Apple TV 4: Missing Features

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Apple TV 4: Missing Features


Apple TV 4, the long-awaited refresh of Apple’s TV platform, doesn’t leapfrog the competition. This article looks at features that are missing in Apple TV 4.

Apple TV 4: Too Little, Too Late

Apple TV has been desperately in need of a refresh. The third generation model launched in March 2012. Almost three-and-a-half years later, Apple is finally launching a new model.

The new Apple TV 4 is impressive only when compared to the previous model. Other TV platforms have been evolving, and Apple has been unable to leapfrog the competition. At best, Apple may be able to offer better quality. They are known to offer more robust and stable products, but this isn’t always the case. As Apple has grown over the years, their ability to innovate and offer high-quality products seems to have diminished.

Apple TV 4 is a “me too” product, taking cues from Android TV devices and Amazon Fire TV. In some respects, the latter platforms are better than Apple TV 4.

Don’t get me wrong. I am going to buy the new Apple TV. I have the second generation model. It gets the job done, but it also has some serious flaws, due to neglect. My current Apple TV will reboot itself a few times a night, often in the middle of video playback. The software hasn’t been updated in a few years. But since I own a Mac, two iPhones and an iPad, Apple TV is a better option.

Apple TV integrates with the Apple ecosystem, offering features such as AirPlay. I also hope that the new Apple TV will offer better quality than the competition (and my existing Apple TV 2).

Apple is also great at cementing content deals. They delivered both HBO NOW and Showtime to Apple customers months before any other streaming platform. Apple TV might not have the thousands of built-in channels that Roku offers, but it featured HBO NOW and Showtime before any other media player. With AirPlay, it’s possible to beam content to Apple TV from thousands of apps. Virtually anything that can play audio or video on an iOS device or computer (Mac, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS) can be displayed on Apple TV. There are thousands of options. They’re just not all on the Apple TV home screen.

After the product demo at the keynote, my excitement quickly dissipated. I follow TV set-top box technology. I cancelled cable over four years ago and rely on Apple TV for my evening entertainment. I was hoping for much more. Let’s take a look at what features are missing in Apple TV 4.

Apple TV 4 Does Not Support 4K Video

4K is the new high-definition video format. This new standard is already supported by flat screen televisions, video game consoles, smartphones, computers and set-top boxes. It offers a stunning 4096 x 2160 pixel image.

If you haven’t seen a 4K television, I encourage you to do so. Every electronics store has them on display. The image quality is stunning. It’s so real — like looking out a window instead of watching TV. Streaming providers like Netflix and YouTube already offer 4K video streams. You can watch Breaking Bad in 4K on Netflix right now. Unfortunately, when Apple TV 4 launches 4K will not be supported.

Digital TV Resolution Chart

The good news is that Apple can implement 4K video in an upcoming software update. The A8 processor is powerful enough to render 4K video. Apple TV 4 supports HDMI 1.4, which can display 4096 x 2160 resolution.

I am personally not that excited about 4K. I’m lucky if my Internet connection can download at 5 Mbps. You need a really fast Internet connection for 4K video — at least 16 Mbps. With better data compression, some experts claim that 4K will only require 10 Mbps.

Most people don’t have this kind of bandwidth, at least not during peak hours. You can download 4K video and stream it over your local area network, but your options for content are limited. 4K is still a little bleeding edge, even though the televisions exist and are reasonably priced. Internet bandwidth is the bottleneck. (continue…)

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  1. As I suspected, the Apple Watch is a Flop and the poor suckers who paid $16,000 for the gold version. Even more comical are the fanboy responses to the negative news about the Apple Watch. I also read that Apple may announce negative sales numbers for the iPhone which would be a first since 2007. The iPhone = Apple and is the reason why investors are starting to question the company’s long term strategy for coming up with new breakthrough products (cough..cough Steve Jobs). When you look there aren’t any. The iPad Pro is just a souped up iPad, same UI/UX just bigger. The Apple Watch as we are now learning is not groundbreaking. Hell I haven’t worn a watch since the 80’s. My smartphone covers that including different timezones, alerts and alarms.

    You can see a downward trajectory because now there’s a rumor that Apple will introduce a new 4″ iPhone dubbed the iPhone 5Se or something like that. I’ve lost count how many models they are now selling. But it’s indicative of a company that has run out of ideas. I’m sure Steve Jobs probably would have thought of something new to move the company away from the OVER RELIANCE on the iPhone.

    “Supply Chain report says 1st-gen Apple Watch sales disappointing, 2nd-gen model to enter mass production in Q2 this year”

    1. I feel the exact same way about the Apple Watch. When it launched, I thought it was superfluous. It solves the very difficult burden of taking your iPhone out of your pocket! I also haven’t worn a watch since I got my first cell phone in 1997. It does seem to sell better than most smartwatches, only being surpassed by FitBit. However, the smartwatch market is not large, because most people have come to the same conclusion: I can take my smartphone out of my pocket. It’s for fanboys, just like the iPad Pro.

      Apple has been recycling the same product with different sizes, views and slightly different features. The iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Apple Watch are all slightly different variations on the same product. To a certain extent, having a uniform UI across products is a good idea. But these products overlap in functionality far too much to buy them all, unless one is a fanboy.

      When a feature like “3D Touch” becomes the selling point and differentiates the new model from the old one, they are truly out of ideas. Oh, and Touch ID works twice as fast! I didn’t mind the slow evolution of products, because it seemed to enhance the quality of products. Anyone who works in tech knows that a lot of changes makes for a lot of problems. If you look at iOS 9, however, the modest changes didn’t improve quality.

      Speaking of fanboys, I clicked on a Mac Rumors article about the new tvOS update released yesterday. I scrolled down to the bottom to read the comments, to see if there are any problems with the update. An upset iPhone owner wrote that they should be fixing the problems with iOS for the iPhone, instead of adding Podcasts to Apple TV. Comment after comment trashed this guy in every way possible. Most people blamed him for his iPhone problems. The fanboys are ridiculous, but not large in number. They’re the ones who buy anything Apple creates, but that can’t sustain a corporation of this magnitude.

      Apple really needs another slam-dunk product like the iPhone. Either that, or they need to re-invent the iPhone so more people will upgrade next cycle. Instead, they seem to be ratcheting up planned obsolescence. Soon, an iPhone will only be usable for 1-2 years before it is hobbled by iOS upgrades designed to make the device slow and unresponsive. How long will people be loyal to a company that plays these dirty tricks? My iPad 2 was so frustrating to use this morning, I wanted to chuck it out the window. Just browsing the web and reading an article on a very simple website ended up causing 3 crashes in a few minutes. It is infuriating to use. It was like that after iOS 8. I got three good years out of a $700 iPad, but it was never a capable device. It never evolved into something that could even come close to replacing a real computer. Now it is just a well-made yet obsolete device.

      I do think Steve Jobs would have come up with something new that people would want. I think VR is going to be huge, but if Apple creates a VR product, I think it will be overpriced and less innovative than other products. They are too large and latent to be innovative.

      I really want Apple to make something great. I am not a knee-jerk Apple hater. But really, what happened?!? It may be that they are just a one-hit wonder. The iPhone is a remarkably successful device, but their attempts to reproduce this success seem to be about copying the iPhone in other form factors. They need something completely different and something that’s actually useful.

      I think if they made a $600 MacBook, they would have another slam dunk product, and, apart from price, it wouldn’t need to be completely different. If they just made one model and mass produced it, they could hit that price point. It wouldn’t cannibalize iPad sales, because people who know they need a real computer won’t buy an iPad. A lot of people still need a real computer. It’s not just developers and audio visual professionals.

      1. I agree with the above. I’d like to see Apple come out with something totally different but the people running Apple have turned into the former AT&T and IBM, a bloated mess.

        I saw the writing on the wall after Jobs died and watched a company who was a trend setter become a “Patent Troll” and copycat company.

        And I agree with your assessment regarding iOS in general. My suspicion is that they are NOT purposely slowing down older devices with each version of iOS but if it happens and the user upgrades to the latest device, then all the better for a new sale. I recently played with an iPad Air 2 running iOS 9.2 and there are places in the UI where it now stutters. There is no way that should be happening with the Air 2. That’s indicative of lazy unoptimized coding.

        I’m officially burned out on tablets and I have gone back to using a laptop. I may give a Chromebook a try next.

        1. Tim Cook has mentioned that VR is something they are interested in. If they do it right, it could be their next big product. I think they do have a huge advantage, in that they are great at making compact hardware. No one wants a huge, heavy VR headset. They could make something that offers great ergonomics. They can also finagle better content deals and will have a lot of developers on board before the product even launches. They’re also great when it comes to multimedia. While it probably won’t be as successful as the iPhone, it would certainly be a departure from their “iOS in many forms” rut they are in. This is where they should be focused. They shouldn’t try too hard for the corporate market, as it has always been a problem for them. It’s always been the fever dream that has ruined the company. Quite a few companies will go for the Mac. Most developers in the Valley use Macs. They should continue with the Mac as their corporate offering. The iPad Pro is just a delusion, unless they can make iOS more flexible. I’m not the only one who was hoping the iPad Pro would be able to run both OS X and iOS. But, you know Apple. They like to keep everything so simple. Yes, iOS is so simple, it’s inflexible!

          I do suspect that Apple hobbles certain technologies, not intentionally, but through neglect. Technologies like WebKit and AirPlay, in particular, have been neglected because they are conduits for third party content. As WebKit bugs pile up, their attitude seems to be that people should just use apps. By neglecting these problems, many people may just start using apps where they used to use the web. This is an attempt to hurt Google and boost Apple. It’s clear that they have been intentionally designing iOS to hurt Google’s bottom line, to little or no effect, other than harming the end user’s experience. That News app is laughable, but they wanted to make their own news portal to keep people off the web. They enabled technology to support ad blockers, in another vain attempt to harm Google. I have heard a lot of complaints that the ad blockers cause more problems and slow the browser down more than ads. In the long run, the defective products and over-controlling nature may actually do more harm than good. It certainly doesn’t foster brand loyalty.

          Google just released a new version of Chrome today, and mentioned that they would love to use a different web rendering technology. Apple forces all browsers to use WebKit, which they have neglected. I remember, not too long ago, WebKit was a fairly stable rendering engine. Surfing the web on any of my iOS devices used to work well. Remember that first iPhone commercial, where the killer feature was the browser? You could get real websites on a phone!

          But you may be correct that it is just ineptitude and sloppy coding. Your point about the iPad Air 2’s performance problems seems to indicate that. I think it may be a bit of both. They have introduced bugs in technologies like WebKit and AirPlay, due to slopping coding and lack of testing. They are probably aware of the known issues and have a bunch of unresolved bugs in their tracking system. They simply just don’t prioritize these, and I think that may be intentional. After all, both technologies help everyone else, except Apple (only in the short term). As with most large corporations, they are only looking at the next quarter. Sure, they have a product roadmap that probably extends for years, like every tech company.

          I am also sick of tablets. Perhaps the new Chrome will make my iPad more tolerable until I replace it with a proper, notebook computer. I am waiting until March or so, when I expect Apple will launch new MacBooks. I think if they made a single, $600 MacBook with no options and mass produced it, it would really invigorate the company. We’re not the only ones with tablet fatigue. Tablets seemed like a promising technology, but just never realized their potential. iOS would need to be massively overhauled to make it corporate and education friendly. If they made a MacBook with the A-series processor and ported OS X to use it, they could realize massive economies of scales effects. The A9X is more powerful than some Intel processors in brand new MacBooks. If they make a cheaper version of that fan-less, ultra-compact MacBook, I would almost camp out to buy it!

          I think Apple could do quite well just catering to consumers. The enterprise market is untapped potential, but for Apple, it seems to be a fruitless diversion. CIOs and CTOs aren’t going to pay over $1000 per user and get new site licenses for software, just so they can use a fruity tablet. They are rational decision makers. Consumers are not as rational. I think VR could be a huge thing for Apple, if they play it right.

  2. “I think, for Apple to be successful, they need to take a step back and address the fundamentals. They are a hardware and operating system company.”

    I’d go as far as to say that Apple has become a “GADGET” company. They NO longer focus and their bread and butter which is the Mac but on circus tricks.

    I just purchased a $350 Lenovo 2 in 1 laptop with a backlit keyboard, 8 GB of Ram, 500GB HDD, 5th gen i3 (Broadwell) Intel processor, FHD (1920×1080) Display with an IPS screen, touch screen, and it converts into a tablet. How much would Apple charge for the following?

    As far as music, yeah Miles was amazing and he was like David Bowie, an innovator of music. As a kid I used to play trumpet so I idolized trumpeters like Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. Today’s trumpeters can’t compete with those two because Davis and Hubbard had power, creativity and stamina. They could solo for 20-30 minutes and you would never hear them repeat or run out of ideas. That said I do like some of today’s trumpeters and my two favorite are Christian Scott (who worshiped Miles) and Ambrose Akinmusire. Other notables although not n that group: Jeremy Pelt, Nicholas Payton and Roy Hargrove. Not a big fan of Marsalis for many reasons including almost getting tossed off the stage by Miles Davis.

    Back to Apple Music. The move by Apple tells me that their Beats Live Radio feed is a flop and that iTunes Radio is a hit. So if you want what was free you now have to pay but if you want to listen to a station no one cares for well that’s still free.

          1. I’m returning the laptop. It began to develop some issues like shutting itself off. I thought I had resolved the problem with settings in Device Manager. But i’m close to the 15 day Best Buy return window.

          2. Thanks for the info. That’s one unfortunate thing about the Windows PC market. The quality varies. Consumer Reports found that price doesn’t have much to do with it. Some of the most expensive HP models have the most problems. I was checking out some notebooks at Costco the other day. I still haven’t taken the plunge, but my iPad is just so useless, I will likely do it soon. I am going to try restoring my iPad to factory settings, but I don’t expect much. I haven’t done anything unorthodox with my iPad. There’s no reason restoring to factory setting should improve performance, but I’ll give it a shot.

            I am almost leaning towards getting a MacBook Air. The cheapest one I can find is $829 at B&H photo, but I should probably wait. The Mac Rumors buying guide gives it a “don’t buy” rating, because the new models will come out soon. They will be better and cheaper, and if not, the 2015 model will cost less.

            The appeal of the MacBook Air is that it’s the devil I know. It’s not cheap, but I know it will be good. The inferior specs, such as less storage space, are mitigated by the fact that OS X takes up less space, as do the apps. I don’t plan on storing a lot of media on this device.

            It’s a tough call. Really, all I want is a coffee table device. I think a Windows laptop should be sufficient, but I have a feeling the Mac will last longer. That said, it would be a good idea to get a Windows machine. It’s always good to have one, and it would be a great service to my readers (most use Windows) if I could expand into articles about integrating Windows with the Apple ecosystem.

          3. Before going the MBA route, i’d find a decent budget laptop and install Linux Mint 17.3 on it. I just dug out a 2007 Dell Vostro 1700 notebook and Linux Mint 17.3 flies on this laptop and everything “WORKS”.

            You’d be surprised how far Linux has come and how much similarities OS X and Linux have in common. Linux Mint is a feature rich OS that rivals Windows and it’s secure. In fact i’m typing this message on the Vostro 1700 running Mint. All the hardware that requires drivers in Windows, is easily found in Linux Mint including my ancient WiFi card and multifunction ALPS TouchPad.

          4. That sounds like a good idea. I’ll look into it. I am waiting to see the new MacBook lineup. If I can get a base model MBA for $700, I will go for it. Right now, it is $799.

            One thing I like about the MBA is that it is a rugged notebook. I had a lot of problems with Dells, in particular. Things like WiFi and the keyboard would break after a year, and I rarely used these features, as it was normally plugged into a docking station with an external keyboard and mouse. I really like that it only has an SSD. Really, it has no moving parts inside. All of the notebooks I am looking at still have hard drives. They have huge capacities, but 128 GB should be enough these days. So much is in the cloud and streaming. OS X is also very efficient when it comes to disk space and RAM — much like Linux. I like the overall design, light weight and razor thin form factor.

            That’s my only qualm with buying a PC. They vary a lot in quality, and it is so hard to figure out what’s good. According to Consumer Reports, price has little to do with it, as many of the more expensive PCs have the most problems. Reviews can be misleading, as the problems may take a year or more to surface. I’d like to get at least 5 good years out of a notebook computer.

            I’d rather pay a little more for a MBA. The Windows notebooks I am looking at are $450 – $800 anyway. The $800 ones have better specs, but OS X doesn’t need as much RAM or disk space. I’d rather have a smaller capacity SSD. They’re really fast and durable.

            Another thing is that, as it stands now, the only way I can get screenshots for my Apple TV articles is with a Mac. I don’t want to unplug my Apple TV, move it into my office and connect it to my desktop Mac Pro every time I want to grab some screenshots for an article. Using QuickTime and a Mac, I can do this through the USB port on Apple TV. They might enable screenshots in a future tvOS release, and perhaps put them in iCloud photos. That said, it is probably not a high priority. I am writing a lot more about Apple TV 4. I am basically in the process of writing an unofficial user manual.

            A MacBook Air would integrate much better with my Apple products and I think it will offer better quality, in terms of a keyboard and electronics that will last for years. The battery life is also pretty amazing, although some Windows notebooks have decent battery life too.

            My iPad 2 is still in perfect condition. That’s the most troubling thing about it. The hardware is great, but iOS has been hobbled. The most serious issue is that, while typing, it will randomly select some text, and then my continued typing will write over it. So far, undo has saved the day, only because I noticed this happening and fixed it right away. It’s a very serious problem that isn’t app-specific, but happens anytime I edit text using the stock keyboard. Beyond the dead-slow performance and constant crashes, this thing has proven to be unusable. It was unusable after upgrading to iOS 8 (which broke copy/paste for three months). It’s unbelievable that they expect customers to shell out $700 every three years for a new iPad. The iPad resale market is evaporating, as people become aware that an older iPad is unusable. Apple fans tell me I should just sell it and buy a new one every year. Someone ends up with the old one, and this year, those great trade-in deals were gone. When Apple hobbles older devices, it destroys the resale market. They might as well make the iPad out of yogurt container plastic and aluminum foil, as there is no need to build something that can last for 5-7 years.

            Apple would have to work hard to make iOS a rock solid operating system. They would also have to work very hard to completely ruin OS X. My bet is that OS X will continue to offer decent quality for years to come. The fundamentals of that OS were developed at NeXT. The main problem with iOS is that it seems to be fundamentally flawed. The basic synchronization of the UI is off, but one only experiences this on slower devices. Apple promised that iOS 9 would offer better performance on older devices. It does offer better benchmark scores, but the UI is even slower than iOS 8. I was patient, but I now see the writing on the wall. It reads: “we expect you to buy a new iPad every three years”. Only hardcore Apple fans will do that. Corporations? No way.

            Part of me wants to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I am so disgusted with my iPad 2 experience, I almost want to boycott Apple products. But the company is not a monolith. I still think the Mac is a great product. I am actually starting to like my Apple TV 4 a lot more. It’s a huge improvement over my last one, apart from AirPlay, which is the fly in the ointment.

            I haven’t decided yet. It’s a tough decision. It’s like I almost just want to stick with the devil I know — Mac OS X. I don’t doubt that Linux and Windows are great alternatives.

    1. What’s the model number of that laptop? I am interested in buying a notebook to replace my iPad. I just had it with the iPad and there is no way I will buy another one. They fooled me once, as my expectations were set by the Mac. I am also considering purchasing a MacBook Air. I expect the price to drop after they release the newer models. But given that the specs on a budget PC are so much better, it’s hard to justify purchasing another Mac. It’s always good to own both. I will replace my current Mac with another Mac when the time comes. I think, for a coffee table/vacation device, a Windows notebook is much better than an iPad. I’d like to be able to work on this site while on vacation or in my living room. I can’t do that on an iPad. I can’t even moderate comments or use the web-based admin tool, as the iPad misinterprets touch gestures. Safari (or any WebKit browser) crashes regularly. My iPad became unusable and obsolete after three years, but it never really worked well. Even simple graphics editing can’t be done on an iPad. If I want to straighten out a photo using the perspective tool, I can’t do that on an iPad. All of the graphics apps are weak. The Apple Pencil and associated apps don’t change that at all. After all, they want customers to buy an iPad and a Mac. Phil Schiller admitted this on 60 Minutes! The notion of a professional iPad is just marketing hype. The only iPads I see in the wild in the SF Bay Area are used by children. Their parents give them iPads so they will behave at restaurants and other public places. The Mac is like Lego and the iPad is like Duplo.

      I also have a lot of respect for Bowie. His music is excellent, but his influence surpasses his own music. He refined the use of performance art in music. I don’t think Peter Gabriel would have been the same without Bowie. Arthur Brown was another guy who really went beyond the music, using makeup, costumes and performance art. Bowie’s music is timeless. It doesn’t sound 60s or 70s, but is as fresh today as it was decades ago. Not many artists can pull that off. Miles is also timeless. I was listening to Miles at the Fillmore last night, and Directions sounds like modern electronic music, except those sounds were done on electric instruments. The scratching and stuttering effects were done long before someone else supposedly “invented” hip hop.

      You know your jazz. If you are looking for free streaming jazz radio, check out this radio station. They know jazz! Clifford Brown Jr. is one of the hosts. They have the third largest collection of jazz recordings, next to the Smithsonian and Rutgers. I think terrestrial radio still has a lot to offer, and so many channels stream their music on the Internet, for free!

      Beats radio was what I expected. I listened to it, and the first thing I heard was some really bland hip hop track, “zillionaire” about the typical subject of monetary fetishism. I understand that people have different tastes in music, but stuff like that makes me sick. The song probably took 20 minutes to write, record and produce. Every time I have tuned in, it’s just the most superficial and transitory music. In six months, no one will even remember these songs. iTunes Radio is better, in that people can choose the genres they are interested in. I think Spotify does it better, because their algorithm anonymously mines the preferences of 75 million users. They can make better recommendations. Human curation is overrated, because even music experts are unaware of some of the more overlooked artists. There’s a dogma associated with music curation and journalism. Whenever I read a Rolling Stone ranking, I shake my head at the fact that they’re just going for the most obvious and mainstream artists. That was my experience with iTunes Radio. I fared better with certain genres, like reggae, discovering Junior Murvin, which led to me purchasing “Police and Thieves”. But I am better off with Spotify. Ten bucks a month is a small price to pay for access to so many albums, with better sound quality than iTunes and Apple Music. I found their free service to be obnoxious — poor audio quality and very loud advertisements. I don’t think most music fans would go for their free service. It seems to be for people who just want something in the background or occasionally listen to music.

      I personally don’t understand the hatred of Spotify. I understand that on-demand music is different than a radio station, because people can pick the song they want. They probably won’t buy the album or song, because they can play it whenever they want, unlike with radio. In both situations, however, the music is subsidized by advertising. If radio stations and libraries were coming into being today, industry folks would be screaming bloody murder. The record industry used payola to profit from radio. They also profit from streaming services, but the artist is cut out. That’s not my problem. I have been paying $10-15 for albums my whole life. That’s always been an unreasonable price. Spotify still costs more than Netflix or Hulu! I have yet to hear an actor whining about his movie being on Netflix.

      The music industry desperately needs to reform itself, because the greed is out of control. I sympathize with artists, but if I buy an album, they are still getting a fraction of the revenues. Why should I pay $10 for an album, when a movie costs about the same price to own. I can buy a great video game for less. There’s a reason why people like Richard Branson and David Geffen are obscenely rich. The music industry is all about ripping off kids who so desperately want to be rock stars. It’s about selling kids to other kids. They’re not going to be as rich as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. They are simply fodder for the record industry. Apple Music isn’t “once again” saving the record industry by paying artists $0.0002 more than Spotify.

      They pay artists $0.0002 more than Spotify, yet Jimmy Iovine claims they are morally superior. This is what irritates me about Apple Music and their marketing in general — they are so dishonest and have this undeserved sense of moral superiority. Google Play actually pays artists the most. I personally like Spotify because with 75 million users, the recommendations are excellent. Catering to a European audience, they seem to have an excellent selection of jazz. The service has been rock solid. My only problems are with AirPlay on the new Apple TV.

      1. I saw Bowie in concert back in the early 90’s in Tampa, FL and he was worth the asking price. I agree that Bowie was timeless. And just like Miles Davis he reinvented himself many times. He even started a Band called The Tin Machine back in the mid 80’s during the height of his popularity.

        Quite true that Europe is more appreciative of Jazz than it’s birthplace and something Miles Davis wrote about. It’s why he moved to Paris and began dating a French singer/dancer. He even wrote a song about her, It’s a lullaby titled Jean Pierre on the Live album “We Want Miles”. You can find it on Spotify. My favorite track on that album is “Fast Track”. I could never envision Wynton Marsalis pulling something like that off, he just doesn’t have the creativity to write something like that. Actually Wayne Shorter wrote a lot of Davis’ material.

        But Miles was special in that he had a knack for seeking out young, up and coming talent and molding their sounds. He discovered: Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Tony Williams (who created polyrythms), Mike Stern, Al Foster. He even had George Benson play on the album Miles In The Sky.

        The Live takes at the Filmore East were epic and ground breaking because most if not all the acts were Rock N Roll at the time and Davis just rocked the House those 4 nights. Some of that material came from Bitches Brew.

        I also got the chance to see one of if NOT the greatest Bassist ever, Jaco Pastorius in Ft. Lauderdale back in the 80’s at the Cafe Exchange. I also saw Paquito D’Rivera there as well and a few other top Jazz artists.

        I agree that what’s really ruining the Music Industry are the Record Labels. I read that once they sign an Artist to a contract they get a cut from record, merchandise and concert sales.

        I also read an article on NPR that the typical salary for a Jazz musician in the USA is between $25-35,000. That’s sad and it wouldn’t surprise me because a few trumpeters I mentioned such as Christian Scott, Nicholas Payton and Jeremy Pelt double as instructors.

        Meanwhile a guy like Wynton Marsalis is banking around $1 million or more per year as director of the NYC Lincoln Jazz Center. And quite frankly his idea of Jazz is still stuck in the Dizzy Gillespie swing era.

        That’s one of the things I always appreciated about Miles Davis. He singlehandedly moved Jazz forward. His idea of Jazz and Music was that it must continue to evolve and move forward. It’s the reason he developed Modal Jazz, Fusion Jazz, Electronic Jazz (TuTu Album) and Rock Jazz. When he died the music no longer progressed. He was always trying to cultivate a younger audience who were listening to Rock N Roll.

        1. Jaco was amazing, and his life was truly a tragic story. I really like his album “Word of Mouth” and it’s something I purchased due to iTunes Radio. I bought at least 10 albums due to iTunes radio. Apple will likely lose money because of their short-sighted decision.

          I also really like Tony Williams. Spotify suggested “Emergency!” by The Tony Williams Lifetime. Wow! That’s such a great record. I’ve been listening to a lot of his music lately. He was way ahead of his time. I hear the polyrhythms and the other musicians introduced quite a bit of dissonance. His music doesn’t sound very 60s or 70s. It’s timeless.

          Jazz musicians are vastly unappreciated and they need to spend a lot of time touring in Europe. In the Bay Area, we have a handful of small jazz clubs. Yoshi’s is the most popular, and for a time, they had two locations — one in Oakland and one in SF. They had to shut down the SF location. The original one in Oakland is very small. If it didn’t have a Japanese restaurant, I’d have to wonder if they could make it just on jazz.

          The unfortunate thing is that disco is making a comeback. Yes, disco. Of all the music to be recycled, why disco?!? There was a time when jazz was tremendously popular. Even though it has transformed and is still relevant, it has been marginalized. I personally think the corporate music industry prefers artists with little talent. They are expendable commodities. For the most part, they are attractive people who don’t write their songs and their abilities are buttressed by technology. The lip syncing fiasco a few years back didn’t shock me at all. Most people will buy the music they are told to buy. Adele got a massive PR push. I don’t find anything special or amazing about her music or voice. She’s a good singer, but they’re a dime a dozen.

          This makes me appreciate the few people who still take jazz seriously and are innovators in the field. A lot of people only know traditional jazz or smooth jazz. It’s one of the most diverse genres. As you mention, Miles himself invented and spanned so many modes of jazz.

        2. I listened to “Ego” by Tony Williams the other night. Wow. Once again, he was way ahead of his time. The singing on that one is really amazing. I liked his spoken word thing on “Emergency!”, but it did sound a little 70s (even though it was released in 1969). That said, “Emergency!” is still timeless. “Ego” is very percussive and really shows off those polyrhythms. Most jazz drummers don’t do that when they lead a band. They may have more solos than the rest of the members, but it is still essentially dominated by the rest of the band. With “Ego”, he created a percussion-centric avant-garde jazz album. The vocals are amazing, as he makes the spoken word a bit more tuneful and also does some tasteful and timeless jazz singing.

          I like everything I have heard so far, but some is more traditional and grounded. I prefer his albums where he just really goes off. It’s not skronky and chaotic, but well ordered and complex. His band members compliment the complexity with excellent use of dissonance. I’m really surprised that John McLaughlin plays on “Emergency!”, as I have come to expect a certain period of his work to be indicative of his sound. But his sound has constantly changed. That sound is so much different from what he was doing with Miles at about the same time.

  3. After a good shakedown of the Apple TV it’s going back. I came to my conclusion after seeing how Apple treats it’s customers and you really can’t trust them anymore. This is a company that’s driven by profits first and customers second. Somehow Steve Jobs found that right formula by juggling both. His customers were valued while the company was making money.

    I decided against my better judgement to upgrade my iPad 3 from iOS 5 to iOS 8 because of iTunes Radio. And we now find out it’s no longer free but Pandora, Spotify and Slacker offer a similar product for free only better and will probably continue to do so in the future.

    Back to the Apple TV 4. I noticed that 85-90% of what I can do on the ATV4 I can do on my iPad with the same apps. I also was using iTunes Radio because the product is half backed and offers much less than the competition. So the question I asked myself was can I count on Apple to improve this product over the competition and the answer is no, I can’t.

    Here you have the wealthiest company in the world and pulling the plug on a service to its customers that cost them peanuts, literally. I could see if they were losing money and the company was in trouble financially but it’s quite the opposite. They initially offered a product to compete with the likes of Pandora and Spotify. Then they purchased Beats, then started their Beats live radio show, which to me is unlistenable unless you love rap and hip hop. My music tastes revolve around Miles Davis, Bowie, Springsteen and not around some rapper who purposely misspells his name.

    So I don’t see an Apple who caters to its customers but is all about how much profit can they squeeze from their fanboys. And it’s ironic that I purchased several albums on iTunes from discovering the artists on iTunes Radio, go figure.

    No, IMO this move tells me that the subscription numbers they were targeting are not where they need to be and people are not sticking around after the 3 month trial period. So now what was once free, will cost you.

    Most of the fanboy comments I read was, not cool Apple and of course it was mixed with making excuses for the company and the free product was junk anyway. So who gets to decide, one persons junk or treasure? I guess we’ll leave that up to the fanboys.

    Little by little this company continues to make bad decisions. You can see it in their uninspired product line in most cases, declining sales numbers. Eventually this is how all companies follow the decline trajectory.

    1. I agree, the move to fold iTunes Radio into the Apple Music subscription comes off as a bit greedy. I don’t think they lost any money giving it away for free. It was subsidized by ads and also encouraged iTunes purchases. iTunes Radio featured buttons to purchase songs or add them to a wish list. It speaks of ineptitude and incompetence. They can’t figure out how to run a free streaming radio service that at least breaks even. Either that, or, as you suggest, they are trying to provide an incentive to join Apple Music. It seems more likely that they will lose customers to other music providers offering free services.

      When Tim Cook first took over, Apple was remarkably generous. They started providing OS X updates for “free”. They gave everyone a “free” U2 album, iWork, GarageBand and other goodies. I use “free” in quotes because none of it was free. You pay for it with the device. Now their stock price is plummeting (more than the market in general), so they are pulling every possible lever to maximize profits. I think they may be forsaking customer loyalty. While I won’t go as far as returning my Apple TV (I don’t have cable), I completely understand your sentiment. I don’t think you are the only one who is getting fed up with the greed.

      You are correct. The iPad and Apple TV have a lot of functional overlap. Using an inexpensive adapter, you can just plug an iPad into an HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. It’s not as convenient, but it will do the same thing. I almost didn’t get an Apple TV 5 years ago. I figured I could just plug my iPhone into HDMI. By canceling cable, I saved enough to justify buying both an Apple TV and an iPad. At that time, Apple TV only had iTunes, YouTube and Netflix. So I had to use AirPlay for Hulu, hence the iPad.

      I love Miles Davis, particularly his 70s electric band. My favorite is Live at the Fillmore (the one with the multicolored splotches on the cover). Given your musical tastes, Spotify may be a better fit. I found more of the music I like, particularly jazz and fusion, because Spotify is a European company. No one likes jazz more than Europeans. American jazz musicians lived in Europe because they were appreciated. Some of my favorite fusion records by Return to Forever and Bill Bruford are not available on Apple Music, but are on Spotify. The recommendations are so insightful, unlike with Apple Music. I couldn’t care less about Taylor Swift or Adele. Apple Music recommended the most obvious music that I already knew about. A lot of their recommendations were albums I purchased on iTunes. Why would they recommend something they know I own? Probably because their recommendation service is not very good. Their search capabilities are not good. If you don’t spell it correctly, Apple’s search engine can’t deal with indeterminate data. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all! As technology moves more towards thin clients and powerful services hosted in data centers, I just don’t see Apple competing in this new world.

      Spotify is an excellent music service because it’s all they do. They don’t make smart phones, smart watches, tablets or notebook computers. They are absolutely focused on running an excellent music streaming service. Their recommendations are excellent. Once they figure out what you’re into, they will recommend music that you’ve never heard, which is kind of the point of discovery.

      Apple’s hubris and adulating fanboys seem to be central to their demise. Who works at Apple these days? Fanboys. They don’t offer pre-IPO stock options. They don’t offer the best salaries. But there are legions of fanboys who are just dying to work at Apple. This creates a culture of group-think.

      I agree, their products are uninspired and “me too”. This Night Shift feature, which has garnered quite a buzz, has already been implemented by Google and Amazon. I still hope they can pull off something groundbreaking and original, like the first iPhone and Mac. Everything they do now seems to be copied from others or is some kind of “one-off” product. I didn’t mind the copying when they improved on it and offered rock solid stability. This is no longer the case.

      Apple Music is a perfect example of how they were late to the game and released something that, in my experience, is unusable. If you have 30 seconds dropouts in playback, it’s a fundamental problem with the technology. For the first month, it was completely unusable on my iPad 2. They eventually fixed that, but it was still so slow. Why? It’s just a music app. There should be no heavy lifting involved. Spotify works just fine on my iPad 2. During my three months of use, there was no solution to the audio dropouts, and a lot of people experienced them. It wasn’t a network problem, as it happened with downloaded music too. If Apple Music can’t play music, I won’t use it. There were so many other problems — music that disappeared, UI quirks, crashes, etc. This isn’t unusual, as I can’t think of one Apple-developed app that’s decent. I don’t even use Safari anymore.

      I think, for Apple to be successful, they need to take a step back and address the fundamentals. They are a hardware and operating system company. They don’t really need to provide an ecosystem of apps and content services, because there are so many others to choose from. They’re all better than what Apple has to offer. Apple really hasn’t even found a way to make iTunes profitable. It’s meant to be part of their ecosystem, to attract customers.

      I mean, who uses iWork? The vast majority of office workers use Microsoft Office. Why even bother? The hubris is so powerful, it’s delusional. They may as well just flush money down the toilet.

      They make the majority of profits, almost 2/3’s, by selling the iPhone. You’d think they would try to create another great device that everyone will buy.

  4. “The iPhone accounts for 2/3’s of their revenue.”

    Can you imagine if the company relied on iPad sales? The Tablet market has been shrinking the last 1.5-2 years now. I brought that up in an Apple forum and I was lambasted by the Apple fanboys. Best Buy has been having iPad fire sales to stoke business in their stores and it’s not working because Best Buy along with other retailers have had a horrible year sales wise, supposedly even worse than last year.

    And now this has begun which should concern those running Apple and it comes as no surprise to me especially since pretty much all the carriers have stopped subsidizing their Phones and it’s not up to the consumer to pay out of pocket anywhere from $600-$1000 for an iPhone depending on the configuration.

    $12M govt subsidy to help Foxconn minimize layoffs fuels speculation of falling iPhone sales [Updated]

    And as usual the Apple fanboy comments are typical with the “Apple is Doomed” replies.

    1. The fanboys are the worst, but they are the only people who love Apple enough to use crap like Apple Music and Apple Pay. The thing is, most people who buy iPhones (their most popular product) are not Apple fans. They just like the iPhone. They own Windows PCs. They don’t own iPads. I know this for a fact, because I see it in my statistics. I run an Apple-centric site, and the 2nd most popular device in my logs is the Windows PC! The fanboys live in a delusional world where they blindly accept anything Apple releases. The groupthink is also ingrained in the company.

      My experience with Apple products (outside of the Mac) has really opened my eyes to the truth about Apple. They’re no better than any other tech company. The Mac is great because OS X was developed at NeXT. They haven’t managed to screw it up yet. I bought all of my other Apple products because I was so impressed with my Mac. They are nothing like the Mac. They need to be rebooted all the time. I reboot my Apple TV so many times, it’s not funny. I have resigned myself to doing a soft reset on my iPad whenever I am done using it. It’s still buggy as can be. Sometimes apps crash about 10 times an hour, and they’re usually Apple’s own apps. My iPhone isn’t bad, but I don’t use it that much at all. I just use it when I can’t use my Mac. Safari doesn’t crash on my iPhone, because it can only really render mobile sites well.

      I have had my own run-ins with rabid Apple fans. There is no reasoning with them. If it has an Apple logo on it, it’s great. They have no credibility when it comes to evaluating or recommending technology. My latest experience with fanboys was trying to point out that a credit card really isn’t a hardship to use! Of course, I got the predictable regurgitation of the keynote. Apple Pay doesn’t solve a real problem. It doesn’t make payments easier. It doesn’t even work on most of Apple’s own products. The only place I would love to use it is on my Apple TV. I had to go lookup my security code to make an in-app purchase and then enter in my password using that on-screen keyboard. I know, I could use the Remote app, but I also know it’s horribly buggy.

      There is one guy on Google+ who continually harasses me because I make the “outlandish” claim that an iPad can’t replace a computer for most people. I’m not just talking software engineers and audio/visual professionals. I really analyzed it and found a lot of things that normal, everyday people can’t do on an iPad. As I mentioned, Apple’s marketing will claim that an iPad is better than a computer, when the iPad launches. When the newer Macbook launches — wow, this is as big as an iPad, but it’s a real computer. They admitted it on 60 Minutes!!! I blocked this guy, but he makes up new identities and posts comments on unrelated posts — like how to rename files on an iPad using some cumbersome Rube Goldberg process. That underscores how limited the iPad is! You need to buy a special app and fiddle around with it to rename a file.

      Yes, if Apple can’t come up with a decent product that appeals to everyone, not just fanboys, they are in serious trouble. The iPhone may be their one-hit wonder. I think, amongst the other problems we have discussed, they have a culture which fosters groupthink and discourages criticism of the Apple way. They need to be more like NeXT and less like Apple. As far as I am concerned, the one Apple product I really like is actually a NeXT product — OS X. I really like my Mac. It has never crashed on me. It’s ridiculously fast, even after 6 years. It just works. That’s what Apple products are supposed to be, but that only applies to the Mac. Well, I like my AirPort Extreme. It’s the best WiFi router. So that’s two products. The iPhone is good for what it is. The iPod, iPad, Apple TV and the rest of their products are mediocre at best, and junk at worst. Tim Cook says “we don’t make junk”. Has he used the new Apple TV?!?

  5. “I used to think Steve Jobs got far too much credit, but Apple seems to need someone to scream at people. He wouldn’t have put up with this.”

    Steve Jobs was like NFL Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Parcells. He kept you and protected you if you were talented but he would never let you know. Jobs was like the Godfather running Apple. He had a vision of what each product was supposed to be and would not lower his standards because one division said the product was complete.

    I remember reading a story where Steve Jobs went ballistic with the team running the MobileME project and supposedly fired the project manager and lambasted the entire team when the project went live and did not work as planned.

    1. I personally wouldn’t want to work in that environment, but I think people worked harder and there weren’t as many bad decisions. I think Steve Jobs cared about the product more than profits (although the latter was important). It was always a “problem” with him. It’s why he was fired from Apple in the first place. He didn’t want to make business machines. He wanted to make revolutionary products.

      The Godfather analogy is spot on. The thing I love about mobster movies is that the characters are so volatile and unpredictable. People were afraid to run into Steve Jobs.

      In the early days, he also fired a Mac engineer for questioning the value of fonts. Fonts are ubiquitous to personal and business computing. Once again, the on-the-spot firings are indicative of his volatile and unpredictable behavior.

      Tim Cook is a marketing guy. Marketing isn’t about rationality, but rather the belief that people don’t make rational decisions, as economists would claim. Instead, they can be swayed by marketing. The new Apple seems to be about offering stale products, yet presenting them as revolutionary. It used to be true that, even though these were not revolutionary products, they worked better than other products. The design was unique and usable. That’s not as true anymore. I still really like the iPhone and Mac. Apple TV? Meh… It’s still a hobby. I don’t care how many billboards they put up. They’re all over the SF Bay Area. All I know is that I constantly need to reboot it. Although it doesn’t reboot itself randomly like my last Apple TV, AirPlay has some serious flaws. That feature worked better on my old Apple TV 2.

      I do know that Apple really needs another product with the mass appeal of the iPhone. They put all of their eggs in one basket. The iPhone accounts for 2/3’s of their revenue.

  6. That’s an interesting comment regarding if Apple can become too slow and unresponsive. I agree that is where Apple is headed if not already there. Their product line seems to indicate that trend whereby it’s not bloated and lacks consistency. Why sell iPad’s from 3 years ago? They are selling the iPad mini 2 and before that they sold the original iPad mini long after it’s time as a current product. I always thought if they were going to sell an older model as current then they should have the latest with previous years device. So instead of selling the iPad mini 4 alongside the Mini 3, they chose the model before that.

    It says to me either they have overcapacity or mgmt is just using bad strategy. I tend to think it’s a little of both. Besides the iPhone much of their product line is rather average in terms of sales and innovation.

    I’ve read that Steve Jobs was like the Godfather running Apple. He had the software and hardware teams competing against each other and chose who would run what. Jony Ive lead the hardware Scott Forstall handle the mobile side. Forstall was not very popular within the Apple ranks but was protected by Jobs because of his talents.

    But Steve was also expressing that he was leery of complete control by either one person or one division to dictate the product lines. And that’s what we have now. It’s like an NFL head coach who wants to be the general manager as well. Once you begin to wear too many hats you lose focus and you no longer respond quickly to changes in the marketplace. It’s one of the reasons why many newly appointed CEO’s will breakup divisions within a company so as to make it more agile and responsive to market changes.

    Apple has moved away from what Steve Jobs put in place. Jony Ive has been given way too much authority and power. The current state of iOS shows he should not be running that division. When you have an operating system slowing down current devices then the company needs a rethink. It’s like the early 90’s where you needed the latest Intel CPU to run Windows.

    I see problems on the horizon for Apple and i’ve been there working for a computer mfg in the mid 80’s as I watched bad decision after bad decision take place while the market was changing. The computer company I worked for became bloated with layers of mgmt just making the company slower to react to market changes.

    Isn’t that where Apple is today with all the mgmt appointees? It’s creating layer upon layer of high payed white collar mgmt which causes ANY company to become slower as changes take place around them.

    1. Right… They sold the iPhone 4 overseas up until mid 2014. They were selling the iPad 2 up until March 2014. Can you imagine buying a new iPad, not so long ago, only to have to deal with an unresponsive device? I feel cheated because I only got three good years out of mine. $700 is a lot to pay for 3 years of computing, especially when it is so watered down. Despite what some would claim, it’s really just a media consumption device. You can make videos and music on it, but the only professionals who do that, do it as a proof of concept or novelty. Then they are back to the Mac with ProTools and Avid. I bought my iPad with the hope it would evolve into something useful. Instead, it devolved into something useless. It’s a shame that such high quality hardware has been hobbled by iOS. The device itself will outlast its usefulness. I can just wipe my iPad 2 with a cloth, and it looks as good as new, and the battery still lasts about 10 hours. What a waste of great hardware!

      One other possibility is that they are not able to recruit the best and brightest. Really talented engineers coming out of top schools either want to start their own company or work at a startup. Anyone who really wants to work at Apple is most likely a fanboy. Apple can’t offer pre-IPO stock options. People who are hired there today are not going to be millionaires. Even with a six figure salary, most of it is going to rent. They can’t even afford a downpayment on a small condo, because rent gobbles up their paycheck.

      I agree with your assessment that they are becoming a latent monolith. They should give individual business units more autonomy. Everything seems to just have a certain sameness to it. Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV — they all look and work the same. That’s good in some ways, but it also gets stale after a while. Why would I buy an iPad, when I have an iPhone? It’s really just a bigger iPhone. People will debate that, and if you really split hairs, you can find differences. Those finer points are not worth $700 for me. The iPhone is even easier to pick off the coffee table and hold for hours. I will get the larger model next time.

      On the 60 Minutes story, Phil Schiller mentioned that they purposefully try to make one product seem better than the other, and reverse this. This is so that, if you own a Mac, you will want to buy an iPad Pro and vice versa. It seems like the products might cannibalize each other, but they want people to buy them all. The problem is, it only works on fan boys. The stats for my site are very revealing. Most of my visitors have an iPhone. The second biggest group are Windows users. Not everyone is going to be the guy with jeans, a denim shirt, denim socks, denim shorts and a denim cap. That’s what Apple is hoping for. That strategy only works with fanboys. It worked for me for a while. Now I stick with fewer Apple products and avoid their software and services. Instead of Apple Music, I use Spotify. Instead of iTunes, I use Netflix, HBO NOW and other services. If I didn’t have so much data in Reminders and Notes, I would use Clear and Evernote.

      The other problem is that this is double-speak. It’s straight out of Orwell’s 1984. “The iPad Pro has always been better than the Mac…” “The new Mac is so portable, you won’t want to lug around that iPad Pro.” They admit that they do this, because people will fall for it anyway. In time, people will get wise to the double-speak. Their marketing will lose credibility, but it is designed to invoke an emotional response. I just don’t get that warm feeling anymore.

      I used to think Steve Jobs got far too much credit, but Apple seems to need someone to scream at people. He wouldn’t have put up with this. I personally wouldn’t want to work in that culture, but that’s what created great products with high quality. I don’t think it is necessary, but right now, Apple seems to be delusional and they think everything they do is so great and revolutionary. If you watch the keynote presentation for Apple Music, you’d think they invented streaming music services. Really, they launched something that was too little, too late and too buggy. That’s the same thing with this new Apple TV. Even Comcast beat Apple with a voice recognition remote — by a few years!

      I’m sure you’ve noticed, Siri doesn’t work that well. No matter how clearly I speak, it is unable to interpret about 30% of my commands. I saw Dan Ackerman on CBS News talk about the Amazon Echo. It has the best speech recognition, and he mentioned that Siri has a much lower accuracy rate. But Apple thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Of course, they’re not going to say Amazon’s product is better, but they also don’t seem inclined to improve Siri that much.

      I still think Apple makes the best hardware and one great operating system — OS X. I’ll continue to buy an iPhone, because iOS is good enough for on-the-go computing. But it seems they are more invested in emotional marketing than making great products. That won’t work forever. If there’s no substance, they will lose people.

      As I mentioned, most iPhone users have a Windows PC. People love the iPhone, but only Apple fans love everything they make. The need another product like the iPhone. Instead, they are fiddling with different sizes of the same thing! Where’s the innovation? I haven’t seen it in a long time. I bought my Apple TV because of AirPlay, and that’s buggy. Even their sacred ecosystem is starting to crack.

  7. I discovered another quirk with the ATV4. If you want your HDTV to power on automatically from Sleep Mode, you’ll need the ATV Remote. If you are using a 3rd party remote and put the ATV4 into sleep mode, the ATV4 will go into sleep mode and automatically turns off your TV. If you use the same 3rd party remote and awaken the ATV4, the HDTV won’t turn on.

    Using the Apple remote, automatically turns off and on your TV in and out of sleep. It took me awhile to figure that one out.

    Btw, the “History Channel” is pretty robust for free and requires NO cable provider or subscription.

    1. I’ve noticed that if I don’t have the Apple TV remote pointed at my TV, it won’t turn on or off or adjust the volume. By default, it is set to use IR controls from the remote. I think it can be configured to use HDMI CEC instead of IR from the remote.

      That’s great that the History Channel is finally stepping into the 21st century. I find it frustrating that so many content providers hobble their services unless you have cable. It doesn’t make sense. If you have cable, you can watch their shows, on demand, using a digital cable box. It’s more about collusion than providing consumers with the best service. I really liked their Vietnam in HD and WWII in HD programs, but I watched them on Netflix because they hobbled their Apple TV channel. It’s good to see them reverse that policy. I hope others will follow suit. They can put ads in the videos to make it worth their while.

    2. By the way, I am still getting that problem with audio cutting out with AirPlay. I tried everything, and it is clearly a bug. It happens at about the same time and the cut outs sound the same — two short ones and then subsequent drops are singular. I left Apple Music because it would have 30 second audio dropouts, even with downloaded music. Now Apple has ruined Spotify for me. It’s amazing that this company, which considers itself such a key player in the music industry, can’t even deliver basic audio quality. It’s so bad, they mess up reliable services like Spotify.

      This is the ultimate fly in the ointment for me. I may return my Apple TV. I might have to set up my old one on another HDMI input, so it can be my dedicated AirPlay device. I will wait and see if they fix it, but I don’t see them rushing to fix AirPlay. It’s the same thing with WebKit. These technologies allow people to bypass the walled garden, so Apple hobbles them. It might not be diabolical, but more that they don’t put a high priority on fixing these issues. They don’t want to fix AirPlay so people will use the built in music features on Apple TV — Apple Music and iTunes. They don’t want to fix WebKit so people will use apps instead. Don’t surf the web for news, use our “wonderful” News app. It’s horrible. The Google News website is a million times better. So I use Photon’s streaming browser and my web pages are rendered on a server, because iOS is too weak and incapable to surf the web.

      It’s embarrassing to have people over and the music cuts out. Everyone who has witnessed this problem won’t be buying an Apple TV, that’s for sure. Some of my friends dislike Apple, and it’s hard to say that Apple makes high quality products, when their new Apple TV can’t even support AirPlay anymore.

      On the recent 60 Minutes story, they ask Jony if there is a risk that Apple can get too big, slow and unresponsive. He agrees that its possible. It’s already happened! They are breaking features which have been in their products for years.

  8. OK, here are my thoughts of the Apple TV 4th Gen. Mind you this is my first ever purchase of any online TV hardware. I actually almost returned it as my initial impressions and experience were underwhelming.

    1) One of the things that drew me to Apple in the late 90’s early 2000 was the simplistic design of both their hardware and software marriage. You didn’t need an instruction manual, just unbox your product and it was easy enough to figure out. That was Steve Jobs world. Today it’s Tim Cooks world allowed to run amok with Jony Ive designing both hardware and software. So now you need a manual or internet access to figure things out. It took me awhile and an internet search to figure out what the different buttons do i.e. “double press the TV button” and you zoom out into the multitask window to view all your apps running. Flick upwards to close them.

    I find it fascinating that you can’t see how much free space you have. You can only guess by what’s installed. But 3rd Party Developers hav 99 cent apps that give you that information. That’s today’s Apple for you. The settings app layout is just bloated and poorly laid out trying to figure where they put things. It’s just a progression of iOS 7 and how things have changed when prior to iOS 7 Apple preferred to keep things simple.

    2) TV Remote: It appears fragile and why on earth did Apple decide not to use the touch pad area as a select point just like on an Apple BT Touchpad is beyond me? Instead in order to select anything you have to click the remote. How long before that click pad gives out is a legit question as the iPod’s were known for their center click wheel to give out. Navigating and selecting things with the remote JUST doesn’t feel right. It’s at times too oversensitive although you can adjust that down and then it feels sluggish. It took a old Panasonic TV remote I had to make navigating better. Again this shouldn’t be happening with a married software and hardware package.

    I find that intermittently the Apple TV just pauses/hangs and is not responsive to any input from a 3rd party remote. From what I can tell it doesn’t appear to affect the Apple TV remote. It’s as if it drops it’s paired sync to the 3rd party remotes. I had this issue with my iPad 3 running the Apple Remote app. That iPad app btw is absolute GARBAGE. It hangs, it’s unresponsive most of the times and lacks any navigational features. Using Airplay from the iPad to the Apple TV is not a problem. That actually worked quite well. What I find interesting that the iPad 2 was excluded as a remote. I thought it was because of Siri but when I used Siri on my iPad 3, it wasn’t recognized by the Apple TV.

    3) Apps: I almost took it back because at first blush I thought what’s the big deal, I can do most if not all of this on my iPad’s. But I found many freebie TV apps like PBS, Sky News Int’l, ABC News, NBC, CBS and several others that were also free with no cable provider required. That was my selling point.

    4) Misc: I like the Aerial screensaver as well as the landscape screensavers although I wish those were in color. That’s looks cool and is a minor feature but it’s something you would associate with Apple.

    Overall if I had to give the Apple TV 4th Gen a score from 1-10, i’d have to go with between a 6.5 and a 7. It’s not something i’d see as must have. Fortunately I got in on the $99 Radio Shack deal.

    1. I agree with all of your points. Launching the App Switcher isn’t even mentioned in the brief instruction manual. It’s unfortunate, because people will keep going to the home screen to re-launch apps. If you’re already in an app, the App Switcher is faster.

      Apple likes to abstract the file system in their iOS and tvOS operating systems. Not being able to tell how much free space you have is par for the course. I think they will add it with updates, but it is a basic feature that should be in the first release.

      The Apple Remote app has always been garbage. It’s par for the course. I think most stock Apple apps are mediocre at best, but some are just awful. Podcasts is another awful iOS app, and the new Apple TV doesn’t come with a Podcast app! Oops! Yes, third parties offer Podcasts apps for 99 cents or more. It should be a stock app in tvOS. Then again, it would probably be awful.

      The App Store is pretty hilarious. One of the top apps is a fireplace. I have been exploring more games, but most of them are really weak. I keep going back to Asphalt8, but I am starting to get bored. I’m weary of investing money in a game if I can’t actually play it first. The games could really use improvement, and I expect better games over time. I have more faith in third-party developers.

      I like the aerial screen savers, but they do get old after a while. I turned off automatic downloads for screen savers because I thought it might be causing the AirPlay issue. I think I may have found a workaround — close all apps and reboot Apple TV. I have to remember to do that before playing music, or else it will drop out when something else tries to access the audio stream.

      I have found all sorts of quirks. Sometimes the sound effects turn off. Siri will handle requests like “turn on reduce loud sounds” sometimes. Other times, it just takes me to the Settings menu. Sometimes Siri just hangs and does nothing at all. There are also weird audio artifacts with the sound effects. I can occasionally hear distorted crunching noises when moving between icons.

      Overall, it’s not as polished as an Apple product should be. I think I tend to compare everything to the Mac. I have to remind myself, OS X was developed at NeXT, and it seems that Apple is slowly making it more defective over time.

      Maybe Apple TV and iOS are the true indicators of Apple quality, and the Mac is representative of NeXT quality.

      I like my Apple TV, but I don’t have as much faith as the Apple fans that all of these problems will be solved. I expect a rocky road of updates that introduce both new and regressive bugs. The overall quality will be inferior to iOS, because the Apple TV team isn’t as good.

      You got a great deal — $99. The remote itself costs $79 for a replacement. The front is made of glass, so it will shatter if dropped on a hard surface. I also agree that sometimes the trackpad is difficult to use. I have tried adjusting the trackpad speed, but it really doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. It’s a little hard to cue a video to the right spot. When I am binge-watching episodes, I always skip the recap and intro/credits. It’s much easier to do this on the new Apple TV, and I do like the preview/scrub, but that’s where I experience the limits of the trackpad.

      Once again, thank you for your insightful comments!

  9. I called last night and my local Radio Shack had 3 in stock and it’s a good thing I went out to get one before the store closed because this morning they raised the price by $20 as they are now adding a $20 HDMI cable and calling it a bundle.

    I’ll be spending Christmas setting it up.

    1. That’s great you got in on that deal. I almost wanted to return mine and go for it, but it would be too much effort. That’s an exceptional deal. At that price, there’s nothing to lose. If you don’t like it, you can sell it and come out ahead.

      I like my Apple TV, but it has some serious flaws. AirPlay is buggy. I am experiencing short audio drop-outs while playing music. It happens every time I play music, regardless of the device or whether the content is streamed or downloaded. It worked perfectly on my Apple TV 2. It will also cut off AirPlay and start playing my iTunes Music randomly at times. I also notice that Siri is unresponsive at times, even when my ISP is delivering 16 Mbps.

      If they don’t fix these AirPlay problems, I will probably return it and just use my Apple TV 2.

      On a positive note, the new one doesn’t continually reboot itself in the middle of programs. Video playback is flawless. That said, I do find myself rebooting the device in order to thwart one of the AirPlay bugs (the random iTunes Music playback issue). Unfortunately, nothing seems to solve the issue with AirPlay audio drop-outs. It happens about three times per hour of music playback. They clearly did not test AirPlay audio playback. They would have discovered this problem immediately. It’s sloppy QAT.

      The Apple TV team is the worst team at Apple. I have known this for a long time, so I have my expectations set. They will fix some bugs, and reintroduce others. I should be livid about the AirPlay bugs, as they have ruined my Spotify experience (accident or intentional anti-competitive move?). But this is par for the course with Apple TV. It’s still a hobby, regardless of what Apple’s marketing contends. It’s like a really serious hobby now.

      In my opinion, they should reduce the price of Apple TV. Radio Shack probably isn’t selling it at a loss, but at cost. I wouldn’t mind paying $150-200 for a rock solid system, but after two updates, there are still glaring bugs. I expect this to continue. They’ll fix some things while breaking other things, without a modicum of organizational learning. Their QA won’t expand test cases or learn from mistakes. I don’t know what engineering process they use, but it’s not very good. They don’t have the capabilities for organizational learning. Steve Jobs isn’t around to yell at people. While I don’t agree with that culture, he made the trains run on time!

      Everyone makes mistakes, but the point is to learn from them. Great engineering processes can ensure that people don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over.

  10. Can you download and play iOS games from your iPad or does it require streaming? Radio Shack has the 32GB model for $99. I was kind of tempted but if I can’t install my iPad games on the ATV 4 then I’ll pass.

    1. In some cases you can. If the game is a universal app, you can install it on both Apple TV 4 and an iPad. I have a feeling some developers will functionally fork their tvOS and iOS apps so they can get people to pay twice. So far, I haven’t seen any of my favorite iPad games (World of Tanks Blitz, Angry Birds Go!, Smash Hit) available on Apple TV 4. Some of the Apple TV 4 games are ridiculously bad, like Pac Man 256. I know, they’re going for something retro, but it’s just lame. Playing Pac Man with that controller isn’t a great experience. I also tried a bowling game, and the controls were not very good. It also made me a bit nervous to be swinging that fragile remote around. These were at the top of the charts, which gave me a bad impression of tvOS gaming.

      I did play a great car racing game last night — GT Sprit. I had almost given up hope on Apple TV 4 for gaming, but the controls are excellent. The graphics are stunning high resolution and gameplay is buttery smooth. It’s a free game and, at first, all one can do is steer the car. One steers the car by tilting the remote. It is so smooth and responsive! I am finally impressed. After all, the fourth generation Apple TV has a 64-bit A8 processor. It should offer great gaming.

      Keep in mind, you can also play games with an iOS device and any Apple TV, although sometimes there is a lag. There are games specifically designed to use dual-screen AirPlay, and they work well. But this never really caught on with most developers. I also see that developers are not rushing to release tvOS apps. The problem is that Apple TV won’t sell as well as the iPhone. It won’t sell as well as Roku or Chromecast either. That said, I do expect more apps to come, but I don’t think it will be like the iOS App Store. There are almost a billion iOS users. tvOS isn’t close to that, and probably never will be.

      For $99 I would go for it. It’s pretty good, but not perfect. It’s a huge step up from my Apple TV 2. Overall, I am satisfied and feel it has potential. If I had known about the $99 offer from Radio Shack, I would have gone for it. I got a 64GB one at Costco for $189, and I thought I got a good deal.

      The Radio Shack deal seems to be a loss leader. Maybe they are hoping people will pay more for the 64GB model. Honestly, 32GB is more than enough. The apps take up very little space. It would be hard to fill up a 32GB Apple TV.

      1. Thanks for the quick info. My closest Radio Shack shows 3 in stock. I’ll stop by tomorrow and if they have any in stock i’ll pick one up. I like racing games so your impressions helped my decision. And I’ve also read the screen saver with the slow motion photography is quite eye-catching.

        Does AirPlay use data stream thru a WiFi router? I ask cause I just signed up with Comcast and the rumor is they will cap my data usage at 300GB soon. I go thru a lot of data as it is.

        1. If you like racing games, check out Asphalt8. It’s really amazing. There’s more control over breaking and acceleration, but not to the point where one loses focus on driving. The car’s main acceleration is automatic, but you can do nitro boosts and break. The game play is smooth and responsive. Best of all, the game is free. There are in-app purchases, but they can be earned.

          Beware of the top charts. They are some of the worst games I have played. Apple has some relationship with Hipster Whale, the company that makes Crossy Roads and Pacman 256. They’re not very good games. I found Asphalt 8 on a website’s article about top Apple TV apps. I will also be writing about the best Apple TV apps. The charts are not reliable. I think some developers are gaming the system. There is also a bowling game that is just awful. The controls are wonky.

          I really hope Rovio brings Angry Birds Go! to Apple TV. It’s their cart racing game, which would work perfectly on Apple TV. It’s one of the most fun and surreal racing games I have played.

          AirPlay streams data using the local WiFi network, not the Internet. So it will not increase your data usage. If you have to conserve data, you can download content and play it via AirPlay. For example, if you listen to a particular album a lot, download it and stream it via AirPlay to conserve data usage.

          Of course, if you are streaming something on your iPhone and beam it to AirPlay, you will be using data for the iPhone streaming part, but not AirPlay.

          One caveat — there is an AirPlay setting to stream content from iCloud. Turn it off to conserve data. Basically, instead of streaming content from your device, it just gets passed a URL to open the content from iCloud. It’s under AirPlay settings.

          It’s unfortunate Comcast is doing a 300GB data cap. I had a feeling these things would be coming. They see the writing on the wall. People are canceling cable and going for streaming devices. They’re a cable company. They will likely offer more data at a higher price.

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