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Apple TV You can Now Preorder

Someone asked me if the new Apple TV will change the way people watch television. I told them no, because that had already changed. Few of us are on the networks’ schedules any more and more and more of us are building relationships with the apps cable and broadcast networks create as opposed to with networks and cable companies.

The all new Apple TV, which looks a lot like the old Apple TV hardware, aside from the Siri remote, is very much a part of this modern TV-watching world. It’s app driven and user-directed. And with this update, Apple TV becomes a hub of activity, bringing together content, information, entertainment and even data.

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Throughout the demos I saw on Wednesday during Apple’s big product event in San Francisco, Apple TV reminded me a bit of Amazon Echo, connecting disparate services through voice and intelligence. The Siri remote even has two microphones to listen to you so you don’t have to hold it up to your mouth.

I wish I could have touched that remote or tried out Apple TV for myself, but Apple was being pretty careful with the updated set-top box. The demos that followed the keynote were in a series of small rooms set up to look like little, austere living rooms.

The new Apple TV box was set right below an HDTV, basking in the glow of a little spotlight. Meanwhile, an Apple employee waved around the new Siri Remote, which I noticed he had tethered to his wrist. Since you may swing it around during game mode, this probably makes good sense.

New guts and glory

In some ways, the new Apple TV feels like a half step. The core hardware looks pretty much like the old hardware, though I think the box is smaller in diameter, but also somewhat taller. It’s also running the last generation A8 chip. I’m not sure why they couldn’t give it the A9 CPU, which you’ll find in the iPhone 6s.

The real innovation is in the new OS, which supports apps and the do-it-all Siri remote, which includes voice recognition, a glass touchpad and gesture recognition.

If Amazon Fire TV’s remote control and the Wii Remote had a baby, the Siri remote might be it.

If Amazon Fire TV’s remote control and the Wii Remote had a baby, the Siri remote might be it.

Granted, Apple’s Siri remote understands much more than the FireTV remote, which is mostly good for basic content searches. In the demos I saw, the remote's universal search seemed able to figure out an answer for pretty much anything they threw at it.

At the core

In the space of a year, Apple has quickly gone from having two OSes to four. That may seem like overkill, but the benefits of a platform are clear. The Apple Watch already has 10,000 applications. Just think how many the new Apple TV will have in a year.

Plus, what I saw impressed me. The children’s games with Siri remote control looked like fun, even if I’d seen that approach years before on the Wii, though this remote uses Bluetooth 4.0, which means you can be 25 feet away and out of sight from the Apple TV and it will still communicate with the box. My favorite demo, though, was the one for MLB At Bat. It was a brilliant combination of live-action TV (a baseball game between the Nats and the Mets) and stats. You could even watch two games at once.

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