“TV plays a huge role in our lives,” Cook said, adding: “The TV experience hasn’t changed that much in decades.”
Cook observed that Apple had been working for a really long time on its own attempt to reinvent television, culminating in one idea: “We believe the future of television is apps,” he said.
The new device will be available in October, and cost $149 for a version with 32 gigabytes of built-in storage. A 64-GB model will cost $199. Apple will continue to sell the existing Apple TV for $69.
The new version of Apple TV comes with a completely revamped remote control with a glass touch surface that lets users swipe through menu interfaces or fast forward within a video. The remote will last for up to three months on a single battery charge, and can be recharged via a lightning connector.
There is also a microphone button to directly access Siri from the remote control. Siri allows users to search for movies and TV show titles, or genres like “family movies.” Voice control can also be used to navigate within a movie, with voice commands like “skip ahead seven minutes.”
Siri will search iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime via universal search, displaying search results right away as opposed to making users jump into individual apps to find the shows and movies they want to watch. Apple SVP Eddy Cue said that the company will add additional partners to universal search over time, but it sounds like the search functionality will for the time being restricted to select publishers.
Some of the bigger news for Apple TV however is under the hood. “We are introducing a brand new operating system for your Apple TV called TV OS,” said Cue.
TV OS is essentially a customized version of iOS, optimized for the TV screen. The new OS will allow developers to build their own apps for the device, and Apple is kick-starting the new SDK with apps from Hulu, HBO and a few other key media partners.
Interestingly, Apple didn’t invite any of these video providers on stage — perhaps because it is still working on its own TV service. Instead, press got to see MLB.com executive Chad Evans showing off the new MLB.tv app, which features a split screen to watch two games, stats and more.
Instead of focusing on those video services, Cue gave games a lot more play. Some of the game launch partners mentioned included Harmonic, the company best known for creating “Rockband.” Harmonic is debuting a new game called “Beat Sports,” and there will also be games from Disney and others available at launch.
Many key details about the device, including the $149 price point, had already leaked ahead of time. It was also widely expected that Apple wouldn’t announce its own internet-based TV streaming service Wednesday. The company has been in negotiations with TV networks for months, but had to postpone a planned launch because it proved difficult to obtain the necessary licenses to stream local broadcast network feeds.
Another development that could impact Apple TV, exclusively reported by Variety, is the potential addition of original programming.
Beginning in October, the new Apple TV will have a channel exclusive to the platform from WME dedicated to the fashion world, called Made 2 Measure, or M2M, according to the New York Times. Content mix will include documentaries and films set within the industry, as well as focus on the Fashion Week events run out of WME’s IMG division.