Gadgets for humans

A thousand days of the current Apple TV, an ode to okay-ish-ness

Is absolutely acceptable good enough?

current Apple TV

A thousand days is a mighty long time. That, friends, is the average lifespan of a hamster. And it’s also the amount of time since the launch of current Apple TV. Roughly.

Yes, the 5th generation of the Apple TV (AKA the newest 4K one) was released all the way back in September 2017. September 2017.

This means the current Apple TV was on the shelves before Disney+ was in existence. Before the reboot of Queer Eye. And, of course, before COVID-19. And the streaming device has spent all these years being totally and completely, overwhelming acceptable.

current apple tv 4k
It looks exactly as it is: totally fine.

I was made aware of this milestone by a Reddit thread that pointed out the current Apple TV‘s age — a figure it pulled from this useful MacRumors buying guide.

We do need a little bit of fact-checking though. Although the thread and the buying guide says it’s been a thousand days exactly, I’m not entirely sure where that figure’s from.

The current Apple TV (5th generation), was announced on September 12 in 2017 at Apple’s Special Event. According to my calculations, this would make the 4K Apple TV 1,004 days old, including today (June 11, 2019).

It was actually launched on September 22, 2017 — which would make it 994 days old. So… go figure.

But, the point still stands: the current Apple TV is as old as that mysterious jar of sauce in the back of your fridge.

Is a thousand days of existence for the current Apple TV a lot then?

Now, it’s not unheard of for Apple products to be a thousand days old (the previous iPhone SE was one example, and the current iMac is approaching the boundary), but it is rare.

You’d expect that with the launch of the Apple TV+ streaming service that the company would be doing its best to push the current Apple TV, but… that hasn’t been the case. Which is fine, but seems like a missed opportunity.

In fact, the more I think about it, that kinda sums up the lifespan of this Apple TV in general.

I’ve owned two Apple TV models and while the first one felt like a piece of magic, the current one… doesn’t. The software outside of streaming apps has been lackluster, the remote is one of the worst designed things I’ve ever come across (HOW AM I MEANT TO USE IT IN THE DARK?), and… it’s expensive for what it is.

current apple tv remote
NOOOOOOOO

Despite that, the current Apple TV easy to use, AirPlay is still fantastic, and it’s a much better experience than Android TV.

In other words, okay-ish-ness personified.

This isn’t a bad thing in itself, I just want more. Yet it doesn’t look like we’re going to get this from the new Apple TV whenever it’s released.

It appears we’re most likely due a hardware upgrade — which is due, because, you know, a thousand days — but it doesn’t seem like we’ll get an overhaul. Or anything exciting at all.

Still, if we get a new remote? Then the Apple TV might move beyond being fine.

On the software side, it seems like tvOS14 (AKA the next major update) will simply include some interesting, but ultimately mediocre features. For example, it’s rumored that we’ll see Screen Time — a feature how tracking how long you spend on the device, and something I definitely don’t want for my TV watching habits.

Another two potential inclusions are a Workouts app and a Kid’s mode. Hardly things that set the pulse racing.

I guess this is where we get to the central part of this piece: does the Apple TV need to be anything more than okay? Because I — and I assume so many others — are deeply embedded in the ecosystem, it seems silly to look elsewhere for a media streamer, when this one works.

And, effectively, the current Apple TV does everything I need it to do, it just doesn’t do too much more. What I’m saying is bring on the next model and another thousand days of it being totally acceptable. I can handle that.

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Published June 11, 2020 — 12:08 UTC