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Apple TV 4: Missing Features

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Roku 4 and Nvidia SHIELD Support 4K Video

Other streaming video devices have hit the ground running. The Nvidia SHIELD and Roku 4 already offer 4K video. Those who have a 4K UHD television and the right bandwidth might not prefer Apple TV 4. In time, Apple TV 4 will likely support 4K video.

Apple TV 4 Music Doesn’t Have a Visualizer

One of my favorite features of iTunes is the visualizer. Visualizers provide an interactive, graphical “light show” for music. Most computer-based media players offer this feature. iOS and Apple TV don’t have a visualizer. Instead, both media players display the album cover art. Could you imagine going to a concert only to see a projection of the album cover behind the band for their entire set?

Apple TV 4 Does Not Have a Visualizer

The demo of Apple TV 4 didn’t show a visualizer. Instead, users are presented with the same view of album art. With iTunes and other media players, people have a choice. They can view the album art, or view the visualizer. With an A8 processor, Apple TV 4 should be able to offer a visualizer.

It is possible to view the visualizer on Apple TV. If your Mac supports AirPlay screen mirroring, you can display iTune’s visualizer on Apple TV. You can also use AirParrot, if your computer doesn’t support AirPlay directly. You need a fairly powerful computer to do this. Even my quad-core Mac Pro was stuttering at this task. Just make sure every app is closed and adjust the screen resolution, quality and frame rate (in AirParrot) accordingly. For more AirParrot tuning tips, check out this article.

Apple TV 4 Lacks Support for Custom Game Controllers

Apple requires that any game sold in the App Store must be fully compatible with the included remote. Apple TV does support third-party game controllers. They even sell them in the Apple Store. The fact that games must work with the included remote, however, is very limiting.

Developers cannot create complicated games that use an external Bluetooth keyboard. This means you’ll probably never see games like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft on the new Apple TV. World of Warcraft is so popular, it even has its own major motion picture. If you want to play it, you’ll need a Mac or PC. At best, you will see simpler games, similar to what is offered on the iPhone and iPad. In a few years, you will be able to watch Warcraft The Beginning on your Apple TV, but it’s unlikely that you will play the actual game.


Apple TV 4 Can’t Play Music While Gaming

If you play video games, you may notice that many of them have very obnoxious sound tracks. I love Angry Birds Go. Even though it is a kid’s game, the cart-racing simulation boasts extremely accurate physics and buttery smooth game play. The music is just plain obnoxious. There is one song that plays over and over. I turn the volume off and listen to music on my stereo.

Angry Birds Go!

This setup requires using my iPhone 6 to play the game. I task my iPad 2 or iPhone 4 with beaming Spotify music over AirPlay to my Apple TV. It works, but it involves a lot of devices.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could listen to music on Apple TV while playing a video game? With an A8 processor, it should be possible. The problem is that Apple’s multitasking has never allowed a music app and a video game to run at the same time. They make the assumption that users want to listen to the video game sound track. I don’t doubt that Apple will keep it simple and continue to make this assumption.

Beat Sports on Apple TV 4

Apple TV 4 does offer games that integrate with music, such as Beat Sports. Perhaps game developers will find a clever workaround. If they team up with music services like Spotify or Apple Music, they could integrate playlists into their games. Games such as Grand Theft Auto actually let the players choose music from a variety of playlists. I am impressed at the diverse styles of music this game offers. They even offer songs from Pierre Moerlen’s Gong! (continue…)

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