When Apple TV first debuted back in 2007, it was the only device that could stream online content to your TV. That doesn't mean that it caught on immediately, like the iPod or iPhone. In fact, at the time, Steve Jobs oddly described it as less of a priority and more of a hobby at the company.
But the rise of Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and the whole cord-cutting movement at large helped boost Apple TV sales and spawned an entire market of impressive competitors from Amazon, Google, and Roku. And, in typical Apple fashion, they just blew their rivals out of the water with the brand-new Apple TV that shipped last week. Here's why you should consider trading out your Chromecast, Fire TV, or Roku 3. Happy binging!
The remote is basically a wireless mouse
In addition to a handful of new buttons, the remote has gone from silver to black and boasts a slick glass touchpad at the top, which makes scrolling around a whole lot easier. It's also equipped with a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer so it doubles as a dynamic Wii-esque game controller. And good news for anyone else who screamed out in agony every time their sofa gobbled up the old, irritatingly thin remote: this one is slightly thicker.
... and it responds to voice commands
Thanks to the remote's built-in microphone and some help from Siri, you can skip clicking through a labyrinth of menus and pull up a specific show, film, or video simply by asking for it.
Siri can help you pick what to watch
Since Siri is a lot smarter now, you can ask her to refine your choices by hyper-specific genres, e.g., action movies released in the '70s. Or, have her filter them even further by asking just for the good ones -- she factors in Rotten Tomatoes reviews to help you pick.
There are thousands of apps
In many ways, the new Apple TV is all about the apps it now supports. In addition to hundreds of games, there are a number of major sites -- including Zillow, Airbnb, and Gilt -- that've built Apple TV-specific applications that make it easy and entertaining to browse, book, and buy directly on your big screen.
... and it's easier to toggle between them
You no longer have to go all the way back to the Home screen when you want to shift to a different app. A double-tap of the Home button pulls up everything you've used recently, which makes it quick and simple to pause your binge-watching to book your next vacation or buy a new coat.
It knows the weather and sports scores
When you're too lazy to look up whether it's nice enough outside to justify ending your Breaking Bad binge, you can simply tap the remote and ask Siri. Same goes for finding out how your team's doing. Just ask her your question and she'll pause what you're watching and flash the details on the screen.
It's easy to back up if you miss something
If you were busy checking Instagram for the 10th time in 10 minutes and missed something important, you don't have to pause and click rewind. Instead, tap the mic button on the remote and ask Siri, "What did they say?" That automatically backs up the stream 15 seconds and temporarily activates subtitles. Pay attention, dude!
The screensavers are stunningly cinematic
Even when you're not actively using it, this thing is still impressive. The new built-in screensavers feature mesmerizing slow-motion 4K aerial views of major world cities. Good luck looking away.
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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist and has spent more time searching for his Apple TV remote than he's willing to admit.