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Did Xbox One just make the long-rumored Apple TV set irrelevant?

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May 21, 2013

The Xbox One just did much of what we long expected an Apple TV set to do

The Xbox One just did much of what we long expected an Apple TV set to do

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Remember when the rumor mill’s favorite hobby was obsessing about an Apple TV set? It seemed like every week, some publication or other was reporting on the mythical device. Many assumed it would be the company’s next big revolution: iPod, iPhone, iPad ... iTV. Well, don’t look now, but Microsoft just unveiled a device that does most of what we expected the iTV to do, in the form of the Xbox One.

At its heart, the Xbox One is still a tried-and-true gaming console. But, as Microsoft made clear in its presentation, it’s also the company’s big push to own the living room. Hence the “One” branding: one device to rule your home's center of entertainment.

Isn’t that what many of us expected the Apple TV set to be? Think about the iTV’s supposed feature set:

  • Natural language voice control? Xbox One has that.
  • Natural gesture control? One has that too, with Kinect much improved over the Xbox 360’s version.
  • Seamless integration between live TV, streaming services, and gaming? Yep.

The Xbox One even has seamless side-by-side multitasking, so you can Skype with a buddy while watching Star Trek or tearing through rounds of ammo in Call of Duty.

Truth and fiction

Of course you have to take this comparison with grains of salt. Apple has undoubtedly worked on a TV set, but we’re mostly talking about a fictional product. This mythical beast was birthed by speculation and rumors, sprinkled with a few tiny tidbits of real information from Apple (like Steve Jobs’ hints about it in Walter Isaacson’s biography).

We're also going off of the Xbox One's advertised features, and Microsoft's keynote demonstration. Until we get our hands on the thing, it would probably be wise to add a few more grains of salt when throwing around words like revolution.

... but just looking at it from the frame of our expectations surrounding the TV set? The way that it could change our lives? Microsoft just checked quite a few of those boxes.

Half a revolution

The Xbox One offers seamless integration between a variety of entertainment services

There is, however, one big exception ... and it might be the very reason that Apple hasn’t yet bothered releasing a TV set. I’m talking about disrupting the way you pay for TV. Apple would surely love to help you save money by dropping annoying bundles and offering a la carte TV channels. But all signs point to Hollywood not playing ball on that one (big surprise).

The new Xbox doesn’t do anything to change the way we get our content either. That revolution – if it ever comes – will have to wait.

Of course there's also the actual TV set part. The Xbox One – like all game consoles and set-top boxes – hooks up to your existing TV. The rumored iTV was presumed to be a stand-alone set, complete with cutting-edge display and slick Apple-esque design.

But as far as a step forward in TV interaction and integration, the Xbox One is looking pretty good. If Apple ever does ship a TV set, it will be interesting to see how the company tries to differentiate it, with the Xbox One by then already sitting on store shelves.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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18 Comments

No. Two problems with the Xbox, first the interface is horribly difficult to use, and second who wants to pay $50 a year on top of Netflix just to access the their app? Currently we own an Xbox with Connect, AppleTV, and Roku 3. AppleTV has the best remote and interface, Roku 3 the best content and search outside the Apple store, and Xbox does an OK job at playing games.

sunfly
21st May, 2013 @ 06:39 pm PDT

NO, to answer your question. The new Xbox doesn't do the most important thing that iTV was/is supposed to do and it's an expensive gaming system not a TV solution.

Joe F
21st May, 2013 @ 08:05 pm PDT

A lot of devices are getting better at streaming Netflix/Amazon/Hulu etc. If anything a full console is less necessary to stream Netflix than ever.

I assume if it has a real tuner built in it supports DVR? That is really the only thing I can think of that nobody else is doing well. Currently nobody seems to have a device on the market that does both IP and DVR well.

As for UI I think a touch screen/tablet remote is probably better than waving your arms around or trying to get Kinect to understand you. There is nothing wrong with having Kinect support it but I don't think it would work well as a primary interface. Using the game controller itself for the remote is also pretty annoying. Maybe they sell a touch screen remote with the tuner as a package deal?

Who knows. I know a couple people with Wii U that said they love it as a netflix streamer because of the touch screen and that seems like the best solution to remotes that are starting to look like cockpits of a 747.

I would be surprised if the Apple TV remote wasn't a touch screen device. I also think there is potentially still a market for an Apple TV because their core customer base tends to fall almost completely outside of the "gamer" crowd anyway. Apple seems to actively discourage "gamer" types by doing things like shipping "new" $2500 Power Macs with a 5 year old (also discontinued) GPU.

I am not saying they are wrong though, their strategy of shunning that crowd seems pretty successful for them.

Daishi
22nd May, 2013 @ 04:54 am PDT

All of you are wrong.

Why have a Xbox One and a Apple TV?

You can't play hardcore AAA games on a Apple TV.

It will not be called iTV, that is taken by a UK company.

Seth Kazzim
22nd May, 2013 @ 07:21 am PDT

Samsung Smart TV anyone?

http://www.samsung.com/us/2013-smart-tv/

Seiffeddeen Keilani
22nd May, 2013 @ 07:26 am PDT

Xbox Glass allows you to use any touch device to control your Xbox if can't handle using your arms to control the interface.

Steve Dahlheimer
22nd May, 2013 @ 09:18 am PDT

Unless there is something completely revolutionary with the apple TV or you have absolutely no desire to game, it doesn't seem like there is a need for both. It looks like everything iTV would do Xbox will too except be integrated into one device....

LordInsidious
22nd May, 2013 @ 09:39 am PDT

@LordInsidious

>Unless there is something completely revolutionary with the apple TV or you have absolutely no desire to game

What about if you don't want to pay for Xbox live gold just to be able to stream Netflix? Besides, there are plenty of people who don't play console games and even people that do but have TVs in multiple rooms.

Daishi
22nd May, 2013 @ 11:07 am PDT

Apart from the HDMI overlay tech, the XBox One is just playing catchup to where the PS3 has already been for years. PS3 also has a better UI.

Also, the PS3 won't make you put batteries into the controller like it's still the 1990's.

Jon A.
22nd May, 2013 @ 11:36 am PDT

A lot of people would rather talk or use motion to give instructions rather than a mouse, keyboard or even touch. That's why automobile controls are moving in that direction. Pedals, steering wheels rearview mirrors, all of that is fast becoming obsolete. Many of the commentators seem to think that their reality will stop evolution, I am sure the Neanderthals felt the same way and it didn't help them. It may be that some people are incapable of moving forward, doomed to live in dreams of the horse & buggy.

Munoz-Nieves Jose
22nd May, 2013 @ 12:29 pm PDT

Some here talk like everyone already plans on an Xbox. The Xbox might do it if you plan to own one anyway but would imagine the number of people that would like iTV would be many times the number that need the latest hardcore gaming console. Isn't appealing to the public not niche core gaming market how the Nintendo Wii had so much success? I have no use for an Xbox but love a truly integrated Web TV. Even if others don't agree Apple has a keen way of convincing people they need a redundant, overpriced device.

Joe F
22nd May, 2013 @ 01:10 pm PDT

@Diachi

So to get around both those points, one could just get smart TV(s) not necessarily a iTv. It's crappy that Netflix is only available on Xbox gold but it doesn't make sense to replace Xbox gold $60/year with an iTV given Apple's traditional premium price.

LordInsidious
22nd May, 2013 @ 01:24 pm PDT

There is no need for Apple to introduce iTV nor Microsoft. After all, the content providers can easily come out with the set up box themselves (don't most of US population have one near their TVs anyway?)

yosuperyo
22nd May, 2013 @ 02:08 pm PDT

Yeah, I work with several pretty hardcore gamers, and we all had a good laugh at the Xbox 1 launch. I'm sure some of them will get the system anyway, but I think more of us will get a PS4 or stay on computers and not look back...

Jose, what the heck are you talking about with regard to cars? I don't know a single car without a steering wheel, and the only ones without pedals are special mods for people without the use of their feet. That's not to say these items haven't been improved, but there is a huge difference between adding new interface options and throwing out well established interfaces. THAT is why people were excited for the Kinect, but are leery of this. Also, I can't wait for the X1 to change the channel after a goal in a big game when everyone gets up and cheers or shakes their fists. Actually, come to think of it, just having it react every time I get up to get chips sounds horrible. I mean, if voice or gesture command were the main interface for my phone I would have long since thrown it at the wall, even though I use voice fairly frequently when it's reasonable. THAT'S why people think this stinks.

Charles Bosse
22nd May, 2013 @ 02:32 pm PDT

Agree 100% Charles, sounds to me like Xbox 1's only defenders are probably just loyal Xbox 360 owners that refuse to listen to reason. I don't know how much Apple plans on charging for iTV, but unless it's more than $400 or so I see no reason for replacing it with a Xbox 1. The only other thing the Xbox would have over iTV would be gaming, and they alienated gamers when they decided to make games playable only on one console without having to pay for a brand new game. That means no used games, no borrowing your friends game etc., and that's just ridiculous for games you pay $60 to OWN.

hellno187
24th May, 2013 @ 08:25 am PDT

Although I'm an Apple fan, I'll be very happy to see MS pull that on Apple.

The latter are putting all their weight on their iTunes/App Store ecosystem controlling our digital entertainment and they wanna rule out access to external media (usb disks, NASs etc). Everything through the iTunes nozzle.

No Tim, the Apple TV is a nice toy, I own one, but it's the last one I'm buying. Unless you loosen up things or you allow us to run XBMC on it.

Τριαντάφυλλος Καραγιάννης
27th May, 2013 @ 03:32 am PDT

I'm am reading a lot of comment on here that seem ignorant or not researched. I have owned no consoles but do have a apple phone, but it seems that Xbox one or by company name Microsoft have really put together a strategic and well thought idea. People on this thread keep assuming things that they obviously haven't even read up about as I can tell by reading by first bit of Xbox one reveal.

The are innovating they way things are integrated and I for one think apple are getting behind but people still trust them? I've got the new iPhone 5 and it's slower then my 4 but anyway off subject. The Xbox one may be a big hit compared to the apple itv () or the simple play station 4. Sony seem to do the same old things since they began which we are in the future Sony, please do something different its getting old and tiresome.

I have actually decided to buy my first console with Microsoft because i think they are with today's times and generation. Microsoft has got a new customer

ChuckTM
27th May, 2013 @ 07:40 am PDT

The revolution is happening but it's not from any cable or satellite companies or from anyone who will make boxes that will simply tweak the content of those providers.

It's coming from independent producers outside of Hollywood like those on Youtube with original content like Annoying Orange or How it Should Have Ended or Epic rap Battles of History, and so much more good (Even if each video is very short. Watching many, can easily take up hours of viewing time) programming which you can't find on either regular or premium channels.

OK Annoying Orangs did have something on regular TV but I'm sure that is not the exact same thing as the videos on youtube and I am not sure if it's still on regular TV.

The others I mentioned are not on regular TV at all, as far as I know and even Orange started on Youtube, not in Hollywood.

There is also other original outside the established TV channels like Yahoo screen with great shows like Electric City (written if I remember correctly by Tom Hanks) and Netflix has announced they too are starting to create their own original shows.

Even regular TV studios are putting more and more of their content directly on their websites or on Netflix or Hulu so that you don't have to have a cable box or satellite dish, to watch them.

Fusiontek
31st May, 2013 @ 12:10 am PDT
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