- Siri Remote works well to control games
- Apple Arcade will offer gaming subscription
- Fitness functionality through Bluetooth pairing works well
The Apple TV 4K is designed to be more than a TV-streaming box, as a device that can function as a music player and a basic console too.
At its launch event Apple made a big deal about the new games that are coming to the new TV box, with the A10 Fusion chip from last year’s iPad offering better graphical performance – the power on offer here should really give developers some grunt to work with.
However, the game Sky, which did look beautiful in the demos at the launch event, still isn't available on the Apple TV, which is slightly worrying (it's out in beta form for iPhone and iPad). Game developers don't seem to have embraced the device as much as Apple hoped they would.
The motion control of the Siri Remote means the Apple TV has an instant advantage over other streaming sticks and boxes – while fairly rudimentary, the ability to play tennis games or the fun Beat Sports with actual swings of the hand is great.
These games do often cost though, and seem a little pricey for what’s on offer – although you do get access on your iPhone or iPad, too.
Many of the titles supported are ones that developers have taken from the iPad or iPhone and turned into something that works well on the big screen, like Alto's Odyssey.
We played Dark Echo, a game that’s designed to be used with a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and it was terrifying – combined with the OLED screen of the Philips 901F, it literally had our hairs standing on end.
The simplicity of using the touch remote to pace around the invisible land of terrors (trust us, you need to play this game if you get an Apple TV, or you just want to freak yourself out late at night on an iPhone) really works on this title.
If Apple could find a way to start filling the Apple TV App Store a little quicker, it would give the box the kind of asset that helped propel the iPhone to the sharp end of the smartphone race.
The Nvidia Shield TV has many dedicated games, and while Apple doesn't have its own proprietary controller, it advocates for a few Made for iPhone units like the Nimbus SteelSeries – a necessity for the many games show up as needing a dedicated controller to work correctly.
Where the Apple TV 4K is already excelling is in the fitness space. Through its intelligent use of Bluetooth and easy-to-pair sensors you can get some smart on-screen help with working out.
We used the Wahoo 7 Minute fitness app, which uses the Tickr X heart rate monitor. This chest strap can not only show your heart rate during a workout, it can count your reps using the inbuilt accelerometer, and store your progress to let you know how you’re getting on in future workouts.
It’s a little rudimentary, and we’d like to see more apps and sensors taking advantage of the sensor connectivity – and they are coming, with indoor cycling powerhouse Zwift the latest to launch on tvOS.
The Apple TV 4K can also function as a HomeKit hub, so a quick word to your Siri Remote will shut curtains, turn off lights or start whichever system you’ve got connected smartly – and that alone is a good reason to have the box.
But, once again, the issue here is that all this can also be found on the previous Apple TV box, which is still on sale. The functionality is excellent and entertaining, but it can be had for cheaper if you’re not bothered about the 4K performance.
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