In announcing a long-awaited upgrade to Apple TV, the company's CEO Tim Cook had a simple message for the industry: "We believe the future of television is apps."
And with that, the company unveiled the latest update to a streaming media box that hooks up to your television so you can watch movies from the likes of Netflix and stream other digital media. The new Apple TV also connects to an App Store for access to games and other content, and comes with a reconfigured remote with a trackpad and voice command capabilities.
All that won't come cheap. An Apple TV with 32 gigabytes of storage costs $149, and one with 64GB is $199. It will be available in October in the U.S., and will be sold in more than 180 countries by the end of the year, CNET reports.
One of the more anticipated upgrades will be its new operating system, dubbed tvOS, that works more like the one on your smartphone. It will allow Apple TV to offer a much broader range of media, including games and sports.
Apple showed off several of the offerings that will be available. They included video essentials like Netflix, Hulu and HBO, as well as applications new to Apple TV, like the vacation rental service AirBnB and the shopping site Gilt, CNET reports.
Apple also announced it's teaming up with Major League Baseball to make its At Bat app available on Apple TV. The app will allow users to click on a grid of baseball games and stream any of them instantly.
Games like Crossy Road, which was played on the big screen during Apple's demo, came in for some withering criticism by those who compared it to something out of the era of Donkey Kong and Frogger. Talk of Apple competing with the likes of Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One seemed misplaced to some critics.
"I'm not canceling any pre orders for Fallout 4 after seeing a Crossy Road demo, a game I've been playing on my phone for months and months," CNET's Jeff Bakalar told CBS News, though he noted that other games like Guitar Hero looked more "graphically intense."
"Maybe you don't lead with that demo as a sign of innovation in gaming through Apple TV," he said. "Nevertheless, it's accessible for people who have no exposure to gaming whatsoever."
The remote got better reviews.
It features a glass surface across the top that responds to touch. Coolest of all is how the viewer can summon Siri, Apple's voice-command digital assistant, for help.
In showing off the feature, an Apple executive asked to have the device find the episode of "Modern Family" in which Edward Norton plays the singer of the 1980s band Spandau Ballet. Up it comes. The remote searches across a wide array of different content so you don't need to remember whether a certain show or movie was on HBO, Showtime, Netflix or somewhere else - Apple TV will find it.
The voice-recognition feature also lets viewers tell the Apple TV to jump ahead in a video, or look up content based on the cast, director, age rating or date, CNET explains.
The new features may help Apple TV compete with a number of more popular - and less expensive - offerings by Google, Roku and Amazon. The top seller in the U.S. this year has been Roku, with a $100 streaming box and $50 stick; followed by the $35 Google Chromecast streaming dongle; then Amazon with its $99 Fire TV box and $39 stick, CNET reports.
With Apple more focused on the likes of its iPhone and Apple Watch in recent years, Apple TV sales slipped as competitors offered more features and content. In March, the company cut the price by a third to $69 before rolling out its first new model since 2012.
for more features.