Saturday, December 11, 2010

How would I change Apple TV?

Intro

I have love-hate relationship with my new Apple TV. It is incredibly small and quiet multimedia device, yet its content source capabilities are somewhat limited compared to it’s competition.
At the cost of £99 this presents itself almost at an impulse buy threshold.
So has it delivered the expectations. Read on.


Content

Hence my first suggestion is to enable Apple TV to look outside iTunes Home sharing for the content, both on the local home network and on the Internet.

I own QNAP TS259 Pro NAS where all my digital content is stored. It supports iTunes (for music only), AFP and Windows sharing and also has DLNA support. Though the last one does not really work well with videos (tested on my PS3).

So, I would like Apple TV to be able to connect to the AFP share and start streaming the content. There are load of iPad applications that can do this. Also, if I had Mac Mini this would be very easy to do. So why not Apple TV? I do not want to have my iMac running all the time. My NAS is on always (with some energy settings switched on).

Next, the content from the Internet is very limited to iTunes (UK library) and YouTube (there are some restrictions on the content outside USA). Look at competitor, Apple. Why there is no Netflix support in the UK for “all you can eat” packages?


Photos

Apple TV can connect to my Aperture library and show photos. The interface is quite good. But as I mentioned above, my photos are also on my NAS in the same structure as in Aperture.

It would also be good to have more intuitive connection to Flickr. I could authorise Apple TV for Flick access (OAuth protocol would come very handy here) and see my photostream and those of my friends.

Moreover, it completely lacks the access to Google Picasa photo service. I guess that the rivalry with Google is behind it.


Music

Listening to music is really limited to iTunes or Internet Radio. And it is pity. Why cannot Apple tV connect to Spotify or Napster? Such a functionality would add tremendous value to me as I do not have Sonos or other Spotify compatible Hi-Fi (at least not yet).


Social interactions

Apple TV miss most of social capabilities. I have Twitter, Facebook and Flickr accounts. I would like Apple TV to be able:


  • Selectively publish on Facebook or Twitter what I have listen to or watched
  • See what my friends are watching or listening to
  • Access Facebook pictures from my friends
  • See what my contacts in Flickr have posted in their photo-streams
  • Interaction with iTunes Ping

This is just a short list of tasks that come to my mind. I am sure the list can be much much longer.


Conclusion


As Steve Jobs said, the Apple TV is still his hobby; and it shows. I am honestly hoping that Apple is working on a new software that would bring some if not all improvements suggested here. Until then, my Apple TV is going to be used less frequently and may be replaced by a more versatile Mac mini.


1 comment:

  1. Great post, thanks.

    How do I get my AppleTV2 to connect to my NAS if I put my pictures on there? I only have one MacBook and a Buffalo NAS so I can't get the AppleTV to see pictures unless my computer's open and I'd like to change that without having to buy another Mac.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete