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Apple TV 4K review part two: The center of the Apple ecosystem with Audio, Airplay and Homekit

The first part of the review with the analysis of 4K movies, Apple video streaming and video games on this page.

Apps for streaming movies and your content

In the Apple TV review, second part, we start again from the Apps: among the many designed specifically for the device, obviously those for streaming with Netflix (for original and third party films with monthly subscription obviously now with HDR and 4K) e RaiPlay to review the RAI broadcasts. The Apple Infinity and especially Amazon Prime are missing, which has significant 4K content such as the series produced directly and which should arrive later this year.

Then there is access to Vevo, to Vimeo to specialized RedBull channels, Art and producers of original or thematic video content.

From the fourth generation onwards, Apple TV has also opened its doors to other streaming software and there is no lack of Apps such as Plex capable of connecting to your archives hosted on the network on NAS: in fact, it is impossible to exploit the internal memory to host archives other than the Apps.

We have already spoken in the first part of the games but on Apple TV we also find fitness applications, kitchen guides and lots of original education software or transpositions from apps for iPhone and iPad.

Unfortunately, an internet browser is missing but this is remedied by mirroring from your iPhone or iPad with Airplay (which we will see below).

An option that appears in the latest version of tvOS is to keep the access screens of different Apple TVs that you may have at home synchronized: you can switch from one to the other without difficulty in finding the apps always in the same position.

Access to Apple ecosystem: we read the contents of Mac, iPhone, iPad, iCloud

All the audio, photo and video archives of the Apple ecosystem can be consulted on Apple TV whether they reside on iCloud or in the memory of your Mac which can be accessed from a special Computer section: if you have classified your archives with iTunes you will have access to all the converted songs from your CDs or purchased permanently on the iTunes Store sorted by artist, album etc. If you are subscribed to Apple Music, you will have access from your home TV to all the songs in the Apple catalog, to the dedicated radio and to Apple's proposals tailored to your tastes but above all to the ability to make real journeys in the history of music more recent or dated with listening to songs of good quality.

For photos, of course, access to those kept iCloud and also to albums but there are also applications to access Flickr galleries or lesser-known photo collection systems.

Airplay: we send content to Apple TV

But all that Apple TV cannot go fishing on your Mac, on your archives on the network on NAS or directly on the archives shared on the web, you can send it to you from outside through Airplay that not only a screen mirroring function of the iPhone, iPad and also of Mac but also an input channel of information at the highest possible resolution on your TV and so you can have your home TV as an extension (and not mirroring) of your Mac or as the main screen for some games while that of iPhone and iPad works as a control system.

Let's not forget also that if you have an amplification system connected to your TV you can use Apple TV as a bridge to transmit the music you have on the iPhone directly on the system and also simultaneously with other Airplay speakers creating a multiroom system easily controlled by Mac (through iTunes) . With the arrival of Airplay 2 perhaps this control could improve but already today we can take advantage of it for a considerable series of options.

Among other things for some time Airplay it also has direct transmission capacity and therefore an intermediate router is not needed to bridge the Apple TV and your iOS device: you can therefore use them for projection sessions with Apple TV near the projector or TV and your iPhone or iPad ( or even Mac) to transmit the slides wirelessly to the screen.

Apple TV also has a login screen that you can show to those who frequent your office to provide connection information even to a possible internal network for guests and you can also protect the mirroring with a password that can avoid intruders and malicious jokes.

All these features are also available on fourth generation Apple TV but Apple TV 4K adds superior quality and resolution to basic capabilities.

The bridge for Apple home automation between your home and the world: Homekit

As we saw just a year ago, Apple uses Apple TV as a bridge to the outside of the devices you have at home with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology: for Wi-Fi, a good router that covers the house is enough, while for Bluetooth the peripheral must be within a radius of about 9 meters. If you have a large house and many Bluetooth peripherals, it may be necessary to install more than one Apple TV but they do not have to be all 4K or 64 GB, to complete the network, the fourth generation model will suffice, which has the advantage of having a reduced price after the release of the 4K model.

Apple has not yet thought about making a Home app for Apple TV. While in Anglo-Saxon countries you can gain control using Siri's voice commands, in Italy the function has not yet been implemented: on the other hand any application that uses support for Apple developers able to access, with your permission, the data of your home and on this assumption that the developer of the Looming App has made possible a remote control of both your favorite scenes and homekit cameras: in our case we have tested it with an Omna D-Link which you will see the review on these pages in the next hours. Not a lot but at least we can enjoy the activation of the scenes in the TV area and the turning off of the lights in the rest of the house or the luxury of controlling what happens in another area of ??the house.

The App for home automation and surveillance

If you don't have Homekit peripherals but simply cameras or thermostats connected to Wi-Fi, there are a lot of applications that allow you to use your Apple TV as a home surveillance system or access to networked external Cams. There is also an application created by an Italian developer that allows you to use any iPhone or iPad with iOS 9 (from iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or iPod touch 4G) and up as a camera to control the house through its shooting equipment.

We found both the ones to manage the camera very comfortable Nokia home than the fileless system Arlo of Netgear but more and more companies like Nest for example, they allow to integrate safety controls and temperature regulation on Homekit.

Siri Remote, programmable remote controls, Joysticks and the control integrated in iOS 11

In addition to the white LED that indicates its operation, it is hidden from view, but on the front of the Apple TV, there is also an IR receiver that allows any remote control with this feature to control navigation in the interface as happened in the versions up to the third generation. The very simple programming "point and record" and you can also manage the fast forward functions, convenient for movies and music. Apple has always provided iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users with an application for remote control via Wi -Fi of Apple TV but with iOS 11 this directly involved in the options of the Control Center: immediate access and can solve the problem of finding the remote control that, small as it is, ends up more or less always in the folds of the sofa.

Finally, let's not forget that the Apple TV remote control can be configured to remove Apple's set top box from the stop and turn on the TV at the same time by also adjusting the volume: in practice, if your favorite contents all pass through the Apple world, you will not have to take the TV remote control in your hand or you can program the TV remote control so you don't have to use the Siri Remote except for games.

Finally, we must not forget the game controllers: none are supplied but Apple recommends and sells the complete SteelSeries Nimbus in its stores, which you can also find in the our list of recommended Apple TV accessories.

What is missing?

In Italy, as we said in the section dedicated to Homekit, there is no control through Siri and a real shame since Apple first arrived in our country for the integration between voice commands and home automation without strange combinations. Unfortunately, the need to integrate research on film and music stores for purchase is blocking the implementation of Siri for Apple TV in our country on this front.

If instead we have to refer to the package we say that an HDMI cable is missing: apple forces us to buy it separately but the investment is not so exaggerated: just a simple cable with the words High Speed ??produced in recent years and we will be sure that all the 4K HDR signal will be managed without problems also thanks to the test that Apple TV does on the connection. For additional accessories, please refer to the Macitynet article prepared a few months ago for the previous generation of Apple TV and still very valid since the form factor and basic accessories are the same as the previous model.

Conclusions

It is difficult to compare Apple TV with other low-cost set top boxes on the market: if we move from the simple rental or purchase of films, it will be difficult to find a variety of applications tailored to such a device and all with a coherent interface. Obviously you can also think of a super bodyworked 64 Bit Android TV but how many apps are optimized and above all what integration with the Apple ecosystem can we obtain?

Finally, if you have a minimum of interest in home automation and use Cupertino devices, an excellent system to widen the control outside your home. All these considerations are also valid for the basic model (fourth generation still on sale in the 32 GB model at 159 Euros) but the new Apple TV 4K adds with lextra of a greater price even more power for games and video processing and an output to very high resolution to keep up with content that is always easier to find.

Some of the potential of Apple TV still seem not implemented and certainly the absence of Siri voice commands could be among the heaviest ones … but if you have a house full of iOS products you can remedy if not for the search for movies and music, at least for Homekit , with iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch and you can always ask your iOS device to play music on Apple TV with Airplay.

ProQuality of streaming also 4K, fast and attractive interface, availability of apps of all types, focal point for Apple home automation. Applications also for surveillance and remote control. Prices for rental and sale of very interesting 4K films.

Versus4K uncontrollable output modes, the Amazon Prime (incoming) and Infinity apps are missing, there are no audio modes higher than 5.1 (at the moment, pending the arrival of Dolby Atmos). Siri Voice Control not yet available in Italian.

Retail priceApple TV 4K 64 GB at 219 Euros (including VAT), Euro Apple TV 4K 32 GB at 199 Euros (including VAT), Apple TV 32 GB at 159 Euros (including VAT) on the Apple Store.