One of Apple TV’s most-desired features finally makes its way to the diminutive set-top box.
On Wednesday, Sept. 9, Apple will unveil its next-generation Apple TV, as we've already told you. And, as we've also already told you, the device is a significant overhaul of its hoary predecessor, with more powerful innards and a new remote that sources say has been “drastically improved” by a touchpad input and, as first reported by TechCrunch and independently confirmed by BuzzFeed, motion sensors that will allow it to function as game controller.
That's the hardware. As for software, the forthcoming Apple TV will debut with a number of big features we reported back in March — an App Store of its own and Siri integration that will support what sources in position to know describe as “some pretty hardcore voice control.” Recall that Siri figures prominently in Apple's invitation to its upcoming event.
But there's another tentpole feature coming to the new Apple TV as well — and it's one for which anyone with the old Apple TV has been pining for years.
Essentially, you'll be able to search for a show or movie once, and see results from all sorts of different sources.
Sources familiar with Apple's plans say that a cornerstone of the the company's new set-top box is a universal search feature that will enable searches across multiple streaming video services as well as Apple's iTunes Store. Instead of searching the catalogs of multiple video services one at a time for a particular movie, you'll now be able to search all — or most of them — at once and then choose the service on which you'd like to watch it. You'll also be able to search for actors and directors, and run other more targeted searches as well — all with Siri. While Apple's intelligent personal assistant is core to this feature, sources say there's another engine driving it as well — Matcha, the video discovery startup Apple acquired back in 2013. iOS 9's “Proactive” search is also likely part of the mix here, as 9to5Mac reported.
Universal search will dramatically improve the Apple TV experience, which has suffered for years from a largely text-based, frustrating, and not nearly as intuitive as it once was user interface. It's a big deal, and it will very clearly position the Apple TV as an entryway for video consumption from all kinds of different sources and services.
In many ways, this makes the forthcoming Apple TV the first “true” Apple TV in that it's the first to really begin delivering on Apple's vision of what the TV viewing experience should be.
One last thing: The new Apple TV will start at $ 149, the lower of the two price points 9to5Mac first reported. Apple will soon have a subscription internet TV service to sell and the faster it ramps up its installed base of new Apple TV households, the better.
Apple declined comment.