For most of us, TV shows and movies arrive on our televisions in one of a few ways. For the vast majority of those living in the U.S., it’s a cable TV subscription. The second largest group is over the air (OTA) with a digital antenna. The former brings in a much larger number of channel selections and options, while the latter works much as it always has but with an improved digital signal and picture (albeit with far fewer channel selections).
The third group of content sources is challenging cable TV subscriptions and OTA for the coveted Video Source #1 on the television. That’s the selection most of us use. That’s where the battle is between cable TV, OTA users, and everyone else. Apple TV falls into the latter group.
Whether its Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Google’s Chromecast (or whatever name it is now), Roku, or others, there’s a big battle going on to get enough content and options and features and functions among them to get TV watchers to switch; or, at least, switch back and forth more frequently between whatever is on Video Source #1 and the second choice.
Our household coughs up about $150 a month for a cable TV bundle of digital channels, a DVR, a landline telephone, and 100-mbps internet access. Apple TV takes up the less coveted Video Source #2 on the television. Switching between the two requires a few hoops to jump through, but so far, what Apple TV provides does not provide competition for cable TV on Video Source #1.
Apple TV has many channels, but most of them already show up on our cable TV input. There’s Netflix, Hulu, and others, but again, much of the content is what is already available on cable TV, and their digital video recorder (DVR) makes time shifting content almost simplistic.
Streaming content within Apple TV might negate the advantage of DVR time shifting, but Apple’s user interface is a drawback, not an advantage, Siri notwithstanding. It simply takes too long to find out what TV show is playing on which channel than it does to find it on cable TV using the remote and DVR combo. All that bouncing back and forth between app channels on Apple TV is cumbersome at best.
Siri to the rescue.
Apple TV’s TV app and guide are decent, but it’s just another TV guide, and cable TV already has that, and navigation is easier because it’s tied into DVR recording. Allow me to cut Apple some slack and ignore the crazy touch interface on the Apple TV remote. It’s actually easier using the Apple TV app on my Watch.
Siri, though, can be used by the remote to search for movies and TV shows and even control– to a certain extent– what is played and viewed. Admittedly, this effort takes some adjustment and getting used to, partly because Siri does not understand every query or request, and partly because Siri responds better to very specific queries and requests. That means the user needs to learn how to use Apple TV and then learn how to use Siri.
That means using Apple TV properly is yet another learning curve to view television content, and despite the complexities of most cable TV company remotes, most of us have that down already. Apple TV is new, provides limited and different content, and requires learning a couple of new interfaces.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t remember having to learn this much to use my first few iPhones.
This is really simple, Apple.
From my perspective, Apple TV needs more content– so much more content that it dwarfs what cable TV offers– and it must be delivered almost instantly; at least as quickly and easily as using the cable TV (or, TV remote with OTA) remote control. Apple TV content isn’t competitive yet. Different? Yes. Competitive? Not yet. Apple’s remote control is simple enough, but the navigation between app channels takes forever when compared to a cable TV remote control. Siri shows promise, but a promise won’t get me to switch Apple TV to Video Source #1 and use it in place of cable TV.