Tuesday 12 November 2019

The future of TV looks like this

Apple TV
Apple TV

Giles Turnbull

Having conquered our desks, then our laps, then our pockets, the big tech companies are eyeing up our living rooms. TV is going to change.

The TV set is probably the most universal gadget of them all, something few homes (and these days, few bedrooms) are without.

But TV is due for some big changes, and the technology companies that have sold us computers, laptops, tablets and phones now want to grab a slice of the television pie.

They're going to do it with their own set-top boxes. These boxes won't just challenge the likes of Freeview and Sky, they'll double up as games machines too, giving Sony, Nintendo and other console manufacturers something to worry about.

One box is Apple's minuscule AppleTV, once described by Steve Jobs as "a hobby" for the company.

The latest AppleTV is little more than a wireless receiver, designed to grab streams of content from other devices and display them on the TV screen it is attached to.

In other words, it converts your TV into an external display for your iPod, iPhone or iPad.

When the next version of iOS is released, this functionality will allow people to load up games on an iPad and see them on the TV. The iPad becomes a games console, movie player and TV streaming gadget.

Google is following the same path, with a set-top box called Google TV (www.google.com/tv/). It's only built into a few third-party products at the moment, and those are only available in the US.

But no one would be surprised if Google followed Apple's lead and launched its own set-top box product, which could tie in to Google's phones and web services just as AppleTV ties in to the iUniverse around it.

Most internet devices can play TV shows now, via online catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer). Whether you like it or not, your TV is moving in the opposite direction to become more like an internet device.


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