Think Apple TV is only for movies, shows, and games? Think again.
Though somewhat overshadowed by the introduction of iPhone6s and 6s+, the release of the new Apple TV is arguably the most exciting thing to be announced by Apple at their September 9th event. In our previous post, we highlighted two major additions to the platform: the introduction of an Apple TV App Store; and tvOS, a brand new operating system.
The possibilities with tvOS are vast, and as the operating system is new, the market is completely open. Since tvOS was created specifically for Apple TV but uses familiar frameworks and APIs like Xcode, mobile application development for the platform is much easier, and developers have the chance to build a diverse range of new (and companion) apps that could rival the robust collection of iPhone and iPad applications.
In other words, the Apple TV App Store is going to have a selection of apps that go well beyond TV, movies, and gaming. Many of these will be companion apps that extend current iPad and iPhone experiences, which will use Handoff to allow users to switch seamlessly between devices.
The following are just a few categories of potential tvOS apps that could be very successful on the new Apple TV.
eCommerce/retail apps on the Apple TV can easily take advantage of bigger screen sizes. Retailers have needed to get creative displaying products on smaller mobile devices, but as the Gilt keynote demonstrated, the additional screen size allows for high quality photos and enhanced digital merchandising.
The possibilities for retail don’t end there. Companies can quite literally display products as they would in-store. Take a company like IKEA for example, which stages entire rooms in its retail locations. The setup could easily be emulated on a user’s TV. To go further, users could take photos of rooms at their home and drag and drop items to visualize how the addition of new furniture or items would look.
The travel and hospitality industries can offer richer, more immersive user experiences with tvOS apps. As AirBnB demonstrated, having a bigger screen opens up a number of opportunities. For example, it allows for high quality, detailed images of destinations and accommodations to be displayed when users are researching and planning trips. Other features that travel and hospitality companies could implement include user-generated videos and photos; maps integration with street view; interactive tours of cities, tourist destinations, lodgings, and more.
Applications for Apple TV can also ease the booking and trip planning process. With the ability to have multiple features displayed simultaneously on one screen, users could book trips or even add desired destinations without any interruption to the user experience.
Health and fitness apps have the potential to thrive on the Apple TV platform. Handoff will again come in handy for these kinds of experiences – imagine tracking your outdoor run on your iPhone or Apple Watch, then immediately bringing the app up on your TV when you’re home to continue with other aspects of your workout.
The Siri-enabled remote also comes with a range of motion gestures, meaning there is tons of opportunity to create fitness and exercise programs that work with the Apple TV, much like Wii Fit does. And, since up to 4 devices can connect to the Apple TV via Bluetooth, multiple people could follow predefined workout programs simultaneously on the same screen.
While there are limitations to Siri’s voice command functions, fitness apps could also implement methods where users can jump from exercise to exercise, change their music, and more, without having to interrupt their workouts.
The above are just a few industries/categories of apps that have the potential to be very successful on Apple TV. While movies, TV, and entertainment are going to be a huge focus for the platform, there is the potential for developers to build so much more and consumers to do so much more than watch content. With tvOS and the Apple TV App Store, many of the major restrictions of the old generation Apple TV have been eliminated. One thing that is currently missing from tvOS is HomeKit – its addition would open up even more possibilities. Stay tuned.