. That sounds great, but TV isn’t the holy grail of single-point content viewing Apple TV users are looking for—at least not yet.

TV app for Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad

The new TV app for Apple TV shows what you’re currently watching, upcoming episodes, and suggestions

TV updates to display the shows you’re currently watching, along with future episodes. It also shows movies and music, along with the contents of your iTunes library, and can make recommendations for other shows and movies to watch based on your viewing history.

The good news is that TV finally addresses Apple TV’s app-centric instead of content-centric viewing by giving us a single place to go for the shows, movies, and music we’re enjoying right now. The bad news is that content providers have to opt in to Apple’s TV app, and Netflix hasn’t signed on.

TV won’t be released until the end of the year, so there’s still time for Netflix to get onboard before then—and hopefully the company will. At this point, Netflix is debating whether or not to toss its hat into the TV app ring. Company spokesperson Smita Saran told Wired, “I can confirm we are not participating and evaluating the opportunity.”

Sorry TV, no Netflix for you

Netflix’s absence from TV means that one of the biggest streaming content providers still requires viewers to jump between apps, and that kind of defeats the purpose of the app. Sure, you can see your HBO Now and iTunes shows, but TV won’t be the go-to place for everything you watch. In other words, Apple TV is still an app-centric viewing experience, but not quite as much as it was before.

Netflix could be holding out because it wants to control the viewing experience, or is concerned about what data will be shared with Apple. That sounds good, but considering Netflix already does something similar on other platforms, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

Despite Netflix’s current evaluation status, Apple is betting TV is the app Apple TV users will want. Once the app rolls out in a software update later this year, they TV button on the Apple TV remote will launch the app instead of taking users to the Home screen.

The update will also finally give us the long-promised single sign-on feature so users don’t have to enter their cable TV account credentials in every channel viewing app. Siri will get a boost, too, making it easier to find and watch live shows by talking instead of typing and tapping.

No Amazon Prime on TV, either

Amazon Prime is still missing from the mix, too, although that’s not much of a surprise since Amazon refuses to bring the service to Apple TV. Your big screen options for Prime content are an Amazon Fire Stick, or AirPlay streaming from the Prime app on your iPhone or iPad.

No Prime app means Apple TV users are multi-device viewers, and not just multi-app viewers. That’s not an end of the world problem, but it is an extra inconvenience that’ll keep some people from cutting their cable TV cord.

Still, getting Netflix on board will go a long way towards making Apple TV the cord cutter’s dream we want it to be.

5 Comments Add a comment

  1. kevinlane

    Amazon Prime is still missing from the mix, too, although that’s not much of a surprise since Amazon refuses to bring the service to Apple TV. Your big screen options for Prime content are an Amazon Fire Stick, or AirPlay streaming from the Prime app on your iPhone or iPad.

    Or buy a smart TV with the Amazon app on it. Of course, I would rather have the Amazon experience through my Apple TV, but at least this way I don’t need a Fire Stick or Airplay.

  2. I hope Netflix gets onboard. Amazon Prime is not something that we use; so it only matters to me as a check mark feature listing. Apple says the future of TV is Apps. If that is true then it is true only by virtue of content providers cramming it down our throats. Maybe we can just hide all the content Apps and use the TV App as if it stood alone.

  3. Or my OWN CONTENT that’s NOT bought from Apple, or someone else? Why is no one talking about that? Am I the only one who has music, movies and TV Shows that you didn’t get from Apple? Why can’t I see those on the TV app (I bet you can’t, right?)

    Also, why can’t I just search for my own content and go right to where I left off, instead of having to scroll thru the list of 900 items (I have 900 movies, yes, in Genres, but that’s still 250 in Kids & Family!)

  4. Not to get your hopes up, but I think I just read somewhere that the app does access your stored content.

    As an aside, I wish the powers that be would work out the Amazon smazzle. They have some very good original content, e.g., The Man in the High Castle, and as part of their “Prime” shipping deal, its a pretty good value.

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