Apple conducted their September event this afternoon with a few cool surprises. To compliment the mobile tech hardware refresh, Apple announced a new developer opportunity. Millions of developers (11 million) fight for space on your phone. Now they will compete for the space in your living room.
The TV has historically been viewed as operating on an off-shoot of iOS. Today it got a dedicated developer effort and its own operating system designation. tvOS powers the new TV. Apple has finally let the dog off the chain to see what it can really do. On the customer facing website Apple TV has its own corner office where it used to share a cube with Apple Networking components. The Press info has been revamped, and it gets a spot at the top of Apple.com
I went over to the Dev portal and here is what I found:
First, they are taking steps to make make sure the quality component is there. I say this because the first thing I noticed was the registration opportunity to get the Apple TV Developer kit. This kit is used to test applications on the hardware it was meant to run on. Simulation is good but it’s not ideal. A good simulator allows representative environmental values in testing, but actually running code on the hardware natively is how it will be used. Therefore, that should be the litmus test for how it is tested. So in a time crunch they have decided to let Developers get a hardware based Kit for testing. It’s important to have as many quality apps as possible when launching an AppStore. Quality requires testing and testing requires people and gear.
Apple is willing to front some money into distributing hardware test units, deploy the documentation and software required to build applications, covered the marketing and press venues, redesigned websites and publicly announced their intentions. What does this mean? Every developer in the now-consolidated Apple Developer program, has access to the above resources. Many developers will simply need to re-tool their current code for TV. The hardware refresh which included arming the TV with the Apple A8 Cyclone 2GB RAM, a choice of local hard drive capacity and a remote that pays homage to the Wii.
Hardware isnt everything. There is some capability and integration that you might find a little surprising. The ability to purchase and install native applications and run them puts Apple in a position to compete with the Xbox One and Sony PlayStation. Not necessarily for the demographic that plays the $49.99 titles that come out on CD first. There is a market that many say is less served, comprised of people who want to play games with simple but intuitive controls, is family friendly and supports multiplayer. The new TV supports drop-in multiplayer for anyone who has an iPhone or iPod touch, and with Microsoft closing the doors on its Indie developer program, many independent developers find themselves holding talent but with no development platform to express that talent.
The 4-way directional pad of the old remote gives way to a touch sensor at the top, volume buttons for the host TV, a microphone button to envoke Siri commands that are captured with the the dual microphone array so there is no reason to lift the remote to you head to be heard. The touch action is similar to the Remote application for the iPhone, recognizing taps, swipes and long swipes with a hold at the edge.
With a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, the remote doubles as a game controller that senses velocity, pitch, yaw, roll and direction. Much like the Wii-mote, expect developers to create games that utilize the TV remote as a batting instrument. TV will also support 3rd party hardware options, so expect the MFi (Made for i) developer program to be bustling with activity.