Improving the Apple TV experience

I like my Apple TV and as a whole the Apple way to do things is my preferred way to do things. I find Netflix to be buggy and does little to help browse. Like most digital services it expects you to know what to search for in advance which makes discovery hard. However, it also hides the size of a library and most services want to hide how small their libraries actually are. Amazon Prime is also quite rough, it’s ugly and is perhaps the most user unfriendly interface. I’m still not sure where I’m suppose to find the things I’ve been watch and where I left off. There are some areas that kind of imply it’s showing my watched content but 1) it’s missing things. 2) clicking into them doesn’t let me know where I left off.

Apple has already built software that’s mostly better than the two but there are definitely things they could do to improve Apple TV. Recently they’ve started adding their software to TVs which I hope isn’t a sign that they’ll treat the physical Apple TV like their WIFI routers and let it die because other people supposedly do it better. The Apple TV hardware is expensive but it’s still cheaper than replacing your perfectly good TV because the manufacturer no longer wants to provide updates for it. The TV manufacturer is also fairly unlikely to add new services but getting a new service on an Apple TV will be as easy just downloading it from the App store.

So here are a list of my suggestions to improve the whole experience, some of these I feel are more than suggestions but rather mandatory things they should do. I feel the people behind Apple TV (the hardware / OS not streaming service) either do not use their product or use it in some special Apple Employee mode that gives them access to everything so they’re blind to the obvious flaws.

Make TV seasons work like Netflix

If you ever buy box sets from iTunes you’ll notice 2 obvious problems with them. Firstly, if the show is on going your box set will eventually become old and expire. This usually ends up in it becoming harder to find and navigate. Second, all box sets are treated as a separate product when the should be treated as buying block of TV episodes. This means jumping to season 7 of the MASH box set is not an easy task or if you had bought the Curb your enthusiasm box set at season 8 then after season 9 it may be harder to find your box set, season 1 to 8 are one blob and 9 is not. It’s a mess and user unfriendly. This is definitely a mandatory change.

By treating purchases as buying blocks of episodes you stop punishing users for buying box sets of on-going shows and you can focus on doing the right thing and displaying TV shows like Netflix does. List out the seasons and highlight the ones with purchased content. This will also surface non-purchased content and if you do it right then you’re encouraging people to buy even more episodes.

Don’t let promotions get in the way

It is good to show me new content - this is how I can discover new things and I’m happy for it but when I turn on the Apple TV I want the “zero effort” one-click option to be my content. Don’t ever make it a case where I need to navigate past the promotional material to get to my content.

It shouldn’t necessarily be done the same away as Amazon but treat iTunes purchased content as an equal to Apple TV. They both bring in money especially if you treat consumers well so work on growing them both

Get more competitive

I’m sure this does not apply as much, if at all, in the US but where in Europe it feels like they’re not trying as hard as Amazon. As an example, I can buy the G.I. Joe series or Face Off on Amazon. As far as I can tell these have never been on iTunes. For the longest time Soylent Green was only available in SD on iTunes while being in in HD on Amazon.

If these things are on Amazon then someone has the rights here to distribute them online. Make sure they’re working with you as well. The problem is online content has quickly become just likely cable TV except rather than bundling channels into one simple bill we’re having basically buy all the “channels” individually, managing numerous subscriptions. As much as possible I want to have one service. Aside from exclusives this shouldn’t be an impossible ask.

A few more quick suggestions

I think that covers most of the things I feel must be done but here are some other things I think they should consider.

Redesign the remote. To be honest, I like it and get on with it but it seems many do not and Apple kind of acknowledged with by adding the white circle around the menu button.

Simplify the line-up. There is literally no reason to have a 64gb Apple TV over a 32gb one so why does it exist other than to get a little more cash out of people? Apple’s suggestion on which one to get says:

“ If you download and use lots of apps and games, choose the 64GB configuration.”

With the state of gaming on the Apple TV I’m not sure that’s even true but I could be wrong and if Apple Arcade is going to be a thing then sounds like just a having a 64gb option would be perfect.

Add 1 or more USB ports with the facility to access the content on the drive. Sure, you want to sell more content but this will help you sell more hardware and more Apple TVs under the TV gives your platform priority.

Lastly, Apple TV is some what accessible from the HomePod but it wouldn’t hurt if it were treated like a proper HomeKit device and I could do even more.