Will Apple TV apps change TVs the way iPhone apps changed phones?

Apple unveiled a new Apple TV, including a new operating system and an app ecosystem. The Apple TV uses a universal voice search to find TV shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and other sources.

Eric Risberg/AP
The Apple TV, a device about the size of a hockey puck, includes a voice-enabled remote, universal search, and a new operating system. Here, the Apple TV is shown at a product display following the announcement event on September 9, 2015.

Apple announced a brand new Apple TV, including a new operating system and a remote with Siri personal-assistant software built in, at its media event on Wednesday in San Francisco. The device, about the size of a hockey puck, also includes an app ecosystem that allows developers to expand the Apple TV’s capabilities.

“We believe the future of television is apps,” Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook said on stage.

The Apple TV is centered around a universal search that can find movies and TV shows from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, and more, and allows users to search by actor, genre, title, and even guests spots on TV shows. The on-stage demo included a search for “Show me that Modern Family episode with Edward Norton.”

The search itself is handled by Siri, the personal assistant found in iPhones and iPads. The remote for the Apple TV has a microphone for Siri built in, as well as a small touchpad for scrolling through content on a screen or fast-forwarding through a video. Siri can even respond to open-ended questions such as, “What are some good new movies for kids?”

If you miss a line of dialogue you can ask, “Siri, what did he/she say?” and the Apple TV will automatically skip back a few seconds and turn on subtitles.

The new Apple TV is also the company’s latest push into the world of video games. The remote, with its touchpad and built-in accelerometer, can be used to control games on screen (or players can use another Apple-compatible controller), and the new App Store for the Apple TV will soon be stocked with third-party games and software.

Apple also demonstrated shopping apps and sports apps that use push notifications to send updates or show viewers highlights from a game. Those push notifications can also be used to briefly show weather or sports information across the bottom of the screen while other content is playing.

Early impressions from journalists attending the event were largely positive. “The biggest interface change is the addition of universal search screens, which show you a beautiful custom card for every show and movie you might search for, with a listing of services that let you stream that content,” writes The Verge’s Nilay Patel.

“Adding touch gives the TV remote more functionality as a gaming remote, and lets users do things, like shoot through digital shopping catalogs,” writes ReadWrite’s Adriana Lee.

The Apple TV is powered by a 64-bit processor, runs 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and has the same power, HDMI, and ethernet ports as its predecessor. It will be available in late October in two configurations: 32 GB of storage for $149, or 64 GB for $199.

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