One of the biggest-take aways from this years WWDC was the partnership between Apple, Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony PlayStation. Resulting in Sony and Microsoft licensing the use of their popular controllers on iOS, iPad OS, tvOS and Mac OS. Inside a packed McEnery Convention Centre, the news was met with the kind of hysteria normally reserved for a console release from either of the big gaming brands, but there was good reason.
Up until now the promise of console style gaming experiences on Apple devices never fully materialised – with Apple’s MFi controller program, a major sticking point in the early days for everyone involved. With the announcement that two universally loved controllers were coming to Apple, developers could believe again. All those hours put into a console-like Apple gaming experience’s would no longer be in vane. This one announcement made gamers happy, developers happy and shareholders, happy! After all, Apple Arcade had just opened itself up to 150 million potential subscribers across the globe – and before the service had even launched. The move reaffirmed the importance being placed on Apple’s upcoming subscription service.
As a thrill-seeker I immediately installed iOS 13’s first developer beta on my iPad Pro and connected my DualShock 4. Within moments I was playing games like gimbills’ Trigonarium and Studio Rains’ Teslagrad the way I’ve always wanted to. After years of struggling by with a Nimbus controller, the iOS 13 gaming experience is close to perfection. “So, what’s with the title?” I hear you ask. Why does Apple need its own games controller?
Surprise – the second Apple TV+ trailer has arrived in the shape of a tongue-in-cheek look at the gaming industry. ‘Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet’ charts the trials and tribulations of a fictitious game development studio responsible for the most successful Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) of all time, as they prepare for their first game expansion.
The new half-hour scripted comedy series – co produced by RCG Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment and Ubisoft Motion Pictures – see’s the return of It’s Always Sunny… co-stars Rob McElhenney and David Hornsby.
McElhenney in introducing the shows trailer, set the scene
‘Mythic Quest’ is clearly targeting the gaming audience but with a cast including; Ashly Burch (OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes), Charlotte Nicdao (Please Like Me), Danny Pudi (Community), F. Murray Abraham (Homeland, Amadeus), Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris), and Jessie Ennis (Better Call Saul) it’s sure to gain wide-spread appeal.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet will be available through Apple TV+ which is set to launch this Autumn.
This year’s World Wide Developers Conference was the most anticipated in quite some time. With the majority of excitement leading up to this week focusing on iOS on the iPad, Marzipan (now Project Catalyst) and the debut of a new modular Mac Pro, understandably tvOS became a side note for many.
The first half of the year saw many wrongfully predict the death-knell for the Apple TV. In January CES saw the shock announcement of iTunes content along with HomeKit and AirPlay compatibility coming to a handful of smart TV’s, running everything from webOS to Android and Tizen. Then in March, during Apple’s unveiling of their Apple TV+ service, Apple announced that their TV app would be coming to Roku and Amazons’ fire tv – mitigating Apple TVs’ usefulness.
Just a few minutes into Monday’s keynote, Apple CEO Tim Cook alleviated any lingering doubt about the company’s commitment to it’s Apple TV hardware, with the announcement of tvOS 13. The new update – expected this Autumn – is a significantly substantial one compared to previous years. Combined with last months TV app refresh and the launch of Apple TV+ month’s away, tvOS 13 is the clearest indication yet of Apples’ continued commitment, ambition and renewed vision for its streaming hardware.
The newest update to tvOS includes a refined focus on content discovery along with some notable additions, including; a updated Home screen, a familiar looking control centre, multi-user support, expanded audio features, better game controller compatibility and much more.
Updated Home Screen
At first glance, the new Home screen isn’t a radical departure from whats come before but there are a few meaningful changes. While the rows of 16:9 app icon’s continue to make up the bulk of the Home screen, the top-row of app’s now rest on a floating panel referred to by Apple as a dock. Apps placed in the dock can continue to utilise top shelf privileges, which have been enhanced by the arrival of content previews.
Content previews work much like the movie browsing experience within the TV app. After 5 seconds an app’s static poster image will transition to a video preview. Via the top of the Home screen, users are then prompted to swipe upwards for full screen. Thankfully, where the top-shelf and the TV app differ is in the playback of audio, with audio starting only once users have initiated full screen. Within full screen users can swipe left or right between video previews with one tap bringing up content meta-data and viewing options – all still within the Home screen. Removing barriers to entry and adding some joy to content discovery.
Joining the new dock and top-shelf features is a system wide Control Centre which is accessed by holding down the Home button on your Apple TV remote. Sliding in from the right, Control Centre offers familiarity to iOS users – serving as a home to many common user functions including; date and time, Sleep, Now Playing, AirPlay, Search and the inclusion of multi-user support.
Side Note: Following the announcement of HomeKit Secure Video for connected cameras the bare bottom third of Control Center would be the perfect place for quick access to your live camera streams.
Top of many wish-list’s – including my own – has been the addition of multi-user support. Finally, tvOS 13 enables Apple TV users a personalised experience, including access to their own Up Next queue within the TV app as well as access to their personal music collection via Apple Music. Now, Peppa Pig need never appear in your recommendations again!
Additionally, the TV apps’ channels have a distinct benefit when paired with family-sharing, allowing family members to access their favourite channels through one subscription. Lastly, developers will soon be able to take advantage of tvOS user profiles within their own apps, thanks to the system wide Control Centre in tvOS 13.
It’s here – the incredible first trailer for Apple TV+ Original series, For All Mankind. In fact, if there’s a better trailer to come out before the Apple TV+ launch, then we are really in for a treat. Ronald D. Moore is a name science-fiction aficionados will be familiar with. Known for his much-touted work on Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, the Emmy® award winner has created and written an alternate-timeline where NASA and the space program remain a focal point of hope and aspiration. The show’s first trailer – set between 1969 and 1972 – sees the Soviet Union beat NASA’s Apollo program to becoming the first humans to successfully land on the Moon.
Not a lot is known about the show, which is being executive produced by Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi (Fargo) for Tall Ship Productions. Starring; Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dormon and Sarah Jones, the hype created from the release of its debut trailer may just rocket Apple’s original content ambitions to the Moon and back.
For All Man Kind will be available through the Apple TV app when Apple TV+ launches this Autumn.
It’s that time of year where everyone with a genuine appreciation for Apple and it’s products gets excited. WWDC (Apple’s ‘World Wide Developer Conference’) is a yearly event focused on Apple’s developer community and whilst the majority of the event focuses on iOS and – to an increasingly lesser degree – Mac, this year could be a breakout year for Apple TV and tvOS.
Following some early miss-steps Apple TV has been criminally overlooked since Apple unveiled their future vision for TV nearly 4 years ago, however, now seems the right time to push Apple TV to the next level. After-all, with the imminent roll-out of the Apple TV app to third-party streaming devices and television’s, Apple can no longer rely on iTunes content delivery to be the big differentiator between Apple TV and its competition.
It’s likely, of course, that tvOS and Apple TV just had it’s time in the sun a few short weeks ago with the refresh of the Apple TV app and the introduction of ‘channels’ but with the launch of Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade services this Autumn/ Fall, I’m optimistic that there’s more to come.
Despite my optimism, keep in mind, that past announcements at WWDC have mainly seen refinements on previous features and the embrace of current video and audio standards. Apple’s main focus for the Apple TV in recent years has been on content deals along with their pursuance of a compelling fully unified television experience. What now follows, is an un-ordered list of what I’d like to see over the next few years starting with a couple of fixes I’d like to see for some existing problems.