Why the new Apple TV will make you want to turn on and tune in

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Want. Now.
The future of TV, anyone?
Photo: Apple

Don’t you dare call Apple TV a hobby anymore!

Apple today unveiled its refreshed set-top box — boasting a futuristic new remote control, Siri integration, App Store, and much, much more. Tim Cook called it the “future of television,” and having watched the demo, it’s tough to disagree with him.

Check below for everything you need to know about the newly-“must have” Apple TV.

The 2015 Apple TV represents the first update for the product line since January 2013, as well as the first major rethink since 2010’s model. The new device — which is slightly thicker and taller than its predecessor, but otherwise looks the same — will let Apple better compete with the likes of the Roku 3, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and other streaming set-top boxes.

Compete and then some.

Eddy Cue shows off the innovative remote.
Eddy Cue shows off the innovative remote.
Photo: Apple

The most striking feature of the new Apple TV is its smart remote. Featuring a variety of smart sensors (including an accelerometer and gyroscope) and Bluetooth 4.0 (meaning you don’t need to be pointing at the TV in order for it to work), the smart remote is totally unlike its predecessor.

In the top third of the remote is a clickable touch surface, which lets users easily scroll through options. There’s also a button to bring up Siri, a play/pause button and even a volume control, so that you no longer need to juggle multiple remotes in order to watch TV.

Siri looked particularly impressive during Apple’s demo. It’s basically your guide to content, which works particularly well thanks to Apple’s Universal Search feature which scans all available channels for content.

“Show me funny TV shows” will bring up comedies, sorted by popularity, but the Siri-aided search tool is way more granular than that. For example, “Show me the episode of Modern Family with Edward Norton” will instantly find the episode in question, while asking “What did [that character] say?” will rewind a movie or TV show 15 seconds and temporarily bring up subtitles.

It all appears very intuitive, and makes it straightforward to juggle between different apps while you are viewing content — for instance, checking the weather or cast list while watching a movie.

Multiplayer games are possible on Apple TV, too.
Multiplayer games are possible on Apple TV, too.
Photo: Apple

The much-anticipated gaming functionality of the Apple TV got a workout, too. As well as new versions of popular iOS titles such as Crossy Road, it was revealed that previously console-only titles will be making their Apple TV debut. In a gaming context, the remote appears reminiscent of the Nintendo Wii remote, which should make it great for casual gamers.

The focus on apps was additionally highlighted, with Tim Cook describing the new presence of an App Store as being central to the TV experience. Tools like the new MLB app were shown off, along with the ability to split-screen multiple sports games.

In terms of specs, the new Apple TV boasts a 64-bit A8 chip, 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0 and IR receiver.

The device will be available in 80 countries from October, with another 20 following by Christmas. A 32GB version will cost $149 and the 64GB is $199.

There was no mention of Apple’s Netflix-style original content, but there was so much on display here that this wasn’t missed.

Can’t October hurry up and come already?