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Apple TV 3: no apps, no future

Apple TV is very much the bastard child of the Apple family: even The Great Jobs once relegated it to ‘hobbyist’ status.

Sure, it’s a great little 1080p media streamer. Apple TV does a bang-up job of bringing iTunes to the big screen and streaming iTunes-friendly media files from your desktop computer or network storage to your TV.

One of the most exciting features of the new Apple TV is that it can throw video, games and other content from your iPad to the TV screen: turning your second screen into your first screen.

Apple TV 3

It even works for BBC iPlayer, although not for Sky Go, which blocks Airplay Mirroring because of those pesky copyright clearance issues.

And the interface is very slick, although not that much slicker than the 2012 smart TV interfaces offered by the likes of Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Toshiba. All of whom also make really good TVs for just, like, watching TV.

If Apple does launch a full-size TV later this year, there’s little evidence so far that it will be anything more than a high definition screen with the gubbins of an Apple TV box attached.

Apple TV is better than most media streaming boxes because they’re generally poor products made by tech companies with no skill in making consumer entertainment products.

It’s slicker than Sky+ but it’s put in the shade by Virgin’s TiVo interface, and Apple doesn’t have the range of content to take on either.

Apple didn’t make the iPhone successful by making a better mobile phone. Some say it’s never been a very good phone.

The iPhone succeeded because of apps. Apple threw it open to the world’s software developers, from bedroom innovators to giant software houses, and invited them to be creative.

They turned an average phone into a mobile office, games platform, communications hub, camera, and more – and did the same with iPad. A heretic might even say its success had nothing to do with Steve Jobs.

Now, whether it’s an Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone and their tablet brethren, a device without apps is like a three-legged donkey: it’s wonky and it won’t stand up.

So why doesn’t the Apple TV have apps? Samsung Smart TV is based on apps. Google TV has apps (no hardware or content, but it does have apps).

If Apple invites the developer community into Apple TV, it will both revolutionise TV products and launch Smart TV into the mass market.

Without the creativity and excitement that apps bring to Apple products, Apple TV is a good media streamer but an average TV entertainment device. It’s a wonky donkey, and it doesn’t stand up. 

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