Yet again, the Apple TV announcement was delayed, but that doesn’t mean that the company has given up on its streaming set-top box. Although app developers at the Worldwide Developers Conference were disappointed yet again, there are reasons to celebrate. Apple has significantly increased the number of TV devices for developers to test their apps (500 devices, 100 per device category).
Sure this isn’t ground breaking news, but it seems to indicate that we are about to see another third-party app development “gold rush” (only this time around it will be for the Apple TV). So brace yourself for an explosion of app development opportunities!
Extensive Testing Required
Building a successful app comes down to eliminating bugs and this can only be done by running tests on multiple devices. Apple has now raised the test devices limitation to 100 devices, so now you can test your app on 100 iPads, 100 iPhones, and 100 Apple Watches, etc. This is the same development slots that were given previously for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
Although it might seem strange that Apple waited this long to raise the limitation, it might have something to do with the Apple TV itself. Unlike the iPhone or iPad, the Apple TV will be a static device. It will remain connected to a TV and a broadband network all the time. As a result, it doesn’t make sense to have extensive testing for Apple TV apps (but makes sense when you think about third-party apps).
Unlike Google, Apple has been very slow with the development of the Apple TV. Google on the other hand has approximately 600 new apps for the Android TV. However, Google’s Nexus Player is far behind in sales when compared to the Apple TV. With more apps being developed every day, the push into our homes will become highly competitive (rapidly).
Gateway for HomeKit Devices
The rumours in the industry suggest that Siri will be incorporated into the next generation of Apple TVs. Further, it is also expected that Apple's HomeKit framework will have smart home control. HomeKit will allow users of approved HomeKit accessories to build virtual rooms, set up new accessories, and find new ones. The app has been designed to work with the Apple TV, so users will be able to access the device (and control it) while they are away from home. As the number of HomeKit-compatible devices keeps rising, the need for more testing will also increase.
Speaking of HomeKit-compatible products, Lutron’s Caséta Wireless smart lighting starter kit has already been released. You can now use it with an iPhone and Apple Watch, but it’s still lacking a set-top box.
Both the UIKit and GameKit also mention the Apple TV in the interface and multiplayer gaming framework. The next Apple TV set-top box is also expected to have direct access to the App Store (and this could also include games).
From a developer’s perspective, it’s a good idea to get started on developing apps early. Further, after dealing with all the constraints of building apps for tiny screens (Apple Watch), now you have to think from the opposite end of the spectrum.
The Apple TV will have the largest screen real estate and this will considerably broaden the scope of what one can do with these apps. So the possibilities seem endless at the moment and the only thing holding developers back is company itself. But as Apple TV starts to gain more traction (although it didn’t make its debut at this year’s WWDC), there is a real chance of it making a significant breakthrough, very soon.
But for now, there is no new Apple TV hardware, no SDK, or an interface to go with it. So for the most part, developers will be still “thinking” about apps for the Apple TV and not much more.
Apple TV Rumours
The word on the street is that Apple has much bigger plans for their home device. There is talk about a hugely improved remote control down the pipeline and there is also a buzz about an internet TV service. But neither has been released and there isn’t a scheduled release date at this time.
One thing for sure, Apple Music will be launched on Apple TV in the fall (the service will make its debut on both the iPhone and iPad this month).