I’ve just had to check Wikipedia to see which Apple TV I own.
It’s been that long since I bought one.
As it turns out, mine is the 2nd generation Apple TV with a stonking 720p output over HDMI and 8GB of internal flash storage.
I don’t use it any more. In fact, to be honest, I don’t even know where it is. I flirted briefly with the 3rd generation Apple TV owned by my parents. But I think I’ve lost that, too.
Don’t tell my mum.
So, why has Apple’s much-maligned attempt at a set-top box entered my field of view once more? The WWDC21 announcement – that’s why. Because now, we’re faced with the usual barrage of predictions for what we might see during the June event.
I like these previews, but there’s always one element of them that leaves me reaching for the ‘back’ button: any mention of tvOS.
I think we’ve unfortunately reached a rather sad stage of the Apple TV story.
Let me explain.
Why I haven’t bought an Apple TV for over a decade
I want to want an Apple TV – I really do. I’d love to have an Apple device connected to my TV which enjoys daily use. But the Apple TV has never really interested me and I never get excited about forthcoming updates.
I’m someone who remembers the infamous “I finally cracked it” Steve Jobs quote from Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Apple co-founder. The press immediately leapt on the story, claiming that Apple was about to “shake up the entire consumer electronics industry” with a new TV set.
That never happened.
I have no doubt that there was indeed some kind of TV set in development somewhere deep within the bowels of Apple, but for whatever reason, they decided to stick resolutely with their little ‘hockey puck’ set-top box instead.
As a result, Apple has never managed to redefine the television experience. They’ve barely made a dent in most people’s subconscious with their attempt, to be honest – let alone the universe.
Apple TV+ has, understandably, been their main focus of late, but even that is largely uninteresting. Like many, I’ve used the free membership period to check out a few of the shows, and while I’ve enjoyed a couple of them, it’s very early days for Apple’s version of Netflix; it’ll take time for it to become a streaming service which your mum uses.
But it’s the hardware and software which still bores me to tears. It’s why I haven’t bothered to invest in an Apple TV either for my own enjoyment or even as a review unit.
I’m afraid there’s only one answer for it.
If they did it to the HomePod…
Earlier this month, Apple canned the original HomePod. Realising that they’d over-engineered, over-priced and over-exaggerated their not-so-smart home speaker to death, they had no choice but to lay it to rest.
It’s time for them to do the same with the Apple TV.
I should perhaps note at this juncture that I’m not suggesting they cancel Apple TV+. Far from it. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a nascent streaming service that needs time to build its catalogue. I have no doubt that will happen and we’ll continue to see some very high-quality shows arrive on the platform.
But the little box you play it on? Time to get shot, Apple.
It’s not like you can’t watch Apple TV+ on anything else. Apple is doing an admirable job at providing the service on smart TVs, gaming consoles and streaming devices.
But its own hardware? They’ve tried, but it just hasn’t worked. The remote has been ridiculed, its gaming capabilities are all but forgotten, and the Apple TV’s role as a HomeKit hub has, I think, been a bit of a non-event.
That’s the problem with the Apple TV; people still don’t really know it exists. I’d forgotten I owned one. Hell, I’d even forgotten tvOS existed until I read the first bunch of WWDC21 previews.
The HomePod’s demise was inevitable. It just didn’t fit anywhere within Apple’s product line up, and the Apple TV is the same. How much longer can they string it out before it’s time to give up?
It’s not as if they’ll get much flack for it either, because the hard truth about the Apple TV is that no one really cares. In fact, I’d wager that if the device disappeared from the Apple website tomorrow, it’d take a while for people to realise.
Am I being unfair? Do you genuinely love your Apple TV? Let’s have it out in the comments.