Five Ways Apple's Television Will Change the World
It could go well beyond cord-cutting, hands-free controls, and voice-activated channel-surfing.
How is this possible? How can one television transform the way we live? Let's take a look.
5. Remotely Interesting
Samsung deserves all the credit in the world for beating Apple to the punch by launching a series of smart TVs that sound suspiciously like the one the Mac maker is rumored to be developing. But Samsung's remote is, to put it nicely, somewhat hilarious.
Samsung says that the remote allows you to "change channels, adjust the volume and browse the web with a simple touch." Umm, isn't a "simple touch" the way we have always changed channels, adjusted the volume, and (when applicable) browsed the web? Or was Samsung under the impression that we had to jump through hoops of fire to make episodes of Lost and 24 sound a little bit louder?
In any case, I suspect Apple will be a bit more creative in its remote endeavors. Some believe that Apple won't release a remote for its TV and will instead force consumers to buy an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to control the set. There is no way that would ever happen. Just as Apple wants everyone to own every product it makes, the company also realizes that any product we buy could be the first Apple device we have ever owned. The Mac maker would never discourage new customers by locking them out of a purchase, especially not one as significant as the company's first TV.
That being the case, one question remains: what would an Apple remote look like?
I'm betting that it will have a touch pad with as few buttons as possible. The pad would likely be flat and come in one solid color (white or gray). Users could change the channel and perform other functions by sliding their fingers across the pad, just as they do with their Macs. To enter a specific channel, you would tap the pad twice, causing nine digit-shaped LEDs to light up within the pad, allowing users to quickly enter their desired channel.
Those features alone would not be innovative. But imagine if Apple put a spin on the whole channel-surfing concept by allowing you to quickly jump between channels by sliding your finger up and down the pad? With each slide, the channel you are currently watching would slide out and another would slide in, just like a window moving around your Mac. The window speed would be entirely based on how fast the user was moving. Thus, if you wanted to channel surf very quickly, you could just flick your finger across the pad and channels would slide in and out at lightning speeds.
That, however, isn't really a groundbreaking feature either. If, however, Apple combined my aforementioned remote concept with other Mac-like elements, the company's first TV could wholeheartedly change the way we look at our televisions -- and raise the bar on what we expect from them.
4. Improved Communications
It is widely assumed that Apple will not be successful in its attempt to avoid working with the likes of Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), which may or may not impact the company's ability to offer an a la carte cable service.
But if Apple is forced to work with the existing cable and satellite providers, there is one benefit: the company would gain access to a host of new communication options.
For example, a Comcast/Apple combo could allow users to make and receive high-resolution video calls right through their Apple-made television sets. Instead of being limited to FaceTime, Comcast -- which offers a VoIP phone service -- could greatly expand this offering. Of course, FaceTime would allow users to communicate with their iPhone- and iPad-toting friends. But the with a real phone service involved, the functionality would be greatly improved.
Apple could also take this opportunity to expand on the FaceTime camera concept. Right now, it's just for one or a handful of faces. It's a very up close (read: cramped) experience that limits users' ability to visually interact with each other.
With Apple's TV, the company could employ a new, adjustable camera that would allow users to show more or less of the surrounding environment.
3. No Siri, But…
I can't imagine that Apple will truly make Siri a part of its Apple Television experience. It might sound like a no-brainer -- most analysts seem to think so -- but the idea of having to shout at your TV from afar (how else will it hear you if you're not standing next to it?), or the thought of having to carry around a microphone (or a remote with a mic built in) seems absurd. That would completely defy the logic of Apple-made products.
I do, however, expect the company to introduce some kind of fresh user interface that will be fairly different from what we're used to, if not entirely different.
2. Device Integration
Three words: iPhone, iPad, iPod. When the three are combined with Apple's television, the possibilities are endless.
1. Apps We Can't Yet Imagine
The best thing about the iPhone is that it spawned an entirely new world of application development. As a result, we can now do things with our phones that we could not even fathom 10 years ago.
That may prove to be the secret behind Apple's success in the TV business: apps. By allowing developers to run wild with a TV that's versatile and easy to use (those are safe assumptions for an Apple-made product, eh?), the app community could produce things that will not only change the way we interact with our televisions, but enhance our everyday lives.
I'd love to give you some examples, but I'm not an app developer. But there are hundreds of thousands of app developers worldwide. And I'm willing to bet that at least a few of them have an idea that will turn Apple's TV into gold.
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